whats a good keyboard

everyone… ok, i boought a midsport usb/midi interface cable and guess what? after reading a few threads about “midi” i have figured it out and now have the first steps down. to the point where i can record a midi track, apply a sound for it and even edit to some extent. so it looks like i’m off and running. now i just need some good sounds and i’ll be having even more fun than i was before. thanx to you all for your help and suggestions. you opened a bunch of new doors… one question though. do you know where i can get more sounds to add to the list that comes with the softsynth? (i think that is where the selection list came from). ha ha what do i know. :D

Glad to hear it’s going well.


do you know where i can get more sounds to add to the list that comes with the softsynth?

Um . . . which softsynth? Are you referring to sfz which loads soundfonts? Ohmigosh there are tons of soundfonts out there. Check out hammersound and soundfonts.it.

There are also soooooo many softsynths available. Check out kvr audio.

Hope you have a lot of spare time!


well, once again i don’t know what i am talking about. when i record a MIDI track, then click THE PIANO ROLL TO GET TO THE midi track editing properties. the first box is the track name…i got that. the second box is the “program” option. when i click the drop down , i get a list of all sorts of options to apply to the midi track…i.e piano, trumpet, voices, etc. are these ‘programs’ soundfonts, VSTi’s or what? and if i download or buy some additions, i.e. jews harp, empty jug, kazoo do you know which forlder or directory they are stored in ? do you know what kind of files they are—dll’s, .mid’s…?
sorry…i told you all i would have a bunch more questions. i probably have more than enough to work with now, but i would still like to know the answers to the above questions.
incidently, i downloaded SFZ but i dont know what to do with it. it sits on my screen and i sit there looking back at it… :D

you are right…time to stop surfing the web and start makin music again…thanx for all of your help… :cool:

g8torcliff, too much questions, isnt? That´s MIDI at begining.
Some things can help you:
-n-Track dont come with any “sofsynth”. You need bought or get some freebie from internet.
-The names you see (trumpets, piano, etc) are part of something called “General Midi”. Is possible that your computer/soundcard has a GM synth installed. If you need help, go to “preferences>Midi devices” and tell us what is listed under “midi out”


USB Uno MIDI out
1-Microsoft GS Wavetable SW synth

right now i have highlighted the Microsoft Wavetable Synth

i have downloaded many different softsynths, soundfonts, vienna 2.3 (which i can’t figure out) and SFZ-- which i can’t make heads or tails of. I also notice that when i try to convert a MIDI track to a WAV as i read i should do in another thread , i can’t. My soundcard’s recording controls do not have a fader for MIDI.

i am probably using too old of an Ntrack version ( 2.2 build 880 ) :( it was a gift

actually i think my version of n-track is 3.2. i dont have that computer fired up right now so i’m not sure. it is not in the 4.XX version.

after reading some other threads, i guess i should install a different softsynth. my impression is that the ms wavetable softsynth is not very good. ???

probably my final post on this issue until i find out more about it.
i put steinberg vst and the asio driver on my system. steinberg vsti worked fine and then i tried to address “latency” issues through the asio control panel. it messed things up to the point where i could only play 10 secs of music when it would prompt me to register n-track (it has been registered for nearly a year).
then when i switched back to using the ms wavetable all my audio was a big buzz. i had to uninstall the aforementioned prgms which didn’t repair anything… in fact, i started getting messages in ntrack that my soundcard could accept the songs format.
eventually i had to do a ‘system restore’ to get things back to normal…where i think i will leave them until i can get some one to physically show me how to do some of these things.
thanx for all of the input, it has been a real eye-opener (eye-crosser :O ) as a guitar player i have gained a ton of respect for “keyboardists”. to think, i always thought they were just playing the piano. :cool:

actually it is Virtual Sound Canvas3.2. like i said, i don’t know jack about this stuff. :(

This has been interesting reading for me. After dabbling in MIDI a few years ago I never figured it out.

I have some general questions that relate to this subject

1) I do not have a Creative Labs card so I believe I cannot use SoundFonts - is that correct ?? IF so then what options do I have

2) Dumb question, do Soft Synths work with MIDI, to replace MIDI sounds ?

3) When I last used MIDI I had trouble because I wanted to play real time and have it record. I couldn’t figure out how. If I played real time the software would not record as I did it. Is this standard or me screwing up.

Basically I would like to record real time, including the length of time I hold a key and the velocity, the use editing to fix mistakes and change sounds, is this quite straightforward. I currently have a yamaha PSR which, at least in real time, allows for sensitivity and sustain



tonyoci… you sound a lot like me. what you want is all i really want too. as you have probably realized reading through this thread, there are a lot of people here that can help you. there are just so many nooks and crannies…i wish they could just come to my house and show me… i hope you have better skills than mine…good luck :D

Did you solve anything ? Considering how old MIDI is and how much it’s used it’s REALLY tough to find any basic information about actually using it on the web :p


Try www.midi.com there are tutorials there and links to other midi information.


Well chaps, I’d like to try to help though I am no whizz with midi. However I think I understand the basics, enough for me to be able to record tracks from a midi keyboard, or write parts directly in piano roll, then have the recorded midi tracks play back, through soft synths, sfz playing soundfonts, or external midi sound modules.

Mr Toad gave good advice and, I hope, helped to make it clear that a “controller” is just a device that can make midi music files, without any on-board sounds. There are several types, some for drums/percussion, wind controllers in the form of noiseless saxophones, and most common, keyboards. In addition to piano keys these often have various knobs and sliders that can be assigned to various software control and mixing functions through midi.

A midi file is a set of instructions such as “note on”, “note off”, and includes other information such as volume (scaled 0 to 127), plus various controllers for stuff like sustain pedal, pitch bend, aftertouch and so on. The start of the file can contain data about which instrument to play the sounds on, if this is understood by the instrument. It is a small file and contains no sounds, only instructions when and how to play sounds.

n-Track has enough midi capability to get you going, though some experienced types who need more bells and whistles use a more powerful, separate midi recorder/editor.

Midi is a serial bus so you can chain several midi things together, for example a PC with a midi out can drive a drum machine, an external sound module with several voices, and some internal soft synths, all at the same time and all following the same master clock, usually the PC. You could connect midi out from the PC to the drum machine, and midi through from the drum machine to the sound module. “Through” means that all the midi info is simply passed through to the next device in the chain. One midi connector can support up to 16 channels, each channel can drive a different instrument which can have many notes playing at once, depending on the polyphony available. The instruments are set to receive the required midi channel. Drums are usually on channel 10, I don’t know why but they are. In preference to chaining, I use a midi splitter to connect my drum machine, sound module and midi keyboard (with sounds) to my PC.

For each channel you can select an instrument, numbered 1 to 127, these can be arranged in banks, so hundreds of sounds are available, e.g. bank 2 inst. 67. GM (General Midi) is a convention where instruments are always allocated to the same midi location, so no. 1 is acoustic grand piano, 12 is vibraphone, 25 is acoustic nylon guitar (I think) and so on. So if you play a midi file recorded on one GM instrument it will play back with the correct sounds on any other GM device. Most sound cards include a GM synthesiser. Usually these sounds are crap but they can be useful sometimes.

Midi includes a clock, so one midi thing can control the timing of all the others, so everything stays in sync. Normally the PC provides the master clock. The external devices should be set as slaves.

To record from a keyboard or drum machine with midi output, you connect midi out from the keyboard (or drum machine) to the midi in of the PC, set up n-Track with a blank midi track, make sure that the mic/keyboard icon (audio/midi record select) is showing keyboard for midi recording, assign the same midi channel number for the recording channel and the keyboard/drum machine (or “record all channels”), hit the red record button and strut your funky stuff. When you stop, the timeline display should show all the midi note events. You can see more detail in the piano roll view, and correct any bum notes.

Note that there is a quantise function on by default. This places notes that you play (or place on the piano roll) on the beat, within a certain tolerance usually specified in terms of fractions of a quarter-note (huh? I hear you say). So 1/64 of a quarter note is quite a small tolerance, while 1/16 quarter-note is quite large. Things like accented fast high hats need the right quantisation to sound right; if you are not into time signatures and music theory, it’s best to experiment. Sometimes quantise is great to make sure that recorded notes are well timed, sometimes you don’t want it at all, e.g. for fluid solo playing. Most of us use it for drums, rhythm and bass tracks. After you have things recorded “in the pocket” (on the beat) you can adjust the “groove” or “feel” by advancing or retarding parts (“swing” in the n-Track Quantise/Grid settings dialogue). If you try to record rhythms like 6/8, or try to record dotted notes or triplets and the quantise setting is wrong, it won’t play back how you want it to, you’ll need to play with the setting.

Once you have your midi file you can assign each channel to play whichever instrument you want through the “Properties” panel. Load up your soft synths, connect your sound modules, then right click the track, select “Properties”, and choose where the midi goes and on which channel. And Lo! There should be sweet music.

Soundfonts were first used, I think, solely by Creative SoundBlaster cards. A soundfont can be more expressive and natural than some ordinary midi instruments, because it can be real samples, with several velocity layers. To play soundfonts without having a SoundBlaster card, you need a little player program such as sfz. This appears as an instrument in the “output to” list in n-Track.

At first it seems that there is a lot of farting around, but once you get to grips with the basics it becomes second nature, almost like plugging instruments into a mixer.

Good luck, cheers

i can’t put it away…i’m hooked…i said i would quit, but i can’t…
i keep messing (experimenting) with this MIDI stuff.
Tuster-- i have made it as far as actually recording a MIDI track- looks like little lines until i zoom and they become blocks which i can move up and down, stretch, shorten and apply different sounds to from the built in softsynth, etc. but, then there is the syncing issue and the latency problems so i will have to keep fiddling (experimenting).

To play soundfonts without having a SoundBlaster card, you need a little player program such as sfz. This appears as an instrument in the “output to” list in n-Track.
that little bit of info sheds a whole new light …i downloaded SFZ a week ago but i never realized that was how you utilize it…so i will keep messing (experimenting) with this MIDI stuff.
thanx :D

TusterBuster, that’s great info.

My problems have always been in the application of MIDI, as pc nerd I always understood the technical.

Here’s a quite specific question.

On my PSR playing live I can hit a key hard, get a louder sound and hold the key down to get a longer sound. The last time I tried this all my MIDI notes were recorded as single, short hits of the same volume? Any ideas ? Could that be a limitation in my keyboard or a setting in the keyboard or software ?

I do have a MIDI sound called Virtual Guitar that is really cool, you record notes on the keyboard and then apply the sound and it sounds like a very passable guitar. I only used this by hand entering the notes since as I showed above I don’t have the keyboard part figured out.

Thanks for the advice

You can use soundfonts with any soundcard. Yes, creative cards can use them natively, but with SFz, a vsti soundfont player, you can play them in any soundcard.
You want play in realtime a sofsynth?

No Marce, I basically don’t understand what’s going on.

I want to play real time and record it in MIDI. With MIDI saving the note lengths etc.

Then after I want to add a softsynth or soundfont to make it sound better.


g8torcliff, I’m sorry MIDI has been giving you system headaches. Let me try to step you through downloading and setting up a simple freeware VST softsynth or two (and I’ll try to define some terms along the way.)

STEP 1: Go here and click on “softsynths” in the left menu bar. Download mda piano (and you could also try epiano and dx10).

STEP 2: Make sure your new softsynths install in the correct directory for n-Track. For a standard install this should be:

C:\Program Files\FASoft
-Track Studio 4\Vstplugins
(I seem to recall there was no “FASoft” subdirectory in version 3.x)

The file “mda Piano.dll” should appear there. DOUBLE-CHECK THIS! n-Track will ONLY look in this directory (and subdirectories) for VST plugin’s.

STEP 3: Start up n-Track (with a new song file). Do “Track” => “MIDI” => “New Instrument Channel” and select “mda Piano”. You should see a new slider appear in the mixer (but NOT a new track in the timeline).

We say that n-Track is the host and mda Piano is a VSTi (the “i” stands for instrument). It is now ready for MIDI input. But where does this input come from?

STEP 4: Do “Track” => “Insert Blank Track” => “MIDI”. The properties window for the new track should open up. Set the output to mda piano and then close the properties window. A new (blank) track should have appeared in the timeline and a new slider should have appeared in the mixer.

It may initially seem odd to have 2 mixer stripes for one sound but it does make sense. One controls the the MIDI data stream and the other controls the audio output of the synth. Note that you can now add any effects plugins you like to the synth channel (reverb, chorus, etc.)

STEP 5: Open up the piano roll view for the new track and add a few random notes (right-click and choose “place events”). Now hit the play button and you should hear the notes play. If not, go back and check that you’ve done all the above properly. (And look for bonehead stuff like sliders down at -inf and speakers turned off)

STEP 6: You should also be able to “play” the softsynth in LIVE mode using your controller keyboard (but there may be some latency depending on your equipment). You must do the following: (1) make sure “MIDI echo” is set to auto in the prefs (2) make sure the MIDI track is enabled to record (open up its properties and check “Record From”) and (3) hit the big LIVE button in n-Tracks toolbar.

NOTE: It is exactly this latency that makes a hardware synth a good idea. You can monitor your hardware synths audio output while playing but record only the midi data. Then you route the midi data however you like when mixing a song.

That’s it! I think you have already learned how to record and edit MIDI. Now you know how to set up a softsynth and route MIDI data to it (recall this is done in the properties of a MIDI track.)

Give it a try and let the board know how things go. See my previous post for some good softsynth links. By the way, you should now be able to use “sfz” properly. Add it as a new VSTi and then route a MIDI track to it; you can choose the MIDI instrument using the GM list in the track properties.