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Background:

I have a pretty standard (and cheap) Yamaha YPG 235 digital piano. I really have never bothered to get a new machine because I keep my piano plugged into Garageband via MIDI with the computer hooked up to some nicer speakers. This allows me to use better (more realistic) piano and synth sounds at home.

Question:

I soon have to start playing live and I do not have a Mac laptop (only a desktop). I have a Windows laptop and am looking for some utility to simply receive the MIDI, add a better sound to it, and play it back through the laptop live. Quality of sound is really the most important thing right now.

I tried Mixcraft, and although it does work, the latency is terrible and most of the sounds are quite low quality.

What are some useful utilities using MIDI for live performances on Windows? If the world was perfect, a very simple, lightweight program that takes in MIDI, adds the effect, and plays it back out would be amazing. However, I am find with more recording-based environments (like Mixcraft) as long as they work well.

Note:

Although usually software recommendations aren't appreciated around SE, in this case I believe it is very useful information for piano players and therefore should be considered.

Note 2:

This live event is a very low-profile, small gathering. I don't make anything from these events, so an amazing performance setup isn't really what I'm after. Just hoping for some way to make the keyboard sound better without buying a new one.

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The terrible latency you experienced is because you are using the (inferior) built-in sound card in your laptop to play back the sounds. You need to purchase a dedicated external digital audio interface of professional quality to use with the laptop in a live performance situation. –  Wheat Williams Aug 2 '13 at 20:58
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You also need to do research in how to set up several elements of your rig for proper performance and low latency. You also need to find a suitable subsitute for GarageBand on your Windows laptop. You have a lot of homework to do. –  Wheat Williams Aug 2 '13 at 20:59
    
You need to upgrade the quality of your gears, as already stated. Maybe getting a good synthesizer would solve your problem best in this stage. Then you get much better sound and you have something good in your gear that doesn't need more gears that you don't master yet. –  Sergio Aug 2 '13 at 21:31
    
@WheatWilliams, Thanks for the feedback. I edited my question to make sure others know that this event is a very small and low profile one. I don't make anything, so spending a lot to go "pro" isn't what I was hoping for. Although from what you're describing perhaps the only way this is going to work is if I pay for better gear. Just was really hoping there was an alternative. Anyway, thanks again! –  Josiah Aug 2 '13 at 23:35
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Another option is to get yourself an external MIDI sound module. These run the full price range, from sub-$100 to $2k+.

Here's an eBay category for MIDI sound modules. You probably don't need something with a bunch of bells and whistles.

Basically, you can use any keyboard controller you want (including the one you already have... it has MIDI outs right?), you just run the MIDI out to the IN of the sound module. The sound module will have audio outputs to run to your amplifier/stage setup, etc...

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That's actually a very good idea. And thanks for the link, it helps a lot. I think this may be the best approach, so I'll mark this as the answer. –  Josiah Aug 3 '13 at 23:35
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If you can stand the key feel of that thing, just try using the onboard sounds. See if you can get by with em.

If not, do what guitar players do and throw the sound through some effects unit.

If you take a laptop to a gig, don't plan on having it very long :)

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Yeah, the keys aren't great. I don't use it too often (I have a grand piano at home), but in this case I will and really don't want to buy a new keyboard (for the reason shown in the second note of my question). The event is very small, so a laptop is not a problem here. It should last for a while. Anyway, it looks like I will probably just try the built in sounds and see what happens. Thanks. –  Josiah Aug 2 '13 at 23:37
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