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Thread Software Suggestions

  • 9 replies
  • 5 participants
1 Software Suggestions
Hi All,

I have been playing and writing music for piano for a couple of years and would like to take the step to integrate my digital piano with my computer (Windows Vista). I have looked at various pieces of software but a lot of the information and terminology goes over my head.
What I basically want to do is be able to record midi from my piano into the computer, and, once in the computer, I want to be able to change the tune to other realistic-sounding instruments (no 16 bit Super Nintendo nonsense). I would then be able to layer the different instruments on top of each other to produce a score.

Please can you advise what software I might want to look at, and what the crucial factors should be when making my decision. Additionally, do I need a special sound card to be able to do anything like this?

I have got:
Windows Vista PC
Yamaha Clavinova digital piano
Midi to USB cable

Thank you for your help,

Hi Tom,
There are many virtual instruments and MIDI software/samplers you can use. Depending on the kind of MIDI instruments you want to use you can have a look at Native Instruments, they have a free Kontakt player that you can try before maybe jumping to the full version. Kontakt accepts third party instrument banks apart from their own virtual instruments, so the choice of instruments you can use is very interesting. MOTU MachFive and the UVI Workstation are also an option for "general" instruments.

If you need only pianos, have a look at Synthogy and Pianoteq for example.
Then, depending on your budget, if you're looking for orchestral instruments, VSL and EastWest/Quantum Leap are almost must-haves but quite expensive, Spitfire also, LASS...

You might also consider acquiring a DAW and here again, it's a big world : Cubase, Studio One, Sonar, Pro Tools, Reaper (free) and many more, the list is long. Most of the time they ship with virtual instruments and effects and sound banks. A DAW will give you the opportunity to both send the sound of your Clavinova and record it as an audio source and use it as a MIDI Controller for controlling virtual instruments.

I'm sure other users will complete my list, this is not exclusive. ;)

You can find news and tests on the instruments and DAWs I talked to you about on the website.
Welcome to the big world of Computer Music :)

[ Post last edited on 01/22/2013 at 13:10:36 ]

Hello and thank you for your help.

I'm struggling with the differences between the midi software/samplers and DAW. Can you please explain what both of these are? I have looked at Kontakt's website which all looks very interesting, but as a lot of the products are sold in bundles it's muddled me up as to what does what.

Thanks again,
Hi Tom,
I'll try to be as clear as possible but it's late here and it's been a long day so I apologize in advance if the information is simplified, incomplete or not quite clear.
First of all, you have to understand the difference between a MIDI and an Audio signal. MIDI is a digital communication protocol that translates notes or other music information into readable music data. Audio is "only" frequency signals. This difference explains why MIDI data can be easily changed (the pitch of a note for example), while audio cannot (though the new technology now allows a lot of tweaks on Audio, see Melodyne for example).

A Sampler will let you handle virtual instruments and effects, it reads information included in the MIDI or Audio bank and also offers a graphic interface for reading and tweaking these instruments (which in fact are a sum of instrument or effect sound samples, often in WAV or AIFF format with additionnal information compiled in "Instruments" or "Patches"...). For example if you want to use a virtual piano with a reverb (like a Synthogy Ivory piano or Native Instruments Alicia's Keys, or Addictive Pianos), using every sample of every note is just impossible (or you'll get crazy) so they are all compiled in an Instrument for a sampler which will read all the notes and effects and accept tweaks.

These samplers can be used alone (in standalone) or as Virtual Instruments (VST for Cubase, Studio One, Reaper... , AU for Logic, RTAS/AAX for Pro Tools...) that are inserted in a DAW.

The DAW is the "core" production software in which you record all your real (audio) and virtual instruments, and mix them together to create a song. They now both sport Virtual Instruments and Audio tracks. On the first ones you will insert virtual instruments and play them with your hardware keyboard (your Clavinova with MIDI USB connection). There won't be any sound playing on these tracks unless you use the MIDI protocol.

On the second ones you will record directly the "dry" sound of your real instruments (a guitar, a microphone, your Clavinova using the audio output of the instrument connected to an audio interface which is connected to your computer via USB or FireWire). You can also insert processing plugins on these tracks, for adding a virtual amplifier to your guitar or a compressor to a bass, but you won't be able to control the instrument notes in the piano roll (where you can see the MID notes and change the pitch of a note, its length because there's no MIDI, only audio...) like with a MIDI instrument.

there's more you can do in a DAW but I guess that's enough for lesson 1 ;)

Regarding the virtual instruments, not all virtual instruments sell in bundles, though you will often find several types of pianos in a virtual piano instrument, etc. For example, in the Native Instruments Komplete, the instruments can be purchased separately.

Hope this helps. Feel free to complete or correct this very summarized description if necessary.
Cheers !
Okay, please let me make sure I understand.

[*] Audio signal is the actual sound of an instrument played through the computer as a sample.[newline][*] Midi is a matrix telling the computer when and at what pitch you want to hear a particular sound.[newline]
So, if I want to be able to reproduce a realistic instrument sound, I need a sampler/virtual instrument, which includes a collection of audio signals, which can be used in a DAW and sequenced as a midi file?

So, I buy the digital instrument for it's sounds, but I need a midi sequencer/DAW to actually assemble the notes on the computer (if I don't want to record it all in/tweak).

Please let me know if I'm going up the wrong track!

Hi Tom,
Sorry for the late reply, it's been a little crazy lately (hope you enjoyed the NAMM by the way).

A virtual instrument can include MIDI and/or audio files (it's a kind of advance sound bank), and yes, they are made to be editable with a piano roll in a DAW as MIDI notes (when I say note, it can also be a drum sound but it will be mapped to your keyboard notes for easier editing).

Unless the virtual instrument ships with its sample player, you will always need a sample player or virtual sampler to play the virtual instrument. And if you want to record your virtual instruments in a composition, you will need a DAW.

The question is, what sampler can I use ? Well it depends on the virtual instruments you will use. As I said before, they don't all use the same sampler, so you'll have to check when you buy your virtual instrument.

Is it clearer now ?
For me I recommend FL Studio Producer edition or if you have limited money I advise

1. BTVSolo software this software support midi function.
2. Dubturbo software this software don't need to use midi piano because included program.


Reaper is also excellent, and it's free, but I never recommend any particular DAW (as an Admin, I keep some impartiality). Anyone can try most of them for free to get their own opinion, but thanks for the advice.
There are many software now available online. This software is easy to use and it also includes tutorials that take you step by step through how to use it and how to make any style of beat you want. :bravo:
This is a very personal decision you must try and decide after the experience but the good thing is you can download reaper free and evaluate before spending any money.