What Equipment Do I Use?

My portable music setup has been born out of my ICT experience, a nescessity to get results on a budgett and a requirement to transport equpment in a small car.  In terms of componets, it basically comes down to a midi keyboard, laptop, sound adapter and amplifier; in terms of the sounds, it comes down to Soundfonts, VST instruments and some virtual MIDI routing in software.

Occassionally, I get asked by fellow musicians about my sound setup as some keyboards out there don’t sound as good as what I’m able to acheive.  In this post I’m going to start by explaining about my hardware setup;

Keyboard: EDIROL PCR M80 and EDIROL PCR M50

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I acquired the 61 key and 49 key keyboards from ebay for a budgett price.  A reported common problem with the EDIROL PCR are dead keys and it was for this reason I got both these keyboards on the cheap.  The dead keys issue can be fixed if you have the confidence to delve inside the keyboard and strip all the keys and contacts out and then put it all back together.  Other than that I highly recommend this midi controller keyboard.

The keyboard feel is great having a ballanced spring action that is not far away from a piano action keyboard.  The keys feel secure and even across the keyboard and the felt padding hidden inside the keyboard helps give a professional feel and low mechanical noise.

How to fix dead keys on an EDIROL PCR keyboard

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There are a number of posts on the internet that address this issue; their solution: clean the contacts inside the keyboard with an eraser.  One such post is found here: http://supersole.net/blog/post/112-fixing-the-keys-of-my-edirol-pcr-m50

Now, when I set out to fix my first EDIROL keyboard, having taking it appart, I discovered that contacts on the  board were contaminated with dried sticky coffee compounding the reason for the dead keys.  The contacts did clean up okay though but still didn’t function correctly when the rubber strips were put back in place.  Using an eraser on the contacts helped a little but I still didn’t get consistent results across the keyboard.

My amended solution is to cut or hole punch a strip of sticky back copper foil to replace (cover) the carbon contacts on the rubber contact strips.   Worked a treat resulting in every key working and even velocity across the baord.

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 Laptop
I’m currently running a Celeron M 1.6 GHz 2GB RAM Laptop.  It’s not very powerful but just about powerful enough running windows XP to play six simultanious voices.

Audio Device

While my laptop has it’s own internal sound device I wanted to be able to utilise duplex audio out and audio in, so that sounds could be played and recorded at the same time.

The Behringer: U-CONTROL UCA202 is an excellent and affordable audio device that not only will duplex but in my case has upgraded the audio driver capability to very low latency.  The price can very significantly depending where you source it from.  I purchased mine for about £16 on ebay as an OEM product direct from China which took a couple of weeks to arrive.  Although it didn’t come with a serial number and warranty, it has proved itself to be an excellent and durable device.

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