I am interested in buying a midi keyboard and connecting it directly to my PC. Like a Fatar TMK-88 or something similar. However I'm not sure whether the sound card I have is sufficient to synthesize (am I using correct terminology here?!?) the midi input.
I'm not sure what sound card is in my PC but I think its a Creative SB card which came with the DELL and its got MIDI/game input on it. So I know it I can connect the keyboard to the PC.
I've read some different web pages on the subject and one guy was saying that to play a midi keyboard through a PC/soundcard setup the soundcard it requires midi-thru and its better to have hardware based midi-thru. I understand this is so that the MIDI in from the keyboard is directly sent to cards built in synthesizer to be played without the PC doing any processing on the sigal, which would introduce a delay.
What soundcards do poeple generally use for this type of setup, (and whats the cheapest I can get away with, without noticeable delay)?
Are computer now fast enough that using software midi-thru is fast enough that there's no noticeable latency? I have a P4 3Ghz machine with 512MB so they dont come a lot faster!
I will be using the setup to play piano only probably as I used to play the piano and would like to get back into it and I thought the midi keyboard / PC option would be cheaper (as I have a PC already!) and take up less space than a acoustic piano! Is it possible to get good expressive play from this kind of setup?
Your best bet for piano on the PC is to get an M-Audio Audiophile 2496. They run about $100, include MIDI I/O and analog stereo audio in and out. They have very low latency and are about at the low end of the pro cards. If you prefer balanced analog I/O, go with the Echo MIA MIDI or the Audiophile 192, but they cost a bit more.
For a sample engine, I recommend GigaStudio Ensemble for piano. GigaStudio is tops for piano samples, and the 160 voices of Ensemble should work well for you. You will likely want to upgrade to 1 GB of RAM, and you'll want a second hard drive for the samples.
GigaStudio comes with GigaPiano II, which will get you started, and may or may not suit your style. It includes a resonance model which is really wonderful. It doesn't have as many velocity layers as the top pianos though, and the ff layer is a bit harsh. For other options check out postpiano, sampletekk, vintaudio, bardstownaudio and scarbee - not necessarily in that order. All make wonderful products. The right piano for you will depend upon your tastes.