Live Streaming with Quality Audio & Video

As a musician during a period of social distancing, one of the ways you might be trying to reach your audience is via a live stream. While you can go live simply with your phone, you’ve probably discovered that video and audio quality is less than desirable. At Casio we’ve been live streaming for years, and we thought we’d share some tips that will raise the quality of your live stream to help keep your audience engaged.

To get started you need some software to function as your “TV Studio” one of the most popular (and also free) solutions is OBS.

OBS:  Open Broadcaster Software
This is a FREE cross platform solution for live streaming. It includes dext overlays, multiple camera views, configurable scenes and more. This great software has been our go-to solution for webinars for years. It can stream to the platform of your choice such as Facebook or Youtube.

Cameras for your live stream
The built-in webcams of your laptop are functional but an external webcam such as Logitech C920 can provide a better picture, and more importantly, a more flattering viewing angle. Using a USB hub, we’ve run up to three of these types of webcams at once in webinars to get a variety of camera angles of our participants and instruments.
If you want better quality than a webcam, DSLR cameras can be integrated easily on the Mac. Also on Mac, there is an open source plug-in for OBS called CameraLive that lets you use most DSLRs as a video source via USB. Note that autofocus and some other camera features are not available when using CameraLive. If you’re after even better quality, you can bring an HDMI source (if your camera supports it) directly to OBS or other software with a device like the Elgato Cam Link. If you’re really dedicated and need many more camera inputs, the Black Magic MINI switcher will allow you to bring in multiple HDMI sources like GoPros.

Remote guests while broadcasting.
If you want to bring someone else to your live stream that isn’t directly with you, the only real solution here is Skype. Skype has an option to “Allow NDI Usage”. It’s in Preferences -> Calling -> Advanced. This feature allows other applications like OBS to grab the video and audio directly from Skype and use it as an input source. If you have multiple guests on a conference all, each Skype guest will appear with a unique name as a source. You can also choose “Active speaker” and Skype will automatically do the video switching for you. In OBS, you’ll need a plug-in to make this work.

ECAMM for Mac instead of OBS
After years of using OBS, we recently switched to a Mac only solution called ECAMM. It is a subscription-based program costing around $30 per month, or less if you pay for a year. We originally switched because when adding Skype guests to our live streams, we had difficulty with audio/video sync. Note that it is possible that our issue here was strictly related to OBS for Mac and the Windows version is ahead in terms of revisions and features.
In ECAMM, Plug-ins for DSLR cameras are not needed. A Canon DSLR simply works over USB with autofocus enabled. A plug-in for Skype isn’t needed, it also just works. There are a few things that are slightly less configurable compared to OBS but the simplicity and rock solid quality are hard to beat. If you’re streaming to only one platform Facebook or Youtube (not both at the same time) ECAMM integration lets you grab comments and put them on the screen. People LOVE this and I’ve never seen this on any other platform. Their tech support is excellent as well.

Live stream with real-time comments added via ECAMM

Other host options:
There are other alternatives to OBS and ECAMM such as Wirecast, vMix and others. They’re all going to cost you.

Can your computer handle it?
I’ve been running everything on a 2015 Macbook Pro 16gigs of RAM without issue. The computer does work hard – the fans spin up and it gets a little noisy but never an issue if you have good audio prepared. I also connect a second monitor to my computer. Whether you are using OBS or ECAMM you’re probably going to need the extra real estate on your screen for other applications including your browser which you may need open to verify that you are actually streaming live.

Getting quality audio into your webcast
II’ll be writing another article on audio interfaces and microphones for your live stream. Needless to say if you’re using the microphone built into your laptop or webcam the quality is about as good as a speakerphone. The best way to improve the audio in your live stream is with a mixer or audio interface that will allow you to plug in your microphones and instruments all at once.
If you already have an audio interface, routing audio in a live stream isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. As we’re often demonstrating musical instruments like the Privia PX-S3000 or PX-5S in webinars, having quality, stereo audio has always been a requirement. Typically speaking, the software (OBS, ECAMM) will only see two audio channels. So if you have an audio interface with multiple inputs, the software may only monitor channels 1 & 2, leaving your other audio inputs inaudible. To make matters worse, a microphone plugged into channel 1 on your audio interface would be routed strictly to the left channel. Using OBS on a Windows computer a few years ago, the only solution I could come up with was to use a mixer before my audio interface to sum all my sources to two channels.
On the Mac there is a solution which can route all of your audio inputs plus system audio from applications on your computer to your live stream. Loopback provides this wizardry. So whether you’re streaming a video on how to use Logic, MainStage, Cubase or ProTools or just need the variety of input sources on your audio interface properly routed, Loopback is the fix.

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Loopback pictured above. The microphone is on channel 1 but is routed to output channels 1 & 2. I have have a Casio Privia piano connected to inputs 3 & 4, also being routed to outputs 1 & 2. Audio from Logic also going to the main 1 & 2 outputs.

Streaming to multiple platforms at once.
If you want to stream to both Facebook and Youtube at once to reach a larger audience, there are a few solutions. Note that when you do this you lose the chat integration of ECAMM. One of the most popular is Restream.io. Their free version will let you broadcast to your personal Facebook page and Youtube at the same time, but has limitations about going to your Facebook pages and groups.
We have been using Crowdcast. On its own, it is a place to HOST your live streams. Crowdcast is a great place to hold private webinars or ones that people pay to see. Another feature of Crowdcast is that you can multi-stream from there to Youtube and Facebook at the same time.

More to come
There is so much more to prepare for that will help your live stream stand out. Camera choices, microphone, lighting, text overlays and more. Stay tuned for Part 2.

The Next Generation Grand Hybrid Pianos

Grand Hybrid –  The world’s finest hybrid pianos are now even better.

Introducing the new Celviano Grand Hybrid GP-510 and GP-310 Pianos.

At Winter NAMM 2020, Casio America introduced the latest generation Celviano Grand Hybrid Pianos. These pianos create a revolutionary piano experience that was designed in collaboration with C. Bechstein.

Authenticity Begins at the First Touch.

0805-02_Keyboard_hammer_02From the moment your hands touch the keys, the Grand Hybrid delivers the authenticity your performance demands. The revolutionary new Natural Grand Hammer Action keyboard is made with full-length wooden concert grand piano keys, using the same materials and processes as the C. Bechstein concert grand pianos. A keypress sends a hammer along the same vertical path as a grand piano, with the same essential weighting and pivot points, resulting in a true and uncompromising piano touch.

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The Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard

Three Legendary Grand Pianos.

016_GP-510_GP-310BK_mood_ concert hallPowered by Casio’s AiR Grand Sound Source, the Grand Hybrid pianos provide not just one, but three of the world’s finest grand pianos. Dubbed the Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna Grands, each one is the result of countless hours of precise analysis and study of their unique characteristics. They are faithful and expressive recreations of these distinctive pianos. with the Berlin Grand sound having been developed in collaboration with C. Bechstein. String/damper resonance, mechanical sounds, and other subtle nuances complete the experience of owning three of the finest pianos on Earth. The GP-510 and GP-310 enhances the sound of these sought-after instruments with longer, more natural decay than its predecessor, ensuring each sustained note tells as complete a story as you intend.

The connection between the keyboard action and the sound engine have been refined by a newly-enhanced touch response algorithm that allows for an even more accurate response. Players will feel enhanced controllability with a softer touch, enabling flawless expression of the most subtle of performances.

A Powerful Experience

The new Grand Hybrid speaker system has become even more powerful than its predecessor, with larger drivers making even more effective use of the powerful built-in amplifiers.  Using an exclusive six-speaker amplification system, the new Grand Acoustic System reproduces the three-dimensional sound field generated by an acoustic grand. The top speakers present sounds normally heard rising upwards, and the downward-facing speakers present sounds heard from below the soundboard. This simulation fills the room with rich, complex sound, reaching both the performer and the audience.

Highlights

  • Full-length Austrian spruce piano keys plus a true grand piano hammer mechanism
  • Three of the world’s greatest grand pianos, with improved response and longer decay.
  • Newly-upgraded six-speaker sound system
  • Enhanced EQ options, new Harpsichord tone
  • Enhanced touch response with wider dynamic range
  • Scene feature for saving/recalling favorite settings (GP-510 only)
  • GP-510: Elegant cabinet with distinguished black polished finish and gold accents
  • GP-310: New Elegant Black Satin Finish
  • New high-contrast inverted display for increased visibility

For more information on the Grand Hybrid pianos visit https://www.casiomusicgear.com/products/hybrid-pianos

Nashville Keyboard Players Summit – Part 1

Casio partnered with Music Player Network to put this piece together.  We brought together Nashville’s top session players at Ocean Way Studios for an intimate discussion about being a studio musician in Nashville. Stephen Fortner hosts a discussion with keyboardists Matt Rollings, Michael Whittaker, Steve Nathan, Charlie Judge, David Cohen, David Dorn.

We’ll see some playing (using a Privia PX-S3000) in a future episode.

Special thanks to all the amazing keyboard players listed above who contributed their time and shared their stories, to Steve Fortner for winding them up and letting them go…and especially to Steve Nathan – for helping make this happen.

More to come soon!

 

Casio Hiring Product Specialists

If you’re a tech-savvy keyboard player or pianist, we might just have the perfect gig for you.

Casio, a world leader in electronic musical instruments, has opportunities for part-time work in several major cities throughout the US. We are looking for outgoing, friendly, enthusiastic pianists/keyboard players who love using and talking about music technology. Currently we are looking in the following areas:

Orlando, FL
Miami, FL
San Diego, CA
Milwaukee, WI
Portland, OR
New York, NY (and Long Island)
Detroit, MI
Cleveland, OH
Northern NJ

As a part-time trainer/merchandiser, You’ll be visiting Casio’s network of dealers, training their staff on how to effectively demonstrate and sell our keyboards and digital pianos. You’ll also be checking to make sure our products are being displayed properly, conversing with staff and store managers, and reporting back to Casio. We’ll provide you with all the materials and training you’ll need.

Requirements:
1. Fluent spoken and written English, additional languages are a plus
2. Keyboard skills and understanding of music technology (will need a keyboard for application video as below)
3. Retail sales experience, musical Instrument sales a BIG plus
4. Access to a car (up to 4hr/day travel with mileage reimbursement)
5. Strong communication, presentation, and training skills
6. A flexible schedule

If this is you, please record a quick 2-minute video and upload it to YouTube as unlisted. The video doesn’t have to be professionally produced, a phone video is fine. In this video, please:
1. Describe why you’d be perfect for the job
2. Give us an example of your keyboard skills
3. Demonstrate and explain various functions on your keyboard

Send the link to the video along with your resume to training@casio.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

NAMM 2019 Performance Highlights

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Shawn Stockman

WHAT A SHOW and what an incredible line-up of musicians demonstrate Casio’s new PX-S1000 and PX-S3000. Artists included Steve Weingart with bassist Ben Shepherd, Kristian Terzic, Nick Smith, Darrell Lavigne, Roshon with Patrick Bolton, Anthony Patterson and the one and only Larry Dunn. We even had a special appearance from Shawn Stockman.

 

We have hours of video that we’re still sorting through but we’ll bring you some of the best of the individual performances very soon.

 

 

Casio CT-X3000 and CT-X5000 Differences Explained

While they look similar, there are some significant differences in these two models besides price. In this video, Mike Martin explains nine significant feature differences between the CT-X3000 and CT-X5000.

Don’t have 3 minutes to watch the video? Here are the 9 differences in a nutshell:
  1. Speaker System: The most noticeable difference between CT-X3000 is 12W and the CT-X5000 is an amazing 30W!! 
  2. Battery Power: They both come with power supplies but the CT-X5000 is the only model in the CT-X lineup that can’t run on batteries due to the higher amplification.
  3. User Rhythms:The CT-X3000 has 50 User Rhythms, while the CT-X5000 has 100 User Rhythms. 
  4. Direct Access Category Buttons:The CT-X5000 provides quicker access to tones and rhythms with 16 buttons for direct access to categories.
  5. Connectivity:The CT-X5000 adds 1/4″ Left/Right Line Outputs and a Mic Input with access to the system effects.
  6. Assignable Modulation Button:The CT-X5000 also has an assignable button for tone vibrato or real-time effects control like rotary speaker.
  7. Backlit Registration Buttons:For easier viewing on stage the 8 Registration buttons are backlit on the CT-X5000.
  8. System Effects:The CT-X5000 offers more Reverb, Chorus and Delay choices.
  9. System EQ:They both have EQ presets but the CT-X5000 adds a programmable System EQ.

WE WANT YOU!

Are you a piano or keyboard player? Do you love technology? Are you outgoing and friendly? Casio, a world leader in keyboard instruments, has opportunities for part-time work in several major cities throughout the US.
You’ll be visiting Casio’s network of dealers, training their staff how to effectively demonstrate and sell our keyboards and digital pianos. You’ll also be checking to make sure our products are being displayed properly, conversing with staff and store managers, and reporting back to Casio. We’ll provide you with all the materials you’ll need.
We’re looking for people with:
1. Fluent spoken English, additional languages are a plus
2. Retail sales experience, musical Instrument sales a BIG plus
3. Access to a car (up to 4hr/day travel with mileage reimbursement)
4. Strong communication, presentation, and training skills
5. Keyboard/musician skills preferred
5. A flexible schedule
We’re currently in need of people in these areas:
Minneapolis, Dallas, Austin, Las Vegas, Boston, Denver and Phoenix
If this is you, please record a quick 2-minute video describing why you’d be perfect for the job and send it to artistinquiries@casio.com
We look forward to hearing from you!

Casio’s HexLayer system was originally in Casio’s XW-P1. Since then it has become a more powerful sound shaping tool in the other products like the PX-5S, PX-560 and MZ-X500. So what is it all about?

Simply put, a HexLayer is a single tone with up to 6 layers. Each layer has its choice of waveforms. So you can build a horn section by combining different saxophone, trumpet and trombone layers. Similarly you could create an orchestra by combining strings, clarinet, oboe, french horn, flute and more. Each of the six layers in a HexLayer tone can have their own key range and velocity range so each component doesn’t haven’t be stacked on top of each other, they can be arranged across the range of the keyboard and elements can be triggered only when specific key velocities are reached.

hexlayer1

Synth aficionados take note that the capabilities of a HexLayer tone go far beyond acoustic instrument sounds. In the case of the PX-5S, PX-560 and MZ-X500, each of the six layers have their own pitch envelope, filter type (5 choices), filter envelope and amplitude envelope. So of course you could simply stack 6 sawtooth waveforms for a huge polysynth sound but you can also create much more complex evolving textures using these tools.

The power of HexLayers can also be used to refine and customize keyboard instruments like Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos. PX-560 and MZ-X500 owners, be sure to look through the HexLayer presets where you’ll find electric piano preset that were created using these sound shaping tools. You’ll find that layers can even be programmed to sound on the key release that helps us give some of these the electric piano tones that perfect vintage feel.

Even more amazing is that some instruments allow for multiple HexLayer tones at once! The possibilities are endless.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video on HexLayer programming…
-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.

 

HexLayer tones – 6 times the fun