HIGHEST QUALITY ANALOG AUDIO
MIDI and AUDIO INTERFACE:
By choosing software instruments there remains the need to mess with MIDI of course – and to convert digital to analog with the highest quality (not relying on the computer’s internal D-A converter via the headphone socket).
At the time when ‘Logic’ was by Steinberg and was MIDI only, without audio features, our MIDI interface was by Opcode:
For our next installation with Cubase, we already upgraded in 2004 to MOTU equipment for both MIDI (the Express XT 8-port) and AUDIO (the 828MkII-firewire).
Fortunately in 2019 MOTU still provides current OS drivers for both models. With our now reduced MIDI demands, we actually don’t need the sophistication of the 8-port Express, so the 828’s single port MIDI In/Out is completely adequate.
The 828 is maybe over-kill in audio connectivity, but provides pristine quality from the VST pianos and Cubase output. It has 8 additional audio analogue inputs, so easily takes care of mixing-in keyboard sounds and Alesis QSR Synth. It connects via Firewire to the Mac Thunderbolt via an adapter.
The piano sound is becoming good – near-field studio monitors are useful for precise set-ups and realistic comparisons. On temporary bar stool stands (photo above) are a pair of Neumann KH 120 A‘s. Quiklok monitor stands have arrived from England so the bar stools can return to the bar! All of the 1990’s PC installation is now removed (so many cables!) MacBook now runs the software pianos. The house stereo system is fed with selected orchestral sounds from the Alesis while the Neumann’s provide the piano player perspective.
The ear cups of our Marshall headphones literally crumbled and fell apart, so while listening to keyboards at a local music store, we took “advice” and was sold Yamaha – we asked for open back and received closed back – we asked for a headset to be able to compare keyboard sounds with confidence, those are totally inadequate as the sound is far from true. Needless to say we will not spend more time there nor buy our next keyboard from them. So, still looking for the right headphones, we have considered Sennheiser 650 and some AKG models: yet influenced by several on-line evaluations we opted (update May 2020) for the much less expensive BEYERDYNAMIC DT 990 PRO, open-back, superb frequency response, wonderful detail, comfortable to wear. After some weeks of extensive use, we are very pleased with them.