Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external pian

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Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external pian

Postby Voblin » 00:20, 5 February 2010

Hello,

I am an amateur musician playing for my own enjoyment. Right now my setup consists of:
- Kawai MP9000 piano
- Roland JV1080
- Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro
- M-Audio Midisport 2x2 USB interface

Mostly I play along on the piano, with my laptop playing "minus one" MIDI via JV1080; both sound sources get mixed via Mackie. Sometimes I record (MIDI, not audio) on my laptop. Needless to say - I have gotten used to rich multitimbral sound of JV1080.

Both JV1080 and Mackie were bought a while ago and are, if I am honest, an overkill for what I do. Also, now that we moved house and I don't have my own study (sob :-), the better half would like my music setup to be as compact as possible. Hence I am trying to find a way to replace three boxes with one - replace JV1080, Mackie and Midisport by a sound module that can take MIDI from DAW via USB and - most importantly - can mix its own sound with a sound of an external device (my piano). After a bit of Googling I came across SonicCell.

Judging by what the SonicCell manual says - it can do what I need. Of course it's not gong to be like a "proper" mixer - but promises to do the job of "mixing" two sources, while giving me a way of adjusting the volume of my piano in this mix using the "input level" knob at the back.

My questions to you SonicCell experts:

1. Am I right assuming that I will get the result described above? Does anyone have any experience using that kind of setup? Will I get a decent sound?

2 Is there anything about the audio output of my Kawai piano (1/4 inch jack) that could be incompatible with the audio input of the SonicCell? The only thing that the Kawai manual says is: "These jacks are for connecting the MP9000 to musical instrument amplifier..."

3. There are two XLR outputs on the Kawai that I have never used; the manual says: "XLR outputs are used for connection to professional audio equipment. These jacks eliminate the need for direct boxes when connecting the MP9000 to a PA system or recording console." Can I connect these XLR outputs of the Kawai to XLR inputs of the SonicCell? The SonicCell manual only talks about using XLR for microphones...

4. SD-50 is coming out soon; looking at its specs - do you think that from the "mixing" point of view it will have the same functionality as its older brother? SD-50 sounds like a good option for me - it is simpler/cheaper, but does not jeopardise on sound quality

5. Can you think of an alternative to SonicCell for what I am trying to do? Effectively - a module with MIDI via USB that has a good multitimbral sound comparable to JV1080 and a kind of mixer for an external piano - all in one box?

Sorry if my questions sound daft - I am just a humble amateur. Your help would be much appreciated.

Regards,
Voblin
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Re: Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external

Postby javaj_ » 17:50, 5 February 2010

SD 50 is not the same- don't look at it.
Yes, you can do this with the SC. Now, I am not sure if you can plug the XLR directly into the SC's XLR - but honestly- it doesn't sound like you really are in the postiion to require that level of sound. 1/4" is completely fine.
I think one item you may have not looked at was the ability to load up your midi files on a USB key- and then just play along with your piano and the SC- without a computer connected- that might be nice for you as well.

I will put a big BUT here though- if you are only playing General Midi files- the SC will definately sound better- but you are missing out on 1k plus patches and 2 SRX cards by only using GM. So your setup might be worth sticking with until you move away from GM stuff and start doing your own tracks.
Just my opinion. no use wasting money as you have a capable little setup already (FYI- I have a Mackie 1402-VLS with my Sonic Cell).
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Re: Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external

Postby Voblin » 00:23, 6 February 2010

Thank you javaj, it's great to get help from someone with tons of knowledge. You are right about playing MIDI from a USB key - this might come handy. Creating a Performance so that I can use non-GM patches while playing MIDI files is something I am already doing on my JV - although I haven't ventured as far as tweaking the sounds yet.

But you know that no good deed goes unpunished, right? :-) What I mean is I have some further questions, if it's OK.

1. In what way, other than lack of expansion boards (which I can live without) is SD-50 likely to be inferior to SonicCell?

2. Let's say, for argument's sake, that I am playing exactly the same combination of patches on JV and then on CS. Is the sound of my external piano "mixed" with JV via Mackie going to be in any way noticeably better than the CS playing its own sounds plus doing the mixing? In other words, how does the "mixing" done by CS compare to the job done by a real mixer? What differences, if any, are there likely to be?

Thanks,
Voblin
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Re: Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external

Postby mister » 00:57, 6 February 2010

The SonicCell is an awesome innovation.

It implements a Fantom (x) engine, so is top class, at least as far as sound modules are concerned.

The XLR's on your Kawai are balanced outs, you can use them with an adapter, might be better as you could use the 1/4" for a PA type monitoring system and use the SC's outputs for more studio type speakers.

SD/SC (sound canvas) are inferior, as they implement completely different engines and quite simply the old Yamaha's do better even though their latest tech isn't a "patch" on newer roland gear.

There are SRX demos, and they are quite impressive, for me as a drummer I'm really keen on the drums expansion, and since the SC (sonic cell) supports both channel and key pressure, if your master keyboard supports it you got it made.

HTH's

P.S. Get rid of the JV! I'd not touch that stuff and I've never owned anything Roland other than a KD-7. Even the Fantom XR is now obsolete, so while the SonicCell is still available get one, otherwise why wait for FANTOM-G when it uses similar technology, eg ARX extensions
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Re: Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external

Postby PauloF » 04:05, 6 February 2010

Voblin,
Javaj already answered it all, but just to reinforce with my own experience.
I'm using my RD Piano through the SC's INPUT, so this way I can add all SC's effects and MIX.

Answering your questions:

1. Am I right assuming that I will get the result described above? Does anyone have any experience using that kind of setup? Will I get a decent sound?
** The SC external INPUT will add an INPUT Effect processor which will enable you to further enhance your Kaway piano sound.
In Patch mode you can add one of these effects:
- Equalizer, Enhancer, Compressor, Limiter, Noise suppressor and a Center canceler.
In Performance mode, you can add the same effects, but if routed through the MFX3, you can add one of the 78 available effects to the sound, including Sympathetic Resonance (see list in the attached file).**


2 Is there anything about the audio output of my Kawai piano (1/4 inch jack) that could be incompatible with the audio input of the SonicCell? The only thing that the Kawai manual says is: "These jacks are for connecting the MP9000 to musical instrument amplifier..."
** You can connect your Kaway jack outputs directly to the SC Line inputs**

3. There are two XLR outputs on the Kawai that I have never used; the manual says: "XLR outputs are used for connection to professional audio equipment. These jacks eliminate the need for direct boxes when connecting the MP9000 to a PA system or recording console." Can I connect these XLR outputs of the Kawai to XLR inputs of the SonicCell? The SonicCell manual only talks about using XLR for microphones...
** you can also use the XLR outputs, but for that you need a special cable / adapter XLR (Balanced) --> 1/4" jack (Unbalanced)**

4. SD-50 is coming out soon; looking at its specs - do you think that from the "mixing" point of view it will have the same functionality as its older brother? SD-50 sounds like a good option for me - it is simpler/cheaper, but does not jeopardise on sound quality
** SC is a lot better, as said before, if uses the X engine with some G features **

5. Can you think of an alternative to SonicCell for what I am trying to do? Effectively - a module with MIDI via USB that has a good multitimbral sound comparable to JV1080 and a kind of mixer for an external piano - all in one box?
** have a look to all the SC routing and USB / Audio features in the Owners Manual http://media.rolandus.com/manuals/SonicCell_OM.pdf **

I hope this helps
take care
PauloF
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Re: Using SonicCell to "mix" its own sound with an external

Postby Voblin » 21:43, 7 February 2010

Looks like SC is indeed the answer for me, and hopefully I will be getting one soon.

PauloF, mister, javaj - thank you ever so much for your help.

Voblin
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