Recording from a midi keyboard live to Audacity

I recently got an M-audio Axiom 49 midi controller/keyboard. I can get it to play audio thru Proteus VX (sampler) out my speakers. It’s great. I can’t get Audacity to recognize or record the signal. (I have also tried Cubase LT in despration. Ha! Alberton Lite is the devil’s work and the definition of “user un-friendly”.) Is there any way to get Audacity to record that perfectly good audio signal coming out my speakers from Proteus VX and my new midi keyboard? (No, I’m not going to put a mic in front of the speakers.) I’ve been on this for a couple long days. I just want to add some drum sounds to recordings of me playing acoustic guitar and doing vocal. (For that I’m using an E-mu 0404/usb audio interface and Rode NT 1A microphone… . Both work great with Audacity.) [Computer Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop: 2.8 ghz, 2 gigs ram, Windows XP pro SP2, sound is Sigma Tel Audio and I think there’s another sound card in the E-mu.] Any help on recording from my new midi keyboard to Audacity (or anything) would be appreciated. If you have any thoughts email might be better (, as I’ve been drinking scotch in frustration and may not remember my user name or password for this site. Maybe not even the site. . . .


Maybe better for you, but not for us. The object of the forum is to help as many people as possible.

I’m trying to dig through this. The Protius VX is a software package for your PC, right? It takes the USB Audio signal from the MIDI keyboard? or the MIDI signal from the MIDI keyboard? Both are possible.

So the first place the signal becomes analog is the PC Line-Out on the way to the amplifier and then on to the speakers. Stop me if I say anything wrong.

If you’re on Windows XP, is should be possible to record from the Line-Out connection with clever use of the Windows Sound Panels.


We need to know a bit more.
Coming out of which speakers, your PC speakers, or another set. If so, attached to what?

The problem here is that you’re trying to make a multi-track recording using a soft-synth and that isn’t possible in most cases.

Audacity can’t currently read an input from a piece of software, only from a piece of hardware. So you need a piece of software that either acts as a driver (I don’t know of any), or you need an extra set of outputs that you can route ONLY the soft-synth to and run a cable from the output to the Line In.

You can pick up the speaker output (if your drivers allow it), but that won’t let you multi-track since you’ll either pick up everything or you won’t be able to hear anything else.

I solved the problem. It was a bit tricky, but I can now listen to previously recorded tracks thru my monitors (speakers) and simultaniously listen to the (live) midi keyboard output thru my headphones plugged into my computer’s headphone jack. And, no, the previously recorded tracks don’t re-record. I get a clean new track. There is no lag between the sound sources, so it’s all working great. (There is a recording lag, but Audacity automaticaly takes care of that when recording stops.) It took me three days of insane work and there were a couple big bear traps along the way (Yes, I stepped in them all.), but the solution is very simple. I’d be happy to help if anyone cares. Best email me. I may not check back here.

BTW. . .I just love Audacity. I’d even pay for it. The others would have to pay me! Is there a spelling checker on this site?

Any chance you could post your solution? I’d be glad to point other people to this thread since this comes up once a month or so.

Also, if you use FireFox spell-checking should be automatic on this forum. If you don’t see it, then make a new post at the “Forum Issues” forum.

My solution for recording unlimited tracks from a midi keyboard (or anything) to Audacity:

First I’ll tell you about what I was working with (since you probably don’t have the same equipment), then how I did it (and also some traps to aviod).

Computer: Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop, 2.8 ghz, 2 gigs ram, Windows XP (sp2).
Sound card #1: Sigma Tel Audio (This is the native sound card and associated software inncluded with the computer.)
Sound card #2. E-MU 0404/USB (This is a small box w/ sound card and software. It has 2 mic ports, midi in/out, USB 2.0, etc. I got it to connect a studio mic [Rode NT-1A] to my computer for recording guitar and vocal.)
Midi controller: M-Audio Axiom 49 It has USB 1.1 and midi in/out. (This is a piano keyboard type midi controller.)
Midi controller software: Proteus X (This is a synth with sounds (sampler). It receives the signal from the midi keyboard and translate them into usable audio [analogue?] sounds. i.e. drums, bass guitar, pipe organ, etc, etc.)

Traps to avoid:
1: My laptop has four USB 2.0 ports and one Firewire port. Those got used up long ago, so now I have to play “swap the connector”. Ring a bell? I wanted to use the midi-out on my midi keyboard to connect to the midi-in on my external sound card (E-MU), thus avoiding connector swaping at my USB ports. I never could get this to work and after many hours, I gave up. This still might be possible. I couldn’t do it.
2. This is the big one and it can make you crazy. Some sound hardware/software devices will grab on and they won’t let go. If you try to reconfigure with Window’s “Sounds and Audio Devices”, or any of the “Options” (Preferences)" munus in your software, your computer will tell you that it is doing it, but it won’t happen. I have a turntable that I use to record my old LPs to my hard drive. Once it’s pluged into a USB port, it grabs the sound card and the only way to get it to let go is to unplug (USB) it and reboot the computer. Turns out my external sound card (E-MU) was doing a similar thing. When I made changes, the computer accepted the changes as “a done deal”. THEY WERE NOT. Therefore, anything I tried after the sound card (E-MU) found Audacity’s “sound in” was a useless exercise. Hours wasted. Days?

I start with everything turned off. The midi keyboard is connected to a USB port, and the external sound card (E-MU) is connect to a USB port also. (both are ‘plug and play’ and I’m not even using the drivers for the midi keyboard.) My studio monitors (external powered speakers) are connected to the external sound card (E-MU). I have my headphones pluged into the headphone jack on my laptop.

  1. Turn on the midi keyboard.
  2. Boot the computer (turn it on).
  3. Open Window’s “Sounds and Audio Devices” and make sure everything is set for the computer’s native sound card/software. In my case the “Audio” tab shows Sigma Tel Audio for input and output, and at the bottom, I think Midi music playback shows USB audio device. The “Voice” tab shows Sigma Tel Audio for both input and output.
  4. Open your midi sound software. In my case this is Proteus X. I check the options (prefs) menu and make sure it’s showing the basic native settings also. (It lists Sound Out as “Direct Sound” and sound in (input) as “USB Audio Device”.
  5. Open Audacity (I’m using the Beta version). Under the Options (prefs) Menu I make sure “sound in” (recording) and “sound out” both show the computer’s native software. (Sigma Tel Audio in my case) Check the box to “play previously recorded tracks” while recording. Don’t check the box for playing thur the currently recording music.
  6. Turn on the external audio device/sound card. (In my case this is E-MU.)
  7. Go to Window’s “Sound and Audio Devices” and on the “Audio” tab, change Sound Out (Playback) to the external sound card. (In my case this is E-MU.)

This last step routes the “previously recorded tracks” thru the external sound card to the external speakers. The input (live music being created by the midi keyboard and associated software) is still going thru the computer’s internal sound card.

I then monitor the input (live music I’m playing and recording from the midi keyboard) with headphones connected to my laptop’s headphone jack. By cranking up my external speakers a bit I can also hear the previously recorded tracks even with the headphones on. I can’t detect any delay in the speaker sound vs the headphone sound. (There is a recording delay for the new music but you can set Audacity to auto-correct that.) None of the “previously recorded tracks” are re-recorded to the new track because they are directed thur the external sound card to the external speakers. You get a clean new track. That’s how I did it. It works great. Watch out for trap #2 .

Excellent post, nice detail.

I had suspected that you were using a different set of outputs to run each signal. It never occurred to me to use more than one sound card though, but I’m glad it works.

Glad I read this post before buying a keyboard controller and a soft synth. I wanted to add some horns, strings, piano, etc. to some of my Audacity tracks, but looks like I would need more than just a keyboard controller and a soft synth to do this. To implement the solution posted here I would also have to buy a USB soundcard and externally powered speakers.

Is this a problem with Audacity in particular? Or will all multitrack programs (i.e. Cubase or Cakewalk) have the same problems listening to previously recorded tracks while trying to play and add new tracks from a keyboard controller/softsynth?

I see that puckthecat had problems using Ableton Lite and Cubase LT, but surely there has to be a more straightforward way to make multitrack recordings with a softsynth, otherwise what good is a softsynth? Does a softsynth basically turn your computer into a musical instrument that is no longer really supposed to be used for recording, unless you use the solution posted here? Don’t many multi track programs work with soft synths and add ons that allow you to add horns, strings, pianos etc. to existing tracks without having to do all this?

P.S. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being critical here, I recognize that puck came up with a clever solution. But I’m guessing that puck already had the second sound card and externally powered speakers. I’m just wondering if this solution is unavoidable or if I could just invest in multi-track software that would allow me to use a keyboard/soft synth rather than buy a second sound card and externally powered speakers.

It’s a problem with Audacity in particular. Most Softsynths run as VST plugins that you attach to a particular track and then feed MIDI information to it. Since Audacity doesn’t support either MIDI or full-featured VST plugins, Audacity can’t use Softsynths unless they run as a stand-alone program and you can route the i/o creatively.

I have been using Mu-Lab to Render my VST tracks to wave forms. From there you can bring them into Audacity, which is a passable solution. You get the sound seasoned to taste and then export to wav file. The other advantage is that you can extract each track individually.

I’m sure that there are other apps that will allow this functionality as well.

Are you aware that you are replying to a topic that is 10 years old?

Totally understand this now. I wasn’t aware that audacity couldn’t support the [Link Removed] electric piano VST that I was trying to use and I was getting super frustrated.

This solution on my Asus Desktop is acceptable, thanks to puckthecat I can finally enjoy using Proteus VX with Audacity.

Hi, do you know if it supports [Link Removed] Arturia MicroBrute Synthesizer? I wanna borrow it from my friend, but he never uses it for recording, so I don’t know what program to use?

Audacity can record the audio from anything so long as you have a way to get the audio into your computer (such as a “sound card” or a microphone).

Oh great, thank you!

I just checked the specs for the MicroBrute, and it appears that the USB port is only for downloading updates and for MIDI. As steve says, you will also need a sound card or some kind of audio input device.

I hope this helps. :smiley: