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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (3/28/11) 5:10pm - ... wherein Peter has bad luck with power adapters.

Following up on this post (from last *year* -- ha!), I finally have a functioning piano.

First, I shopped around for a piano synth.  It looks like they don't really make dedicated piano synths any more.  People who want a piano sound either (1) buy a controller with the synth built in, or (2) hook up their controller to their computer, and buy a (much cheaper) software synth.  There is also the rare case of (3) buying a really expensive, top-of-the-line hardware synth that has dozens of voices and a bunch of extra features.

So that's how I wound up shopping for old piano synths from the early nineties on ebay.  I finally settled on the Kurzweil MicroPiano, which was pretty well-regarded, and which I could get for $150.  So I ordered that on ebay.  Then I realized it didn't come with a power adapter.  So I figured out the specs for the adapter -- at the last minute, I realized it took 9VAC instead of 9VDC -- and ordered an appropriate one from allelectronics.com.

The synth arrived (yay!).  The adapter arrived (yay!).  I plugged everything in (yay!).  I turned on the synth (yay!).  And then... nothing.  It didn't even turn on.  (BOOOO!)

Next step:  find a multimeter.  This all went down right before my trip to Chicago, so I just packed my adapter and took it with me.  My first night in Chicago, I visited Bob (who owns a multimeter), and we figured out that yes, the adapter was dead.

I told allelectronics.com about this.  They agreed to send a (tested) replacement.  The new adatper showed up (yay!).  I plugged everything in again (yay!).  I turned on the synth, and it worked!  I could set it to "demo mode", and it would output a cheery little piano melody.

Next, I turned on my piano controller -- for the first time in maybe three years -- and... nothing.  (BOOOO!)  I borrowed another multimeter (this one from Karin and Bruce), and tested the power adapter for the controller.  *It* was dead.  So, time to place another order from allelectronics.com.  The new adapter arrived promptly, and now... everything worked!  For the first time in ages, I was able to clumsily bang out chords on my piano.


The current setup.


So the setup I've got now is pretty straightforward.  I've got the piano, and I've got the synth sitting on top of the piano.  The piano controller outputs MIDI to the synth, and the synth outputs audio, via a ¼" patch cable, over to a four-channel mixer that sits beside my computer.  (So now I'm using one input for my computer audio, one for a cable I can plug my iPhone into, and one for the piano synth.)  The mixer sends its output to my computer speakers -- so I get the odd sensation of the piano's "audio output" coming from *behind* me.

I also bought a little Christmas-tree extension chord with a foot switch; I have the piano and the synth both plugged into it.  So if I want to play the piano, I don't have to reach around to the tiny power switch on the controller, and *then* turn the knob to switch on the synth -- I just stomp once on the foot switch, and within a second, everything is good to go.

It remains to be seen whether I'll actually play the piano at all -- but it's nice to be able to easily flip it on, say, when I can't sleep and want to distract myself with a bit of (attempted) music.

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Mood: [mood icon] productive · Music: none
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