This is another question we get asked time and time again. How do you record the actual sound of your keyboard onto your computer? Many people get confused about the difference between making a MIDI connection from their keyboard and actually recording the sound
If you do want to record the sound of your keyboard, then a MIDI connection will not do the job. A MIDI interface will transmit your control data (for example which notes you have played, how loudly you played them etc) then this information can be used to play software instruments on your computer.
image – Alesis LineLink Dual 1/4-inch-to-USB-Cable
If you want to record the actual sound of your keyboard on your computer then you need to connect the line out (or headphone out if no line out) from your keyboard to your pc, mac or ipad. If you just have a standard soundcard and are looking for a cost effective and reasonable quality solution, then we recommend the Alesis LineLink. The LineLink will connect your keyboard straight to your USB port, bypassing your existing soundcard. The LineLink will connect direct to your keyboard if you have left and right quarter inch mono jack outputs. If you only have one stereo output then if it is standard quarter inch jack you will need the Hosa YPP-117 Y-Cable or if you only have mini-jack output then you will want the Hosa YMP-137 Y-Cable instead.
image – M-Audio M-Track Two-Channel USB Audio/MIDI Interface + Ignite Software
What if you want a device with a bit more functionality – so that it will also enable you to connect a microphone as well or maybe a guitar? If you are not keen on taking the back off your computer, or you have a laptop/macbook then the ideal device would be something like the M-Audio MTrack , which is a USB audio device with 1/4 inch line in ports. All you’d need to do then is get the right cable to connect the line in on the Mtrack to the audio output of your keyboard. The great thing about this is the Mtrack also has a mic inputs (complete with pre-amps) if you also want to record vocals, plus it is equally suitable for recording a guitar, so it really is multi-purpose. And it comes with a fantastic music software Package as well (Ignite).
If you have a bigger budget then you might look to a device that has more inputs including MIDI and in some cases digital i/o too. Then you could directly record the keyboard or use it as a MIDI controller as well. Follow this link for a whole range of USB Audio Interfaces that have both line in and MIDI i/o
image – E-MU 0404 PCIe Digital Audio System + Production Tools Software Bundle
This is a really brief intro to the world of Recording – if you want to know more, then there is a fantastic guide to computer music making written by Cakewalk, The Desktop Music Handbook – which covers MIDI in depth, and also features a great guide to Digital Audio.