In this post you will discover how you can record your keyboard and vocals at the same time, in a simple home recording studio setup.
In a separate post we looked at how to record the sound of your keyboard or digital piano. We also examined the issue of how to capture vocals and piano for piano and keyboard teachers who want to teach piano or keyboard online.
However, a number of you responded by asking if there was an easier way – so in this article we will focus on the simplest home recording setup to record your vocals and keyboard simultaneously.
Record Keyboard and Vocals – Step-by-Step Video
Studio Equipment to Record Voice and Digital Piano or Keyboard
Here is a list of the equipment you will need – this is exactly what we used in our video tutorial above.
- Audio Interface: 2-channel Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – or/ 4-channel Focusrite Scarlett 4i4
- Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2020 Large Diaphragm Condenser
- Headphones: Sony MDR-7506 Closed Back Headphones
Discover the difference between closed-back and open-back headphones in our ultimate guide to studio headphones
- Mixing Console: [optional] Yamaha MG06
- Cable: [for keyboards with 1/8-inch TRS headphone port only] Hosa Mono Interconnect 1/4 in TS to 3.5 mm TRS (amazon affiliate link)
If you are confused about cables, we have written a comprehensive guide to audio cables and connectors
- Microphone Stand: Samson Boom Stand – (amazon affiliate link)
- Pop Filter: Samson PS04 (amazon affiliate link)
- XLR Lead: Amazon Basics Lead (amazon affiliate link)
- Recording software – Reaper Digital Audio Workstation (available as extended home trial)
Audio Interface vs Mixer?
Recording Equipment for Keyboard and Vocals in More Detail
The audio interface is at the heart of your home recording setup. This is how you route the audio signals from your microphone and keyboard to your recording software. Read more … find out what is an audio interface or discover the best audio interfaces
A large diaphragm condenser microphone is the most popular type of microphone to record vocals in a studio setting. For example the Audio-Technica AT2020. For live vocals you would be more likely to use a dynamic microphone. Need to know more about mics? Read our comprehensive guide to recording microphone types
A good pair of closed-back studio headphones like the Sony MDR-7506 are necessary if you want to monitor your voice and keyboard while you record. If you are recording from your keyboard’s headphone port, then you will not be able to hear your keyboard unless you monitor it through your audio interface.
Microphone Stand and Pop Filter
You will not be able to hold the microphone while you play your keyboard or piano. Also, a large diaphragm condenser mic is very sensitive. If you attempt to hold it while you record, you will pick up bumps and knocks in the recording.
A pop filter is essential to stop sibilances (the sound from singing s and t sounds) and plosives (pops from singing p syllables). These will really mess up your recordings! Alternatively, or additionally, you can try various strategies to ‘sing past the mic’. Try one of the following
- Place the mic above you and set it an an angle pointing away
- Put the mic off to the side and then face it toward the singer
- Set the mic below you and angle it away
If you want to record more that two channels at the same time, on separate tracks in your DAW (digital audio workstation) then you could use a multi-channel interface. This Focusrite Scarlett Studio 4i4 has four audio inputs (including 2 mic pre-amps and 2 line-level inputs)
Useful if you want to record more than two audio sources, and you only have a 2-channel audio interface. With the Yamaha MG06 you can record up to 6 different sources (or 2 mics and 2 stereo sources). However, you will only be able to make a stereo recording.
Portable Digital Recorder
The perfect alternative to an audio interface. You could record your vocals and keyboards using a portable digital recorder. For example the Zoom H4N Pro, as shown above, has built in stereo microphones. And at the same time it has additional mic/line inputs so you can record a line level instrument such as a keyboard. You can set it up to record 4 tracks at once.
This means you can record without even switching on your computer. Then transfer the files from the recorder to your computer, and import into your DAW for further editing and mixing.
Whether you purchase a simple audio interface, or invest in a more complex multi-channel recording studio setup, you will need the correct audio cables. The simplest cable, if you have a TRS headphone port on your keyboard (and no other audio output) is the Mono Interconnect shown above.
Still confused about cables? Then refer to our detailed guide and tutorial video on audio cables and connectors.
The above equipment will work in any music making software. In the step-by-step video we used Reaper. But any DAW or recording software like Audacity or Garageband will do the job.
Hopefully you now have enough knowledge to get set up. The above describes a very simple scenario to record your voice and keyboard or digital piano at the same time. Perfect to record yourself, do a live broadcast, or teach a music lesson online.