Archive for the ‘Keyboards’ Category

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Midi Keyboards: Why? How?… & 5 of the Best!

June 25, 2009
Edirol PCR-M1

The Edirol PCR-M1, the world slimmest MIDI Keyboard…view more

A MIDI keyboard is a piano-style digital keyboard device used for sending MIDI signals or commands to other devices connected to the same interface as the keyboard.

MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface (protocol). The basic MIDI keyboard does not produce sound. Instead, MIDI information is sent to an electronic module capable of reproducing an array of digital sounds or samples that resemble traditional analog musical instruments. These samples are also referred to as voices.

An encoding scheme is used to map a MIDI value to a specific instrument sample. Also, other sound parameters such as note volume and attack are included in the MIDI scheme. The keyboard merely acts as a MIDI controller of sound modules and other MIDI devices, including DAW software.

MIDI keyboards are a very common feature of a recording studio, and any DAW setup. Most include a transpose function and the ability to set different octaves. Many MIDI keyboards have pitch bend and modulation wheels. Some also have extra sets of assignable rotary knobs and/or buttons for sending custom MIDI messages to the synthesiser, sampler or DAW software.

Other features that some MIDI keyboards might include are:

  • Input for foot switch (usually used as a sustain pedal)
  • Input for a foot expression controller
  • Semi-weighted or fully weighted keys
  • Capability of sending aftertouch
  • Direct USB connection for use with computers

In other words if your serious about making music on a computer a MIDI device will make your work better faster!

How do I connect a MIDI keyboard to my computer?

The first thing to do is to make sure that your MIDI keyboard has MIDI ports on the back. It is very rare to find a modern midi keyboard without MIDI ports.

Here are your options:

  1. USB to USB
  2. MIDI to MIDI
  3. MIDI to USB port
  4. MIDI to soundcard gameport

USB to USB

Every modern MIDI controller keyboard we sell excluding those by Fatar now come with a USB connection for easy use with computers. Some keyboard are even ‘class complient’ which means you don’t even need to install any software. The cable you need for a USB to USB connection is just a standard USB cable which should be included with your keyboard. For USB Cables in stock at Dolphin, CLICK HERE

MIDI to MIDI

Some of the audio interfaces we sell such as the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 or the Tascam US-122 combine Audio & MIDI I/O enabling your to connect your keyboard directly to your sound card. For MIDI Cables in stock at Dolphin, CLICK HERE.

MIDI to USB port

If your sound card doesn’t have MIDI connections and your keyboard doesn’t have USB then the next best option is a USB to MIDI interface such as the M-Audio Uno or the Edirol UM 1X.

These devices come equipped with a USB connection for your computer, and a 1 In/ 1 Out 16 channel MIDI connection to your MIDI keyboard. However if you had more than one MIDI device to connect such as a second keyboard or a sound module then mutli port options are avalible such as the M-Audio Midisport 2×2.

MIDI to soundcard gameport

If you are using a standard computer sound card rather than a music sound card, then it may have a joystick port.

If you have a joystick port then all you need is a cable that has a 15 pin ‘D’ connector at one end and MIDI connectors on the other.

If you need any further help, please call us on 0844 815 0888 and speak to one of our experts. We’ll be glad to help and direct you to the best gear for your needs.

More about MIDI…

MIDI data is not the same as sound data. What is transmitted over the wire is information on how to play a song, not the physical sound data itself. MIDI can be thought of better as a player-piano roll than a compact disk: just as the piano-roll instructs the player-piano to create the sounds, MIDI data tells a MIDI device which notes to play, patches (instruments) to use, and other information to help the instrument recreate the song. When you listen to a MIDI file, you’re hearing an actual ‘performance’ by the instrument, not a ‘recording’ of a past performance.

MIDI was not designed to be used with personal computers, but since it is a digital interface, they actually work very well together. Combining at least one MIDI instrument with a personal computer and a MIDI interface (a device that allows the computer to “speak” MIDI) allows for many interesting applications.

The  the easiest way to get this up and running is to us a USB to MIDI keyboard. This will take care of any MIDI channel assignments and route it effectively in your DAW with ease.The USB device drivers are also native with Windows and Mac, which it will just WORK

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MIDI Keyboards: 5 of the Best

M-Audio Oxygen 8 v2 25-Key USB MIDI Controller

The Oxygen 8 v2 is an updated version of the mobile MIDI controller that started the mobile studio revolution. You get a fully functional MIDI keyboard with great action, plus eight MIDI-assignable knobs to control any MIDI parameters you desire in your hardware or software. It’s perfect for composing on the go or performing live bass lines and pads, firing samples, or triggering audio and/or visual effects. New features include full MIDI message support, plus 6 transport controls that can be reassigned to any MIDI parameter. The Oxygen 8 v2 also offers 10 non-volatile memory locations and is compatible with our free Enigma software for computer-based storage, retrieval and management of an unlimited number of patches.

oxygen 8v2

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E-MU Xboard 61 Pro USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard

The new E-MU Xboard™ 61 USB/MIDI Controller features 61 premium full-size keys with aftertouch, 16 programmable real-time control knobs, 16 new patch select/program change buttons, Xboard Control editing software, and a full version of E-MU’s Proteus X Version 1.5 Desktop Sound Module with over 3GB of sounds, including a new custom bank of E-MU’s finest performance keyboard sounds. The Xboard Control (Windows/Macintosh) software provides an intuitive desktop interface that lets you effortlessly create custom templates for all of your favorite hardware and software instruments. The Xboard 61 also gives you four Zones per patch (each with its own key and velocity ranges), allows you to set discrete MIDI channels for each knob and offers unrivalled real-time control and performance features, including Snap Shot that lets you send multiple program changes and controller values by pressing a single button, and Latch Mode that enables you to define a section of the keyboard as on/off triggers – perfect for drum loops. The Xboard 61 is perfect for studio and stage and can run on USB, battery, or AC power.

emu
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M-Audio Keystation 61es 61-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Controller

The Keystation 61e is a 61-note USB keyboard with velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keys that is designed to easily integrate in any computer music environment.

Class compliancy with Mac OS X and Windows XP delivers true plug-and-play setup. The Keystation 61e is also compatible with many music education and music creation software titles, making it ideal for classrooms and studios alike.

More advanced users can control software synths, external sound devices, and more with the assignable slider, and pitch and mod wheels. This sleek, compact keyboard is USB bus-powered and requires no external power supply.

maudioe
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M-Audio Axiom 25 Advanced 25-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Controller

Don’t let the compact size of the Axiom 25 fool you. This advanced 25-key USB mobile MIDI controller features both semi-weighted action and assignable aftertouch, plus eight rubberized trigger pads that put drum programming and performance at your fingertips.

Eight endless rotary encoder knobs let you get your hands on synth parameters, virtual mixer controls and more.

Six transport controls can also assign to control other MIDI parameters. Virtually everything is freely MIDI-assignable—and the backlit LCD screen makes programming easy and intutive.

You get 20 memory locations for on-board storage, plus free Enigma editor/librarian software to manage an unlimited number of setups via computer.

axiom


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Korg Kontrol 49 USB Studio Controller

The new KONTROL49 combines intuitive design, great feel, familiar hardware and detailed displays into the most comprehensive controller for all your MIDI needs. Equipped with 40 assignable control elements – including the new Vector Joystick – the KONTROL49 provide new musical dexterity when working with soft-synths, MIDI modules, or any digital audio workstation.

Few controller keyboards can boast the high level of hardware integrity found in the KONTROL49. The 49 keys are not only full-sized; they feature the same great touch and feel proven in Korg’s professional workstation instruments. Eight velocity curves let you tailor the response to your own playing, or to a specific application. Octave shift buttons provide full access to the entire 128 note range.

lorg control

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The Top 10 Music Technology Websites On The Web

June 3, 2009

3033

1.  SOUND ON SOUND

http://www.soundonsound.com/

SOUND ON SOUND has consistently remained at the forefront of music technology since it was launched on Channel 4 TV’s The Tube in 1985 by the visionary SOS Publications Group, championing the convergence of MIDI, computer technology and recording equipment that continues to revolutionise the music production industry today.

The magazine is excellent and the website is no exception!

sos

2. YOU TUBE

Youtube can teach you lots of useless and wondeful things, music technology and software is no exception. If you have query or a problem simply ask yOUTUBE and chances are 14YRD old from  Milwaukee will tell you eveything you need to know!2 Audio tuts+

youtubedol

3. Audio Tuts+

Audiotuts+ is an in depth blog for musicians, producers and audio junkies! It features tutorials on the tools and techniques to record, produce, mix and master tracks. Audiotuts+ also features weekly articles for the music obsessive. Our commisisoned tutorials are written by industry experts and professionals, but anyone with an awesome skill to showcase can contribute a post and  pay $150 if we publish it.

audiotuts copy

4. MUSIC RADAR

Like a few of the sites who are on this list, Musicradar.com is not exclusively about guitars, but a good amount of their features, including news, reviews and tutorials focus on guitars and are all of excellent quality, making this another essential stop. And their lists of the most outrageous guitars are simply hilarious…check them out!

musicradar1
5. REMIX MAG

Endles resource of information. Remix educates DJs, engineers, producers, and performers of electronic music about the latest applications and new products specific to the electronic and urban music markets. Remix is the premier consumer magazine in North America dedicated 100 percent to the tools, techniques, and production syles of electronic and urban artists

remix

6. HARMONY CENTRAL

Harmony Central is generally a great place for anyone interested in any sort of musical gear info: tons of resources including news, reviews and forums about synths, souncards, software and much more. Great user reviews section!

harmony

7. SYNTHTOPIA

Synthtopia is a portal devoted to electronic music.There are lots of electronica sites, but they all seem to cover one tiny aspect of electronica: trance, classical electronic music, dance, or synthesizers. Synthtopia covers it all.

sythtopoa

8.  eMUSICIAN

EM is the premiere resource for musicians interested in personal-music production. EM consistently publishes the most “how-to” applications and reviews-a real benefit for the recording musician. Our editors react quickly to changes in the industry to deliver the in-depth technical expertise and tools necessary to successfully use new concepts and technology.Being an American publication  this could be the first place you hear news!4 http://www.kaosaudio.com

Kaos Audio is a huge database of audio software and news, books, synth presets, samples and loops libraries, video software, links, interesting free soft and much more for all the audiophiles out there.

emusicain

9. KAOSS AUDIO

Kaos Audio is a huge database of audio software and news, books, synth presets, samples and loops libraries, video software, links, interesting free soft and much more for all the audiophiles out there.

kaoss

10. COMPUTER MUSIC

CM and its similar sites (Futuremusic etc) have  vast array of reviews articles and good image content

CM

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Roland Wants Videos of Junos New and Old; A Look Back at the Juno Line

April 22, 2009

juno106

JUNO-106, as captured by cicciostoky

Roland is holding a YouTube video contest to get people to show off their JUNO keyboard synths. They’re not just talking the currently-available Roland keyboards that wear the JUNO badge, but the classic models going back to 1982.

“How Do You JUNO?” Video Contest [Roland US]

I like to disclose our partnerships upfront, so in the interest of disclosure: Roland US is currently promoting this campaign on CDM – thanks, Roland, for supporting the site. I can also tell you that personally, selfishly, I’d really love to see some great JUNO videos up on that YouTube channel, and that I suspect the take of some of you readers will be different. Also in the interest of really full disclosure – yeah, okay, I’m partial to the vintage JUNO. That’s my own personal bias. But I’m eager to see videos of whatever you’ve got. (Also, the JUNO-G is one of my favorite mainstream keyboards at the moment, for reasons I talk about below – it has the advantages of a workstation, like the ability to load custom waveforms and do onboard audio recording and sequencing, but without some of the bells and whistles a lot of us don’t want.)

JUNO History

I think it’s worth reviewing the history of the JUNO line. What it’s meant to be a “JUNO” has changed pretty radically over the years; a JUNO-D and a JUNO-6 might not recognize each other. It reflects some of the changing tastes and technologies in the industry. Sometimes that represents forward progress — hooray, MIDI and patch memory! But sometimes something is lost. The analog original is something special, and even Roland wound up bringing back retro-styled front-panel editing, missing on the JUNO-D, to the JUNO-G and JUNO-STAGE. It’s not about nostalgia: it’s about making something musically productive. In some ways, that’s brought us full circle.

Mirror, mirror: JUNO-6, photographed by p caire.

1982: JUNO-6, JUNO-60. The original JUNO was a six-voice polyphonic analog synth. The distinctive, punchy analog sound was so beloved, it even inspired a meticulous emulation on a dedicated Linux machine. It also introduced Roland’s friendly-looking panel layout approach with big, clear labels and a spacious setup – something to which Roland themselves have recently returned. The JUNO-60 added patch memory storage. No MIDI, although there Roland later produced add-on hardware for MIDI control.

Roland generations: the JX-8P was the successor to the first commercially-available Roland MIDI synth (JX-3P). You can also see how the JUNO-60 compares to the size of the JUNO-106 at top. Photo: Soundingblue.

1984: JUNO-106. The 106 has a special place in history, not only a favorite of the 80s but ever since – it’s got six analog voices as on the original JUNO, plus one digitally-controlled oscillator per voice, but adds MIDI control. It sounds great and it’s dead-simple to use. It’s also a nice choice if you’re looking to pick up an 80s keyboard as it’s a good value today as it was when released. In a world in which “vintage” often translates to elite and expensive, the JUNO-106 is one of the great populist keyboards of all time. Note that if you are looking to pick up a used 106, our friend James Grahame from Retro Thing notes tells me the voice chips are starting to die. Buyer beware: owning a used synth can be like owning a used car.

The Roland Jupiter, not the JUNO, went down in history as one of the two first synths to connect in public via MIDI – at winter NAMM, January 1983, connected to a Sequential Prophet-600. But the JUNO-106 was still one of the Roland products that helped popularize MIDI.

Digital oscillators + analog filters. Odd that we don’t have more synths like that today, in fact. Photo: ALERT ALERT.

1986: Alpha JUNO 1. The Alphas are smaller, and eschew physical controls for LED and minimalist button selections – there was something about the mid-1980s that did that to synth design. But you can add on a PG-300 controller for additional controls, the Alphas are MIDI-friendly, and not hard to find these days. They maintained the distinctive JUNO sound and have been a favorite in the techno scene ever since.

Alpha JUNO 2. The Alpha 2 hits a nice sweet spot as a controller: aftertouch, 61-note keyboard. That could make it a decent choice on your keyboard rack even today.

The New JUNO Models

2005: JUNO-D. The JUNO-D is a budget wavetable synth, and as such, really the odd man out here. The connection to the original JUNO is presumably that it’s a friendly synth with some favorite sounds, and it does support a computer editor. There are also front-panel envelope controls. But it’s the more recent JUNO models that have brought back more of the original spirit of the JUNO. The JUNO-D has “JUNO” printed on it, but otherwise, while a solid entry-level keyboard, it lacks a lot of the features that make the other modern JUNO line appealing.

JUNO-G, at home in the studio. Photo: Claudio Matsuoka.

2007: JUNO-G. The JUNO-G is quite a lot more interesting if you’re interested in doing some real programming and live performance. It’s a workstation, though without some of the arranger features that are superfluous to many of us. You get the Fantom-X synth processor, but with easily-accessible front-panel editing controls and a layout inspired by the original JUNO. There are also some nice gigging features, like onboard audio/MIDI recording, 16-part MIDI sequencing, and a slot for flash memory. It’s also got additional controller features, like a D-Beam, plus USB connectivity. I reviewed the JUNO-G in summer 2007 for Keyboard Magazine. I was especially attracted to the ability to use your own waveforms as the basis of sounds, and to the front-panel editing and sequencing/recording features.

Version 2 of the JUNO-G recently added waveform editing.

junostage

2008: JUNO-STAGE. I quite liked that the JUNO-G is light, but the JUNO-STAGE gives you a 76-note, semi-weighted keyboard and additional performance controls. It gets rid of some of the sequencing and workstation features of the JUNO-G, but if you want to do all your sequencing on computer, that may not matter. The idea of the STAGE is really focused on live performance controls. Like the JUNO-G, it’s the soul of a Fantom-X in a different package, but that package is more narrowly-focused in a way that can appeal for live playing.

Modern JUNO Portal at Roland

Source: http://createdigitalmusic.com

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Livid’s Ohm64: Love Child of a Monome and a DJ-VJ Mixer Controller?

March 20, 2009

Look out, Akai APC40. There’s another contender in the emerging Controller With Lots of Buttons And Also Faders and Knobs and Crossfader product category. Livid’s Ohm64 combines the light-up button grid with faders, knobs, trigger buttons, and most importantly, unique customization options and a lovely wooden case. What’s unique about this one:

  • High-end materials: anodized aluminum faceplate, “immersion gold-platted circuit boards” (guess that’s circuit bling), an optional wooden body (aluminum is available, as well, but wood is more fun).
  • Not mass-market: hand-assembled, small-production Austin creation.
  • Fully class-compliant, no drivers (also true of the APC as far as I know, but nice – and ideal for Linux, too, in case you want to run this with a netbook or a Pd-running souped-up *nix laptop)
  • Open-source, customizable MIDI talkback: when you’re ready to customize just how those LEDs light up, there are included open source tools and fully programmable MIDI mapping

Bonus: it comes with a powerful, full-featured VJ app in the box, Cell DNA, though of course you can use it with anything you like.

The real story to me is the customization. Whereas the APC40 is entirely proprietary in design, has evidently limited MIDI mappings, and a mysterious mechanism for programming two-way communication, the Ohm64 is open, open source, and software-agnostic. If the open source thing catches on, that could mean a community of friendly folk thinking of smart ways to reprogram this thing for different apps. Ironically, that means that in the long run, the Ohm64 could wind up with better Ableton Live integration than the hardware Ableton chose to back – though all bets are off until we get these devices in our hands.

I would say the APC is probably more direct competition for the Ohm64 than the Monome, despite the 8×8 light-up buttons. The Monome is much lighter and slimmer, it takes a minimalist approach (no big knobs or faders), and uses OpenSoundControl in place of MIDI. The Ohm64 seems likely to appeal to those who weren’t Monome fans, and visa versa. And some lucky ducks are naturally going to own both.

But the important thing is that the Ohm64 joins the Monome in its crusade for open-source customization of a commercial product. Whatever the Ohm64 is when it ships, it’s that question of what people can do with it that may determine its real value. I have no doubt people will be reverse engineering the APC40, too — starting with figuring out how to fake the hardware “handshake” it uses so other devices can emulate it in Live. But it’ll be interesting to see how these different philosophies pan out, so to speak.

We’ll keep you posted….

Souce:  Create Digital Music


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Roland Keyboard Amp Range

February 11, 2009

Amplifiers

KC-880

Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier.

A portable keyboard amplifier featuring five channels of stereo input, 320 watts of power and Roland’s famous DSP effects — perfect for keyboards, vocals, and more. High-Powered Performance for the Entire Band!
Features

The new flagship of the KC amp series is packed with high-performance features. With five channels of stereo input, 320 watts of power and Roland’s famous DSP effects built in, the KC-880 is a portable powerhouse for keyboards, vocals, and more.

* Flagship stereo keyboard amplifier with five channels of stereo input
* 320-watt stereo power amplifier, 12-inch woofers and two horn tweeters
* DSP effects (Reverb, Chorus, Tremolo, Rotary)
* Flexible I/O (XLR mic input, stereo XLR line outputs, headphone out), Stereo Link for chaining multiple KC-880s

KC-550

Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier.
This flagship keyboard amp boasts 180 watts of powerful sound via a 15-inch speaker and horn tweeter.

KC-350

Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

KC-150

Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier.
The KC-150 is a compact 65-watt amp with 4-channel capability including Auxiliary and Microphone inputs.

KC-60

Keyboard Amplifier

The KC-60 brings renowned KC-Series sound quality to an even lower price.

KCW-1

Powered Subwoofer.
A convenient way to add 200 watts of punchy low end to sub-out equipped KC amps.

SA-300

Lightweight, Powerful, Portable PA.

The versatile SA-300 is built to handle any type of audio source you plug into it: microphones, rhythm machines, keyboards, CD players, etc.

MOBILE CUBE

Battery-Powered Stereo Amplifier,

A portable CUBE amp with connections for microphones, guitars, keyboards, drum machines, MP3 players, and more.
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NAMM 2009: Roland AX-Synth Shoulder Synthesizer

January 16, 2009

roland_ax-synth

Roland AX-Synth. Finally, the return of the “Keytar” from Roland. You get keys, you get a Ribbon, D-Beam and modulation bar. The new AX-Synth also touts 6 hour battery life and MIDI over USB. I like it but why isn’t this wireless? link

It’s time to escape the keyboard rig and rock the stage. The stylish AX-Synth represents Roland’s new generation of remote keyboards, but for the first time, this one has a sound generator onboard. It’s self-contained and equipped with powerful, solo-oriented sounds from Roland’s latest, greatest synths. Strap on an AX and steal show.

  • Built-in sound engine with voices from Roland’s latest synthesizers
  • Ribbon controller, D Beam, modulation bar, knobs, and easy to see display for stage
  • USB MIDI for easy connection to PC
  • Dedicated V-LINK button for video/visual control
  • Long battery operation (approx. 6 hours)
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Hot New microKORG XL Arriving Soon!

December 4, 2008

The original microKORG is loved and used daily by musicians around the world – from keyboardists to guitarists – enabling everyone to experience the enjoyment of a great synthesizer. Now the new big brother to this mega selling synth is available; a synthesizer that lets you generate your own personal sound, packing a cutting-edge sound engine and powerful effects into a compact, vintage-like body. Welcome the microKORG XL!

AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 2009! PRICE TBC

The original microKORG is loved and used daily by musicians around the world – from keyboardists to guitarists – enabling everyone to experience the enjoyment of a great synthesizer.

Now an advanced microKORG is available; a synthesizer that lets you generate your own personal sound, packing a cutting-edge sound engine and powerful effects into a compact, vintage-like body. Welcome the microKORG XL.

The Limited-Edition microKorg Reverse Keys was very popular, so it seems people are interested in new microKorgs – which the XL model certainly is, with its many new features!

This will certainly prove to be one of the best and most exciting releases next year. The new microKORG XL may quite easily be even better than the classic microKorg – will it become more popular? Let’s wait and see!

For complete info, click here.

Main features

  • New vintage design is both fresh and nostalgic.
  • Korg’s renowned MMT Multi Modeling Technology, optimized for the microKORG XL.
  • Sixteeen band vocoder for voice controlled effects. A gooseneck microphone is included, so you can begin vocoding right away.
  • 128 powerful sounds are built-in and ready for immediate use.
  • Intuitive sound selection; simply specify the music genre and instrument category.
  • Seventeen powerful KAOSS derived effects.
  • Newly developed natural touch mini keyboard is compact, yet easy to play.
  • Editing software can be downloaded from the Korg website, as well as converted MS2000 and microKORG programs.
  • Battery powered for on-the-go enjoyment.