Recording from Digital Piano USB port


Apologies… total newbie… musically inept and in terms of recording, much worse! I’m trying to use Audacity to record from my Roland RP401R digi piano. My understanding is that the USB port on the piano generates only MIDI type data, not audio. I have set the Audacity device properties for MIDI to the Roland device driver that I recently installed. I thought Audacity would understand what I was trying to do and automatically enter some sort of MIDI recording mode from where I could edit/playback the data/music? All I get is a low volume, muffled sound which I can just about make out but which isn’t pretty and unlike the tune being played.

I have been able to use Audacity to record audio from a USB mic but it is pretty poor so I’m waiting for various leads I’v ordered in order to record direct from the headphone socket. In the meantime, I don’t know whether Audacity is able to handle my USB data input and what I should expect of Audacity when it records and I playback. I’v seen snippets of other software that maps out the midi data which can then be manipulated, transposed etc. Can/does Audacity do that?

I haven’t uploaded an audio file because I suspect I’v got it all wrong. I’v only just managed to get the Roland RP401R driver to install properly on my old laptop and thought that was going to solve all my problems.

I’m using Audacity 2.2.1 on Windows 7. I’v tried a variety of settings like MME, Primary Sound/Realtek Mic etc. Any guidance really appreciated.

Audacity does not yet support recording MIDI, only audio.
This FAQ may help:

I have two USB Yamaha music keyboards and I did it by recording the headphone socket.

Step one is split the headphone service so one half feeds the powerful music speaker system. That’s how I normally use it. It’s in the soundproofed third bedroom, so nobody cares.

But the other half goes to a cable system or USB audio device for recording.

I intentionally bought (most of) my computers to have actual analog stereo connections.

On the left.

That was then. I don’t think there are any current laptop or smaller computers that still support analog stereo.

So that leaves you with a good quality stereo USB adapter such as the Behringer UCA202.

Please note smaller devices such as this…

… have many of the shortcomings of the laptop connections you already have. That particular one is advertised as “Stereo” when it only records Mono.


Thanks Steve, that answers my question perfectly and no doubt accounts for why my recordings through the USB port sounds so terrible. I had read on a comparison site that Audacity could handle MIDI and just assumed I was doing something wrong.


Thanks Koz, that’s a great help and very kind to give such a detailed response. dc

Recent versions of Audacity can play MIDI files, but Audacity does not yet have the ability to record MIDI. Basic Cut / Paste editing of MIDI files is also available, though for serious MIDI work I would recommend using a dedicated MIDI editing application.

Just a note about recording MIDI.

You don’t. That’s what a MIDI editing program like CakeWalk does. Last check what we’re doing is applying the MIDI instructions (Press B Flat on a Grand Piano and hold it for Six Seconds) to the MIDI interpreter inside your computer. The Interpreter makes sound and we’re recording that.

There is one serious downside. You’re not getting the piano you think you are. My large MIDI keyboards do actually make sound in addition to MIDI and they do it with very carefully recorded and sampled actual pianos. If the Interpreter inside your computer used a crappy piano for sampling, that’s the piano you’re going to hear.

Worse yet, if you do this trick on three different computers, you may get three different piano sounds, same MIDI.

If you use MIDI as it was intended, you can do wondrous things. Change the tempo of your performance perfectly without changing pitch.

Change the instrument. Ever wonder what your piano song sounds like on a harpsichord (MIDI 6)? MIDI is for you.


MIDI used to only support 16 instruments at once. Didn’t I read somewhere they were re-writing the specification to increase that?


That was (and still is) 16 channels per “port”. I recall configuring 4 MIDI ports in “Logic Pro” well over 20 years ago, giving 64 channels total. A big MIDI setup may have 16 or more MIDI ports.