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For those who regularly do transcriptions or play with Aebersold play-a-longs -- what kind of setup do you use to "listen while you play"? I have been using headphones hooked up to a simple MP3 player, but find this arrangement very limiting and am thinking of using a notebook computer with transcription-assistant software (which one?) and running it through a cheap receiver so that I don't have to fumble with headphones or tiny MP3 player controls.

Any ideas?
 

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I run it out of some computer speakers. If I'm playing with a play along, I'll sometimes use headphones, but use generic earbuds (not the kind that go into the canal) because they allow me to hear my acoustic sound better.

As far as transcription software, Transcribe! is the way to go.
 

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I use Transcribe! too. It's great and I can't recommend it enough.
For sound, I connect the computer to a mixer and out to a powered speaker or studio headphones.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These are great tips, thanks everyone. My issue is generally that I can't hear the recorded sound over my own playing (I practice in a pretty small room) which is why I thought that using speakers, rather than my current headphone arrangement, would be best. I will probably give it a try (I have some bookshelf speakers lying around). And I will look into Transcribe.
 

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I use external speakers. Regarding hearing yourself over the band, that's a real-life situation that can happen, so if the play-alongs are to prepare you to play with a band, I don't see that as a problem. OTOH, I've played with moronic drummers who play so loud, ignoring anybody but themselves, that you can't hear yourself, an opposite problem.
 

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I use a Tascam Guitar trainer, can set a loop and slow a cd down to 50% and keep the pitch. I have it going through a good pair of computer speakers. I also use this to play with Aebersolds.
 

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I use headphones...wireless headphones...so that the neighbor doesn't hear too much music (only the sax). But then with the headphones on I don't realize how loud I'm really playing and then the neighbor knocks at the door and asks me to not be so loud.
 

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I use headphones hooked into a little mixer (Behringer Eurorack ub802) I have my Zoom H2 hooked into the mixer in monitor mode, and an AKG Perception 100 condensor mic also connected to the mixer. (I got the AKG and the mixer off of craigslist for $60). My metronome and a CD player or ipod are also attached, or sometimes I'll hook up the keyboard to the mixer for a nice bossa beat or something. The H2 and AKG pick up my sax playing and allow me to mix it with the playalong/metronome/keyboard in whatever combination I need and plays it all over the headphones, so I can hear myself overlaid with the playalong/metronome/keyboard. Eventually I want to add one of those cd players that can slow the track down, but until then I can always bring my laptop down and hook it up and slow stuff down with the amazing slowdowner or Audacity. (not that I do that often, mostly I use the keyboard or metronome if I need to control tempo)

Edit: this setup also allows me to record myself just by hitting record on the H2, it doesn't pick up the backing track because that is just being played over the headphones, and I can just mix my sax track in with the backing track later using Audacity.
 
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