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AxelF

Live sounds for midi keyboard

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I'm after some midi keyboard advice please - a pub covers band I play with is looking at doing a few tunes that feature piano/keys/synth - think beginning of Dakota and All These Things That I've Done, middle bit of When You Were Young and a few others with a piano line.

Rather than us just fudge/butcher them I figure that I'd be better knocking them out on a keyboard - my main concern being not having to lug any more gear around than absolutely necessary! 

I've got a small 32 key Edirol midi controller keyboard that I use at home, and am hoping to cobble together some sort of setup to allow me to use that live too. As far as I know I also need some sort of sound module/sample generator that goes between the keyboard and the mixing desk?

I've had a quick Google and prices for hardware sound modules get pretty horrendous pretty quickly, with the cheaper end of the market getting pretty unfavourable reviews. I then came across the Zynthian website, which looks like it would give the option of downloading samples of piano/Rhodes/other instruments? The trouble with that also is that the price mounts up pretty quickly, and that's before you've downloaded any samples, which I assume you also have to pay for?

The ideal solution I guess would be some form of android software I could install on the tabket I use to drive our mixing desk, is this even possible, and does anyone use or have any experience with this sort of setup who can point me in the direction of the best app/sound samples please?

I don't need anything too complicated - a good piano, electric piano, organ etc but anything that provides the option of adding/downloading other sounds - like the synth in Dakota - would be fantastic. 

Apologies for the complete lack of knowledge, and thanks in advance! 

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From what you've told so far, I still gather your best option is a sound module. There must be modules on the market that are aimed at your type of band, i.e. with piano, electric piano, organ and some fave synth presets.

You wrote about a "good" piano etc., and I think it's essential to define what "good" is, as quality comes at a price. From how I understand you, you're probably looking at an OK-it-sounds-cheesy-but-we-only-make-50-quid-a-night!-module.

However, a used module like a Yamaha MU128 (£250 used on Amazon UK) might be a solution. See vid below.

As to Android apps, I'm wary of that idea for now:
- For one, you're already using an app for driving your desk. How are you gonna control two apps at the same time?
- Another thing is that Android traditionally was not the natural habitat for synth apps and the like (the iPad is), but I know things have changed to some degree. You could have a look at Bebot and Caustic 3, for example. A search should give some more results.

 

 

 

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I wouldn't fancy using an Android app for doing anything musical with timing critical functions. The OS simply isn't up to the task, and definitely not if you are using it for other things at the same time.

Nord Electro is the keyboard of choice for this type of musical requirement. 

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Thanks guys, I'm certainly not tied to android, and have an ipad I could use - the Korg module app looks like it would do what I need with piano, organ etc. You mention the iOS options are better than android - are the iOS options reliable enough for live use would you say?

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6 hours ago, AxelF said:

are the iOS options reliable enough for live use would you say?

Yes, but with the caveat that the physical connector must be protected. It's not really made-for-live equipment like an XLR.
Also, running newer software on older hardware has the same disadvantage as always, also on Apple gear. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, BassTractor said:

Yes, but with the caveat that the physical connector must be protected. It's not really made-for-live equipment like an XLR.

Very much this. IMO no modern computer connector is suitable for anything but the most sedate of sedate gigs.

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’ve used my iPhone as a sound module, but I wouldn’t rely on the connectors for regular gigging. However, a MacBook connected to an audio interface is perfectly fine. Here’s my set up.

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I'd be tempted by one of those 90s EMU units. The piano sounds are nowhere near a decent softsynth but they're certainly passable for stage work, and I imagine the synths aren't far removed from what was being used on these records. I've used a lot of tech live but I always prefer hardware as too many times machines have just not behaved.

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I’ve recently had to add some sounds for an orchestral performance, and I’ve found the best way to get the variety needed for me is by using Apple’s Mainstage. 

 

Of course, you need a Mac etc, but if you have that then Mainstage is great when paired with a MIDI keyboard. 

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I play keys using the Korg iM1 app driven from a 12 step, just doing chords mostly. I keep wanting to do some sample stuff but haven't got round to it 

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