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