music composer
music composer music composition techniques cubase tutorials music essays reviews contact

choosing a good keyboard a checklist of things to look out for
touch sensitive keyboards the different types of sensitivity available
keyboard weighted keys the four different weighting options for keyboards

yamaha p95 review 88 note digital piano
casio px-330 review light weight keyboard
m-audio keystation pro-88 budget mother keyboard

Sustain Pedals
sustain pedal polarity why pedals are often not compatible with keyboards
yamaha fc4 sustain pedal a well-built yamaha pedal
yamaha fc5 review budget pedal from yamaha
m-audio sp2 review a sturdy m-audio pedal

USB Microphones
best usb microphones things to look out for when buying a usb mic
snowball-blue microphones retro looking classic mic logitech usb mic popular desktop mic samson co1u mic review studio condenser

MIDI Equipment
what is MIDI? with a list of popular control numbers
usb to midi cables for recording your ideas into your computer etc. yamaha UX16 USB/MIDI a midi/USB cable adaptor guitar midi interfaces for transforming your guitar into any midi instrument!

Sound cards
usb sound cards a list of things to look our for when buying one.

sounds cards for the Mac

covering the different types of cards & uses.

maya 44 sound card a short review of this popular sound card.


equipment reviews

Being a keyboard/piano player, as well as a composer, I'm often asked about the best sort of equipment to use when writing and playing. This section of the website seeks to answer some of those common questions, and currently covers three areas of music gear - electronic keyboards, sustain pedals and USB recording microphones.





keyboards and electronic pianos

Having played (and owned!) many electronic keyboards over the last three decades, after a while you begin to have a feel for what instruments work well and what simply don't! In this section I've reviewed three popular modern day keyboards - the Yamaha P95, the Casio PX-330, and the budget M-Audio keystation pro-88. All these instruments are touch-sensitive, weighted action (in one form or another) and have 88-notes. Alongside this I explain the four different types of touch sensitivity and the varying forms of weighted action keyboards. There's also a short guide to what to look out for when buying an electronic keyboard, covering issues such as portablity, sound quality and playability.




sustain pedals

An often overlooked piece of equipment, the sustain pedal is an essential part of the musicians playing experience. Buyers are frequently unaware that pedals differ hugely in quality, with some modern electronic pedals simulating the "half-pedalling" response found in acoustic pianos. This section reviews three pedals that vary in budget and quality - the Yamaha FC4 and (much cheaper) FC5, and the M-Audio SP2. Have you ever experienced a pedal that keeps holding the notes when released, and doesn't seem to do anything when pressed down? This is due to sustain pedal polarity - pedals have negative and positive polarity and manufacturers of keyboards use different types - which means that pedals are not always compatible with keyboards. This page offers some possible solutions to this problem.


USB Microphones

At one time, to record anything reasonably well onto a computer, a number of devices would have been necessary - usually involving a good quality microphone, a pre-amp, mjxing desk, computer sound card, and finally the computer itself! However, with the advent of USB microphones, it's now possible to simply use a mic and a laptop (or handheld device such as a tablet). This is great news as it becomes possible to capture ideas "on the fly" as well as in situ (such as at live gigs and recitals). I personally use a USB mic for quickly getting ideas down when composing at the piano. This section of the website considers three models - the rather creative and retro-looking "Snowball" from Blue, the popular Samson CO1U, and the budget Logic desktop mic. There's also a guide on what to look out for when buying one of these types of mics, including factors such as the frequency response range and the meaning of unfamilar terms like "signal-to-noise ratio".



midi equipment & sound cards

Since it's invention in the mid 1980's, MIDI technology radically altered what was possible both in the recording studio and in live performance. For the first time, musicians could play a note (or notes) on a keyboard, and that information could be digitally encoded and transmitted to other devices. Now a work could be recorded on to a computer, and played or replayed as a different sound on other sound modules and keyboards. In this section there is a page about how guitar players can take advantage of MIDI, information about cables that can adapt MIDI cables to USB connectors, and a review of one such adaptor -the Yamaha UX16.

A sound card is a device which makes it possible to connect and record audio equipment (such as microphones and musical intruments) directly into a computer. Many soundcards also offer MIDI ports as well. This section offers a review of the popular Maya 44 USB sound card and looks at some different options available for Mac computer owners.




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