How to connect your digital piano to a computer

Modern digital pianos are incredibly sophisticated kit pieces, and for the most part, you might think they’re pretty self-contained. After all, at their most basic level of use, you sit in front of them, turn on and start playing. piano. Yet, while many instruments contain their own built-in features for learning and making music, a digital piano will really start to spread its wings in terms of functionality when connected to a computer.

Whether it’s a Mac, PC, or even a mobile device like an iPad or Android tablet, connecting your digital piano to a computer or other external device can unlock new and transformative features. the way you use your instrument in several ways. So this guide is here to show you exactly why you would want to connect your digital piano to your computer, how to do it, and what it allows you to do.

Why connect your piano to a computer?

The two main types of information that can be transmitted from your piano to your computer are MIDI and audio. Short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, MIDI is a data stream representing your piano performance converted into numbers. These numbers tell the computer when you played the notes, their pitch value, duration, and how hard you played them. Audio data, on the other hand, is the actual sound of your game converted into data and transmitted to your computer in real time.

But why would you even want to connect your piano to a computer in the first place?

The most obvious example is if you want to use your piano as a MIDI controller keyboard to play virtual instruments in a digital audio workstation (JACKDAW) such as GarageBand or Logic Pro from Apple, Cubase from Steinberg or Ableton Live. Not only will this allow you to play software synths and sample libraries installed on your computer directly from your piano keyboard and record your performances, you will also be able to access a plethora of Online piano lessons services that require you to connect your piano to your computer in order to assess your progress on the lesson plan.

Overhead shot of hands on keyboard

(Image credit: Getty / juanma ax)

In the case of instruments like the Roland Go: Piano, Bluetooth is used to stream music from an external device such as a cell phone through the piano’s built-in speakers so that you can play at the same time , which is a fantastic way to encourage teens and young children to learn the instrument – the modern equivalent of learning to play along with songs on the radio.

Some manufacturers offer compatible applications that enhance the functionality of your piano or keyboard. A good example is Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app, which connects via Bluetooth to the company’s FP line of digital beginner pianos to provide access to some of the internal parameters hidden within the piano, inaccessible from the front panel. This can include access to never-before-seen presets, easy control of effect parameters and much more, turning your tablet into a large color touchscreen for your instrument, and making it much easier to use in the process.

So let’s see how to connect a digital piano to your computer. There are two main methods that can be used for this – a wired and non-wired or wireless connection.

Wired connection

Three types of USB connector on green background

(Image credit: Getty / Supersmario)

When you connect your piano to a computer via a cable, it’s probably done with a common USB cable, usually USB-B to USB-A.

What is USB anyway?

Meaning Universal System Bus, USB has been around for years as the primary method of connection between computers and external devices such as printers, external hard drives, and cameras. Musicians also use it to connect instruments and other peripherals like audio interfaces and USB microphones to their computers.

There are four common types of USB connectors today:

  • USB-A This is the USB connector format we’re all familiar with – the rectangular-shaped flat plug that only fits one way into its socket and is usually always the wrong way around. This connector still appears as standard on many Windows PCs and laptops.
  • USB-B This is the square connector most often found on the other end of the cable from the USB-A socket and is a standard fitting on most USB printers. This is the form of plug that you are likely to find on the back of your piano and is most often labeled “USB to Host”.
  • Usb-c USB-C ports are a more modern connector, typically found on current Apple Mac computers and some PCs. Looking like a small, flat oval profile, a USB-C connector can be inserted into its socket in either direction, which already gives it a big advantage over its predecessor!
  • Micro USB Some smaller beginner keyboards, such as Yamaha PSS-A50, can use a smaller form factor USB connector called Micro USB. This is popular on small devices because it packs the same functionality into a smaller space.

Connecting Your Digital Piano to a Computer Using a USB Cable

We’re assuming your piano will have a USB-B port, as this is by far the most common type of port for the task. The connection is quite simple:

  1. Plug the square end of the USB cable into the USB-B socket on your piano. This square shaped socket is usually labeled something like “USB to host”.
  2. Plug the other rectangular end (USB-A) of the cable into an available USB port on your computer.

The type of USB connector on your computer may vary depending on its model and age. Most PCs still have traditional USB-A ports, but if you’re using a newer MacBook Pro that only has USB-C ports, you’ll need a special USB-B to USB-C cable or cable. ” an adapter to convert the USB-A socket to a USB-C socket.

Alternatively, if all you need is to record the sound of your digital piano as audio on your computer, you can choose to connect your piano without USB by simply connecting your instrument’s audio output jacks to a audio interface connected to the computer. If your instrument has dedicated left and right line outputs, you can use a pair of standard 6.3mm jack cables similar to guitar cables for this – otherwise you can use the 3.5mm headphone output and a special cable with one 3.5mm stereo jack on one end and two 6.3mm mono jack plugs on the end that connects to the interface. This will allow you to record the sound of your performance as an audio file in the DAW of your choice.

Unwired connection

Roland Go: Piano 88 connected to a tablet

(Image credit: Roland)

Wireless connectivity between your piano and your computer is probably achieved via Bluetooth.

What is bluetooth?

Most often found on mobile phones, Bluetooth is a wireless communication protocol that is used to share data over what are essentially high frequency radio waves. Bluetooth enabled pianos are able to communicate with computers and tablets in order to send MIDI data in real time and, increasingly as time passes and technology improves, audio data without the need to use cables.

Connect your digital piano to a computer via Bluetooth:

  1. Activate Bluetooth on your computer or mobile device
  2. Activate Bluetooth pairing mode on your piano – see the user guide for details
  3. Select your instrument from the list of Bluetooth devices available on your computer.

The methods for doing this will vary depending on the make and model of piano you own, but the user guides for most instruments will provide details on exactly how to pair your piano with your computer via Bluetooth. One thing to remember though – Bluetooth audio on pianos is not designed to stream audio from the piano to Bluetooth headphones, as the latency or delay involved in the conversion process will make playback over time virtually impossible. .

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