Search for Spock, er, hardware!–part 3

Posted 28 January 2011 by

Linking the console (keyboards, etc.) to the computer requires a simple Midi line-in feed.  Linking the resulting sound from the computer software to the home audio system requires an audio card. These elements are met in one piece of gear–the Echo Audiofire 8. The firewire link into and out of the computer handles all the connectivity between keyboards, combination tabs, computer and amplification/speakers. I will be using the good ol’ home receiver and speakers, so I saved the price of purchase for that equipment. I have surround sound speakers and have never hooked them up. About time I got that done, too. That should help give an “in the room” feel to the playback–more of a live acoustic to the sound.

I thought long about the Echo Audiofire 8 vs. the Audiofire 4. The cost differential is not very significant. The “8” has eight audio analogue outputs and the “4” has four. That’s about the only difference I could see from reading the specs. Hauptwerk recommends the “8” but not the “4”, leading me to wonder if they are not updated versions of one another. But, I got to counting up the uses for the outputs: 2 for stereo outs to the audio receiver, 2 for live tape recording, 2 for headphones–I’m already up to 6. If I utilize a low bass box and a center speaker at a future time–low and behold–8 outputs. Surprising!

The software has rather extensive possibilities for managing audio. One feature I may end up utilizing is the ability to place the primary sounds in “main” speakers and shifting the “room acoustics” to rear speakers. That will put to use a couple more audio outputs as well. So, it is looking good that I have 8 outputs after all.

Were this organ being installed in an auditorium or church sanctuary, sending the sound to several speakers would be a good idea; therefore, having 12 audio outputs, or even combining two units for 16 or 24 outputs is quite possible and perhaps warranted in very big spaces.

The computer, of course, must contain a quality video card–not that the demand for volume rendering is very high (as in gaming). However, it must be quick responding, so there is no delay between making a change via the touch screen monitor and having that change go in effect. Low latency is the technical term. No delay. The communication between video board and software must be nearly instanteous. Got it covered with a Diamond Radeon HD 6870. It is probably overkill–but I’m not risking frustrating delays at the console while playing. Besides, someday I may decide to play video games :-)

So, now I’m on the path to gathering this exciting ensemble of gear. Only thing that remains is the “furniture” portion of the console. As a temporary measure, the components of the console can be set up on a banquet table with leg extensions. That’s the way I’ll go for now. This will give me a chance to get all the software, computer, hardware linkeage running and calibrated. It will be a fully functional instrument. Just funky looking for a time until the cabinetry is available. I’ll not post anything more for a while until I’m up and running. I’m sure there will be a story to tell! Perhaps several.

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