DIY Setting Up a Session and Laying Down a MIDI Track
David Miles Huber

   By Guest Contributor   Categories: GeneralRecording

In keeping with the concept that “MIDI is not audio,” the first steps toward setting up the system for recording a MIDI track to a sequencer is to make sure that both the MIDI and audio connections are properly made. If the MIDI connections between the instruments and interface are to be made via standard MIDI cables, you’ll probably want to make sure that the MIDI In and MIDI Out cables are properly routed to and from the device ports. No matter what your setup, the audio pathways will also need to be connected.

This might mean:

– Routing the audio outputs to an external audio mixer

– Routing the audio outputs to the inputs on a virtual DAW mixer (via the audio interface).

– Routing the virtual outputs of an instrument plug-in to the virtual inputs of the DAW.

Once the connections are made, the next step is to make sure that the MIDI Ins and Outs are properly assigned on the MIDI track that’s to be recorded on. Once done, simply arm the track and check for MIDI activity by playing the source MIDI controller and listening for sound. If there’s no sound, check your connections and general settings (including your channel volume [controller 7] and instrument Local On/Off settings). If at first you don’t succeed, be patient, trace through your system and settings, and try, try again.

DIY Setting Up a Session and Laying Down a MIDI Track

-Pull out a favorite MIDI instrument or call up a favorite plug-in instrument.

-Route the instrument’s MIDI and audio cables to their appropriate workstation and audio mixer devices according to the situation at hand.

-Call up a MIDI sequencer (either by beginning a DAW session or by using a hardware sequencer) and create a MIDI track that can be recorded to.

-Set the session to a tempo that feels right for the song.

-Assign the track’s MIDI input to the port that’s receiving the incoming MIDI data.

-Assign the track’s MIDI output to the port and proper MIDI channel that’ll be receiving the outgoing MIDI data during playback.

-If a click track is desired, turn it on.

-Name the track. This will make it easier to identify the MIDI passage in the future.

-Place the track into the Record Ready mode.

Play the instrument or controller. Can you hear the instrument? Do the MIDI activity indicators light up on the sequencer, track, and MIDI interface? If not, check your cables and run through the checklist again. If so, press Record and start laying down your first track.

Above is an excerpt from The Midi Manual: A Practical Guide to MIDI in the Project Studio, 3e

David Miles Huber is widely acclaimed in the recording industry as a digital audio consultant, author and guest lecturer on the subject of digital audio and recording technology. As well as being a regular contributing writer for numerous magazines and websites, Dave has written such books as The MIDI Manual (Focal Press) and Professional Microphone Techniques ( He also manages the Educational Outreach Program for Syntrillium software (, makers of Cool Edit 2000 and Cool Edit Pro. In addition to all this, he’s a professional musician in the ambient dance/relaxational field, having written, produced and engineered CDs that have sold over the million mark. His latest stuff can be checked out at



No Comments

Tell us what you think!


The Latest From Routledge