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 only transmit your performance 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. It is not a recording of the sound!
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 for a small investment you could purchase the Alesis LineLink or equivalent line out-USB interface. The LineLink will connect your keyboard straight to your USB port, bypassing your existing soundcard and outputs studio quality stereo, 16-bit, 44.1 kHz digital audio. 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 you will also need to invest in a y-cable converter.
To get a better quality recording result, invest in a professional audio interface. Choose one with line inputs. Then pick the appropriate cables to link from the audio output of your keyboard to the inputs of the interface. Choose a good brand like the Lexicon Alpha Desktop Recording Studio. The Lexicon is a simple well-priced and sturdy device with stereo line in. Perfect for connecting your keyboard and making a nice audio recording.
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 M-Track USB Audio Interface, 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 M-track 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). Even better is the M-Track has MIDI i/o so you could also make a MIDI connection and use your keyboard as a MIDI controller too. Spend even more and you can get devices with digital i/o plus more mic pre-amps – so you can record several tracks at once.
If you have a bit more to spend, then the M-Audio M-Track Plus USB Audio and MIDI Interface is a more robust version of the M-Track and comes with Pro Tools Express, making it the basis of a full semi-professional home recording studio. It is also available in a pro vocal recording pack complete with microphone and headphones if you want a complete microphone recording solution with software in one box.
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.