Can a keyboard/synth host a separate midi controller?


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Hi all,

My current setup is a Yamaha keyboard, plus then a separate midi controller (which happens to be a keytar) which I feed through an iPad using Garageband as a software synth. The iPad is a bit flaky sound-wise though, and I'd ideally like to have both sets of keys going through one connection to the PA.

I think the most obvious way to do this would be to plug both into a laptop (i.e. two midi controllers) running Ableton or Garageband or anything else, and have all my patches in there. I'm slightly against using a laptop though, as I just see it as another thing to carry around, a risk if it decides to install updates when I'm gigging etc.

What I'd ideally like is a keyboard/workstation that can control itself, but also take the USB connection of the midi controller and provide the voices independently for that too. So, on the keyboard I'd be selecting "for the main keyboard use voice Grand Piano, but on the external midi controller use voice Sawtooth". Is this possible? Does anyone run this kind of setup?

I should say that I'm not exactly clued up with midi and synths etc. I work in IT as a programmer so I'm tech savvy to some extent, but music production is a new thing for me. Really appreciate any guidance on this.
 
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happyrat1

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You have a few options.

First of all there are very few keyboards on the market that can act as a USB to MIDI Host. The new Kurzweil PC4 is one of them.

Otherwise a cheaper solution is to either get a keytar with a proper MIDI port or else invest in a standalone USB MIDI Host.

Here's links to a few of them. They range in price from cheap but not too reliable to costly but reliable.






Gary ;)
 
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Korg Kronos and (with the newest updates) Yamaha Montage/MODX can also support an external USB keyboard. But yeah, you're better off using a controller that has a standard MIDI connection rather than using USB. Especially in a keytar situation where you will further benefit from standard MIDI's longer cable length reliability and more solid physical connections. And then there are tons of host keyboards that will work.
 
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Thanks Gary - the keytar has a midi out too, but with USB it’s wireless, which of course is a big advantage when you’re wearing the thing. If those devices can convert between USB and midi though then definitely an option.

Just seems strange to me that seemingly everyone is using a laptop to run midi through - thought having a standalone dedicated bit of hardware that takes multiple inputs instead of a computer would be a common thing to do.

Oh well, I have much to learn... :)
 

happyrat1

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One caveat about using a USB to MIDI Host. They will only work with a device that's USB MIDI Class compliant. If your Keytar's USB requires proprietary drivers then all bets are off.

I agree with Scott. Use a standard MDI cable for your hookup if the keytar and keyboard both have DIN MIDI ports.

Gary ;)
 

SeaGtGruff

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If you're using an iPad now and are connecting the keytar to the iPad wirelessly, you could just use the iPad as a MIDI router to send the keytar's MIDI to the keyboard. The Midiflow app has a free version that can route MIDI between devices or apps.
 
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Yes, there are numerous iOS apps that should be able to take the USB MIDI keytar input and send them to an attached keyboard (assuming the keyboard itself does not respond to the wireless dongle). Other candidates would be iMidiPatchbay, Keystage, Camelot Pro.
 
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Thanks for the advice. I had a bit of a hiccup in that my keytar had packed up, but got that sorted now so will try and take it along to a music store to try things out before spending money.

Just to mention, the USB dongle plugs into iPad using what Apple call the Camera Connection Kit (which basically allows you to plug a normal USB device into the iPad port), and it then works with Garageband, DRC, Korg apps etc., so I'm assuming therefore it's pretty standard stuff rather than proprietary. Fingers crossed that means other keyboards can recognise it too...

I still get the feeling I'm fighting a losing battle here and I'll end up sending everything through a laptop :-D
 

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