How To Record On Your Digital Piano? Find Out Here!

Last Updated on September 7, 2021

Our Best Guide To Recording & Connecting With Your Digital Piano

Recording the actual piano sound of your electronic instruments is getting easier and easier nowadays thanks to MIDI and audio functions. 

Digital audio recording of your piano whether to compose music or record yourself for fun can be done easily if your keyboard has MIDI outputs or you have an audio output device that can record it.

We have put together a digital pianos guide to recording your music down below as well as the different options and a step by step guide of how to get the best quality recording. 

What Is MIDI Recording? 

First off, before we can get into how to record MIDI and audio from your piano player we need to understand what an actual MIDI recording is and how they differ from just recording your digital piano experience via a normal audio recorder. 

A MIDI recording stands for musical instrument digital interface, this is a type of function which allows your piano player to communicate with your computer. 

When you press any key on your digital piano this generates messages which get sent to your computer about how long you pressed it for or the note key that you pressed. 

You can also store information about the programme digital piano sound in MIDI style and edit or change your data later on. 

The MIDI format can support up to 16 channels of different instruments to enhance your digital piano recording, this can be written as music and produce an actual sound which gives an output signal to your piano to play the music.

As long as your digital piano can transmit audio via USB to MIDI format and you have a DAW function on your computer, the audio recording process is easy.

What Do I Need To Record MIDI From My Piano?

To record MIDI on your digital piano you need to ensure that you have key features such as a MIDI sequencer or a built-in MIDI sequencer inside of your digital piano as we mentioned above. 

External sequencers will give you a little more control over recording multiple channels but built-in sequencers have the benefit of portability and are an excellent option for recording audio data at gigs. 

Before you start editing your MIDI audio data you need to ensure that you know the difference between multi-channel midi audio formats and midi track formats. A MIDI track is to and from a source while a MIDI channel is a pass-through of information data. 

How To Record MIDI Audio From Your Digital Piano

Recording MIDI audio from your digital piano can be done with an external sequencer or within if you have this kind of piano, to help you out, we have put together a short step by step guide down below that will cover how to record MIDI audio from your digital piano with an external sequencer down below. 

  • Step one - First of all ensure that your computer is equipped with suitable recording software for reading actual sound data, this is typically a DAW programme software.
  • Step two - Connect your digital piano to your computer via its USB cable according to the software manual of your digital piano or via Bluetooth to convert digital audio signals into MIDI data.
  • Step three - Set your digital piano as your input device and check if your type of piano supports multi-channel MIDI audio standards, if not then set your MIDI in and MIDI out as channel one.
  • Step four - Now create a MIDI track in your recording software then assign these tracks out as your chosen MIDI channel on your piano which will be channel one if your device does not support multi-channels.
  • Step five - If you are using a VST plugin on your piano then follow the VSTi manual, for some DAW programmes you might need special instrument tracks while others will just let you insert a plugin.

What Is Standard Audio Recording? 

This type of audio recording records pure sound rather than just audio data and can be stored as audio files on your computer. 

To record your audio recording in DAW format you have to ensure you have an analog digital conversion, most of the time you will need a soundcard in your computer to do this or a dedicated digital recording device. 

How To Record Audio From Your Digital Piano

Recording your audio recording from your digital piano does not have to be complicated but there are multiple ways you can go about recording this audio. 

Using a Recording Device 

If you are using a recording on a device then this device should be able to support a quality of up to 44.1kHz and 16-bit sample rate/bit depth. As long as your digital piano has a built-in AD convertor this process becomes very simple. You should always connect digital to digital and analog to analog audio signals, both devices should be in sync with their digital clock to avoid errors when recording too.

Recording With a Sound Card 

Most computers will use a dedicated mono port which combined a mic and headphone out in the jack of the laptop, if you want to record with this port then you we need to use a splitter to divide the headphone output so you can achieve a balanced sound.

Each laptop out there will have a different way of recording through its ports so it is important to check the manual of your specific laptop and use the appropriate mono mic cable. It should be noted this way of recording vs recording with a device will never give you as good of a sound.

Recording With a Headphone Output 

For people that do not have a MIDI and audio output on their digital outputs or USB cables output, a choice for keyboard players would be to use the headphone output instead. To connect to input channels on a recording device the instrument outputs signal might be too strong, so check if your headphone socket can support line outputs beforehand. 

Using the proper balanced output for your piano is vital to ensure you don't damage the headphones stereo output and dedicated line outputs on your recording device. 

To connect to your device you may either have to use a 1/4 standard jack or a 1/8 mini-jack, if the device you are connecting has a 1-socket stereo output you can just connect via a balanced cable, but if it has mono outs then you would require a Y splitter for a balanced mono signal. 

Which Programme Should I Use For My Recorded Audio? 

When you have decided to record your digital piano, you will need to process the files, there are many different programmes and software's that can do this for you so you must use the right one for you on the market. 

For recording mono or stereo tracks, simple recording software will suffice, this could be from free recording software such as Garage Band to Audacity. 

If you are looking for programmes that can allow you to send MIDI out messages to your laptop too and more editing options then you would need a more advanced DAW programme which you might need to pay for such as Logic Pro or ProTools, this all comes down to what you need the finished product to be and if you are willing to invest in it.

What To Consider Before Recording Your Digital Piano

 Now we know how to record your piano playing digitally and through the MIDI ports on your USB cable port, we have a few points which are worth considering beforehand so as you can choose the right way to record your music in the quality and format you need. 

  • Do you need a professional quality recording - If you need a high quality professional standard recording from your digital piano then a balanced audio signal is key for a high-quality (digital) audio signal. A soundcard would not be enough for this, meaning you need to invest in a better recording device.
  • How many channels do you need - A one-channel recording of your piano is possible to an output device but it will never give you the same sound as a two-channel audio signal, this is because pianos create sounds both right and left and also use some of their instrument sounds in stereo quality which will be lowered via a one-channel signal.
  • Where are you going to record your piano - For people who want to record themselves playing on the move or at gigs might need a portable recording audio device, but for people at home a standard audio interface or computer built-in USB audio interface recording would suffice.

How To Record With Garage Band 

There are plenty of free standard apps around that can give basic editing audio options and help you record your digital piano, we have listed how to do this simple process down below.

  • Step one - Open the garage band app on your appropriate device (has to be IOS) then click create a document. 
  • Step two - Click the voice button of your app to activate the audio recording then click record piano.

How To Record With Audacity 

For recording with Audacity the process can become a little more complicated but worth it for the editing features. 

  • Step one - Head to the control panel on your laptop then click hardware and sound, hit the recording tab and make sure the microphone is the default recording device.
  • Step two - Hit properties then go down to the levels tab and ensure that microphone boost is set to level zero.
  • Step three - Adjust the other volumes according to your preferences then hit record, Audacity will start automatically recording in this case.

MIDI Connectivity To Other Devices 

To connect your digital piano to any computer, apple or android device you must make sure that you are using the correct cable, this will either be a MIDI to USB cable or a USB type A to B cable, if your device has a Bluetooth MIDI connection then you will not need any cables for this job.

Connecting To a Computer 

If your digital piano has a USB B port then you will need a USB A-B cable for this job with A side going into your computer, for pianos that have the more modern MIDI five-pin port then you need a MIDI to USB cable, this will feature 3-wire cables, with the USB A going into your computers then the MIDI in and out into your digital pianos ports.

Connecting To a IOS Device 

For connecting to an IOS device you will need to invest in lighting to USB camera adapter, this minimises the number of cables that you need and allows you to connect through a MIDI or USB A-B cable to your digital piano.

Connecting To a Android Device 

To connect to your android device with your digital piano you will either need a USB type A to micro USB cable (male and female cables) or a USB type A to USB type C cable, it is hard to find a cable that will give a direct connection for android. 

Connecting Via Bluetooth

Some companies such as Yamaha have created a MIDI cable that goes in both the in and out of ports of your piano to transmit a Bluetooth signal and reduce the number of cables needed to transfer audio data. 

Can I Record On An Acoustic Piano?

Recording an acoustic piano is a little more complicated than recording a digital piano as they don't come with port connections or features such as Bluetooth.

To record on an acoustic piano you will need to do this with a microphone, but placement will differ according to the type of piano that you have, for example, if you have a grand upright piano then you could even record inside of the piano but for upright pianos, you might have to move them away from the wall and put the microphone right behind the piano for the best sound.

Frequently Asked Questions About Recording Digital Pianos 

How much does a recording device for a piano cost? 

Depending on the quality of the recorder that you buy and whether or not they come in a package with accessories such as an interface and microphone too they can set you back anything between £50-£200.

Can a digital piano be used with DAW? 

Yes DAW is the software programme that is used for editing and processing the MIDI data from your piano, it stands for the digital audio workstation. There are many free DAW programmes you can use out there for this job such as Audacity. 

Is it possible to record MIDI and analog audio signals at the same time? 

It is possible to record MIDI and digital inputs for audio at the same time. All you need is a USB to MIDI connection on your piano and audio interfaces digital recorders system for the job. 

What is the difference between audio and MIDI? 

The difference between audio and MIDI is that MIDI does not record audio, it just records the audio data, so all the different mono channels and instruments used as well as when keys were pressed or lifted. This gives you full control over editing the sound of your piano in the appropriate software.

Audio digital inputs record the actual sound of your piano rather than just the data.

Can I use the keyboard headphone output to record my piano? 

You can use the headphone output on your piano for recording audio, this is a convenient choice for people who do not have a MIDI or USB port but not the best choice for professionals. You would either need to use 2 balanced (3-wire) cables for this job as a one channel cable would likely give an uneven sound output.

Which is the best DAW software for artist-related features?

Most people edit with DAW software such as Audacity but there are higher quality options on the market if you are looking to compose instruments together and record music rather than simply record how you play.

Do digital pianos have built-in speakers?

Yes basically all digital pianos have built-in speakers, whether your piano is fitted with cheap consumer speakers or high-quality watt speakers will depend on the quality and price of the model that you end up buying.

What is VST on DAW and how does it work with my digital piano?

VST stands for virtual instruments, this is the part of your DAW software that allows you to combine different instruments into a musical piece with your piano, you can choose from all kinds of instruments such as an organ and these are available for free or for purchase on the internet which you need to download. 

Final Words 

Overall, recording your digital piano is easier than ever thanks to a development in modern technology inside of your piano, this allows you to record on input with a mic for standard digital audio recordings or MIDI recordings if your piano has a MIDI port. 

Some of the best pianos even have Bluetooth MIDI connections without the need for cables to transfer data, just ensure you have DAW software on your computer for editing and you set for having your own at the home recording studio!

Heya'll Im Oliver (Oli), I run By trade an Electrical Engineer, an owner of a piano shop. Always being asked about my recommendations for top piano, I created this site. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out :)

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