Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Simple midi interface from Linux

I wanted to connect my electric piano (a Roland RD700) to my laptop so that when playing live, I can quickly and simply change sound settings to my favourite sounds without having to click lots of pluses and minuses on the piano itself.
I found an M-Audio Midisport Uno interface which is USB on one end and 2 midi connectors on the other - one in, one out.
I rather foolishly didn't check out the linux driver issue beforehand but was pleased to find out that the interface was theoretically supported on Linux with a third-party sound driver in OSS. I rather impulsively installed OSS and needless to say, it totally shafted my working alsa system and stopped other things working. Eventually for this and other reasons, I reinstalled Kubuntu 7.10 and read an article about installing midi support.
It seems that all I needed to do was "sudo apt-get install midisport-firmware" which brought in the drivers and fxload which is a USB firmware loader and then simply plugged in my interface. It now appears in my midi hardware list so although I haven't tried it yet, it appears to have worked fine.
On another note, check out Rosegarden. It is a sequencer and has incredible midi and notation support. It enables banks of sounds to be set up in profiles so that you can choose exactly what sound on your sound module (or keyboard) to use for each track. There are lots built in but it probably won't take much to tailor one for your keyboard if it isn't present.

Ripping in flac - the way ahead!!

After reading a post about which format to rip into, I decided that the best thing to do was to rip all audio to flac format. This is lossless which means you don't lose the (theoretically) unimportant parts of the sound that you do with lossy compression such as mp3, wma, m4a etc. Of course this means that the resulting files are much larger - about 20-30Mb each but the advantage is that you will never have to re-rip when a better format comes out in the future (if it does at all), you can simply convert your flac files to the new format which will result in exactly the same quality as if they were ripped from CD but much, much quicker because they are on a hard disk rather than loads of CDs.
Since hard disks are cheap now, unless you have millions of CDs, they will only take up a few 10s of Gb of space and save the re-ripping.
My plan is to put them on a server in my house and use the full quality files for playing in the house and then convert them to m4a format for my mp3 player and laptop.
By the way, KAudioCreator will not rip to flac straight out of the box even though it is theoretically set up to do so. You need to install the flac encoder which you can get simply with the command line: "sudo apt-get install flac" If you don't have it installed, when you select flac, it will start ripping and then fail when it tries to encode the file.