Digital Piano to control synth modules

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goosedinner
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Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by goosedinner » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:52 pm

I need some help

I want to get either a digital piano or a synthesizer. I would love to get a synthesizer because of the beautiful sounds it can make. However, I have decided to commit to a digital piano first. I played the piano in my youth, and would like something that has 88 keys, with hammer action keys that feel as realistic as possible, to a piano.

That doesn't stop me from going on youtube to watch videos demos of the many analogue synths from Korg, Roland, DSI, Alesis.... The varieties and possibilities are endless, and I simply spend too much time enjoying these videos.

So, instead of just wanting a digital piano, I want one that has midi or usb functionality, so that I may control synthesizers as modules. I am just afraid that the connectivity will be "slow" or "sluggish". I am new to the term "velocity curves", and don't know if this applies.

Does anyone know of good digital pianos out there, with good midi or usb in/outputs, that can be a good controller for synth modules, say... a module like DSI Prophet 08?

Cybermonday is upon us again. I am about to pull the trigger on the Casio PX 350. http://www.casio-usa.com/products/Digit ... PX-350MWE/ The web site says it has USB/Midi functionality, but I am not sure... There is no way for me to try this instrument first, or to hook it up to any synth modules.

Does anyone have experience and input on this? Thank you for reading.

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meatballfulton
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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:36 pm

Believe it or not, you will have a harder time finding a digital piano that does not have MIDI these days.

What to look for is whether it has only MIDI over USB or whether it has actual MIDI connectors (5-pin DIN jacks). If it has only the USB connection it will only connect to your computer, which is bad if you want to connect to hardware synths.

Digital pianos usually have onboard speakers but synthesizers seldom do, so when you connect the piano to control synthesizers you will still need a way to amplify them. Some pianos have audio inputs (usually on RCA jacks or a 1/8" stereo connection) that would let you route audio from a synthesizer through it's speakers.

Good luck.
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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by goosedinner » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:00 pm

Thanks for your response meatballfulton

I checked the manual for the digital piano, it has the following inputs and outputs. Below is an image where I cropped bits of relevant info from the manual.

I think this will work, but am not sure. Basically, it would be nice if this digital piano can behave like a standalone MIDI controller for synth modules.

Image

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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by fh991586 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:30 pm

The connections are ok for what you are looking for. The only thing missing if the audio output: does this piano have speakers? If not, you'll need amplification. The good news is that it can receive audio in, so you won't need a mixer if you only use one other module with this piano: just plug its out into these ins, and both sounds will go throught the piano's outs.
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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by gcoudert » Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:45 pm

I used a Yamaha P-150 as a digital piano and MIDI controller for 14 years. It has independent MIDI in and out channels as well as, believe it or not, a programmable Local On/Off setting. It has 32 programme locations, built-in speakers and stereo inputs for your synth(s). It sounds great as a piano too, with decent acoustic and electric pianos including a stereo DX7 FullTines patch and a brilliant CP-70 sound. On top of that, it has programmable organ drawbar settings (admittedly not as many as a Hammond emulation) and several effects including reverb & chorus. I actually miss that thing.
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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by Rbh » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:05 am

I recently rebuilt an Alesis qs 8.1 quadrasynth. It has a good complement of synth sounds and the keyboard sported a Fatar T20 key bed mechanism. The keys have weighted action and full hammer mechanism that is very realistic feeling. They can be found occasionally on E-bay for very reasonable pricing. The internal Piano isn't the greatest but it isn't bad either. I think it would make great low cost initial venture. Might be worth a few you tube searches for you.

Edit to add: It also has 4 sliders that can be assigned to any standard CC msg. They are internally patched typically to effects and some modulation controls for amplitude and filters. It's a pretty good sounding synth /controller.

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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by V301H » Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:24 am

The Casio PX-5S stage piano has the same excellent keyboard action as the PX-350 and some additional features that make it better suited for your intended use. First of all under the hood there is a full-featured VA Synth capable of very complex multi-layered sounds. In addition there are several assignable controllers including 2 Wheels, 4 Knobs, 6 Sliders, and 2 Pedals. There are 4 programmable Arpeggiators and a multi-track Phrase Sequencer. It can transmit on 4 MIDI channels assignable to 4 zones which can play external sounds and layer them with internal sounds if desired. There are external audio inputs so external modules can be amplified through the PX-5S audio outputs or heard through headphones connected to the PX. It weighs only 24 pounds and can operate on batteries.
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Re: Digital Piano to control synth modules

Post by Vintageguy » Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm

If you want realistic piano keys to work with any type of VST, the Kawai VPC1 is what all the pros are using right now. You can read more about it here.

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