I am going to buy some digital piano and I own a Desktop PC. I would like to hear both the PC and the piano via one wireless headset. One Problem is that my PC has a crappy on-board sound chip and thus analogue sound sounds unacceptably bad. Therefore, if I cannot use USB or TOSLINK, I will have to buy a PCI audio card. Additionally, I want to use the PC for VoIP and need an actual headset and not just a pair of headphones. Which headset can I buy, and how do I connect it to my digital piano and my PC to hear both with low latency? And if I connect my piano to an sound card in my PC, are there GNU/Linux drivers for it?
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First of all, we need to get audio running from your digital piano into the computer. This means you need an interface. Here's a link for a very basic one that's also pretty easy on the wallet:
I have the same one which I found at a local music store for around $30 CAD. The piano will connect to it using an RCA connection (my piano only has 1/4" outputs, so I picked up 1/4" to RCA converter cables). Now all you have to do is select the interface as your audio input.
This next part may be difficult to answer, simply because I don't know how your wireless headset connects to your computer (USB? 1/8" jack? Bluetooth?) Ideally, you would just plug regular headphones into the headphone jack of your new interface, and select the interface as your computer's audio out. Now you can hear your piano audio and computer audio through the same headphone output.
Okay, so that's all great, but if you want to use a headset, our solution is going to change, and we will need to use software to do it, especially if you are using Linux (I think that's what you're indicating?). Any USB headset should work for this, just make sure there are Linux drivers available if needed.
You will need a free open source program called Audacity. This is recording software, but we are just going to use it to route the audio coming from your piano (through that interface I mentioned earlier) to your computer's output (your new USB headset).
To summarize the headset solution:
- Computer's default input device will be the USB headset (so you can talk through VoIP)
- Audacity settings will have an input of your interface, and an output of your USB headset (piano in interface, out headset)
- Computer's default output device will be the USB headset (so you can hear all computer sounds, including the piano).
The downside to this solution is that your latency will be somewhat dependant on your computer's specs, and it might also be inconvenient to launch Audacity every time you want to play piano.
I would recommend buying almost any audio interface on the market since almost all of them come with some sort of DAW that will be much better than Audacity. This will allow you to have multiple input sources (if you want to expand outside of your digital piano in the future) but will also give you lossless audio quality and will be much better than most all built in audio cards.
One of the most popular ones we sell at Guitar Center is this:
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
It comes with a copy of Ableton Live Lite which has a built in audio router which you can use to route the audio how you want. I personally own this one but use it mainly as my travel interface and backup. The main one I use is this:
Akai EIE Pro
This one is much nicer because it has even more input sources than the 2i2, has MIDI in and out, has double the amount of outputs, has built in send/return style FX inputs, and also works as USB hub. That last feature is probably one of the more useful ones sense you can use it save some space for your other USBs.
Really any audio interface will work as long as it is recent so that it will be compatible with VoIP.