Gear is great! You can really geek out on this stuff. Two of my greatest lifelong interests have been music and computers, so being able to put the two together is like hitting the jackpot for me. It’s a perfect match.
So, my gear stash is shown and described here.
First, there is my piano. My parents bought this piano new when I was about 10 years old. Prior that that I had played an old upright piano that was older than my parents, with several sticky keys and missing ivories. But, it was what I learned to play on. The Wurlitzer was bought for our new house, and it was a big step forward. It still sounds decent and works well at 50, and it is an old and dear friend. I’ve spent years of my life sitting at that piano.
Now for the electronic stuff. The pictures are of my current setup, from left to right in the layout.
On the bottom is my Yamaha P60 digital piano. This was the first piece of electronic gear I bought, and it immediately changed my life. Not only does it have a wonderful grand piano sound and an amazingly realistic key action and feel, it has a headphone jack! While that would not surprise many people, it had not dawned on me that this piano could be played any time of the night or day without disturbing anyone. Throughout the previous 15 years, since the birth of our first child, it had been tough to fit much piano playing in between people trying to sleep, watch TV, talk, etc. So, I just didn’t play much. Now, I could play ANY TIME, and so I did. And I played a LOT.
On top of the P60 is a Roland/Edirol PCR-500 midi keyboard/controller. This unit produces no sound of its own, but rather controls a computer program like Pro Tools or Reason that does produce sound. Actually the P60 can function like that, too, but the PCR-500 has a lot more controls that can be linked to reverb levels and control many other effects.
On top is a computer monitor and keyboard to control the computer that you can’t see.
Moving around the corner (below) is the mixer, which takes the inputs from all of the instruments, effect units, and the computer and mixes them into one stereo output that goes to the speakers or headphones. To the right of the mixer I have an m-Audio interface and a fantastic little Ketron SD4 midi sound unit. The Ketron replaces the awful midi instrument sounds that some with Windows with really great instrument sounds. Given that I use hundreds of midi-based songs as backing tracks that I can play along with, having the great-sounding voices from this unit is a major improvement over the Windows Media Player voices.
The keyboard to the right of the mixer is my main board, a Yamaha Motif ES7. This unit is part synthesizer, part sampler, part recorder, and several other things, too. It’s sounds are amazing, and the action is so good that you can’t tell you aren’t playing an actual (very good) piano.
Above the Motif is an effects unit with reverb, delay, rotary speaker effects, and lots more. There is also a drum machine sitting on the motif.
The computer is the heart of the system. It runs all of the instruments, and has several software packages that let me record, edit, mix, and master songs using a huge array of tools and effects.
To the right of the computer is yet another midi controller keyboard, an M-Audio Axiom 25. The controller produces no sound of its own, but it can be tied to any of the intruments or software packages to control them and the simulated instruments they contain.
That’s my gear at the moment. I’m always looking for new things to try, so there will be more.
See my Software page for a list of some of the programs I use with this system.