This is a complete step-by-step guide on how to record audio and MIDI tracks at the same time. The method will work with any DAW: Reaper; Cubase; Pro Tools; you can even do this in Garageband.
Although there might be a slight variation in how you change the settings, and how you create new tracks in different software, if you follow the steps below then you too can create your own multi-track recordings.
Watch the video tutorial below, then read on for more detail on how to make your first multi-track midi and audio recordings
Essential Studio Gear
You will need the following:
- an audio interface
- a MIDI controller keyboard (note if you want to record the sound of your piano or music keyboard, you obviously need a keyboard that makes sounds AND has MIDI)
- recording software
- headphones or studio monitors
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Here is the exact recording gear we used for the above video:
- Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB audio interface
- Piano Keyboard: Roland Go Piano
- Studio Headphones: Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
- USB Mic for voiceover: Audio Technica AT2020 USB+ USB Mic
- Recording Software: Reaper DAW recording software
Step 1: Audio Interface Setup
Make sure you have correctly connected up your audio interface, and have checked in the Audio/MIDI setup on your computer that it is correctly installed. If you want to record the sound of your piano or keyboard then connect the audio output of your keyboard (either the line out, aux out or headphone out) to the line inputs of the interface. If you are not sure how, then this post on audio cable types might help.
Step 2: Make the MIDI connection
Most keyboards have a USB MIDI output so you should be able to connect your piano or keyboard directly up to the PC or Mac. Only got MIDI ports? Then you can use a USB MIDI interface. Or if your audio interface has MIDI in and out (for example my Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 has MIDI i/o, then you can use standard MIDI leads to connect your keyboard via your interface.
If at this point you are unsure about the difference between MIDI and Audio, then you can read all about What is MIDI here.
Step 3: Check the Preferences in your DAW
Open up your DAW recording software (Reaper, Cubase, Garageband, Pro Tools, Ableton ….. etc) and check all the settings to make sure you have correctly enabled your audio interface for audio recording, and your keyboard for MIDI input. For example, in Reaper you navigate in the menu to Reaper -> Preferences. In Garageband, the software will detect your default audio and MIDI connections. Check your Audio/MIDI setup in the Mac settings.
Step 5: Create New Tracks in your Recording Software – one MIDI and one Audio
Create a new MIDI track, and a newaudio track. Check that you have routed the audio output of your interface to the audio track, and the MIDI input to your MIDI track. Assign a virtual instrument to your MIDI track. In Reaper, you can simply double-click to create a new track, then choose the type of input. It will be a MIDI track if you choose MIDI input. It will be an audio track if you choose audio input. In Garageband, if you create a new empty project you will be asked what type of track to create. Once you have created one, you can right-click and add more tracks. Create a Software Instrument track (for MIDI) and an Audio Track (for audio!)
Need to start with something more basic? Then check out our step-by-step guide to make your first home studio recording.
Step 6: Arm Your Tracks
Arm (enable) both the MIDI and the Audio tracks for recording. To do this, you press the red ‘arm’ button on the track. In Garageband, you might have to right-click -> configure track header and check to display the record enable button. Also, note that in Garageband, you should enable the audio track FIRST, and the software instrument track SECOND. For some reason it does not work the other way round.
Then finally, on the main transport bar, hit record …. if everything has been set up correctly then you should find you are will record audio and MIDI tracks simultaneously.
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