Converting midi to audio


To understand this process you must first understand what MIDI is: MIDI is an industry standard protocol that is used for communication, synchronization, and control between two or more machines. This data is used to tell a specific piece of equipment (like a keyboard or synthesizer) to play a certain note, at this time, this loudly, for this long, etc.. MIDI does not transmit audio signals (digital or analog). Meaning, if you were to plug your MIDI cable into a loudspeaker or audio device you would not hear anything. MIDI information could be described as being like a piece of sheet music. The sheet music contains everything necessary for an instrumentalist to make music, but without the instrumentalist you hear nothing.

There are several ways you can playback MIDI in Cakewalk, so there are several ways you can convert or record the MIDI to audio. Whichever method you use to playback MIDI is the method you will use to bounce it down to audio. The three main methods are as follows:

  1. Using an internal software synth built into Windows, like the Microsoft GS Wavetable synth.
  2. Using hardware that can generate its own sounds, like an external keyboard or synth module.
  3. Using a software synthesizer (DXi or VSTi)

1) Using an Internal Synth (Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth)

This first option is good for those of you who do not have any hardware, like synthesizers; or drivers capable of playing back soft synths without serious delay. The “Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth” can be found under Options | MIDI Devices | Outputs. This will usually not show up here unless you are in the MME (32bit) driver mode.

If this synth is already set up to playback and you hear it through your computer speakers, then you’re half way there. If not, check your Volume Controls under Start | All Programs | Accessories | Entertainment | Volume Control. You can also reach this by going to Start | Run and type in “SNDVOL32” without the quotes. “SNDVOL32 –R” opens the Recording Control. Here you can adjust the playback level of the “SW Synth” which should be the same as the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth. Next, go to Options | Properties and open up the Recording Controls. Make sure all options under “Show the volume controls” are checked.
Now press OK to bring you back to the Recording Control. You will need to check either “Wave Out Mix”, “What You Hear”, “Stereo Mix” or any input option that sounds like it will record everything coming out of the speakers. Remember, the goal is to record the MIDI being played back through the GS Wavetable Synth as Audio.

For Vista: Go to Start | Control Panel and open "Sound". Click the "Recording" tab and look for something like "Stereo Mix", "What You Hear" or something similar. Click the "Set Default" button. Double-click on that button to adjust levels and other properties.

Now open your recording software like Cakewalk, insert a new audio track from Insert | Audio Track. Make sure the proper input is selected, click the “R” to arm the track for recording, press play and you should be seeing levels on this track. Adjust the levels back in the Recording and Playback controls to ensure that you are not clipping.
Keep in mind that Cakewalk will now be recording everything that is coming out of your computer’s speakers. So if you want to isolate each MIDI track onto its own audio track, you will need to create a new audio track for each MIDI track, then solo the corresponding tracks one at a time. This will require a separate pass for each MIDI track bounce. Otherwise, just hit record for a mix of the entire MIDI arrangement down to one track. Highlight the new audio track and go to File | Export Audio if you are exporting to CD or MP3.




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