To record MIDI in REAPER, start by setting the correct MIDI input on the track you want to use and your MIDI preferences. Now, you can record MIDI using a MIDI keyboard, the virtual MIDI keyboard within REAPER, or the MIDI editor window to input MIDI data manually.
Recording MIDI In REAPER
Sampled/VST instruments are a necessary aspect of modern music production. They allow us producers to use all different instruments and sounds in our tracks without buying the instruments themselves.
Because sampled/VST instruments are pretty much all recorded using MIDI, it is essential for you as a music producer to be able to record MIDI in your studio space.
This in-depth guide will show you how to record MIDI in REAPER using a few different methods.
What You Will Need
Here is a list of the different things you will need to record MIDI in REAPER:
- REAPER DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
- MIDI Keyboard/MIDI Controller Device (for the first method only)
- ReaSynth Plugin
Method One – MIDI Keyboard
The first method that I want to show you for recording MIDI in REAPER is by using a MIDI keyboard controller.
In my opinion, using a MIDI keyboard is easily the best way to record MIDI in REAPER or any DAW for that matter. This is because it feels the most musical compared to other methods.
To use a MIDI keyboard in REAPER, start by selecting Options>Preferences>MIDI Devices once you have your MIDI device connected to your computer.
Once you have this window open, enable the input and output of your MIDI keyboard controller.
Now that our preferences are adjusted the way we need them, we can insert a track and select the correct MIDI input.
For this example, I will be using the ‘ReaSynth’ plugin because it comes standard with REAPER. Still, you can follow these same steps for any virtual instrument plugin.
With our preferences adjusted and our desired MIDI input selected, we are now ready to record MIDI in REAPER!
To do this, press record and get ready to do your thing.
I will show you several other techniques for recording MIDI in REAPER, but using a MIDI keyboard is by far the easiest and most musical approach to do so if you can afford to spend a bit of extra money on one.
Method Two – Virtual MIDI Keyboard
The next technique that I want to show you for recording MIDI in REAPER is using the ‘virtual MIDI keyboard.’
The virtual MIDI keyboard is a tool within REAPER that you can use to turn your standard computer or laptop keyboard into a MIDI keyboard.
The virtual MIDI keyboard is easy to use and does not require much preparation.
To use the virtual MIDI keyboard, click View>Virtual MIDI Keyboard and select the correct MIDI input on the track you want to record with.
Once you have done this, you are ready to record using the virtual MIDI keyboard! Just press record, and you will be good to go.
Method Three – MIDI Editor
The last method I want to show you for recording MIDI in REAPER is manually inserting notes using the MIDI editor window.
To use the MIDI editor in REAPER, start by recording a blank section of track where you want to insert your MIDI data.
Once you have done this, you can open the MIDI editor window by double-clicking the blank track.
Now that the MIDI editor window opens up, we can insert notes by double-clicking where we want them to be. We can also shorten or lengthen the notes, change their velocity, and move them around.
If you are a savvy music producer, you can use the MIDI editor to construct chords, melodies, etc. It can certainly be a painstaking task, and I recommend other options more than this one.
Keep in mind you can also use the MIDI editor to edit and rearrange MIDI parts recorded with a MIDI keyboard. This is an excellent way to quantize and polish the MIDI parts that you have recorded.
What Are Some Free Solutions for Recording MIDI in Reaper?
A couple of free solutions for recording MIDI in REAPER are using the virtual MIDI keyboard to turn your computer’s keyboard into a MIDI device and using the MIDI editor to insert and edit MIDI notes manually.
Although these methods will not cost you any money, I recommend investing in a MIDI keyboard, even a cheap one.
How Do You Connect a USB MIDI Keyboard to Your Computer for Use in Reaper?
To connect a MIDI device to your computer for use in REAPER, start by plugging the device into your computer’s USB port. This will be all you need to do to connect a MIDI device for some devices.
However, you will have to select Options>Preferences>MIDI Devices for many devices. Then enable the MIDI input and MIDI output of the device you want to use.
Some devices will even require you to download a specific driver to work with your computer. If this is the case, the manufacturer of the MIDI device will provide you with the driver that you need.
Does a MIDI Keyboard Need an Audio Interface?
Most MIDI keyboards have a USB MIDI output on them, which means you will not need an audio interface to use them. You can connect them directly to your computer.
However, old or vintage keyboards and synths will not have these USB MIDI outputs. You will have to use another method of MIDI connectivity to use them.
How Do You Connect a MIDI Keyboard to Your Audio Interface?
If you want to connect your MIDI device to your audio interface instead of your computer, chances are you will have to connect using the five-pin MIDI connection instead of a USB MIDI cable.
This will depend on the types of MIDI inputs your audio interface has.
Does REAPER Stand For Something?
Yes, REAPER is an acronym for Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording.
Who Will Get the Most Use Out Of REAPER?
REAPER is a DAW that you can use for all sorts of purposes. Still, in my opinion, REAPER is best for recording and audio engineers.
Because REAPER doesn’t come with any sample packs, VST instruments, etc., it is not ideal for many music producers.
However, you can, of course, use third-party sample packs and virtual instruments in REAPER.
How Can You Insert Additional MIDI Notes Into a Recorded MIDI Item?
To insert additional notes into an existing MIDI item in REAPER, double-click the item to open up the MIDI editor window. This is like REAPER’s piano roll.
Once you have this opened up, you can double click to add notes where you want them. You can also adjust their length, velocity, and position after you have inserted them.
What Are Some Benefits of Having an Audio Interface?
Although you can produce music these days without an audio interface by simply having a MIDI keyboard controller and a pair of headphones, there are a few benefits of having an audio interface.
These benefits include being able to plug in microphones to use for audio recording, having more types of inputs and outputs rather than just USB, and having increased audio quality when monitoring.
While having an audio interface is unnecessary for music production, I certainly recommend getting one if you can afford it.
Can you produce music without a MIDI keyboard? Find out here!
about the author
I’m Jack Oberkirsch, a film and media composer residing in Denver, Colorado. I play in several local bands and have been touring the country for nearly a decade.
Since 2016 I’ve been focusing on studio work and production and have moved into the realm of film and media composition.
I like to combine and implement many different musical instruments and styles to convey the director’s vision on any given project.
I also enjoy writing material for music libraries and sync placements.