eMedia Learn to Play Keyboard Pack USB Version
Review

On September 30, 2005, in Review, by John Nemerovski



eMedia Learn to Play Keyboard Pack USB Version
Company: eMedia Music

Price: $150

http://www.emediamusic.com

Our original review of the instructional software can be found here:

We were going to wait until Volume Two of eMedia Learn to Play Keyboard to evaluate the physical MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) keyboard that is included. The company just released a USB version of their keyboard. This improvement is so exciting that we’re giving readers of MyMac.com the opportunity to learn about the next phase in audio input technology. Our first response is Bravo!

Potential purchasers of the original package, including conventional MIDI keyboard, could easily be discouraged by the MIDI terminology and interface. Those barriers have vanished with the arrival of eMedia’s new USB keyboard.

The carton contains very little: software, brief written Owner’s Manual, USB cable, and instructional MIDI keyboard. Ignore the three black non-USB rear ports (one each for power adapter, MIDI interface, and pedal, that can be purchased separately if desired) and focus on the white USB port.

Insert the CD entitled “eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method With USB Keyboard Drivers” into your computer, and follow the on-screen instructions to install the software in OS X, OS 9, or Windows. No serial numbers, no digital rights management, no secret handshake – simply install and begin!

Then attach the USB cable to computer and eMedia keyboard, switch it on, and play along with your instructional software. Any questions? Call or email eMedia for quick, conclusive answers. That’s what I did, and I’m enjoying using this keyboard. It comes with a Pitch Bend wheel and a Modulation wheel that is beyond the scope of this review, since they aren’t relevant to the tutorial software, but are useful for other MIDI musical functions.

The stylish keyboard has 49 touch-sensitive keys in four full C-to-C octaves. Its size is roughly 33” x 8” x 3” and its weight is 7.5 lbs. Additional MIDI specs are available from eMedia. Sound is very good, and finger action is just fine for beginning piano students.

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Because the CD was pre-release, Zac Jensen, Assistant Music Editor and Quality Assurance at eMedia provided the following software installation instructions, in case you have any difficulties at home or school:

We’ve gone to great lengths to make the set-up of Piano and Keyboard Method with MidiStudio2 Drivers as simple as possible, John.

When you insert the disk into your Mac, the disk icon will appear. Double-click the disk icon and there will be two items in the folder: the eMedia Piano Method icon, with the instructions “Drag to Applications folder” on its left, and a second icon for the keyboard drivers with the instructions “Run to install keyboard driver” just underneath.

It doesn’t matter which you do first, but let’s start with the keyboard drivers, as that seems a bit more intuitive.

As the instructions state, double-click the keyboard driver package and the MidiStudio2 Driver Installation Wizard appears, prompting you to choose the directory to which you’d like to install the drivers. Select the disk, and the drivers install themselves automatically in less than a minute, letting you know when they’ve successfully finished.

Next, drag the eMedia Piano Method 1 icon to the Applications folder on your disk, and the files will be copied to that directory. The program is ready to go!

Now, when the program starts you should hear the intro song, Scott Joplin’s “Entertainer,” and be able to strike a key on your MIDI keyboard and hear sound from the speakers. On some Macs, however, there may be several MIDI devices on the system and the program may not have defaulted to the correct device, rendering your keyboard unable to produce any audible sound, which is what happened on Nemo’s system.

This can be remedied very easily: simply go to Options/Midi Settings, and in the Midi Devices box at the bottom of the screen, double-click each device listed until you come to the device that enables you to hear a sound when you strike a key on your MIDI keyboard.

I hope these instructions help and that you enjoy the software! We’re busily working on Piano Method 2 at the moment, which we’re hoping to release within the next two months or so, and I think you’ll be pleased with the content and some interesting changes that we’ve added.

Thanks, Zac.

When all goes well, there is less elapsed time installing and beginning to use eMedia Learn to Play Keyboard Pack USB Version than opening up its carton and unpacking it. Our MyMac.com rating stays the same for the instructional software, and eMedia’s new USB/MIDI keyboard is rated at 4.5 out of 5.

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