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My brother has this keyboard that feels great to play, but only has one decent tone. Its only outputs are a 1/8 inch headphone jack OR midi, which got me wondering if there were any hardware units built for midi->tone library processed out to 1/4 inch for a PA.

What are some options for adding a tone library to the output?

Are there standalone units? Is there computer software that would make switching tones easy in a live situation?

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Having an actual MIDI output (instead of USB MIDI) is a good thing, because this allows you to connect devices without a PC inbetween.

Rack-mount modules (e.g., Motif-Rack XS, Integra-7) are large, and correspondingly costly, but there are also "desktop" modules, such as the Mobile Studio Canvas. It might be cheaper to buy some used, discontinued model (e.g., SD-20/50/80, SC-8820/8850, SC-88(Pro), MU500/1000/2000).

Using a PC/laptop is always possible (with suitable software), and switching tones through MIDI will work if your keyboard has the controls for that. However, even with a good sound device (that has good drivers), latency can never be as low as with a hardware module (whether the difference matters for you is another question). Furthermore, a general-purpose machine always will have software/configuration problems, and might not be available when you feel like jamming.

  • Also, don't worry about the size of the audio connectors. A domestic keyboard may have 1/8" jacks, more professional gear may use 1/4" jacks or XLRs. But they'll all connect perfectly well to a mixer, with a suitable cable. – Laurence Payne Apr 10 '16 at 17:43

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