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Recording Keyboard via Headphone Out


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Hi there! I am new to this place, so please bear with me.

A couple of days ago I had bought a Yamaha YPG-635 (aka DGX-630), and an idea to try my luck with remixing was born in my mind seeing its capabilities.

So basically my question regards recording audio from it as-is. I can easily record music on this Keyboard as midi, save it as midi on pendrive, tweak, fix and quirk the midi in a midi editor on my comp, save the midi on pendrive and play it on Keyboard to get a great quality midi. I could, of course, invest a couple of hundreds of dollars in some software, like Fruity Loops, but what is $100 for average US/UK person, is like $300 for average Pole ^^; Thus, using the midi connection with my notebook is a nice option, but the sound would be completely different nevertheless.

My current way of recording tracks is using my notebook's built-in microphone, but without even listening to it everyone can tell, that it is a quality you can present to a friend to show how well you can play already, but not to publish it (unless I were making an article of how not to record).

That's why I wanted to ask a question regarding recording. Were I to connect my Yamaha through headphones-out to microphone-in in my notebook , would the quality be good enough to ever think of publishing pieces created that way? Or should I invest into something tad/much better? I stumbled upon http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/art_record_keyboard_sound_on_pc.php, but that doesn't explain all the questions, especially that it states "You may find the recording quality of your sound card is not great" (Regarding using simple jack to mini-jack cable), that is the primary reason for me asking here. I never had a chance, and don't have now, to see how the recording sounds via this method overall.

But still, this creates another problem - I can record but I can't hear what I am playing. The obvious workaround is just to record what I am playing as a midi and then use the playback function, but that's still a workaround. Years of programming taught me to feel aversion towards them... ^^; The other solution I can see is using some kind of "divider" (Sorry, I don't know the proper name) which would give me ability to connect one cable to Notebook and other to speakers.

As for my soundcard. All I managed to found about is this line "Built-in Azalia compliant audio chip, with 3D effect & full duplex" from ASUS official product page http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=nZu3sjTS3lcKwTZY. The sound output via speakers is of mediocre quality, but when using good headphones it is pretty awesome, if that can be of any help to anyone.

Well, then, considering the above information, the question can be divided into two:

1. Should I try my luck with simple jack to mini-jack cable, or better invest a little more cash and be safe rather than sorry? If so, what can you suggest as being the best?

2. What is the best way to fix the potential problem of not hearing what I am playing? Getting a pair of speakers and that funky "Divider", try some kind of software solution (I don't know of any, I doubt I would be able to do it through operating system too) or maybe something else?

Ok, that's it. I hope I didn't post it in wrong category, and anything like that.

Thanks for your time.

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Hmm, I don’t know where to start. Ahh well, some thoughts:

1) When you connect the headphone out to the mic-in, the biggest issue you’re likely to run into is noise or hiss. However, while it’s not going to be the best recording known to man, the hiss shouldn’t be detrimental. Plus, there are ways of minimizing that hiss using noise reduction programs and equalization (EQ).

2) If you can play and arrange your music the way you’d like in the Yamaha and then use the playback function to send the recording to your computer via the headphone jack, that’s great. It’s not a workaround, you’re just using the keyboard as a sequencer. Plus, music creation is not programming; workarounds are fine. Even the biggest wealthiest producers use “workarounds” of some kind to get the sound they want.

3) If you want to increase your ability to arrange and fiddle with your music more than the Yamaha will allow, then you should look into getting a sequencer (sometimes called a host or DAW) like Reaper (which is shareware). In addition to opening up your creative possibilities with your keyboard sounds (I’ll explain in a second), but it will also allow you to start using thousands upon thousands of free sounds and effects that are floating around out there. In some cases, these sounds will be better than those that came with your keyboard.

4) So if you were to get a sequencer like Reaper, you could use the midi in/out features of your keyboard to control up to 16 different sounds at once. You’d accomplish this by connecting the Yamaha to the computer, and connecting the headphone out the keyboard to the mic-in. Once you get Reaper to recognize your keyboard (this tutorial might help), you can now enter midi data into Reaper. The easiest way to input that midi data for you would be to use your keyboard. You would set up Reaper to record midi data, then play your keyboard normally. The midi data is input into Reaper, that data goes to your keyboard which tells the keyboard to play a note, that note is played and the audio is sent through the headphone out jack back into Reaper. You can directly record that sound as you play in Reaper, or for more versatility, you can just record the midi notes so that you can edit them before recording the audio that gets sent back from your keyboard. Of course all of this still uses the mic-in which will be hissy, but with reaper as your host you can load a variety of plugins that will reduce this noise.

Hope that helps a little.

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your laptop soundcard is probably not that great. it might be acceptable depending on what you wanna do with it. why don't you record something (like play a midi file through your Yamaha) and post it here?

The problem is I don't own such cable to do the recording, nor I have measures to borrow one. I am wondering how stupid of an idea is to buy one, and wanted to ask somewhere I believe I can get a professional answer, that's reason for my popping here. I could, of course, record it using microphone but... No, I think no one would like to hear this quality ^^;.

@Harmony: Thanks, that certainly is helpful. I guess I don't want to need to fiddle too much with any more serious noise reduction, from what I experienced they make the sound a little bit... Flat I guess. As for that workaround, the problem is I could use that to record but first I need the way to record (I guess I missed the point a little in the main post). Getting some quality sequencer is a secondary matter for the time being. I actually thought about getting a FL Studio at some point, primarily for its Wasp and Sytrus plugins (which, I just noticed, are demos...), but I will have to try Reaper at some point, as it looks more reasonable.

Anyway, I am not willing to risk wasting money on a cable just to find it useless. So the next stop is audio to usb hardware (since updating my sound card is quite out of question). What do you think about this: http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/griffin-imic-usb-audio-interface-for-mac-and-pc-p-182.html?osCsid=086059bd3d63a0dc16ce554e292a291e iMic thing? The good thing with that is I am actually able to buy it in Poland, while, the other interesting thing: http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/maudio-session-make-music-now-software-for-pc-p-391.html?osCsid=086059bd3d63a0dc16ce554e292a291e M-Audio Session doesn't seem to be anywhere on Polish internet shops. Does anyone have some experience with that iMic? Would that be waste of money or not? The review on the site sounds very promising.

And, maybe a little stupid question, but will that work on 64-bit o/s? (Win 7 actually.) I think that's a problem primarily of older stuff to be incompatible, but better safe than sorry as they say.

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An audio interface is the same thing as a sound card, so you actually are talking about upgrading your sound card. I can only guess, but the iMic might give you less noise, not because the hardware is any better, but because it sits outside of your laptop away from other noisy components. I personally would just buy the much cheaper cable (and adapter if needed) and start with that. Wait until you an save up a little more money and get one of the better audio interfaces. Some of the prices on that website are alright, but some seem a little high so you should also shop around as much as possible.

EDIT: Oh, and since the iMic isn't Vista compatible, it probably won't work with Win7 either.

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Yeah, the drawback to a lot of digital pianos (as opposed to "workstation keyboards" or "stage pianos" is that there's no separate audio outs. It's perfectly fine to use the headphones, which you'll notice says "headphones/line out", but naturally, it'll kill your built-in speakers when you do that. Since that's what it was intended for anyway, you *shouldn't* actually experience any funky noise or poor sound quality, unless you're just using crappy cables. Don't use crappy cables. Ever. Your sound is only as good as the weakest link in your signal chain. Ask ANY pro. They'll all say the same thing.

I highly recommend getting an audio interface, though. What you're trying to do is not hard. Basically, you're wanting to use the actual AUDIO from the keyboard, but have the possibility of recording/programming/use existing midi data as well via recording software such as FL Studio/Acid/Sonar/etc, right?

This isn't that tough to do. You'll need to connect your keyboard to your computer via the USB cable (make sure you install the drivers that came with it). Your keyboard should now serve as a midi controller (to disable the audio if you'd rather use a virtual instrument, hit the function key and somewhere in your categories there should be something that says something along the lines of "local on". You'll want to set it to "local off", which will disable the audio from playing when you press the keys.

You'll also want to go ahead and plug in your piano via the headphone output into your audio interface/soundcard, preferably with a TRS (single stereo 1/4") to two 1/4" TS cable. (A "Y" cable, some call it.) In the recording software, there should be an option to set up sending midi output to your computer. In FL, it's under the MIDI options (hit F10) and you can set the port for FL to send the signal to your keyboard from. This will basically allow you to program/record any midi data (or use an existing midi file) and have it send that to the keyboard. Since you want to use the audio from the keyboard, make sure the "local" is set to "on" (naturally). Then, set up a track to record to, and let it do it's thang.

This is a very common thing, and most people I've talked with commonly refer to it as "digitizing" a track. It's basically the only way to do it if you're using any external audio source such as a keyboard or sound module or anything else that produces audio but can be controlled with midi.

Hope this helps.

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Yes, that Digitizing is basically what I want to achieve, (along with actually being able to record my playing easily), at least for now.

I've got myself an USB cable to get the midi input/output and I have to say that it works like a charm, luckily.

The problem starts when recording the audio. I got myself a Jack-to-MiniJack "converter" and a MiniJack-MiniJack cable and I can, of course, record it without any problems. I even found a more or less decent Keyboard's volume setting to avoid clipping even if I mash 8 buttons at once. The problem is that the volume is terrifingly low. I recorded something:

http://mauft.com/files/notebook_mic-in_record_test_01_160kbps.mp3

At start I tried the "clipping-resistance", followed by a part of a tune. I haven't filtered it in any way.

http://mauft.com/files/notebook_mic-in_record_test_02_160kbps.mp3

This one has increased volume (~180%), then simple Hum Removal and another volume increasement (~150%), all three done using Gold Wave.

Anyway, all in all it sounds pretty decent but certainly not perfect. At times I get the feeling that some tones are a little bit off (like, 1/4 of the tone too high or low) but that might just be my imagination.

As for my mic settings: the volume is set to 100%, the boost is +0dB, I set the default format to best (ie. 2 channel, 16bit, 96k Hz, which windows calls Studio Quality), but I am not really sure if it changed anything.

Anyway, what do you think about the quality? Any hints of how to process it, or what to change to make it sound better?

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With my super cheap Casio, I turn it's volume setting as high as it will go and then reduce the gain on my audio interface until it doesn't clip. That seems to give me the best signal-to-noise ratio. You'll have to experiment with what settings work best for your setup. The first clip isn't bad, but a little noise reduction would certainly help out.

The noise reduction in the second sample was applied way to heavily; you can hear how it has muddled the higher frequencies and given a little of the dreaded warbbling effect. Some noise reduction plugins have the ability to selectively apply noise reduction to parts of the frequency spectrum. If Gold Wave's plugin allows you to do this, try reducing the noise only in the low to mid-high frequencies. Leaving the highest frequencies relatively unchanged works best for me.

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I'll be honest, I much prefer using VST instrument tones to hardware. Try out something like Sampletank. It has some pretty solid sounding pianos. Just use your keyboard as a midi controller--it's much easier, and you *usually* get better sound out of vst instruments anyway.

Or shoot, even using free soundfonts aren't a bad way to go. Check Darkesword's soundfont page for some good ones.

:)

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I agree, but I didn't have the heart to recommend using that beautiful brand spanking new bell-and-whistles Yamaha as a midi controller :(

I guess it's time to face the facts unfortunately. I poked around for a few hours with different settings and stuff, and generally, setting Microphone detection to low and keyboard volume to max was good to remove all background noise and humming, but too easily lead to clipping; on the other hand, high mic detection and lower volume was a bit more clip tolerant, however it produced a little background humming. And both of the methods suffered from clipping when doing some more intensive track parts (like the second half of Turkey March). And the quality is a little bit off too, compared to what I hear from built-in speakers.

Good that I also bought that USB cable, though I had high hopes in that method. Not that I am averse towards software means, I had good time with Fruity Loops with my former, lousy keyboard (Casio CTK-481) which didn't even have touch response of any kind, but the problem is that software ways usually mean saying bye-bye to big amounts of cash.

Take that SampleTank for example - it looks great (I am going to download the demo at night) but the price is... It is...Well, it is expensive. Fruity Loops is expensive too. Reaper is cheap, but it is so complex that it took me over a quarter to record some midi and play it as plugin (and around half of an hour to figure out how to actually play midi AS midi). I guess I will get myself a copy of FL in a couple of days, as I liked it best from all the DAW's I tried.

I guess that pretty much concludes this topic. Thanks very much for all your help and assistance, I greatly appreciate it :).

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the problem is that software ways usually mean saying bye-bye to big amounts of cash.
Not true at all man! If you're looking for cheap, software is the only way to go. Check out zircon's article on the best free software, and the links in my sig. Without spending any money, that'll get you started with tons of excellent effects and synths.
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Wow, I guess the thing is to just know where to look (or ask). I just downloaded myself the Linux MultiMedia Studio and considering the first five minutes of using it, I love it! What I like the most is the almost unexistant delay between hitting key on my keyboard and playing the sound on notebook, which was more noticable in Reaper (and ModPlug by the way).

Now I am downloading some other stuff from what you suggested, and I guess I will need to make some space on my HD.

Anyway, thanks for the links - that pretty much saves me at least $50 for sole FL's worst edition.

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  • 7 years later...
On 3/24/2009 at 0:28 PM, Skellus said:

Hi there! I am new to this place, so please bear with me.

A couple of days ago I had bought a Yamaha YPG-635 (aka DGX-630), and an idea to try my luck with remixing was born in my mind seeing its capabilities.

So basically my question regards recording audio from it as-is. I can easily record music on this Keyboard as midi, save it as midi on pendrive, tweak, fix and quirk the midi in a midi editor on my comp, save the midi on pendrive and play it on Keyboard to get a great quality midi. I could, of course, invest a couple of hundreds of dollars in some software, like Fruity Loops, but what is $100 for average US/UK person, is like $300 for average Pole ^^; Thus, using the midi connection with my notebook is a nice option, but the sound would be completely different nevertheless.

My current way of recording tracks is using my notebook's built-in microphone, but without even listening to it everyone can tell, that it is a quality you can present to a friend to show how well you can play already, but not to publish it (unless I were making an article of how not to record).

That's why I wanted to ask a question regarding recording. Were I to connect my Yamaha through headphones-out to microphone-in in my notebook , would the quality be good enough to ever think of publishing pieces created that way? Or should I invest into something tad/much better? I stumbled upon http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/art_record_keyboard_sound_on_pc.php, but that doesn't explain all the questions, especially that it states "You may find the recording quality of your sound card is not great" (Regarding using simple jack to mini-jack cable), that is the primary reason for me asking here. I never had a chance, and don't have now, to see how the recording sounds via this method overall.

But still, this creates another problem - I can record but I can't hear what I am playing. The obvious workaround is just to record what I am playing as a midi and then use the playback function, but that's still a workaround. Years of programming taught me to feel aversion towards them... ^^; The other solution I can see is using some kind of "divider" (Sorry, I don't know the proper name) which would give me ability to connect one cable to Notebook and other to speakers.

As for my soundcard. All I managed to found about is this line "Built-in Azalia compliant audio chip, with 3D effect & full duplex" from ASUS official product page http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=nZu3sjTS3lcKwTZY. The sound output via speakers is of mediocre quality, but when using good headphones it is pretty awesome, if that can be of any help to anyone.

Well, then, considering the above information, the question can be divided into two:

1. Should I try my luck with simple jack to mini-jack cable, or better invest a little more cash and be safe rather than sorry? If so, what can you suggest as being the best?

2. What is the best way to fix the potential problem of not hearing what I am playing? Getting a pair of speakers and that funky "Divider", try some kind of software solution (I don't know of any, I doubt I would be able to do it through operating system too) or maybe something else?

Ok, that's it. I hope I didn't post it in wrong category, and anything like that.

Thanks for your time.

It seems as though you can buy a wire that has two inputs red and white and at the other end, a aux, maybe that will work, i just bought one..

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