Record Your Nord Keyboard Into the Computer | GarageBand and Focusrite

Hello this is Marc from My Keys to Music
and in this video we’re talking about connecting your Nord keyboard to your
computer. For those of you who’ve been wanting to record sounds into your
computer, I have a great way to get started with this. If you’ve never done
it before, then this video might be something of interest it really starts
you off at the very, very, very basics. It does assume that you own a Macintosh and
we are going to be using a free program that comes with most modern Macs.
It’s called GarageBand. So, we’re going to use GarageBand to record sounds from our
Nord keyboard into the computer. So this has been requested by this particular
subscriber and it was a good question. The question asks any chance you know
how to plug the Nord stage 3 to Logic Pro X and make a recording I can connect
it via USB and get a signal but there’s no audio output now Logic Pro X is sort
of the big brother to GarageBand it’s the paid version of a digital audio
workstation but we’re gonna start with GarageBand because like I said as long
as you have a late-model Macintosh or fairly late-model Macintosh GarageBand
should be at your fingertips the only other element you might need
besides the keyboard itself of course which I assume you already have is an
audio interface or a mixing board that can convert the audio signal the analog
audio signal into something the computer understands by way of a USB port
typically that’s how this is done alright in this lesson we’re talking
about connecting your Nord keyboard to the computer so we have here a
handy-dandy nord stage 3 at our fingertips and we want to record
straight audio so the analog audio signal that comes from your keyboard the
left and right outputs what you would normally send to speakers or what you’d
normally send to a mixing board which would eventually get to a PA that’s the
connections I’m talking about I’m not talking about the USB port I’m not
talking about MIDI I’m just talking about analog audio signal the most
traditional the most basic recording sound into your computer alright so
you’re going to need something that converts that audio signal into
something the computer understands which is primarily a digital signal so digital
to audio or to digital in this case what you need
and one of the tools you can use is this is not the only tool but this is one of
the tools and one that I really have been using for a while
it’s called the focusrite scarlett 18 i8 it’s called an audio interface and it
interfaces between that analog signal you get from the keyboard and the
computer not only does it take care of audio this particular device also
handles MIDI as well so you could say that it’s dual function now you don’t
necessarily need an audio interface like this you could actually get a mixing
board and you can connect your keyboard to the mixing board and then from the
mixing board you can take a USB out and bring that into the computer and that’s
also another way of converting audio signal but for now we’re talking about
audio interface and I’ll put a link for this down below in the description so
this is the back of it right here you can see here I’ve blown that up a little
bigger for you to see and I’m going to show you how I connect my keyboard to
the audio interface in fact this audio interface has been used for the last
several years it supplies all the interface work for the entire channel as
well as all the courses so it is a workhorse I use it every single day
hours and hours a day so you take the audio signal the left and right channel
and I plug it into the back of the Focusrite and I’m using channel 7 & 8
for this example now you might say well why don’t you just plug it into one and
two in the front well the front panel of this over here these are more in you
know more leaning towards individual mono inputs such as a microphone or
let’s say a guitar or bass guitar these are considered mono inputs they’re not
really readily designed for stereo although if you combine 1 & 2 you can
actually have a stereo left and right but for now I’m going to put these in 7
& 8 and the only reason I didn’t put it in 5 & 6 is because in my example when
we actually connect this I happen to have currently connected the keyboard
into 7 & 8 and I believe I connect one keyboard to
7 & 8 & another keyboard in 5 & 6 so that’s the only reason I’m using 7 & 8
alright so the next thing we about and probably the most important
and powerful connection here is the USB connection which is sort of the
old-fashioned USB but for some reason music manufacturers love this older
style USB connection port and they’ve adopted it and today they’re creating
music components that still use this really this first generation in a sense
USB port but that’s going to directly connect to a computer of your choice now
in this particular demonstration and tutorial we’re going to be using a
Macintosh computer I use that because that’s what I have that’s what I’ve been
using and that’s frankly is used in a lot of different music studios all
across the country here in the US and I’m sure all over the world there’s a
great many people using Windows as well but for now we’ll use a Mac and on that
Macintosh we’ll be loading a program called GarageBand which again I keep
saying this it’s a free complimentary app that comes installed on your
computer GarageBand is also available for the iOS
device but again this example we’ll be using GarageBand on the computer I think
it’s a little easier to use and it is more feature-rich than the iPad version
or the iOS version now GarageBand is also known as a digital audio
workstation and I know that you’ve seen this term the da da W thrown thrown
about all over so few people talk about what that actually means but it means
digital audio workstation and really it’s just nothing more than fancy
terminology for a program that orchestrates your sound and/or your MIDI
it’s essentially a music composer and arranger it’s a way to store your music
and store the settings for all the different things you do to control that
music it’s primarily used for recording music recording songs all right so
that’s the digital audio workstation then we have the input of GarageBand is
set to the focus right as well as the output so this USB here this port is
continuously in constantly talking to the app GarageBand you could say it’s a
marriage between GarageBand and focus right it’s an absolute hand
that goes both ways and all the settings travel on that one cable back and forth
that’s really where the magic happens so in order to hear all of this I most of
the time use headphones and I simply connect the headphones to the front Jack
on the Focusrite this particular model of the Focusrite has an option for two
headphones which is very convenient if you’re doing things like podcasting or
if you’re just composing with somebody and you want to have two people hear it
at the same time you and a partner let’s say it’s very handy to have that second
jack although you could Jimmy rig a single Jack into two headphones with an
adapter so that’s my entire setup that’s how I do 90% of all either music
composition or recording certainly all the videos and things like that when
you’re hearing me record my Nord keyboards it’s all going through the
focusrite and all of that happens through this one box so it’s really the
one box does it all it bridges the gap between the computer and the keyboard so
like I said earlier you could switch this focus right out with a full-on
mixing board the lot of mixing boards today do in fact allow you to bridge
that gap between analog audio and digital and they do the same thing as
the focus right I like the focus right because it includes the MIDI option it’s
also a very clean and quiet unit it’s professional it’s been well battle
tested over the years and they have just a lot of different options every size
and flavor you can imagine so I really like this as a solution plus I only
really need two keyboards connected at any one time for most of my stuff so
what we’re going to do now on this on this next part of the video is we’re
going to actually connect this up to GarageBand and you’ll see me do a basic
recording just know that this whole connection is happening here in the
background when you look at me do this you’ll know that this is how it’s all
connected all right let’s go to the second part of the lesson
let’s open up GarageBand and I’ll create a brand new project the very first thing
it’s going to ask me to do is create a new track and it’s asking me the track
type and as of this recording I have four track types I have the USB and MIDI
option I have the audio input which is the one we’re going to be using today I
have a standard connected guitar or bass and then finally the virtual drummer
where we’re gonna add a drum track so for this purpose we are going to use the
audio recording or record a microphone or line input and that’s technically
what we’re doing here with the keyboard is a line input now I didn’t pick the
MIDI option even though it has the keyboard on it because that would be a
whole nother lesson to connect to MIDI and drive the software instruments of
GarageBand from an external keyboard what we’re actually wanting to do in
this video is record the audio from our Nord keyboard so that we can record it
what we actually here into the GarageBand
now if you recall from the previous part of this video you saw that I had an
audio interface and I mentioned that I would be using input seven and eight so
that’s what I’ll be using here a stereo input seven and eight acting as a stereo
single track but as a stereo type track that’s why the circles overlap each
other so that’s input seven and eight from the audio interface and then it
gives me this other option here that says I want to hear my instrument as I
play and record and in other words you want to monitor the recording as you’re
recording it and that usually is what you want in this particular case so I’ll
do that now and I have now created my first audio track and if I’ve got
everything connected to the keyboard and the computer properly and I’ve set up
the audio interface as it needs to be I should be able to just click on the
keyboard and hear audio which you heard there hopefully a bass sound and you’ll
see that this indicator here indicates whether I’m going to monitor the input
or not so in this case I will monitor the input now recording couldn’t be
easier at this point the setup is is the bear once you get it all set up then the
recording is easy and and some would argue that the setup is actually easy
too well it’s only easy if you really know and have worked with your audio
interface you know where everything connects and things like that once you
do get it connected though it is actually easy there’s really only a few
more options before we can actually start to record I have a metronome count
in so we actually have one bar ahead of the actual recording and then we have
the click track which allows us to keep in tempo while we record assuming that
the drums aren’t already there it’s awfully nice having to click
tract so I will go with this click track I’ll click the record button up here and
so long as my cursor is on this particular track I should be able to
record all right so I recorded about two and a
half measures there let’s hear it back I’ll just hit the return key and it
should bring my scrubber all the way back to the beginning and then I’ll hit
the space key and sure enough I have sound now you’ll note that I can barely
see any audio lines here it looks like the recording was very low in the mix
and very low and that’s generally not a good idea in fact as I’m pushing on here
you can see that my green lines aren’t anywhere near the yellow or the red
which would be closer to the right side of this scale so in other words I want
to give it more input so all I need to do is just adjust the overall sound on
my nord keyboard and it wouldn’t surprise me if it needed the volume all
the way up there we go I’ve just turned the volume all the way up let’s listen
to see if we can see a difference I can definitely hear a difference and I can
see that those green lines are much longer and giving us a better recording
so let me record that again this time with a little bit more volume and we
should have just a better quality recording okay this time I did just over four
measures let’s hear that back you can certainly see the lines are there now of
course it’s gonna capture every aspect of your performance including the
mistakes and you could get to the point where you can edit this and actually
clear out some notes and change some things you can even quantize the real
audio file here well which is now a digital file so there’s a lot more you
can do but that is the basics of how you record into GarageBand let’s go and race
this I’ll just select on it and hit the Delete key let’s go ahead and create a
new virtual drummer track we’d threaten that a moment ago all right so now we
have East based Mac’s let’s just listen to what that sounds I’ll hit the enter
key in the spacebar just to hear those drums let’s pick another drummer let’s
go to Jessie funk rock and we’ll go retro rock and we’ll see what that
sounds like alright that’s pretty good let’s record something we’ll still keep
the click track so that and then we’ll have the four count in and then we’ll
start this time record right against the drummer I’m just hitting R on the
keyboard for recording okay let’s hear that back okay so I’m
gonna just trim this down here so I’m going to put my scrubber on the measure
between four and five and I’m going to hit the T key the command T key and that
will trim that and then this time I will just stretch this essentially looping it
for eight measures instead of the original four let’s just listen to that ideally this is one way to go you can
record your Nord keyboards directly into GarageBand what a lot of people do
instead is actually use any keyboard they have as a MIDI controller and they
record MIDI notes into GarageBand and then have the software instruments play
those notes back and that usually works for most people I’d say that most of the
way recording is done today or at least in a beginning sense when they’re using
GarageBand that’s what happens they’re recording MIDI instruments not so much
recording actual sound unless it’s coming from let’s say an external guitar
or a microphone or some other instrument that can’t be duplicated very well with
soft instruments but we have an or Tibor at our hands or at least most of you do
so the opportunity record those good pianos and things like that exists now
you could get the best of both worlds which is really advanced which means you
could record MIDI into Logic Pro X and you could quantize it clean it up as
need be then you can send that MIDI back out to the Nord there by hearing the
Nord sounds from the MIDI Logic Pro X can do that and then finally you would
record those completed performances from the newer keyboard back into logic so
you sort of go round-robin a couple times to get to the end result but
that’s fairly complicated that would really take a whole course to properly
explain and to fully understand but that is what you can graduate to in a perfect
world and I think that’s how ideally you’d get the most flexibility because
when you have your performance in a MIDI format you can do clever things like
transpose you can take notes out add notes in very easily you can move things
around very easily not that you can’t move it around in the audio world things
have really advanced to the point where you can almost do all of that in the
audio world meaning you can just take these sound waves and manipulate them as
well but I don’t think it’s as easy or as straightforward as doing it through
straight MIDI at least not for me it is so this is your beginning lesson we
learned how to open up GarageBand create a new track assign it to the audio
and click the record button we then learned how to work with different
levels we learned a little bit very a little bit about trimming that track and
then extending it and looping it for eight measures and we learned how to add
a virtual drummer so those are the very very basics if you want to learn more
about GarageBand there’s a lot of training on YouTube as you can imagine
you could also find training with an entity called udemy and I’ll put a link
down below in the description this is where I received all my AWS
certification training my computer training but they also have a lot of
great music training for GarageBand Logic Pro X many of the top digital
audio workstations even some synthesizer training on selected keyboards so this
really is a highly recommended entity if you’re looking to further your training
in these areas so that would be something I would recommend if you are
interested in taking this to the next level but it really can be definitely a
labor of love you could definitely lose a lot of time to this stuff but at the
end of the day can also be very fun and very rewarding it’s fairly technical but
it’s also very artistic so that is our lesson today to record the nord keyboard
into GarageBand just the basics and we’ll catch you on the next one


  • Hey Marc! Great video. I've been talking to some fellow nord users, and they have been asking me the same question. They are trying to send midi data out from their computer (GarageBand let's say) into their nord (NE6 and NS3), to then record the audio out, like you have shown in this video. There doesn't seem to be any videos on this subject, and this could be a cool video idea? Thanks again, all the best, Ben 🙂

  • Hi Marc, any idea how to synchronize external devices midi clocks to the Nord when using the extern section?
    The midi clock is not routed through I think even on soft thru

  • Great video, Marc! So much information and can't wait to try it out.

    Unfortunately, I do not own a Focusrite, but I do own a Zoom H6. Are you familiar with this, would this work in lieu of the FS?

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