Unable to hear midi track in Reaper using Akai MPK Midi keyboard

Hey Toby

At the moment I’ve only worked out how to get keys sounding good. The drum pads I think sound like bass notes, and I’m not sure how to get proper drums and cymbals from them yet. Haven’t done any research. Such fun.

Tony, as far as I recall @LBro helped @batwoman with this ages back though perhaps not making use of an external mic plugged into the Zoom. So perhaps LBro will jump onto this.

Perhaps better to start a new Topic since this Topic is all about hearing midi in Reaper.

Even assuming you can get it to work, ultimately I think what you need is an Audio Interface. I think the Zoom is great as an in situ quick and easy recorder but not designed to be an Audio Interface. Now whether or not it makes sense, forgetting financial considerations, depends on what you want to do.

If your use case is to practice playing and singing into a mic, then maybe the Zoom used as a recorder is sufficient.

If you want to make video recordings of you playing and sharing, then may still be OK to record the audio in the Zoom, the video on your phone, and marry the two together on your laptop.

But if you’d like to produce a better quality recording of your guitar and vocal, play with use of fx to polish the dry recordings and eventually produce some full band recordings (ie adding drums, bass, and keys) then I think the AI is the right way to go.

I will start a new topic for that, if required. My zoom is the h5 which works both as a recorder and as an audio interface. I’ve been able to get the zoom to record well using a separate external mic into garage band and can contact Maggie separately to hear her story with the zoom. My goal is to bring the separate external mic and my guitar pickup through the zoom into reaper so I can adjust the levels, etc. Now that I’m recording tracks with two vocalists and the guitar, just doing it through the zoom (as a recorder) with it’s xy mics does not give me enough control.

@DavidP I tried to find them but no luck.

Cool. I guess the trick then is to ensure you have an appropriate audio driver that you can select in the Reaper preferences. Then should work OK

Here you are. I didn’t want to post links to my stuff in your Topic, but given that you can’t find them. Here are links to AVOYP

And this I chose not to republish but is on my YT channel and uses some other instruments:

Thanks, enjoyed listening to them. The visual effects on your song Self Destruction were interesting, how did you create those?

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@DavidP I hooked up the zoom and it worked just fine. No need for a new topic.

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Hi Tony,
I am glad you got your Zoom going. In helping Maggie on this end, a long time ago. It became apparent she needed to move onto a dedicated AI. We found the Zoom to have shortcomings that were tough to work around. Sounds like you need more than 2 simultaneous Jacks to plug into. So unfortunately a lower cost 2 channel AI is probably not going to work out for you. You would need something like this. All the best as you record. Let us hear what your working on!
Keep rock’n,
LB

I’m interested to hear about the zoom shortcomings. I had issues early on with the zoom in garage band and when I posted about it on fb, friends said the zoom was at fault. Turns out it wasn’t the zoom. I did get a chance to try the zoom side by side with a presonus AI and expected or hoped the presonus would be noticeably better. One of the tracks I did with the presonus was a little better, one was much worse.

I’m not trying to defend the zoom at all, just trying to make sure I understand how something like the Scarlett would be better.

At this stage I believe I need 4 inputs, but other more experienced musos have said to put down just the guitar track first, and then come back and record the other tracks, vocals, drum, etc. I will try that as well.

Tony,
Let me get with Maggie as she has a better memory of our Zoom issues than I. I want to say the latency seemed high, but again my memory is fuzzy.

What I do know is that your gear is quite different. She was on a challenged Win 10 notebook that cost maybe $800 AUD. So maybe it was $600 USD and that is not much machine. Here Zoom I think was less than what you have as well. At least I think that was the case. I know a Mac can be better at being a music platform than Win is. So that too may influence what is going on.

As far as inputs go, 2 would get you a long ways, recording in different sessions as many tracks as you desire. But 4 is always better. From what little I know about what you do, 2 might suffice most of the time. But then, why did you add 2 more inputs to the Zoom, for what I think is a total of 4 inputs? I think I recall you saying you want your wife in on what you are doing. If you then bring in guitar on its own DI or mic, your vox and her vox. You need 3 inputs. If that is something you will be considering to do, then plan accordingly. I would also shoot for getting the midi input jacks as well. Though those are not as important as you can add them when you need to add a physical keyboard via stand alone addon midi ports for all of $15.

So if you were to look at the Focusrite you probably have 2 choices:
2i2 - $170 USD - Ok if you are just after 2 real time channels at once.
4i4 - $240 USD - This is the one if you want or need 3-4 channels at once.

As far as latency goes. If you are in Reaper, you can see the latency in the upper right corner of the screen. As shown here:
image

Shoot us a screenshot of what you have there using Reaper and your Zoom.

Keep rock’n,
LB

@LBro Wow, that’s a heap of helpful info. Before I want to look at any upgrade I want to stretch the limits of my current gear. What I’m interested to understand is how issues with latency would manifest? My thinking, which I don’t present myself as anything more than a beginner with this kind of recording, is the DAW is to capture the particular track, so I’m confused as to how latency would be an issue.

Here’s the latency shown with my zoom h5 and my macbook pro which is a 13" 2020 model.

If there’s a resource you can link me to that explains the issues with latency, I’m all ears.

The reason I added 2 more inputs to the zoom was due to our travel arrangements, we are currently living and traveling in our RV Camping Trailer / aka Caravan and access to music shops is sporadic. I’d read about the input module (It takes the place of the standard xy mic) and by chance the music shop in country Australia that I stopped at had one in stock and given we don’t have a fixed address, I figured it was easy to just go ahead and get it as it could be very difficult to source one while on the road at a later date.

I’m not aware that the H5 has any midi option. A quick google on the subject didn’t educate me otherwise. The akai midi keyboard is a separate project / usage although I could see situations where I use it in conjunction with the H5. Just not as likely.

:slight_smile:

Tony,
Latency can hinder you in the DAW. One place it might show up is if you get your guitar in the DAW with the track record button enabled. Maybe put on a guitar plug and add some effects to your guitar signal. Now, listen to the output from the DAW. What you well may find is that you strum the guitar and later you hear your strum. It will probably echo if so. Basically the guitar signal is late from the strum. That is one form of latency.

Midi - The Zoom does not need to do midi at all if you just want to add midi drums, keys or another midi instrument in the DAW. But if you want to plug a real keyboard in for instance, you need a midi input into the computer. Many AI’s above entry level might have midi inputs. But again, you can get them cheap, under $20 USD.

I talked a bit to Maggie. Together I think we recalled her issues. At that time her laptop was very challenged. She had a lower Zoom model than yours. I think the AI Zoom driver was not very well written and it was hard on her machine. Reaper would freeze up, I think it had some audio noise as well. I want to say she had to run the samples very high to get it to work and that meant her latency was unacceptable.

All the best,
LB

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Thanks, that helps. You rock!

Tony

There are a couple of good videos here to get the latency down as low as possible in Reaper.
Either one works. 14/14 is not to shabby I was running with mid 30s until I change my AI recently. And as Lbro described there was a noticeable delay but I followed the first video and got it down to 7/7 or there abouts with a sample rate at 128. I might go to 64 or lower but I was getting some crackling on vox and thought that may be buffer related. Bumped it back to 128 and it was clean again. It was just before the Open Mic so did not want to mess any further.

On the Ai front have to agree with LB if you are going 2 mics 1 Gtr you need at least three separate inputs, which most like means having to go for 4 in 4 out, off course when you come to upgrade.

Cheers

Toby
:sunglasses:

Thanks Tony, glad you enjoyed it.

Visuals are all clips downloaded from Pixabay.com and transition effects added in Corel Ultimate Studio.

“Pro audio” typically targets latency of 5ms or less. (Note that you can never completely eliminate latency, but bringing it down to those levels makes it unnoticeable to most people.) With that said, you can still get by with higher latency, it just makes some things more difficult. If you get into double digit latency values you’re probably in the “obvious and annoying” range.

The problem is that to achieve lower levels of latency you need to balance the sample rate and buffer size (among other factors) with the capabilities of your hardware. For a given sample rate, the smaller your buffer size, the less latency you’ll get. However, the smaller your buffer size the more demand you put on the system hardware (and audio drivers, for that matter). Some hardware may not be capable of achieving “pro audio” levels of latency without xruns (which create unacceptable pops, crackles, etc.).

Your screenshot shows 14ms of latency, which is higher than I’d want. You can try decreasing the buffer size (i.e., number of samples). Right now you’re at a buffer size of 512 samples. Try lowering it to 256, then to 128, and so on. At each stage, test it out and see if your hardware is “keeping up” at the lower latency rate, or if it is starting to fail (xruns like audio stretching, pops/cracks, et cetera). This would be a good “first step” to finding the limits of your hardware/software and the lowest latency setting that you can reasonably achieve. Keep in mind that the load on your hardware can vary depending on your project, too. If you have many tracks, or many plugins/effects running in the DAW it will increase the load, which can also affect what buffer size, etc. you want to choose.

Bottom line: you’ll need to experiment a bit to see what configuration and buffer size works best for your circumstances.

There’s some decent information in Focusrite’s article on latency and interfaces. That’s kind of the tip of the iceberg. The Ardour Manual also has an introduction to latency and a slightly more in-depth discussion of the subject.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I’m currently using/getting:

The image doesn’t show it, but the configuration is using 3 periods per buffer (which seemed to work better for me than 2 periods per buffer – I think I read something about 3 being a good thing to try for USB-connected interfaces).

That’s on an older Intel i5-2550K system running Linux/Jack and using a Focusrite Scarlett gen 2 interface. (I recently bought a new computer, but I haven’t had the chance to migrate everything over to it, yet.)

Thanks all for the detail on latency, plenty of education for me there, have a super day

Been reading a bit and watching videos about latency. Checking if this simple explanation is accurate within it’s narrow scope…

When recording vocals, to a pre recorded guitar track, excessive latency could cause the vocals to appear later than you expect?

Yes, and it can be very distracting for the performer if they’re monitoring and hearing a “delay” as they’re singing and playing even as they’re singing and playing it. (Many interface have a “direct monitoring” feature which can avoid the issue, although you won’t hear any computer-side effects you’ve added in the DAW.)

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