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Topic: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

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  1. #1

    Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Hey everyone

    I'm quite new here so I wanted to get some advice. I'm currently using a midi keyboard to record music (piano only).

    I feel I should upgrade so that I can get much better quality than what I'm getting at the moment. Budget for this upgrade: Maybe $1k, maybe $5k.

    My current setup:
    Kontakt 5 - win7 32 - intel i5, 4gb ddr3 ram, 1TB Sata2 HDD.
    Xonar DG soundcard (only valued at $30)
    Casio 4200 keyboard (valued at about $200)
    Audio Technica ATH-AD700 Open-air Dynamic Audiophile Headphones
    Sample libraries: Alicia's keys, Galaxy II: Steinway, Vintage D, Vienna Concert Grand, German Baby Grand + Kawai Ex pro.

    I was thinking of maybe getting an amp for my headphones... a USB DAC... someone suggested getting an RME.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2

    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    I don't think any of Sirajee's suggestions will be of much value to you.

    If your goal is to create good piano recordings I think you're well covered in terms of libraries and computer hardware. I'd suggest that you explore a higher quality controlling keyboard. I'm very fond of the Yamaha CP-300 and other similar Yamaha keyboard actions, but you might also check out the Kawai digital pianos and the Roland RD700NX. You might also look into getting a high quality reverb plugin such as Altiverb 6.

  3. #3
    Senior Member playz123's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Number one priority? Purchase a suitable digital audio interface with solid drivers for your computer. Everything revolves around it. Build a solid foundation then build on that.
    Cubase 7.0.3, Wavelab 7.1, Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus RMX, Symphobia 1 & 2 , all Spitfire libraries, LASS 2, Requiem Pro, Voxos, Superior Drummer 2, Komplete 8, Cinematic Guitars, most EW libraries, Chris Hein Horns, Guitar & Bass, 2.8 GHz Mac Pro, 18 GB RAM, OS 10.6.8, RME Multiface II + HDSP PCIe

  4. #4

    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Quote Originally Posted by playz123 View Post
    Number one priority? Purchase a suitable digital audio interface with solid drivers for your computer. Everything revolves around it. Build a solid foundation then build on that.
    Thanks a lot Playz. That's the most useful advice I've had so far.

    Do you mind recommending a good digital audio interface? My budget is about $1k... also, is it possible to get one that includes good-quality headphone amp?

  5. #5

    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    I'ts hard to go wrong with RME. Look at their website to get familair with their product line, then look on eBay. Something like their Multiface + PCI card would be about right.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Silh's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Quite honestly, the Xonar DG has some pretty good sound quality, especially in comparison to similarly priced consumer cards (some of which are HORRIBLE), and may be all you need if all you intend to do is record off a MIDI keyboard. I've owned a few Xonars over the years, and have had good luck with their ASIO drivers and have been quite pleased with their sound reproduction. I've never driven headphones directly off them though (have a headphone amp in between), so I can't comment on that aspect.

    Unless you plan on recording audio itself from external sources (ie. mics, etc.), I'm not sure if a new audio interface would be the best investment. Changing to a more 'professional' audio interface may net you some more inputs, potentially an increase in the quality of the sound going to your headphones/monitors for picking up subtleties when mixing/etc... question is, is that what you need? From what you're describing it sounds like all you're doing is monitoring the sound as it is generated by your software and sample libraries, and as long as you've got good latencies with your Xonar, it's probably all you need (for now at least).

    If you want more accurate representation of piano playing, a new keyboard controller may be the thing to consider as suggested... though you'll obviously want to test out the feel and weighting of the keys.

    If you want to change things with the sound you're getting (out of the software that is), that can be a process involving a lot of tinkering with what you've got, potentially adding effects/plugins/etc., and might be where you want to start looking. A better audio interface could potentially let you hear the results more 'accurately' so you can pick out what changes to the audio are happening when you make changes in the software, but considering that you're not running a horrible on-motherboard sound or some other bad soundcard to begin with, investing time in the software you have already might be the place to start.
    -- Matt Wong

  7. #7

    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Great advice (yeah, just for monitoring mainly). Much appreciated. (Pity Kontakt doesn't do plug-ins!) Oh well, I'll check out cubase and some reverbs/do some tinkering.

    But yeah, I love the look off that Roland 700NX... but I was leaning towards the Yamaha P155. Will it play as good do you think?

  8. #8
    Senior Member playz123's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    I've used a number of interfaces over the years, and my choice is RME....solid, well built, and excellent drivers and support. They have models for all types of applications. If you want quality sound, and wish to work with decent music software, then no music computer should be without a suitable audio interface. Consumer type audio cards and on board audio are not recommended. Keep in mind too that while you may be planning to do only something simple at present, if you are like most others, you will probably also continue to expand your horizons someday. Can't see the logic for focusing on a controller or keyboard first when what you hear and are able to do depends on your other hardware. IMHO, kind of like putting the cart before the horse. Anyway, hope you enjoy whatever you choose to purchase.
    Cubase 7.0.3, Wavelab 7.1, Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus RMX, Symphobia 1 & 2 , all Spitfire libraries, LASS 2, Requiem Pro, Voxos, Superior Drummer 2, Komplete 8, Cinematic Guitars, most EW libraries, Chris Hein Horns, Guitar & Bass, 2.8 GHz Mac Pro, 18 GB RAM, OS 10.6.8, RME Multiface II + HDSP PCIe

  9. #9

    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    RME is the ticket. ALWAYS a safe bet.
    There's a few good choices out there. Just don't get into USB interfaces.

    Build up, slowly.
    Focus on quality and most importantly make sure your computer is "That solid foundation" as mentioned before.
    2 X Intel i7 920 sys. 12 gigs Ram. XP & Win 7 64
    Cubase 5. Kontakt 4. EWQL C.C.C. (Play)
    Vienna Instruments SE & Plus. Symphobia. GPO.
    RME HDSPe AIO KRK V8s Avalon Vt-747sp
    M-Audio Keystation Pro 88


    My two passions. Music and Cooking.
    Both require just the right ingredients....

  10. #10
    Senior Member Silh's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal setup when using sample libraries?

    Quote Originally Posted by playz123 View Post
    Consumer type audio cards and on board audio are not recommended.
    For the most part, I'd agree with that. On board, for sure, you want to avoid like the plague. But the Xonar is one of the few exceptions I would like to mention as having good sound despite being a consumer card, and hence it may make sense to leave alone if one doesn't need the fancier features of another audio interface.
    -- Matt Wong

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