How to Connect A Digital Piano to an Audio Interface [EASY]

I’ve had a look around at some of the other articles on the internet and I feel like this topic has largely been overcomplicated. There’s no reason for it to be difficult, because hooking up most quality digital pianos to a computer, your audio interface, and a DAW, isn’t a terribly sophisticated task.

If you’re into music production or home recording, you’ve probably already got all of the necessary tools to make this happen. either way, I’ve got your back today (and probably every day as well). I’ll show you how to connect your digital piano to your PC and DAW as well as your mobile device. It’s super simple.

To connect your digital piano to your computer for recording
1) Connect an audio interface to your PC
2) Attach a 1/4″ instrument cable from the headphones output of your piano to the audio interface
3) Open an audio track in your DAW, ie, GarageBand
4) Turn on monitoring, then hit record to begin.

It doesn’t get harder than that. All you really need to connect a digital piano to your computer is an instrument cable with a 1/4″ jack, also called a guitar or bass cable, an audio interface like the Scarlett 2i2, and then a DAW loaded onto your computer. It can be any DAW too, ie, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, Ableton, or whatever else you like to use. I like to use GarageBand because it’s free and accessible to every Apple user, but I digress. Let’s dive into this and more below.

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What Gear You Need To Connect A Digital Piano To An Audio Interface

What Gear You Need To Connect A Digital Piano To An Audio Interface
These are all the pieces of equipment you need to record a digital or electric piano on your computer or mobile device. There are some variations that we’ll talk about as the article progresses.

1) Digital Piano – Yamaha P125

My Yamaha Keyboard - How to Use A MIDI Keyboard Without A Computer [Or A DAW]
This is my grandfather’s Yamaha PSR-640. It came out in 1999 and it still works great not only for a digital piano but as a MIDI keyboard. While I like this keyboard a lot, I would recommend getting the Yamaha P125 (on Amazon/Thomann) instead because it’s newer and better.

It’s also the piano that Robin Hall from PianoForAll (a great piano course for beginners) recommended beginners get when I emailed him about it.

Robin Hall from Piano for All - Quote
Here’s what Robin had to say when I reached out to him.

2) Audio Interface – Scarlett 2i2

Scarlett 2i2 - How to Connect A Digital Piano to Your PC
The Scarlett 2i2 (on Amazon/Thomann/zZounds) is probably the most reliable of all the audio interfaces. And it’s easily the most popular, out-selling all of the others by a huge margin.

3) USB-C to USB (Or A Printer Cable If You’re Using An Older Audio Interface)

USB-to-Firewire-USB-Adapter-USB-to-USB-C-How-to-Connect-Scarlett-2i2-to-MacBook-Pro
USB-C or Printer Cable [USB 2.0] (on Amazon)

I’ve heard people refer to this cable in a number of ways. Probably the most common is for it to be called either a printer cable or a USB 2.0 cable. On occasion, I’ve heard it called a “firewire” cable, although, I’m not sure if this is technically correct.

Also, whether you use USB-C or not depends on the age of your audio interface. Newer audio interfaces will probably be using USB-C to USB cables (my guide on audio interfaces).

For example, my Saffire 6USB audio interface which I bought 10 years ago uses the classic printer cable port whereas my newer Scarlett 2i2 uses USB-C.

4) 1/4″ Instrument Cable – Ernie Ball

1/4
1/4″ Instrument Cable – (on Amazon)

Ernie Ball or Pig Hog cables are dope, and these are what I use. I like the Ernie Ball right-angled cables which are linked above. However, Pig Hog or Road Hogs are great straight cables that are known for durability.

I have one of each and they’re dope cables. I wouldn’t get another brand now that I’ve seen how long-lasting they can be. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter too much what kind of cable you use because you’re just connecting it to the headphones’ output on the digital piano, although, I must say the right-angled jack is best suited for this port.

5) PC and DAW/Mobile Device and DAW

PC and Mobile Device - How to Connect A Digital Piano To Your PC .jpg
I’m using the 2017 MacBook Pro but I recommend this one instead (on Amazon). As for the mobile device, I’d recommend anything with approximately 64GB or more. The iPhone X (on Amazon) is a great one. It’s what I use.

The device doesn’t matter so much because you’ve probably already got your own, however, the two that I’ve mentioned above are great if you’re trying to use GarageBand, Logic Pro X, or any of the other DAWs that are compatible with iOS and macOS.

For this tutorial which begins down below, I’ll be using GarageBand for demonstration, but the principles are the same regardless of which DAW you’re using. Anyway, let’s get this started then.

How to Connect A Digital Piano To Your Audio Interface [PC/Mobile]

How to Connect A Digital Piano to an Audio Interface - Infographic
To connect your electric piano or keyboard to your computer and audio interface, you first must connect the audio interface to your computer with the USB-C to USB or printer cable. Connect a 1/4″ instrument cable from the piano’s headphone output to the audio interface’s input.

The above infographic is a bird’s-eye-view demonstration of how you would connect your digital piano to your computer and DAW – which includes your audio interface of course.

One thing I forgot to mention is you may need a USB-C to USB adapter for your computer (Amazon), but this will depend on the model and how old it is. Mine does, for example, and it’s a 2017 MacBook Pro.

1) Connect Your Audio Interface To Your Computer With the Appropriate Cable

Connect Audio Interface - How to Connect A Piano to Your Computer
Connect your USB-C-to-USB cable to your computer as is shown here.

Because this computer is from like 2010, it doesn’t have the new and improved USB-C ports on the side – it uses the traditional USB 2.0 ports. The following three sub-headings consider some of the variability in terms of what kinds of cables and devices you could be using.

For Older Audio Interfaces

USB-to-Firewire-USB-Adapter-USB-to-USB-C-How-to-Connect-Scarlett-2i2-to-MacBook-Pro
If you’ve got an older audio interface or even some newer audio interfaces that just haven’t been upgraded yet – this cable will be the one that does the trick.

For Newer Computers (After 2016 Approximately)

USB-Adapter-USB-to-USB-C-How-to-Connect-Scarlett-2i2-to-MacBook-Pro
Here’s the USB-C to USB adapter that I was talking about earlier.

For iOS [iRig Pro I/O And The Appropriate Cable]

Connecting iRig Pro to Mobile Device - How to Connect Digital Pianos to Computers
I’ve got my iRig Pro I/O hooked up to my iPad Pro in this image. Now, if you wanted to connect the piano to the iRig Pro, it would be as simple as connecting the 1/4″ instrument cable from the piano to the iRig. Let’s do that now except using the Scarlett 2i2 as an example.

2) Run An Instrument Cable from the Piano’s Headphone Output to the Audio Interface Input

Connecting Piano to Audio Interface - How to Connect Digital Pianos to A PC
Use your common sense and plug in the cable like what’s shown here.

3) Turn The Gain Down On The Audio Interface If It’s Clipping

Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2-Color-Codes
In some cases, you may have to actually turn down the gain on the audio interface because your piano could be outputting a very hot signal. You want it to light up green.

You may also have to turn down the master volume on the digital piano (or maybe even turn it up). Let’s dive into how to configure all of this in GarageBand’s settings.

4) Configure The Audio Interface In GarageBand’s Settings

Audio-Interface-PreferencesSettings-in-GarageBand-How-to-Make-MIDI-
To set up your audio interface and digital piano with your DAW, go into GarageBand, then Preferences, and then Audio/MIDI. Ensure Scarlett 2i2 or your audio interface of choice has been selected for the input device.

5) Turn Off The Metronome and Turn On the Monitoring Button

The Monitoring Button - How to Connect the Scarlett Series to GarageBand
It’s good practice to turn on the monitoring button so you can hear what you’re doing. Also, I like to turn the metronome off, although, I may need it at times if I need something to keep time.
K-for-Metronome-Keyboard-Shortcuts
Turning off or turning on the metronome is as simple as hitting “K” on your keyboard as I previously demonstrated in my keyboard shortcuts guide.

6) Start Recording

Digital Piano Recording - How to Connect A Digital Piano to A PC
Once you’re ready to start recording, just hit record, and then start playing.

And that’s it for recording digital piano in your DAW. Very straightforward stuff. I’ve got plenty of other similar articles in the section highlighted below.

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Important Things to Note On Connecting Digital Pianos To Audio Interfaces

1) Not All Electric Pianos Output Mono Sound

Apparently, in some cases, digital pianos’ headphone output will output a stereo signal that needs to be split into two signals: a left and a right signal. This means that if you plug it into your audio interface, you’ll just have the left side or the right side. My piano thankfully outputs a mono signal but if yours didn’t, you can find stereo cables on Amazon.

2) Some Electric Pianos Have A USB Option For Connecting To Computers

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for more modern and more expensive digital pianos to have a USB port on the back of them. This means your piano has the capability to export high-quality digital audio directly to the PC or mobile device and DAW you’re using. Great stuff. Mine doesn’t have this unfortunately but I’ll get by just fine.

3) You Can Also Connect Your Piano To Your Speakers With RCA Cables

It’s also possible to connect your digital piano to your stereo speakers with RCA cables (also on Amazon). Most digital pianos will have 1/4″ ports on the back with “L” and “R” above them to tell you what they’re meant for.

Gear Mentioned

1) Yamaha P125 (on Amazon/Thomann)

2) PianoForAll (on their site)

3) Scarlett 2i2 (on Amazon/Thomann/zZounds)

4) Printer Cable (on Amazon)

5) Ernie Ball Instrument Cable (on Amazon)

6) MacBook Pro 2022, M2, 16GB RAM, and 1TB (on Amazon)

7) iPhone X 64GB (on Amazon)