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What You Need To Run Sinfonia & RMS Keyboards

With our resources, chances are very good that you or someone you know already has most of the equipment you need. The core items are a computer, a MIDI (piano) keyboard, a way to connect the two and a way to get sound from your computer into your theatre. We designed our products so that they may be run on a bare minimum of equipment. But they are also flexible enough so that those who want a more professional implementation can use them with the most sophisticated and powerful technologies available. Here we will outline the essentials and discuss what you can add to make your system even more versatile.

Note: Sinfonia and RMS Keyboards can be implemented in a wide variety of ways using a wide variety of equipment. Your particular configuration may impact the way you can use the program. For example, in RMS Keyboards, a slower computer with less memory may only be able to handle a single keyboard part, while a more powerful computer may be able to run three keyboards with room to spare. Before purchasing a license, please use the free trial versions of Sinfonia and RMS Keyboards to test your particular implementation. This way you'll know ahead of time how your existing gear can work or whether you'll need something more.

Economy Treatment

Computer

The computer generates all the sounds. To run RMS Keyboards, you'll need a Windows or Macintosh computer with at least 2GB of RAM, a CPU with at least 2 cores, a sound card and a minimum operating system of Windows 7 or Macintosh OSX 10.9. To run Sinfonia, you'll need a Windows or Macintosh computer with at least 4GB of RAM, a CPU with at least 2 cores, a sound card and a relatively recent operating system (Windows 7 or later; Macintosh OSX 10.9 or later.) Most computers that have come out within the last few years will meet the minimum specs right out of the box. And these days, it's hard to buy a new machine that won't handle the program comfortably. Performance and sound quality will vary depending on a number of factors (i.e. processor speed, memory, sound card). An older, less powerful computer may not be able to handle multiple keyboard parts and therefore may only be suitable in combination with other computers. Laptops are more convenient. But desktop computers will work fine too, and in some instances will provide more power and bang for the buck. Note: if you use a desktop computer, you will also need to provide a standard QWERTY keyboard, mouse and video monitor. If you are thinking about buying a new computer to use with either Sinfonia or RMS Keyboards, below are three entry level systems we recommend. Our top recommendation in this category is the Apple MacBook Air.

MIDI Keyboard

The pianist will perform on the MIDI keyboard. It looks like an electronic piano and, when connected to the computer running RMS Keyboards, sends messages telling the computer what notes to play, how loud or soft, whether the sustain pedal is engaged, whether to bend a note, etc. When using Sinfonia, you will map the keyboard keys to perform various functions within Sinfonia, as well as using the keys to tap out the tempo or rhythm of the song. Note: the MIDI Keyboard does not actually produce any sound here. All sounds will come from the computer. But it's okay to use a device you already own that does make sound. In this case, you would simply turn off the device's internal sounds and use it just as a controller.

Most MIDI keyboards function identically with higher priced units providing things like a more natural piano feel, durability, internal sounds and/or extra programming features. Virtually every electronic keyboard to come out in the last 20 years has the ability to send a MIDI signal and may therefore be used with our resources. However, newer units are more likely to have a USB port for simplified connectivity to computers. Older keyboards will probably require a more specialized cable or separate interface to get the MIDI signal to your computer (but these are pretty cheap - we'll discuss this later). If you do not already have access to one, we recommend the M-Audio Keystation 88 as a relatively inexpensive full-size keyboard. For Sinfonia, you won't necessarily need a full-size keyboard; we recommend the M-Audio Oxygen 25 as an inexpensive smaller keyboard.

When using Sinfonia, you may want to print out stickers which correspond to the keyboard functions and place them on the appropriate keys. You can find a printable PDF of these stickers here.