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How to record a digital piano using the on board sounds
Old 23rd February 2020
  #1
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How to record a digital piano using the on board sounds

I have a Casio Privia PX 150 and it has two TRS Phones inserts on the back and I would like to use these to record the pianos on-board sounds into my audio interface which has "Line inputs" on the back. My questions:

1) Why are there 2 X Phone inputs on the back of the piano? Is this so you can use 2 sets of headphones to monitor playback? Or is it because the sounds of the piano are in stereo?
2) To record the piano will I need to use both "Phones" inserts?
3) Can I use TS cables like the ones I use for my electric guitars or do I need 2 X balanced TRS cables to record the piano?
4) Is it best using the Line inserts on my audio interface or should Instrument inserts be used? (I have a Focusrite interface which has line inputs, mic inputs and instrument inputs)

thanks for your help
Old 23rd February 2020
  #2
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BT64's Avatar
Page E-6 of the manual.
They are (two) stereo (unbalanced) headphone outputs.
So you will need to split it (one) to two unbalanced TS signals to record (line) stereo. (TRS > 2x TS)
Old 23rd February 2020
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Page E-6 of the manual.
They are (two) stereo (unbalanced) headphone outputs.
So you will need to split it (one) to two unbalanced TS signals to record (line) stereo. (TRS > 2x TS)
I thank you. Where do you see that they are unbalanced outputs?
Old 23rd February 2020
  #4
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BT64's Avatar
Stereo headphone outputs are unbalanced.
The manual explains it to.
Old 24th February 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Stereo headphone outputs are unbalanced.
The manual explains it to.
Where in the manual? Could you help me locate it please? I read it but there is no mention of the phones inserts being unbalanced as far as I could see. Thanks again
Old 24th February 2020
  #6
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BT64's Avatar
Stereo standard plugs are always unbalanced.
Old 24th February 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Stereo standard plugs are always unbalanced.
Ah ok, that is good to know.

One other question. I got the cable and now I'm plugged and ready to record but the levels are too soft in my DAW with the volume knob on the Casio ALL the way up. I would like to record with the peaks around -10 or -8dbfs but they are about 5 or 6 db too low. What can I do to bring them up? I have a Focusrite Clarett which has instrument inputs and microphone inputs but in the Focusrite manual it shows that pianos are usually hooked up into the Line inputs which I am using.

Any advice would be appreciated

thanks!
Old 24th February 2020
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
Where in the manual? Could you help me locate it please? I read it but there is no mention of the phones inserts being unbalanced as far as I could see. Thanks again
They’re not inserts. They’re outputs. Even though they usually use the same type of physical connector, inserts are a different thing altogether and your piano doesn’t need or have them.

Your piano has bog standard headphone outputs, which will be unbalanced. Balanced headphone connections do exist, but they’re not all that common and don’t use a standard stereo phone connector.
Old 24th February 2020
  #9
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BT64's Avatar
What cable and connectors are you using?
Don't use TRS to TRS on one input (the inputs are balanced).
Split the TRS output to two TS, and use two inputs (left and right).
Old 24th February 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
What cable and connectors are you using?
Don't use TRS to TRS on one input (the inputs are balanced).
Split the TRS output to two TS, and use two inputs (left and right).
That is what i did.
Old 24th February 2020
  #11
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BT64's Avatar
Are you panning the inputs over two tracks?
Does the interface have gain controllers?
Old 24th February 2020
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Are you panning the inputs over two tracks?
Does the interface have gain controllers?
Not panning at all. Recording using line input 6 and 7 on the back of the Clarett. Then recording onto a stereo track in my DAW. The line inputs on the back of the Clarett have no gain control. The front inputs are combi jack mic/line inputs. Could I use those?
Old 24th February 2020
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
The front inputs are combi jack mic/line inputs. Could I use those?
Give it a try and see if you can boost the gain enough with them.
Old 25th February 2020
  #14
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Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Give it a try and see if you can boost the gain enough with them.
I can. But i need those inputs for drums. Do you have any idea why the.levels are.too soft? Focusrite manual says to go through line inputs in the back which is what I wanted to do :(
Old 25th February 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
I can. But i need those inputs for drums. Do you have any idea why the.levels are.too soft? Focusrite manual says to go through line inputs in the back which is what I wanted to do :(
Is it the Clarett 4-pre that you're using? If so, the Focusrite manual seems to be a bit confusing. At one point it says the rear line inputs are fixed gain, while at another (in the specification section) it says there's a 57dB gain range on them.

If they are, in fact, adjustable, it's presumbly in the Focusrite Control software somewhere and you should be able to boost the piano to suit. Even if they're not fully adjustable, see if there's some kind of +4dB/-10dB switch in there. If there is, set it to the -10dB level and that might help.

Failing any of that, you're pretty much stuck with the levels you're getting. Since you're dealing with headphone outputs doing double-duty as line outputs, it's a bit of a crap shoot whether they'll drive a line input stage well enough or not. In theory, a headphone output can drive a line input perfectly well, give or take a bit of distortion or noise if things are really badly matched, but it all depends on the precise specs of the gear in question.

You could add gain in your DAW, but then you're going to have to monitor through your computer/DAW, rather than using direct monitoring in the Clarett. Either that or put some other device in the chain between the piano and the interface to boost the signal (such as a small mixer or amplifier/preamps of some sort). Or, in the extreme case, change the piano for one with proper line outputs rather than just headphone outputs but I'm guessing that's a last resort.
Old 25th February 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianww View Post
Is it the Clarett 4-pre that you're using? If so, the Focusrite manual seems to be a bit confusing. At one point it says the rear line inputs are fixed gain, while at another (in the specification section) it says there's a 57dB gain range on them.
Yes it is! The back inputs ARE fixed gain. The variable gain is on the front inputs 1 - 4.



Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianww View Post
If they are, in fact, adjustable, it's presumbly in the Focusrite Control software somewhere and you should be able to boost the piano to suit. Even if they're not fully adjustable, see if there's some kind of +4dB/-10dB switch in there. If there is, set it to the -10dB level and that might help.
FC is for monitoring only. No such changes can be made therein.



Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianww View Post
Failing any of that, you're pretty much stuck with the levels you're getting. Since you're dealing with headphone outputs doing double-duty as line outputs, it's a bit of a crap shoot whether they'll drive a line input stage well enough or not. In theory, a headphone output can drive a line input perfectly well, give or take a bit of distortion or noise if things are really badly matched, but it all depends on the precise specs of the gear in question.

You could add gain in your DAW, but then you're going to have to monitor through your computer/DAW, rather than using direct monitoring in the Clarett. Either that or put some other device in the chain between the piano and the interface to boost the signal (such as a small mixer or amplifier/preamps of some sort). Or, in the extreme case, change the piano for one with proper line outputs rather than just headphone outputs but I'm guessing that's a last resort
well ok... you pretty much gave it to me how it is... the non candy coated version
I guess I will keep the levels a bit softer. My levels are coming in at -14dbfs peak leavel, it is not that soft for piano. what do you think?
Old 25th February 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
Yes it is! The back inputs ARE fixed gain. The variable gain is on the front inputs 1 - 4.
Yep, I wondered whether the bit in the specification section might be a copy/paste error from the other sections. Everything else certainly looks like they're fixed level so I'm not surprised to hear that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
FC is for monitoring only. No such changes can be made therein.
Again, I just wondered but I'm not surprised to find that out. I run an old Focusrite LS56 and the old Focusrite Control software didn't have anything like that either, but I didn't know whether they'd added some input control functions in the newer versions. Guess not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by camomiletea View Post
well ok... you pretty much gave it to me how it is... the non candy coated version
I guess I will keep the levels a bit softer. My levels are coming in at -14dbfs peak leavel, it is not that soft for piano. what do you think?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. I was hoping there might be something you could tweak on the software side, but I wasn't really sure.

If you're getting peaks at -14dBFS, that's maybe a little on the low side, but it doesn't need to be a deal-breaker. As long as your signal is coming in clean and you're recording at 24-bit, you should have enough wiggle room to boost things back up when you're mixing. It's a bit of a bugger for monitoring purposes when you're recording (assuming you want to monitor direct) since the piano is going to be on the quiet side, but if you can work with that you should still be able to get stuff done.
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