Basic software for midi keyboard


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I am looking at a Samson Carbon 49 so I can practice when I'm away from my piano. I will be connecting it to a Surface Pro. What is the minimum software that needs to be installed to recognize the midi device? I don't think I will ever get into multi track recording so am trying to stay away from cakewalk or audacity. I just need piano and maybe a few other instruments.
 
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happyrat1

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All you'd need is a VST or two to supply the sound and a VST Host Software to enable the keyboard to play them in standalone mode.

Both are available as multiple freeware downloads if you google them.

Gary ;)
 
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So is the VST host the main program and the VST file the instrument? Any ones you recommend?
 

happyrat1

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There are literally hundreds of free VSTs out there. Your first few hits in google will lead you to dozens.

I'd suggest test driving some of the more popular ones.

Personally I don't use software instruments and I don't run Windows so I can't really recommend anything specific.

Gary ;)
 
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VST hosts that are not DAWs would be GigPerformer and Cantabile. Cantabile is free for its basic version. You can then load your desired VSTs into either of them. Also, some VSTs include "standalone" versions that don't require a host, if you're just playing the one VST. (Hosts allow you to play multiple VSTs.) So depending on which VST instrument you select, you may not need separate host software at all.

You may also need to download and install the ASIO4ALL driver and/or possibly add an external audio interface to avoid latency issues on your Surface Pro (i.e. if you find too much delay between when you hit a key on your Carbon and when you hear the sound). Since your Surface Pro has only one USB port, I'd look for an audio interface that also doubles as a MIDI interface, otherwise you'll need a USB hub to have enough USB ports to connect your Carbon and your audio interface at the same time. There are not many of these. The one I use is the Alesis Control Hub.
 
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Scott, thanks for the response. For a newbie this can all be overwhelming. I have done some research and ran across a product called Mini Grand by Air. It looks like a good place to start if I don't find any freeware.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I have several virtual instruments from AIR, as well as some from Arturia, UVI, and others. AIR makes a couple of general purpose instruments, sort of like collections of General MIDI instruments but expanded. They also make more dedicated instruments, like acoustic piano, drawbar organ, virtual analog soft synths, etc.
 
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To answer "What is the minimum software that needs to be installed to recognize the midi device?," an answer may be "VirtualMIDISynth" by Coolsoft. A web search will locate this. I used this to simply be able to play decent piano sounds, using the computer keyboard. There is a general arrangement mapping piano keyboard to qwerty computer keyboard.

This sounds simple but it is actually pretty involved. You need some software to read the input notes and produce a sound that will come out of the speakers. It has to know what sound to play, and where to send the sound. For the input device, you need a driver. These all need to play nice together.

VirtualMIDISynth was developed to make this easier than it otherwise is, and have good sounds. [Windows has a built in midi player but it is cartoony sounding.]

If you get this installed, it may be easy to plug your Carbon in, and have it be recognized as the input device / midi "event generator."

The information at their website is pretty good for those new to all of this.

I think a good plan would be to get up and running with something like this, especially using free stuff. Then, as you figure out how it all works, then considering the upgrades and add-ons. They will make sense once you see how the complicated set-up works.

From that, you may want to figure out DAW, a digital audio work station, which can do a lot including composing and audio mixing and recording. There is the "VST" format in which any number of different types of virtual instruments might be made, but they follow the "VST" format and need to be in a "VST host," like a keurig pod needs to be in a Keurig machine to give you a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot cocoa. The DAW is the VST host.

DAWs are complicated. A well-known one, for free, is "reaper," at reaper dot fm.

I think if you goofed around with that, you would end up knowing what you want and need in a DAW, and then would be in a good position to shop for a more professional or complete DAW, as they go from $100 to $1,000 and beyond.

The VST world is awesome - you want a full, great-sounding pipe organ? Just download. Mellotron? Modular synth? replication of a Yamaha CS80? Realistic sax? Just download. Be forewarned that there is no end to what a decent computer and DAW can allow you to play, via these VSTs.
 
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