Archive for the ‘microKorg’ 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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Vocoder Round-up: Depeche mode

February 6, 2009

Sure, the vocoder may now be something of an electronic music cliché now, but it got its beginnings as a mechanism of encoding speech. It was one of the first electronic instruments. It helped inspire the conceptual model for all digital communication. And, those lofty goals aside, it can still sound terrific when used creatively. (Hint: you don’t have to use your voice as a source.)

These are heady times for the vocoder. Hosts are getting better at accomplishing the routings necessary to produce vocoding effects. Software and hardware vocoders are appearing everywhere. And of course, the great moment has been Ableton releasing a Vocoder in its upcoming Live 8, not so much because of Live or that Vocoder, but because company co-founder Robert Henke was immortalized in a remix (video above) talking about how you wouldn’t need it. I expect one of the first unofficial Live 8 tutorials may use this clip. (Apologies to Robert – especially as that’s exactly the sort of thing I might say speaking to students, and I actually agree. You don’t need a vocoder. For one thing, if you know what you’re doing, you can patch your own. But I digress.)

History and Vocoding without Autopilot

For a different take on the vocoder, let’s first take a trip back in time.

The device in the video is the 1939 “Voder” (Voice Operating Demonstrator). To me, this really demonstrates how much potential is left in the process. The original Voder was played more as an instrument.

Via the always wonderful Digital Tools.

Wendy Carlos, whose use of the vocoder in Clockwork Orange may be as significant to the vocoder as Carlos’ “Switched on Bach” was to the Moog, explains how the Voder functioned:

Homer Dudley also invented the VODER (Voice Operating DEmonstratoR), an electronic speaking instrument, which was unveiled (and demonstrated hourly) at the New York World’s Fair 1939-40. Inside the tall rack of sturdy electronic gear was a pitch controlled reedy oscillator, a white-noise source, and ten bandpass resonant filters. For a Voder to “speak” a talented, diligently trained operator “performed” at a special console connected to the rack, using touch-sensitive keys and a foot-pedal. These controlled the electronic generating components. The results, while far from perfect (it was damn difficult to operate!), were still entertaining and instructive of the principles involved.

That whole article is a must-read, whether you’re a fan of Kubrick, Carlos, vocoders, or (most likely) all three:
“Vocoder Questions” by Kurt B. Reighley, Editor, CMJ New Music Monthly (interviewing Wendy Carlos) [wendycarlos.com]

People who love playable effects of any time ought to gain plenty of inspiration from that video. (And some of the basic ideas need not be limited to vocoders, either. By the way, anyone who doesn’t like keyboards — musical or qwerty — as input devices ought to have a good, long look at the dangly things attached to your palms. There are certain designs that make a lot of sense for biological reasons.)

2008: Depeche Mode in the Studio

I’m about to hear the new album shortly (and hopefully get to talk to the band), but it seems Depeche Mode are enjoying vocoders in the year 2008 — not bad for 1939 technology. Musical instruments may last that long, but electricity-powered inventions are often more short-lived. And it’s also comforting to know that playing with vocoders makes Depeche Mode get as goofy as the rest of us.

Via Depeche Mode News.

The release of the new album isn’t due until April 2009, but I should get to hear it this week (via legal means, don’t worry).

Vocoders in Your FL Studio

“A vocoder? Big news,” say the loyal fans of FL Studio (”fruity loops”) to these Ableton Live newcomers. FL Studio has a lovely vocoder integrated in the host. Musician and Webizen Mark Mosher is happy to get you up and running in this tutorial:

Using Sytrus as the synth carrier is fantastic, as that’s a really, really gorgeous synth (and one you Abletonites can use, too).

Found via Mark’s Twitter account, because the ongoing popularity of this tutorial means people are still watching and asking questions, even though this has been up for some time.

Of course, there are many, many other software solutions to vocoding, all a bit different — and it’s well worth exploring some of your options.

Vocoders at 2009 NAMM

Vocoders still make appearances in new product lines, making this arguably the most popular of the pre-synth vintage electronic instruments, beating out the Theremin.

GearWire got an up-close demo of the cute little Voice Box from Electro-Harmonic we saw last month. I still love this little box, and if this particular application doesn’t turn you on, it still seems like there’s interesting potential for synths and the like.

Also a big crowd-pleaser at NAMM is the Roland VP-770. Now, when Roland debuted their first “vocal ensemble synth,” it got a pretty resounding “meh” from everyone who saw it — pricey, limited, and even the Roland rep at the time had a tough time wrapping her head around it. But the new VP has a new engine, phantom power input, and a USB key, and in the hands of the right person doing the demo can be a big hit. It’s not all really vocoder stuff, but it does all fit into the voice-controller or “vocoderesque” category.

You’d need to be pretty committed to these effects to go buy a VP-770 — I’m sure Roland is expecting they can leverage their huge prowess in the “worship” market. But I bring up this video for another reason: whether you’re a VP fan or not, you can’t argue with the power that someone using their voice to control a synth can command. I think we may discover new ways of doing that with unique effects and synths that are only loosely related to the original vocoder. As real-time effects processing on computers gets better (thanks to lower latency and more processing power), I think we could see new, never-before-heard effects.

And speaking of new products, don’t forget that Korg’s revised microKORG, the XL has a new 16-band vocoder (Synthtopia write-up). Synthtopia notes that it’s a bit steep at US$750 — though, in fairness, that’s partly because of how cheap the original microKORG is. But for live performance, even as a huge computer advocate, I have to concede that you may prefer a hardware keyboard for vocoder effects, convenience, and reliability, and this is still cheaper than a lot of less-fun “workstations.” The only problem: you can get the similar Korg R3 with a full-sized keyboard and additional controls and features in the same price ballpark, or the simple-but-fun original microKORG for half the price. Updated: scratch that, because the XL has a $500 street, which is pretty damned good even in this economy. (Especially in this economy, I’d wager. That’s getting close to USB controller cheap.)

Synthtopia took this gorgeous shot that I have to reproduce here:

Korg has a strong pedigree in keyboards with built-in vocoders and talkbox settings. Dont mix the two up though.


And you…

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Source: createdigitalmusic.com

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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.
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Little Boots: Hot New Talent Brings Tenori-On AND Stylophone To Jools Holland!

November 10, 2008

Little Boots is the musical alter ego of Blackpool lass Victoria Hesketh, former singer with Dead Disco. At last week’s Later With Jools Holland show on BBC 2, Little Boots brought together vintage and new technologies, with a stunning performance that used both a Stylophone AND a Tenori-On!

Little Boots and her microKorg

Little Boots came to life when Victoria left her former band Dead Disco because, according to her, ‘It was obvious to me that indie was getting boring, and things were going to go more pop,’

So she got hold of a few synths (including a microKorg she never seens too far from), a stylophone and a Tenori-On – which she claims to push “to its limits”- and started making music inspired by the likes of The Bee Gees, though tracks such as “Medley” played at Jools Holland remind of edgier acts such as Bats For Lashes.

Watch her inspired performance at Jools Holland:

Find out more about Little Boots gear:

Yamaha Tenori-On

Dubreq Stylophone

Korg microKORG

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The Limited-Edition microKorg Black!

November 28, 2007

Now more funky than ever, this limited edition of the very successful and highly desirable microKORG synthesizer/vocoder  features a reversed keyboard, to play the massive sound of the microKORG.

Demand is said to be very high, and this is a one-off production run with only a limited number available. If you fancy one, you’d better hurry up before they all disappear! (£249 @ Dolphin Music – bargain!)

With its unique, easy-to-use interface and incredibly big sound, this little beast now looks even funkier than ever.

State-of-the-art analog modeling and multi-band vocoding are finally available in a compact, portable instrument. With 37 keys and 128 user-rewritable programs, the microKORG Synthesizer/Vocoder is perfect for the performer, producer, computer musician or beginner looking for an affordable synthesizer.

The microKorg is a very versatile instrument, at home or onstage, for rock bands and electronic acts alike.

Some features:

• High quality DSP analog modeling synthesizer and vocoder.
• 128 Programs, from classic analog to contemporary dance sounds.
• Sounds are grouped by music genres for easy access.
• Quick and easy editing thanks to five “Performance Edit” knobs.
• Light weight, compact and battery driven for use with computers and on stage.
• Includes microphones for immediate fun with the onboard vocoder.