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I have a Roland Piano FP30X which has dedicated line out. While it has the feature such as recording to a flash drive, I am looking to understand how to record through an interface, which for my case is Focusrtie Clarett 4Pre.

  1. What kind of cables do I need? Do I need TS/TRS cables?
  2. Which part of the output from the piano do I connect to to the interface? And which input is for the Clarett?
  3. How better would it be to record through the piano's line out than through the headphone jack?

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2 Answers 2

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Connecting your keyboard to your interface is quite simple with a pair of standard instrument (AKA "guitar") cables. You can buy these at any music store, or online. Don't buy cables considerably longer than you need, as the extra cable will just be in the way.

Connect one cable from the left keyboard output to Clarett input 1, connect the right output to input 2. Set your Clarett inputs to line mode (not mic or guitar). Turn the volume on your keyboard all the way up. Play loudly and adjust the input levels until you see red clipping indicators in your software, then back the levels down a bit. Set both input levels the same to preserve the stereo balance of the piano.

Recording tip: if your software shows a dB scale, set your inputs so your loudest playing flickers the -10 dB indicator. This level insures you'll never have clipping in your audio, and it's easy enough to apply normalization at the end of the recording process to output a full-strength signal.

Use the line output jacks, not the headphone jack. You can use the latter in a pinch with a splitter, and the audio quality will be comparable. (On keyboards that have a headphone output only, manufacturers sometimes label it "Headphones/Line Out".)

This all assumes you've connected your audio interface to your computer with a USB cable and installed software or drivers (if required).

The USB output on your keyboard is meant primarily for capturing note data (not audio) into software. In this case, the keyboard would be functioning only as a "controller" and you wouldn't record its audio outputs. This would allow you to edit or enhance your performance in a digital audio workstation (or DAW, such as Apple Logic Pro). You'd then output the performance using sound from a piano virtual instrument in software. Depending on the virtual instrument you use, the end result could be an improvement over the Roland's built-in piano.

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Background

Audio interfaces convert an analog (input) signal into Digital Audio Data. That's why the output also from this interface enters your computer via USB.

Inside your computer data remain in digital format, even inside a DAW, and only are converted back to analog signals at outputs for headphones or speaker.

Manual

This said, here's a relevant setup for you from the manual p. 15:

  • you see the USB-connection (converted digital audio)
  • two lines from the right to your Focusrite
  • and if you like two connected speakers to the FR (but that's not necessary, perhaps not wanted either - unless it receives USB-audio back from your computer; please check the manual, it it does so)

setup

Cables

So, why are there two cables coming from the keyboard? If you look at mixers etc. it's standard to record channel by channel, i.e. 2 x Mono for 1 stereo signal.

So at your keyboard you need a splitter or Y-cable, which divides the 3 lines for stereo (line out, or headphones) into two mono-lines.

Connectors at the FR do accept both XLR and cinch (I alway puzzle these terms: same as on headphones, but thicker (6.x mmm), see the manual).

Signal processing

The rest you do via:

  • USB-driver on your computer
  • perhaps some configuration
  • selecting FR in your DAW, for example
  • start recording to an audio track in your DAW.

Looking at your keyboard most of the time there are two kind of output signals:

  • analog audio (line out, headphones)
  • MIDI (today almost always via USB, hence USB-MIDI)

Think of MIDI as notes on a leadsheet: you still need an orchestra to listen to them. This "orchestra" can be assigned e.g. inside your DAW ... and it will sound different to your keyboard ...

.... because your keyboard also has its own other "orchestra" inside, i.e. probably more sophisticated than DAW'S "orchestras" (BTW, both denote synthesizers of any kind).

So I suggest to stay with the analog signal from your keyboard, for a start.

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    Ermm… yeah… but no. The keyboard has distinct two line outs, which can go to any of the line ins on the Focusrite, mono jack to mono jack [TR-TR]. No splitter required. Focusrite needs setting so that the pair are recorded as stereo, not dual mono. It also supports USB audio, so you don't even need the Focusrite.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 27, 2022 at 18:38
  • Even better, isn’t it?
    – MS-SPO
    Oct 27, 2022 at 18:47
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    @MS-SPO thank you so much now I understand better about the process. Oct 28, 2022 at 2:47
  • @Tetsujin so do I just need one TR to TR cable? Or do I need two, plugging in TR cables to both L and R and connect the two into the focusrite line inputs? Why TR exactly? Oct 28, 2022 at 2:50
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    2 TR cables, left & right [they're unbalanced line level, pretty standard fayre]. Alternatively, the USB port on the keyboard can act as an audio port too.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 28, 2022 at 7:21

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