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Peter Silver

Direct to laptop

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New to CW.  New Dell laptop with i5 quad core and 8 Mg RAM.    Windows 10.   I connected a small Akai midi keyboard directly to laptop via usb.  Was able to record but could only monitor and playback via laptop speakers.  Headphones wouldnt work.   Should I always use an interface even for midi or can i go directly into the laptop.  

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For midi in/out usb is probably the quickest. For audio, if you have any concern for latency, you probably want ASIO drivers which usually means an audio I/F.

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Thanks for the quick response.   Any thiughts on why my headphones wont work even when plugged in?   Could be a laptop setting?

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It could be your settings in Cakewalk. If you're using the on board sound chip then go to  Edit -> Preferences. Under Audio select Playback and Recording, for Driver Mode try WASAPI Exclusive. Under Audio select Devices and you should see options under the Output Drivers section. If headphones is selected there and they are not working it will be the laptop setup. You'll need to go to Sound in the Control Panel.

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Posted (edited)

I think the suggestion to go to Preferences/Audio is a good one. Select Devices and see if your speakers and headphone out are listed as separate outputs.

If they are, then you'll need to explicitly set the output of your Master bus (or whatever the last bus in your chain is) to the headphone output instead of the internal speakers.

If they aren't listed as a separate output device, then your system isn't switching over automatically when you plug your cans in, and what rsinger says about needing to work with Windows' settings and/or Control Panel is your next step.

I've seen it work both ways, where the speakers and the jack are separate devices, and then where there's just one device and the system handles switching them.

And yes, once you get it set up properly, your USB keyboard as an input device with the headphone jack for monitoring is fine. Onboard sound chips aren't the greatest for recording audio, but they handle playback just fine, so if what you're doing is all soft synth and sample based, IMO, you don't strictly need an external interface. Start recording vocals or anything else requiring a mic, it's a worthwhile investment.

Edited by Starship Krupa

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Do your headphones use a 1/8" connector or USB connector to connect to the laptop?  I have a Dell laptop that shipped with Vista, was upgraded to Windows 7 and is currently running Windows 10 build 2004.  I have been able to listen through Logictech H340 USB headphones with all three operating systems.

Some Dell laptops have one 1/8" connector that performs multiple tasks including audio out for headphones, line-in or mic-in for incoming audio.  With laptops having onboard speakers and microphones the need for three 1/8" connectors has been reduced.  Laptop manufacturers have responded by combining the connectors to reduce cost.

If you're using the 1/8" connector go to the audio section of Windows Control Center and review the recording and playback settings with the headphones connected.

If you're using USB headphones make sure the Windows speaker icon is on the taskbar next to the time.   When the headphones are plugged in, single click on the speaker icon.  You should be able to select for audio to go to the laptop onboard speakers or headphones.

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