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#569664 12/10/19 02:47 AM
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I'm a newbie when it comes to this stuff but I would like to get some informed suggestion from the experienced users.

I have a very simple setup but would like to improve its sound quality and usability (without breaking the bank). Currently I have BiaB running on a Dell laptop with the output going to an old set of Altec Lansing external computer speakers. I also have an RD800 Digital Piano connected to a set of Yamaha HS8 studio monitors. I use BiaB to create practice tracks to accompany myself and work on my piano skills. The sound quality of the piano is fine through the Yamaha speakers, but in general the sound output from my computer is lacking. This goes for BiaB and just about anything which originates on the PC.

So my question is this: Would it make sense to route the output of the computer to my Yamaha speakers so both my piano and computer are using the same monitors? If so, what is a good way to do this and improve the sound quality and usability of my setup.

Also, I don't know if this is practical, or useful, but I was wondering if it would be good to have the capability to connect other devices to my system like an iPad, iPhone, ZOOM recorder, etc.

I would also like to be able to bypass the speakers and just listen BiaB and my piano through a set of headphones. That way I can practice quietly without disturbing anyone.

I don't know if this is correct solution, but I'm envisioning a way to route all of my sound sources into a single device and then take that output and pass it to the studio monitors and/or headphones (or whatever output is appropriate).

You can probably tell that I'm ignorant about this, so any suggestions on hardware/software, etc. will be appreciated. I stopped at a music store yesterday and looked at a couple of items recommended by the sales person but I'm not sure if they even fit my needs. They were the PreSonus AUDIOBOX USB 96, and the ALESIS MULTIMIX4 USBFX.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

KLB #569681 12/10/19 06:03 AM
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At first, I was going to recommend the AudioBox USB 96, but after further thought, I think you need a higher capacity AudioBox, like the Studio 68. I use the AudioBox 44VSL, so I know the driver works. The Alesis isn't going to take you to the promised land.

The easy stuff:

1) Keep Windows audio on your internal (Dell) audio (RealTek?).

2) Configure BiaB to use the AudioBox (or other audio interface) ASIO driver.

Now for the tricky part...your digital piano.

I'm assuming that you're using the stereo Line Outs (L/R) directly into your Yamaha monitors, so you'll need an i/f that can handle 2 Line Inputs. After that, there are a lot of different ways to go. I'd be happy to do offer some one-on-one advice via email (before posting here whatever you finally wind up selecting). PM me if interested (click on my forum name).

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KLB #569684 12/10/19 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted By: KLB
So my question is this: Would it make sense to route the output of the computer to my Yamaha speakers so both my piano and computer are using the same monitors? If so, what is a good way to do this and improve the sound quality and usability of my setup?

Hi KLB. I looked up those studio monitors. They look nice and are powered. I would definitely get some sort of USB interface to plug your keyboard and laptop to and run the output of that to your speakers.

The PreSonus Audiobox looks like a better solution in your case than the Alesis. I guess it depends if you want to mix on a device or on a screen. Most of the popular interfaces just use on screen mixers now so you don't have to play with a big hunk of hardware.

These are fairly popular around here too and I use one as well.
Focusrite Scarlett Interfaces

Depending on how much gear you want to leave connected will help you decide how many channels you want. I have the big 18i20 so I can leave my keyboards, guitars, etc. always connected. If you are OK with few channels and just swapping cables, go with a small interface.




Steve

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KLB #569697 12/10/19 07:24 AM
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Good advice you've received so far. One thing to be sure of with whatever audio interface you choose is to be sure you have line in inputs available to receive the audio from your keyboard. Some Lower priced, fewer input devices from most manufacturers preamps are not line level but Mic/instrument level. Your keyboard will operate and interact with the audio device best with line levels.

The way you use your system and the way you want to connect everything together, I think your best choice is to purchase an analog mixer with USB interface. They are very reasonable in price, comparable to audio interfaces in quality of receiving and transferring data between the mixer and your computer. They have more inputs, outputs and routing options than any comparable priced audio interface will offer. You will get designated line level inputs and channels for connection your keyboard and other devices. It will have the capability to connect other devices to your system like an iPad, iPhone, ZOOM recorder, etc. without any issues. You will have the capability to record into your PC while at the same time record directly into your Zoom recorder or iPhone. With the right mixer, you can send different mixes to each recording device.

You have many options of different brands, varying counts of inputs and outputs, built in digital effects and USB connectivity.


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KLB #569736 12/10/19 11:15 AM
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Also when looking at an Audio interface check what freebies you get with it and the restrictions on the freebies.

For example, I looked for a new interface to replace one that was starting to play up. I cut it to two the Presonus 24C and a Focusrite both of which did just what I needed (even more). I was excited by the Presonus as it included Studio One Artist (not that I needed it) so that swayed the decision only to find the disappointing product limitations. Had I gone with the Focusrite there were other goodies and better options later.

Using an Audio interface will mean running via the computer even if you are only using the piano. The computer powers the Audio interface. But it will allow you to use both at the same time.

Just some of my experiences.

Tony


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KLB #569750 12/10/19 12:48 PM
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I'm a Presonus guy, as I use a Audiobox 1818VSL a little old but still very solid. I run it to my Lenovo laptop by USB and also connect my Akai MPKmini keyboard controller by USB. My output for the system is two M-Audio BX5a monitors. and a pair of headphones. I run BiaB and Presonus Studio One 4.60 Pro as my studio heart. and use my iPad connected to Studio one through the free Controller app. If I had a bigger Keyboard with Midi in/out I would also connect that to the audio box thru midi cables.

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Originally Posted By: Charlie Fogle
Good advice you've received so far. One thing to be sure of with whatever audio interface you choose is to be sure you have line in inputs available to receive the audio from your keyboard. Some Lower priced, fewer input devices from most manufacturers preamps are not line level but Mic/instrument level. Your keyboard will operate and interact with the audio device best with line levels.....................


Charlie,
Thanks for the heads up about line level inputs on the interface. Does that also mean that the interface should have line level outputs to run to the monitors? Since the Focusrite Scarlett products were mentioned above I'll use those as an example. Comparing the 2i2 to the 4i4, it looks like the 2i2 has line input but not output, whereas the 4i4 has line input and output (assuming that I'm even reading the specs correctly, which in highly questionable). At any rate, would both of those be equally good for my purposes, or would the 4i4 be preferred?

To be clear, I'm just using those two Focusrite interfaces as examples, but are they the sorts of products I should be looking at? Any other suggestions of brands or types of products to consider?

Thanks.

KLB #569767 12/10/19 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted By: KLB
Comparing the 2i2 to the 4i4, it looks like the 2i2 has line input but not output, whereas the 4i4 has line input and output (assuming that I'm even reading the specs correctly, which in highly questionable). At any rate, would both of those be equally good for my purposes, or would the 4i4 be preferred?

Those both have line inputs and outputs. The 4i4 has more ins and outs. You only need 2 outputs to go to your powered speakers (2i2). As mentioned before the more devices you want to connected simultaneously, the more inputs you will need.

As far as Focusrite or other brands, that's your choice. Every person here uses different interfaces, some Focusrite, some Presonus, some other brands. You just need to spend the time online looking at what you want and whether that will fill your needs. Sweetwater's Music Gear website is a good place to look at different brands together and compare features and prices.




Steve

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PC: Win11 PRO, 4 TB M2 SSD, 2 TB HD, 128 GB Memory
KLB #569768 12/10/19 01:40 PM
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The outputs will be the same for all the interfaces and will drive powered speakers. Don't purchase for your skill level or need you have for your studio today but for where you think you'll be in the near future. You don't say but if you also play live gigs, that would certainly be something I'd factor in to the type of gear I'd purchase. Otherwise, for studio use, calculate the most devices you will have running in any circumstance and determine how many inputs and outputs you may use.

Your list is currently keyboard, iPad, iPhone, ZOOM recorder, etc. all of which could use either two mono channels or a stereo. Then there's mics, and other instruments. You can use these devices without issue on a two channel audio interface but your workflow may benefit having more than one device available at a time.


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KLB #569813 12/10/19 05:00 PM
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I just wanted to point out something in your examples.
Even though they are the same brands, the difference between a 2i2 and a 4i4 are much more than just the physical inputs/outputs.

The 2i2 lacks the software mixer of the Focusrite models above it.
This was huge to me.
Just posting this in case it may help others in your situation.
If you go Focusrite, the 2i2 lacks an important aspect of all the other models .. not just because of more physical In/Outs, but because of the lack of software mixer.

I've had the 2i2, 4i4 and now the 18i20, and the 2i2 is the only one that lacked a software mixer .. and the Focusrite Control mixer is a very a nice feature for routing and signal control.


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Originally Posted By: rharv
I just wanted to point out something in your examples.
Even though they are the same brands, the difference between a 2i2 and a 4i4 are much more than just the physical inputs/outputs.

The 2i2 lacks the software mixer of the Focusrite models above it.
This was huge to me.
Just posting this in case it may help others in your situation.
If you go Focusrite, the 2i2 lacks an important aspect of all the other models .. not just because of more physical In/Outs, but because of the lack of software mixer.

I've had the 2i2, 4i4 and now the 18i20, and the 2i2 is the only one that lacked a software mixer .. and the Focusrite Control mixer is a very a nice feature for routing and signal control.


I think having a software mixer is one of the most important considerations. I use a Roland Octa-Capture and having total control of it via my computer is super nice. I will never purchase an audio-interface without a software mixer.


My goal this weekend is to move just enough each day so that no one pokes me to see if I'm dead or not.

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KLB #569865 12/11/19 03:06 AM
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Thanks to everyone who has responded thus far, taking the time to guide a neophyte. Your input has been very helpful in directing my research. While I still don't feel knowledgeable enough to make a really informed decision, at least I feel a little closer. It seems like Focusrite and Presonus are 2 of the brands that come up pretty consistently so I will probably concentrate on them for now. I know there are other great products that I could be considering but I need to narrow my decision somehow. From what I've gathered going with something a little above the Presonus or Focusrite lowest end products would be more than adequate for my needs. This is strictly for home use. I am a professional musician, but NOT a keyboard player so I won't be gigging with this setup. I just want to get a nice little home setup for use with my digital piano, computer, BiaB, monitors, headphones, etc. mostly for use with my practicing. I don't need a high end setup, but on the other hand I don't want make it so restrictive that I'll regret my decision down the road because I overlooked some important feature.

Thanks again to everyone for covering ground you've probably been over a million times. Also thanks in advance if anyone has any additional thoughts.

KLB #569866 12/11/19 03:09 AM
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Thanks again folks. Every post is pointing out something I was unaware of and is making my decision a little more informed.

KLB #569871 12/11/19 03:39 AM
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Based mostly on price at this point, it's looking like the Presonus Studio 24C or 26C and the Focusrite 4i4 might worth considering for my purposes. Ranging from a sale price of 140 for the 24c to 230 for the 4i4. Any thoughts on the advantages/drawbacks of the above options? Thanks!

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MarioD and I recently had a discussion about recording over in the Recording Forum section. The focus of that conversation stems from a Musician that abandoned PC based studio to a more simple All in One solution that allowed him to complete a high end recording session with less complex technology.

MarioD referenced a PC based Studio in the $300 range for a home studio that assumed one already has a PC. It presented audio interface, monitors, headphones, mic and accessories.

I detailed the stand alone unit that musician chose for his recording that budgeted at $45,000.

He chose and recorded and mixed his album project with a Tascam DP-24. It is a digital multi track recorder and mixer. It currently sells for $479.99.

If you're not interested in becoming an engineer, mixer or producer, then this may be an option for your studio. You will still have easy access to importing your recordings into your PC for further processing with a DAW, Printing CD's and sharing your work but will also have a device to connect and use multiple devices at once, and be working on a system you can learn in a day...

Here's a LINK to that post and a comparison between equally cost valued PC/Software System and a Hardware studio.


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Charlie,
Thanks for the link and info. The $480 is a bit steeper than I was planning to go, but the info is interesting and informative. I've definitely learned some things from all of these posts. Thanks again!

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You can drastically cut the cost by choosing the DP-03 while retaining most of the editing software and dynamics and effects. You will lose 6 preamps and inputs and 184 virtual tracks but it's features are good enough to make a recording of equal quality as the DP-24. For the same price and essentially the same effects, dynamics and inputs, the Zoom R8 is a good choice. It also functions as an audio interface, controller and sampler. It is more versatile that the Tascam units. The R8 would be a perfect match with RealBand if RB was updated to operate with a midi controller. I would really like to see Zoom and PGMusic collaborate the same as PGMusic worked to develop the DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator and Looper Pedal. Zoom's LiveTrak L-12/20 and their just introduced L8 would make a really nice, quality home recording setup. The L8 retails for only $400 and would be a comparable choice to the DP-24. It's sole drawback to me is it's tweaked to be a mixer first and recorder second when it comes to features. That drawback is completely overcome by its audio interface feature.


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Charlie,
Thanks for the additional info.

To be honest I'm a little overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. I initially started down this path because I wanted a way to combine the output from BiaB with that of my Roland RD800 digital piano. Playing the piano through my studio monitors, and BiaB through some old PC speakers, wasn't cutting it. Being ignorant of most of the technology my first thought was some type of hardware (mixer?) to connect the computer and piano outputs and pipe the combined sound to my studio monitors. When I started looking into it the first option suggested was an audio interface. At that point I began looking at the Presonus and Focusrite products. I didn't have a clue what an audio interface was but it seemed like most people (and online resources) considered them as the heart of a studio setup. I figured it would be good for me to get up to speed, or at least become familiar with one. I also discovered interfaces were typically packaged with a lot of other potentially useful tools, so an interface seemed to make sense.

As regards interfaces I've been considering the Presonus 24C/26C or Focusrite 4i4, although they are probably overkill for my immediate purposes. It was mentioned above that line inputs would be important for my digital piano so I've been trying to keep that in mind when looking at products. Also, I'm not sure it should factor in, but I have my piano connected to the computer via midi for Sibelius. I use Sibelius a lot, but currently not that frequently through midi. In any case, I was thinking that midi connections might be useful on an interface. I guess in general If I decide to get an interface I don't want to limit a reasonable amount of expandability or growth.

So a basic question for a newbie like me is:
Does it make sense to get up to speed with a popular audio interface as an entry point into all of this technology. Interfaces seem to be so prevalent that I'm a bit hesitant about going down a hardware based path, but that's based on nothing but gut feelings. Also, I guess I'm experiencing a lot of "mission creep" and now I'm entranced with all of the additional software tools packaged with interfaces, even though I'm probably too ignorant to use most of them.

Thanks again.

P.S. Next majorly stupid question. Will utilizing a decent audio interface allow me to get better sounds out of BiaB? When I first got BiaB I spent a lot of time trying to configure the MIDI/Audio driver setup, but still a lot of the BiaB sounds are really crappy. Will an audio interface allow for potentially better sounds, or is that a whole separate issue dealing with sound libraries, patches, whatever????

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Here is my take on this:

1-Of your two audio interface choices I would get the Focusrite 4i4. A lot of forum members use Focusrite interfaces so you would get more help, if needed, using one. You will have 4 line inputs so you can have your RD-800 in stereo mode with two other line inputs still available. Plus you will also have two inputs in the front of the unit for mics, guitars, etc. You can have your RD-800 MIDI set up as you do now along with the above audio outputs.

2-No, no audio interface will improve BiaB MIDI sounds. This is an another whole subject but to improve BiaB MIDI sounds you will need better sounds sources. A rule of thumb is the more a MIDI sound source will cost the better the sound will be, period. We can talk about that later if need be.

3-BUT to improve RT sounds you will definitely have to replace your computer speakers with near field monitors. Near field monitors can be expensive. But even a pair of Presonus Eris E3.5-3.5" Near Field Studio Monitor (Pair) (E3.5) for $99 USD would sound a lot better than those computer speakers:

https://www.amazon.com/PreSonus-Eris-E3-...0665&sr=8-6


My goal this weekend is to move just enough each day so that no one pokes me to see if I'm dead or not.

64 bit Win 10 Pro, the latest BiaB/RB, Roland Octa-Capture audio interface, a ton of software/hardware
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A good audio interface is not overkill. It literally becomes the heart of your system. Also as Mario said a decent set of monitors helps when it comes to mixing. They need not be super expensive as the purpose isn’t to sound incredible, but to give a flat uncolored response so the you don’t over or under bass out a song. They are also commonly called reference monitors. Because help you reference what is a sound that will play well on many different types of systems. Car stereo, headphone, home audio etc.

Like the pic I posted for my system it is not impressive, but very effective. A good interface, decent monitors, a solid laptop, a small midi controller, and a suite of awesome software.


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