I'm as novice as one can be regarding home recording, hence my broad question.

I play guitar (classical/electric) and keyboard (MIDI output available) and I want to (try to) record some songs I've written. So, I wan't to be able to play the keyboard, the guitar and vocal stuff and record this using a PC. Next to this I want to add drums and other instruments and edit the result.

Does software like reaper, mixcraft, ... address these requirements? I guess I need a soundcard with MIDI input for the keyboard to branch it to the PC? What would be the best way to record electrical guitar on a PC? Simply use the mic input of your soundcard?

2 Answers 2


The only trouble you might have recording directly into the PC with either the instruments or microphones would be with low recording levels and excess noise due to the nature of the internal PC sound card. Also, you will want to use the line in (if it exists) for instruments rather than the mic input. If you are just recording the songs for your own purposes or to share with family and friends, this method will work just fine. If you were looking for a more professional sounding recording, you will probably need to invest in some additional hardware.

To get the best sounding recording you will want a USB recording interface. Just about any of them will give you a cleaner recording than the internal sound card. You will want one with at least 2 inputs if you want to record the keyboard in stereo. You will also want to make sure that it has MIDI, as some of the less expensive ones only do audio. I would recommend trying one from M-Audio, as a good starting point. They sound great and are about mid range as far as the price.

As for the software, Reaper will probably be your best bet. Reaper is a full featured DAW which will allow you to record MIDI and audio. You can add effects and add as many tracks as you need.

I am currently using an M-Audio interface with Reaper to record Keyboard, Piano, Drums and Vocals. It can work for you too :)

  • +1 for this first and excellent answer; side question, the big input 'whole' on this image is that for MIDI input?
    – Stijn Geukens
    Aug 19, 2011 at 14:09
  • That is an XLR connector. You would plug a microphone into that. The MIDI connectors look like this. Aug 19, 2011 at 14:22

@FriendOfGeorge's answer here is a good one; I might suggest that you consider a small mixer plus one of the Zoom H-series recorders as another option, especially if you plan on growing your studio.

They function nicely as USB audio interfaces in addition to being decent recorders; with the mixer, you have the option of picking something with as many inputs as you like, and mixing those down to a stereo mix to send to your computer, or doing a track at a time. You can use whatever stompboxes or mics you like, connected to the mixer, and you won't need to swap stuff around as much if you have a lot of different things you'd like to record.

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