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Old 04-19-2011, 07:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Keytar and MIDI noob... I need help.

Hi guys. So I'm just about to purchase a keytar with MIDI plug-in to use in my band. I play piano/guitar/bass blah blah but basically I am completely new to electronic music production and MIDI scares the **** out of me because I don't understand it!

Basically, I understand that the keytar is a MIDI controller so it doesn't actually make any sound on its own. I need to connect it to some kind of sound module to actually get sound to come out. So what do I connect it to? A laptop/ computer? Do I need to purchase a synthesiser to connect it to? Or can I just download software onto my computer? Or is there some other gadget I can use? Help!

Also, once I've got the setup and got the keytar connected to some sort of sound module, what would a live set-up be like? How would you connect a keytar and MIDI sound module to a PA system? Would you just connect the keytar to the computer/sound system/synth and then run a specialised cable from the computer/sound system/synth to the PA system?

Please help, and please try to explain your answer as simply as possible as I am a totally noob to all this electronic music production stuff!

Cheers.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
Hi guys. So I'm just about to purchase a keytar with MIDI plug-in to use in my band. I play piano/guitar/bass blah blah but basically I am completely new to electronic music production and MIDI scares the **** out of me because I don't understand it!

Basically, I understand that the keytar is a MIDI controller so it doesn't actually make any sound on its own. I need to connect it to some kind of sound module to actually get sound to come out. So what do I connect it to? A laptop/ computer? Do I need to purchase a synthesiser to connect it to? Or can I just download software onto my computer? Or is there some other gadget I can use? Help!

Also, once I've got the setup and got the keytar connected to some sort of sound module, what would a live set-up be like? How would you connect a keytar and MIDI sound module to a PA system? Would you just connect the keytar to the computer/sound system/synth and then run a specialised cable from the computer/sound system/synth to the PA system?

Please help, and please try to explain your answer as simply as possible as I am a totally noob to all this electronic music production stuff!

Cheers.
To keep it as simple as possible, MIDI is just a way for a device to send triggering data to another device. Like you said, the controller isn't the source of the sounds you're trying to trigger. You need some kind of synthesizer or sound source.

You can do it in different ways. If you have a standalone hardware synthesizer with a MIDI input, you can simply connect your keytar's MIDI out, with a standard MIDI cable, to the MIDI input on your synthesizer (provided it has one), and then plug the main audio outputs from the synthesizer into the PA system using standard TRS audio cables. Barring any particular need to "turn on" any MIDI functionality on the synthesizer itself, you should be good to go.

If you don't have a hardware synthesizer, you can use a computer (laptop will probably be best for live application), and trigger a software synthesizer via your MIDI controller. Since laptops don't really come with a MIDI port by default, you'll probably need to get a MIDI-to-USB interface. (something like this: $7.67 - USB to MIDI Cable with 16 MIDI Input/Output Channels (1.8-Meter) - USB Gadgets)

Software synths are prolific, and you can even get some good ones for free. (You can actually get pretty much all of them for free... PM me for details)
Once you have a software synth that you want to use, loaded up, and your MIDI controller is plugged into the computer via the MIDI interface, you can simply plug your computers audio out(s) to the PA system using standard TRS audio cables (you might need a TRS 1/8th inch to plug into your audio output on the computer), and you should be good to go.

P.S. You can use a sampler in place of a synthesizer if you want. Basically, anything that can produce the sound you want, and can be controlled via MIDI, is what you're aiming for.

So in recap, you need:

- MIDI controller (Which you have)
- MIDI cable (uber cheap)
- SYNTHESIZER/SAMPLER (either hardware or software)
- LAPTOP (if using software synth/sampler)
- MIDI-to-USB interface (if using laptop)
- STANDARD AUDIO CABLES
- plus whatever amplification/PA system you'll be using at the show
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for all of that info! Big help as I didn't really know what I was doing... love the recap haha. What would I do without you and you're technical assistance I don't know!
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default A question to be fielded regarding Midi

So imagine this setup...

Laptop ------> Pa System
Midi Controller ---------> Laptop


Is a midi/usb interface necessary? Is the cord enough?

Or will I be able to control all of my controller's functions and parameters simply with a USB cord to the laptop?

My reasoning is that a sole cord has worked with GarageBand (and I'm guessing other DAWs) without the need of a midi box.

Since the sound is coming from the laptop, not the controller itself, couldn't I in theory bypass the need for a USB interface?
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Stello View Post
So imagine this setup...

Laptop ------> Pa System
Midi Controller ---------> Laptop


Is a midi/usb interface necessary? Is the cord enough?

Or will I be able to control all of my controller's functions and parameters simply with a USB cord to the laptop?

My reasoning is that a sole cord has worked with GarageBand (and I'm guessing other DAWs) without the need of a midi box.

Since the sound is coming from the laptop, not the controller itself, couldn't I in theory bypass the need for a USB interface?
It depends on the controller. If the controller has only a midi port on it, and your laptop doesn't, you need a midi-to-usb converter/interface. If the controller uses usb (which means it probably has an internal midi-to-usb converter), then you don't.
It has nothing to do with where the sound is originating. If a controller sends midi data to your laptop via a midi port, how on earth is a usb cable going to help you? It's more than just the type of cable. It's two completely different transmit signaling methods.

Not to fear, though, something as simple as this:

Is extremely cheap. As little as 5 dollars.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post

You can do it in different ways. If you have a standalone hardware synthesizer with a MIDI input, you can simply connect your keytar's MIDI out, with a standard MIDI cable, to the MIDI input on your synthesizer (provided it has one), and then plug the main audio outputs from the synthesizer into the PA system using standard TRS audio cables.
Hello my friends, I am new to this whole business too.
Ok so I wanna check if my hypothesis is correct. I have a CASIO keyboard which has a a MIDI in and out slot (they both have 5 little holes, if this is in any way relevant.) I was thinking of getting a Yamaha shs-10 or Alesis Vortex as they are within my budget.

So am I right by saying that if I connect my keytar to the keyboard with a MIDI cable, I should hear my keytar's sound coming from the keyboard's speakers? I could then plug it into better speakers and a PA system if needs be to amplify it right?

Ok one more question, Could I in any way play my keyboard's sounds through the keytar?

I would greatly appreciate a reply because I recently discovered this wonderful instrument and want to start playing it.
Thank you very much my friends and take care
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:55 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hello my friend. Thank you for replying to my post. I have a few queries if you don't mind answering. So lets say my keytar has built in sounds, I won't be able to hear them through my my keyboard speakers when plugged to it? If yes then is there a way to amplify these built in sounds coming from the keytar itself? And referring to your post, so if i connected a keytar to my keyboard, the keytar would act like a sort of remote control? So basically I'd be playing the sounds of my keyboard, but standing up and dancing like crazy with my keytar? Pretty cool. And lets say my keyboard has 61 keys, and my keytar has 32, would that mean that the keytar would play the first 32 notes of the keyboard?

And moving on to the computer software. Would I need a really fast computer to run it well? This idea of getting an unlimited array of sounds for the keytar sounds fabulous! And also would this functionality be compatible with a keytar from the 1980s?
Thanks very much again
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