Sunday, 29 May 2011

Portable recording in stereo ?

I've got this other blog, where I wibble on about musical stuff, and after watching Dr Who the other night, I ended up with a nice enough bit of noise that some people might call it 'music'.

"Excellent!!" I thought.. "I shall share this with the entire world!!!"

Of course, that means somehow getting the noise from the piano, into the intertubes. I'm smart enough to know that my piano is a) digital, and b) has line out jacks. And I know I have a big pile of cables, some of which may even be adequate to use with said jacks.. I've also got a netbook thing, which has some sort of audio built in.

How hard can it be? about an hours worth harder than it should have been! There may have been simpler ways to do this.. but here's the tale of how I ended up sorting it out...

Firstly, the netbook had a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.. I guess I've been playing with desktops for too long, with proper line-in jacks, or funky auto configuring multipurpose jacks that decide what they are as you connect the cable. I figured maybe this was one of those, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Now for some reason, the musical instrument world still loves jacks that look like they fell out of a 1940's telephone exchange, where as the pc world has pretty much standardised on those little headphone type connectors, just to make things even more fun, the rest of the audio world has decided to use RCA style plugs like you'd find on the side of your tv for a camcorder.

This means that if you've ever tried to let these worlds meet, you end up owning one rather oversized tub of cables that go from one type to another, splitting out mono from stereo plugs, little->big adapters, big->little adapters, rca->little etc.. Tonight, it was late, I didn't want to go hunting too long.. all I could find was a spare headphone adapter (to let you use your ipod headphones in a proper hifi stereo output), some twin-rca->stereo cables, and a stereo-stereo little jack lead..

The piano, of course, offers 2 mono large jacks, for L & R lineout, although the L one doubles as L+R, so I figure I'd connect my headphone adapter there, then use the stereo-stereo to connect to the netbook mic-input. Woot.. I got noise.. in.. mono. Doh. Mic on netbook is solidly mono-only.. gah.

I try a couple of other spare laptops, and a really cheap usb headset/soundcard dongle which confirm that recording stereo on a laptop looks like it will be needing 'something else' to make it happen.

Now, as it happens, I have 2 spare 'something elses' that I could use, a NorthQ 6600, usb realtime mpeg4 encoder, and a usb HD PVR realtime h264 encoder.. both pretty much meant for video use, but I figured they'd work just fine with an audio feed.

I rummage around to go find them.. of course, the 6600 has been lent out, so that left me the HD PVR. I carefully drag it all to the piano, connect it to the netbook to be greeted by.. "One of your usb devices has malfunctioned and is not recognised". Argh..Vague memories surface of the reason why this HD PVR is spare.. it ceased functioning reliably & got replaced.. but I remember reading something about the PSU that ships with it being prone to dying..  5v DC, 2a.. surely I must have something like that laying around.. turns out an old router ran on exactly that, even with the same polarity! awesome. Connected it up via that psu, and yay, we have a hd pvr in device manager.

Of course, this is where Hauppauge like to kick you repeatedly in the ribs, as to record anything from this device will need win tv, or the arcsoft stuff that shipped with it, you can't download it for some oddball licensing reason, you can only download 'updates' yay. How am I supposed to put this 'CD' into my netbook that has no drive? One "quick" iso & virtualdrive mount later.. I'm up and running..

Now I have to swap the stereo-stereo for stereo->twin-rca, to hook up to the HD PVR, I fire up the arcsoft capture nubbins gizmosoft, and it sits there.. it would appear that to capture audio with this device, I'm going to need to supply it with a video signal. My piano doesn't do video signals, although apparently a model or two up would have ;-)

So another hunt around the house for the smallest widget I can find that will output a video signal, that wont matter if its unplugged & moved for a while.. Almost gave up, then I spotted an old media-center-extender.. Problem solved!

So, recorded a 'video' of the main menu of the extender, with my piano as the audio input. Took the video (in .ts transport stream format) on the netbook, demuxed the audio to an ac3 file, re-encoded that to mp3 using besweet, and tried to see how to host it on blogger.

Blogger is not a fan of mp3s =) Neither is youtube.. my 1st attempt saw me go convert the mp3 into a video with a single frame image, my 2nd attempt found which has a nifty embeddable widget.

So finally, it's online.. if you want to listen.. its over here..

Now I'm off to hit ebay to find a usb soundcard with a line in jack & some appropriate cables =)

No comments :

Post a Comment