Home recording advice for newbie with digital piano and laptop...
December 9, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I have a Roland F-50 digital piano and a laptop. How do I connect them to record songs, do basic mixing and loop chord sequences?

I will need a cable from the piano to the laptop (of course!) - but what one?! - and advice on software. Cubase Sequel 2 seems to fit the bill (I'm a newbie) but I've no idea if it's any good or not.

Maybe I need an interface box that could do the sound looping etc instead?

Music gurus needed for advice! Thanks in advance.
posted by wibbler to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are two kinds of recording you could do here: MIDI and audio (hard drive recording).

MIDI would record the notes played and their velocity, timing, etc., for later playback on the piano itself. You would need something like a MIDI/USB interface and MIDI cables. You could loop stuff up to the 64 voices in that piano, but would be limited to the built-in effects of that piano without extra processing equipment. The piano would be required for playback.

For audio, you would record the sound coming out of the piano. A newer laptop could handle the it I think, but it's more demanding of the computer. You might be able to get away with using built-in audio in and out on the laptop, but dedicated hardware (like a USB soundcard) would help quality, especially if the laptop has only "mic in" instead of "line in." You could apply effects to the recorded sounds and do things like make a CD or MP3 of the recording.
posted by exogenous at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2008

A simple way is to start with a USB audio/MIDI interface like this one. This will allow you to send audio output to your laptop, as well as play chord sequences through MIDI. The specific software that you use to record songs and mix will depend on exactly what you want to do (e.g., do you need lots of effects or just some barebones recording software like Ableton Live Lite, which is packaged with most M-Audio products), and the specs of your laptop (which you may want to post here to makes sure that you have enough memory and speed to handle music software.
posted by googly at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2008

I would Check out the Digidesign Mbox 2. For a few hundred dollars, you'll have Pro Tools which is the Professional Studio Standard software, Music Editor and Sequencer. The Mbox 2 also has MIDI connections, so you can control Many Software Synths, and Drum Sequencers, all within Pro Tools, using your digital keyboard.
posted by JamesMCS at 11:40 AM on December 9, 2008

Keep in mind that, for Pro Tools to run right, you need a computer that meets its fairly specific specifications, a fast external (firewire) hard drive, and plenty of time to learn the software. The learning curve for Pro Tools is steeper than for a lot of other recording programs.
posted by The World Famous at 12:03 PM on December 9, 2008

Unless your laptop's sound card is really noisy, you can save a lot of money by just getting a small USB MIDI adapter and a open source sequencer. If you end up getting serious about computer audio, you can always buy a FireWire or PC Card audio adapter later -- I wouldn't recommend any of the USB options.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on December 9, 2008

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