Author Topic: Notes on recording the AR with a Technics KN7000 keyboard for the accompaniment  (Read 5379 times)

Ken Horton

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Please note these are my personal experiences using the equipment I possess and it may be more than likely there is a far better way of doing things , but I detail it for the information of members just in case they ever thought of trying it for themselves !

There is an attraction in adding the wider range of rhythms and variations available in many keyboards and they can run into over 1000 !  But there are pitfalls many would prefer to keep well away from, but once overcome the results can be very rewarding.   

 Unlike expanders such as the BK7M  ,  Limex V3 . SMAC 1200 or Orla XM800 which I have used in the past they will all merge with the organís voices with varying degrees of success, unfortunately the Technics keyboard will not merge when it is connected to the ARís Aux in sockets,  in addition it cannot record any external source onto its own built in recorder so straight away you have problems, according to the Technics web site, (this may also apply to other keyboards).

Consequentially you have to take the individual outputs and use a suitable junction in order to reduce your cable to one twin plug for the connection to your recorder.
This is basically simple but you do need several extra bits and pieces in order to make the necessary connections.

First you need a junction box, I bought a simple audio splitter, this takes three sets of three RCA sockets (of which you only use two) this has a selector switch to switch from any to one inlets to the outlet socket, not exactly what I wanted but a simple internal modification by joining all the red sockets together and the white it became a junction box with all inputs connected to the one outlet socket.  The cost of the splitter was £2.51 post free, cheaper than buying all sorts of adaptors, so we are not talking of expensive add ons,  you also need 3 or 4 extra Jackplugs and three RCA twin cables with plugs at each end, but all very low cost from Amazon.

The ARís aux outlet (at least in my case is very low power) consequently the best output is taken from the A Rís headphone socket straight into the junction box.  The keyboardís output is also taken from its headphone socket straight into the junction box for the same reason.

With both headphone outlets in use the AR and Keyboard speakers are muted so some form of monitoring is essential as I do not have a headphone socket in the recorder, but the third inlet sockets in the junction box can be used to plug in a twin plug to headphone socket adapter, (again low cost from Amazon ) for monitoring.

The above is only for recording, straightforward play connections are much more simple, midi out organ to midi in keyboard,   Main Aux out of the keyboard to AR Aux in sockets,  the rhythm and sounds mix OK on the organís speakers and headphones.  But whatever do remember not to trip over the cables !

The actual playing can be as simple or complicated as you wish,  add a foot controller to the Technics takes away the problem of making fills or endings on the keyboard and trying to reach for the buttons while playing because you will find locating the keyboard nearby can be a problem, and the pistons and shift function on the AR makes voice changing equally simple.

Hugh Wallington

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Hi Ken,

Do you have a recording of your set-up as MP3 .. so we can listen to it?

If you have, send as an email attachment to hugh@ar-group.org and I'll put it into the AR Group Database and LINK it.

Regards,

Hugh
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Ken Horton

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Almost there Hugh, I have taken a long time , about 9 months to find out the best set up to suit myself but also to rework my most popular music books with the new rhythms from the Technics library,  but this is the next priority, so I am perched on the end of the branch ready for my first flight so to speak !  At the moment I have only made short test recordings to check volume balances etc, but give me a few days and I will have something.
Of course once the  record button is lit I make all the silly mistakes imaginable often right at the very end of a tune so don't be too surprised if it takes a week !

Yes they are on MP3,  I use the Windows 10 easy recorder because it really is so easy, very few controls, simply start it and play , stop it and it saves itself automatically into a dedicated sound file, you can play it from there or of course move it to your media player and  adding to it to  compile enough tunes to burn onto a CD.  Regards Ken

Charles Hughes

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Hi Ken

I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one to find that my fingers suddenly get fatter and the notes aren't where they are meant to be the moment the record button is on.  I can usually play a tune quite happily from memory but when that button is pressed my brain goes on vacation.  So frustrating!  Nothing to do with getting old, of course.

I also am looking forward to hearing how your setup and the new rhythms sound.

cheers,

Charles

Ken Horton

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Hi Charles, nice of you to comment, and yes the old fingers do get in knots frequently, but I never was much good in that department.  Well I have managed rather quickly to cobble together a tune and sent it off to Hugh, he may decide to save my embarrassment and not put in in but if he does it may encourage a few to try a different accompaniment unit , I've always used one and you may have seen a few of my blurbs and blunders on the experiences I have had with them.

With the AR and of course many other organs not having the facilities of the more modern keyboard, its OK if you are an adept player  you can provide your own hands and feet rhythms and make the organ sound the way it should sound but if the normal home organist you were probably stuck with the very basic pedal/chord type of rhythm or dare I say boring rhythm unit, and I am sure this may have put  many off persevering with an organ.
But I would never change to a keyboard.   Ken

Charles Hughes

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Hi Ken,

I did hear a sample of "Call me irresponsible" using your new backings and they sound very professional.  It was a pity the high volume caused so much distortion but at least that is easily fixed with a re-record.  I really look forward to hearing more of your playing using those great backings as you fine tune your setup.

We all find different ways of expressing our musical aspirations and I admire those who can get the best out of the automatics of an organ and produce a real great result.  There are many fine examples of that among the JOT performances.  As far as I am concerned, the result is what matters and gaining personal satisfaction and enjoyment from playing.  In my case, I came from a piano background and started teaching myself to play organ in my mid 30s.  The earlier organs I had I wouldn't have given tuppence for the rhythm units - they were appalling.  By the time I got my AR80 I was so put off by rhythm units that I largely ignored it on the AR80 much of the time notwithstanding that the type of music I mostly play doesn't lend itself to drums and guitars etc.

Keep at it!

Charles


Hugh Wallington

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Hi Ken,

I, for one, know how difficult it is to set up equipment for making a recording.  You can read about all the problems I had when trying to do this in the topic Recording your AR:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=1979.0

.. and this was just by 'playing the recording back from the disk' and having two hands free to make the recording.  I know you are having to record it live.

Anyway, the recording you have sent me is very overmodulated (too much volume) and therefore very distorted.  You have sent several recordings for JOT in the past (obviously these were on just the AR, and recorded to floppy) and I love your playing.

So ...

hoping you can find the time to give it another go.

If you click the LINK below you can see the resulting waveform of the recording you had sent me.

Camparison waveforms from one of my recordings and the one Ken has done

It is fine to under-record a piece as the volumes can be increased to optimum level after the recording has been done.  But if overmodulated in the first place there isn't a lot one can do about it, as the signal is 'clipped' and therefore no longer there to make any adjustments.

Looking forward to receiving a further recording from you,

Hugh
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Hugh Wallington

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Ken has persevered and done the recording again, this time with the volume very much lower.  He sent me an email with his new recording attached, with the following comment: Well, I think this is better but now its too quiet.

I have replied to him as follows:

No, it's not too quiet, as the file can be NORMALIZED afterwards, which brings it up to optimum values.  As I said, you can't really record anything too quiet as the volumes can always be brought up afterwards.  It's the too loud situation that cannot be rectified, as the signal gets 'clipped' and is then distorted.

So here now is his MP3 Track (Normalized)

Call Me Irresponsible (MP3) played by Ken Horton

And here below is the resultant waveform:

Waveform of Ken's New Recording
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Hugh Wallington

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Ken,

You did say this was an 'experiment', so I hope it's ok with you if I do some experimenting as well.

When you said in your email that the recording was 'too quiet' in the first place, you were of course quite right, and you could have recorded it again and 'upped' the volumes a bit so at least you could hear what you were playing in the headphones .. but no clipping!.  I remember the time before we had computers and 'Normalization' and had to set the volumes of a recording at the start so it was as near maximum as possible without 'clipping'.  Inevitably, it was the last few bars that seemed to be louder than the rest .. 'clipping' would occur .. and then I'd have to do it again!

Click the below to see the waveform as Ken had sent it to me, before I Normalized it:

New Recording Before Normalization (PDF)

Next, I have loaded back into WavePad Sound Editor the Normalized MP3 of Call Me Irresponsible.  Listening to it again, there appears to be an 'imbalance' between the volumes of the KN7000 and the AR (you did say that the AR was a lot quieter than the KN and you had to have the AR up at Maximum Volume), so I have highlighted the bits that were too loud and reduced their volume to 60%.  Click this LINK to see how the first section ended up:

Adjusted New Recording 1 (PDF)

And click this next LINK to see how the whole waveform has ended up having 'adjusted' all the bits that were maybe too loud compared to the rest of the recording.  Having reduced the original 'spikes', the overall waveform was a lot lower than it was, so I have Normalized this for a second time .. to 100% (ie. brought up the overall recording levels to maximum without distortion).

Adjusted New Recording 2 (PDF)

Then 'saved' the resultant MP3 having made all these adjustments.  Click the below to listen to the piece again and make your own mind up as to whether what I have done has created a better balance between the two instruments.

Adjusted Call Me Irresponsible (MP3)
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Ken Horton

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Yes Hugh, I can see what you are doing and obviously it improves it, as you have demonstrated.
Regards,  Ken

Hugh Wallington

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I have had this question put in an email from Ken:

On normalizing a track .. is this done with a built in feature in a special program ?  As I told you I have Audacity installed but never got round to trying it, perhaps it also has this.

.. and my reply:

Audacity:  First "Open" an MP3 file (File .. at the top .. then Open).  The waveform loads into Audacity (you could do this with one of the MP3s you have just done .. maybe with a 'copy' of it) just to see what happens.  Of course 'opening' an MP3 is not the same as Recording to MP3 using Audacity (and the problems that may crop up) .. but to handle any MP3s you will have to download the Lame MP3 'add-on' to Audacity.  This is quite straightforward, and I think it's something to do with Audacity and Copyright (if it's a separate program then it's nothing to do with Audacity). 
 
Audacity have information for you to do this on their own website:
 
http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_installation_and_plug_ins.html#lame
 
and if you click the LINK above you will be able to read about this add-on, and download it (below is as a PDF file showing this information .. click on it to read it and print it out if you so wish).

Lame 'add-on' for Audacity (PDF)
 
Normalize:  At the top of Audacity you will see the drop-down choices.  Click on Effect, then Normalize, then OK (leave the defaults as they are, and you don't have to highlight anything).  Click the LINK below to see the PDFs of House Of The Rising Sun Arpeggios I did for Peter's Pearls, Ornaments .. but this time I used the Audacity program to Normalize it so you can see what happens for yourself.

Use of Audacity's Normalize (PDF)
 
Then once you have your Normalized MP3 you will want to SAVE it to your computer.  In Audacity the way to do this is to 'Export' the file, which is in the File drop-down box, Export Audio.  Or using the keypad, press Ctrl + Shift + E (for 'Export' ie. press all three together).  Then give it a Name, select either WAV or MP3, and specify where you want it Saved .. and at how many Bytes .. for MP3 I always choose 128 Bytes.


 
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Hugh Wallington

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And this question from Charles:

Hi Hugh,

Do you know if Audacity can normalise files in bulk or do you load in just one file at a time?

cheers Charles


.. and my reply:

In answer to your question, you have to Normalize each MP3 one at a time.  In fact, I can't even record to Audacity with one recording followed by another.  I have to record a song; then Save it (Ctrl + Shift + E); then delete the song from Audacity; then record another one.  If I do two recordings one after the other they 'join together' (ie. overlap) and you get the two songs playing together.

Perhaps I should have made it clear too that when I record to Audacity I don't do it straight from the LINE OUT of the AR to Audacity on the Laptop, I have to do it via my Behringer XENYX Q802USB Mixer (which has a USB input to the Laptop).  And Mac does his recordings via his Behringer UCA202 (also with a USB input to his laptop).
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Charles Hughes

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Thanks Hugh.

I have a lot of MP3 files on my Ipod that need normalising.  During a quick browse on the net I found "MP3Gain" which can normalise a batch of MP3 files.  I watched a demo on Youtube and it is dead easy to use.  I will give that a try.

Charles

Ken Horton

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Hi Charles, well I managed with help to get out of my troubles  ( self inflicted ) with help from Hugh, but unfortunately the end results will not be heard, as I no longer have my AR organ to link with my Technics KN7000.  I have replaced my AR 100 with an Orla GT 9000DXL2.

Ken Horton

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Just a post script to say thanks to Hugh and Charles and indeed Peter Slack I now have things sorted and have also got used to Audacity .. I think my earlier version must have been corrupt.  I also  have a sample tune in mp3 format in the section 'Links to other web sites', Members' performances .. played on the Orla.   Ken