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(Apologies in advance if this is a vague question but it's probably my lack of understanding.)

One of my keyboards is a Yamaha S90 ES. The piano voices on this KB are very nice out of the box.

Ideally I'd like to capture my playing in a file that I can play in, say, Windows Media Player. I figure if I can get that far then putting it on iTunes isn't that far off.

Do I need additional software to capture the music coming out of the keyboard (with the nice Yamaha piano voicing) or can I get the music off of the keyboard to play back without additional software?

I know that I can play back a MIDI file on the computer but I'd think it would play back using an internal piano voice (or some other voice).

Anyway, if I didn't make my question clear enough let me know. Thank you!

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you like the piano sounds on your keyboard and are confident that you can play your piece without making mistakes, then you can simply use any recording program (e.g. Audacity) to record the sound using the audio inputs on your soundcard. MIDI is not required at all.

If instead you want to use MIDI, that gives you the option to make subtle corrections (e.g. fixing a wrong note) before rendering to audio. For this option you will need a MIDI input. You also will need some DAW (digital audio workstation) that supports MIDI (SONAR, Cubase, Reaper etc). Your options then are to use a software virtual instrument or sampler to convert the MIDI back to piano sounds (again there are lots of choices here), or if you prefer, send the MIDI back to your keyboard and record the audio out of it (this can be a little tricky to set up for a beginner).

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+1 for Reaper, the only good software you suggested :D haha –  Kyle Sevenoaks Dec 20 '10 at 11:22
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@Kyle, agreed, Reaper is great –  Mark Heath Dec 21 '10 at 8:49
    
@Mark Heath - Good suggestion to send the MIDI back out. It's worth the effort if the keyboard sounds great! :) –  bigp Jul 25 '11 at 14:14
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In short, yes, our keyboard and computer are enough, so long as you have some recording software! More detail follows:

There are two things coming out of that keyboard that you can record:

  1. The audio
  2. The MIDI data

Recording the audio will preserve the audio signal from the keyboard. Eventually, you'll need to do this if you want your recording to sound like your keyboard (as opposed to using some other sound source). To do this you'll need recording software of some kind. Audacity and Reaper are frequently mentioned for questions like this because they work well and don't cost anything to start out with (Reaper requires a license after 30 days). The resulting recording can be rendered to a wave file that will play in any audio player. You can encode it to MP3 afterwards if you like.

Recording the MIDI data will store exactly that: MIDI data, no audio signal. It's a set of instructions for telling some instrument what to play. If you play a MIDI file on your computer, what you're doing is sending those instructions to your soundcard. But you could also send those instructions right back to your keyboard, so the playback uses its sounds instead. Recording MIDI is great because you can edit the instructions before sending them back to the keyboard, but if you're a pianist and want to just play a piece straight through, you can probably skip this step and just go straight to audio. If you make a mistake performing that you want to fix in MIDI, it probably won't sound natural. Better to just re-record so you capture the human dynamics of playing.

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Your keyboard has an option for an mLAN16E expansion card, which is a firewire interface that acts as an ASIO sound card for your computer. If you have this expansion then use that. If not, you might be able to pick one up for cheap online. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

Your keyboard also has a USB MIDI interface. Simply plug a cable in, and your PC will see it.

What I would do is record your performance using a MIDI sequencer. Tweak as necessary. When you're ready, play the MIDI back through your keyboard. (If you have it hooked up to your PC, this is simple. Just choose your keyboard as the MIDI out device.) While playing it back through your keyboard, record the audio coming out of it using Audacity or some other audio editing software.

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You do need additional software, but since you are recording only one thing it doesn't have to be particularity complicated. I would recommend Audacity as being both quite good and free. In it you can record the sound of the keyboard via the line in on your computer, cut off empty time at the start and beginning of the file, and adjust the levels. You can then finally export it to an mp3 and play it in your iTunes.

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