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Topic: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

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  1. #1

    Question So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    Hey everybody!

    I'm hoping to set up my laptop with an external USB MIDI Keyboard and use Alicia's Keys piano VST sounds to play back.
    So I was browsing on the net, looking for a simple keyboard that I could use and came upon this: http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...ation88es.html
    The program in which I want to do all this is Finale 2010.
    My laptop specifications are here [from DX Diagnostics]: http://www.box.com/s/65j55uxeqbi7od5quc96

    So my idea is to buy that keyboard, hook it up to my laptop's USB, launch Finale 2010, then load up Alicia's Keys VST and then play on my keyboard. Will it work? I have concerns about latency (delay when pressing the keys) and the sound in general. If there are any problems with this setup, can you please point them out and suggest a solution? Cause I don't want to spend a lot of money on that keyboard only to find that it doesn't work. Cheers and looking forward to helpful replies

    Brindle
    'Music is like this pure thing that exists for its own sake, just to make something perfect..' ~ Ephram Brown

  2. #2

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    It's unfortunate that you're using Vista. It might give troubles, even though you have 4 GB RAM. You'd be better with either (a) Windows XP, or (b) more memory. But I'm not certain that there will be a problem. I'm only saying that Vista is a resource hog.

    To find out, check the Task Manager. While running NO apps at all ... how much free memory do you have? If you have at least 1 GB (or 1000 MB) free, you'll probably be okay. And 1.5 to 2 GB free would be better.

    In any case, you'll likely need an external sound card. The sound cards in computers aren't very good, especially in laptops. They'll often produce high latency that you won't be able to eliminate. To combat that, I use the Presonus AudioBox USB. It's attached via USB. It's easy to install, and it's not expensive ... $150 new, or about half that used.

    It also provides the MIDI connection ... which most people need because computer generally don't have a MIDI interface. But the M-Audio keyboard you're looking at claims to have a USB interface, so that should work.

    BTW, M-Audio also makes a suitable external sound card, the Fast Track Pro USB.

    I'm concerned about the M-Audio's keyboard quality, though. Among Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai keyboards, you have to spend at least $1000 to get one with a good keyboard action. The lower priced ones have crappy keyboards. Regardless, I'd strongly recommend that you try ANY keyboard before you buy it. You have to choose one that feels right.

    I notice that your listing didn't specify the disk drive speeds. If they're 7200 RPM, you're okay. If they're 5400 RPM, then it's very iffy.

  3. #3

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    Okay so I think that my local HDD might be 5400 rpm but I also have an external HDD - Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 2TB which should have 7200 rpm.. so if I install my VST onto the external drive, it should improve things, right?

    Also, having checked my RAM: it says I have 0.98GB used after a fresh restart and nothing running. 2782 MB is cached and 15 MB is free. Is that okay?

    Supposing I do install the VST onto the external drive and perhaps install Win 7 as well (if there's still a problem with the RAM, I don't really know), would I be all set?

    PS. Is there a way of actually finding out how much latency (etc) I would have BEFORE buying that keyboard?
    'Music is like this pure thing that exists for its own sake, just to make something perfect..' ~ Ephram Brown

  4. #4

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brindle View Post
    Okay so I think that my local HDD might be 5400 rpm but I also have an external HDD - Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 2TB which should have 7200 rpm.. so if I install my VST onto the external drive, it should improve things, right?
    Don't use an external drive. The drive may be fast, but the interface is slow. Replace the internal 5400 with a 7200.
    It says I have 0.98GB used after a fresh restart and nothing running. 2782 MB is cached and 15 MB is free. Is that okay?
    15 MB free? No good. You'll need to add 2 GB of RAM ... if the box can accept it.
    Is there a way of actually finding out how much latency (etc) I would have BEFORE buying that keyboard?
    You will have latency. To eliminate it, you will need an external sound card. It has nothing to do with the keyboard. It's dependent on the sound card and it's driver.

    The RAM upgrade and disk drive replacement will cost over $100 (maybe more because drive prices are way up just now).

    Is this computer worth such an upgrade? You might be better off replacing it.

  5. #5

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    I read about Vista's handling of RAM and how I see it, it's actually 'supposed' to be like that.. if you google a bit, I'm sure you'll find the same. It 'cache's all available free memory so you will have faster access to things, I think.

    What's wrong with my soundcard?
    'Music is like this pure thing that exists for its own sake, just to make something perfect..' ~ Ephram Brown

  6. #6

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brindle View Post
    I read about Vista's handling of RAM and how I see it, it's actually 'supposed' to be like that.
    I didn't know that.

    What's wrong with my soundcard?
    The sound quality of a PC sound card is marginal. It's best to replace it. After all, you don't want to feed the finest quality sound from a piano library into a mediocre sound card.

    More importantly, PC sound cards will give high latency. In general, you need an external sound card and an ASIO driver to get rid of the latency. Some few people have been able to achieve that with a regular PC sound card and the ASIO4All driver. But, as far as I can tell, this is rare.

  7. #7

    Re: So I'm looking to set up the following.. will it work?

    My Dell E6500 laptop works just fine with it's internal soundcard and the ASIO4ALL driver. I am using it with what is considered a resource hungry piano (EWQLP), and it is absolutely fine. I have also run a test that determines it's frequency response & signal to noise ratio etc - and it is fine in that regard too. (not AS good as my external pro quality USB interface - the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra, but still very good)

    However, there's one very important feature that this misses out on - multi-client. I like to play music at the same time I am playing piano, when I am learning songs. As far as I can tell, ASIO4ALL does not allow this, so I'd have to find another way of mixing the two sound sources together. (e.g, a small mixer). My external interface (an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra) does allow this - it can stream from ASIO and normal Windows apps simultaneously. Very useful indeed. I will contact the ASIO4ALL author and tell him about this issue - he may have a solution, or may even take it onboard as a future enhancement.

    Greg.

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