Cheapo way to plug piano keyboard into a mac
June 26, 2007 8:30 PM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest way of plugging a piano keyboard into my mac

Nope, not interested in sound quality/keyboard quality or anything like that. I just want to know my cheapo options for plugging a keyboard into my mac.
posted by singingfish to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: b1tr0t, either/both?
posted by singingfish at 8:42 PM on June 26, 2007

Just about anything on this page will work plug-and-play in most OS X apps (GarageBand, Logic, Reason, etc) and they're all USB MIDI.

I've owned the Oxygen 49 and it was nice (until my cat tossed up on it cause he thinks it's a nice bed for him, thereby ruining the internal components)
posted by revmitcz at 8:49 PM on June 26, 2007

As noted, first you have to determine if you just want to record audio output from a keyboard or if you want to use it as a MIDI controller (i.e., the kind of thing that would allow you to control synthesizer instruments in a program like GarageBand).

If the former, first question is whether you have a microphone input on your Mac. Newer ones I think don't; my G4 iMac doesn't. If you do, all you have to do is connect and output on the keyboard to the mic input. You can get cords and patches to connect anything to anything at Radio Shack.

Otherwise, you need a device that converts an audio input to a USB input. Here is a cheap one that works okay. Google usb audio interface for many, many more options. You will actually get better sound from such an input even if you have a mic input, because the onboard mic input tends to be a noisy connection.

If you want a midi controller, the Edirol PCR line has some relatively inexpensive entry level models. See also the E-MU and M-Audio lines.
posted by nanojath at 8:52 PM on June 26, 2007

And, a place to go for way too much information on home recording.
posted by nanojath at 8:57 PM on June 26, 2007

I have the iMic to use with my ibook and it's super-handy but I wouldn't say it's the best-made thing in the world. There's some fuzz when the switch from line to mic is jostled. It's definitely the least expensive and simplest option if you don't have an audio in. Also I can confirm that I've plugged my keyboard straight from the keyboard out into the iMic (switched to line) into USB and recorded in Garageband that way. Easy as pie.
posted by loiseau at 9:33 PM on June 26, 2007

If you need an inexpensive MIDI input on your Mac, look into a Yamaha UX16. This will let you send General MIDI from your keyboard to applications running on the Mac (Live, Garageband, Reason, etc.).

If you just need an inexpensive audio input on your Mac (and it doesn't already have one) then look into a Griffin iMic. This will give you the option of using a line-level or a powered audio input, which you'd choose depending on what comes out of your piano.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 PM on June 26, 2007

Assuming that you have a relatively recent Mac and you want a full-sized keyboard or even an almost none-sized keyboard you should look into the pretty cheap M-Audio line of USB keyboards. They are well constructed and easy to use. I had the one I linked to and it was a great, simple data-entry device. It was programmable to a degree and it was easy in the fingers. I "tested" a bunch of USB keyboards in the store and M-Audio came out on top, for what it's worth.

There are loads of USB MIDI keyboards out there these days and you can probably find a deal if you have even fifteen minutes to look around, but go for a "known" company like M-Audio. Don't bother with Yamaha or Roland or any of those folks: they are not what you are looking for until you want to upgrade to something touch-sensitive, maybe weighted and much more expensive. You want a cheap data entry device and so your decision should be about how many octaves you want to have/can afford.

I am currently using a little dirt-cheap two-octave Korg K25 to great effect. The buttons are big and make octave shifiting easy "on the fly". But if you want to be able to actually play live then go for at least four or five octaves like the Keystation 49e that I linked to above. You are probably looking at around $100 but maybe much less: it is currently a surprisingly competitive market. As I said, there are lots of deals out there. I was pretty satisfied with the M-Audio unit I bought. I kinda miss it now that you ask...

Good luck with your music!
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 1:15 AM on June 27, 2007

An MAudio Radium49 or Keystation49 (the Radium has more MIDI controlls -- sliders and the like but synth-weighted keys, while the Keystation has 'piano-weighted' keys, if memory serves) will do what you need for about $100. I liked my Radium49 'til I inadvertantly blew it up while experimenting with powered USB hubs and improper power adapters. That was my fault, and not the keyboard's.
posted by Alterscape at 4:14 AM on June 27, 2007

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