You may need a separate midi interface for your computer-based recording studio if you have a number of midi devices to deal with. Most music producers begin by using the port available on the audio interface or by using the USB midi interface (available on keyboard controller). However, sooner or later they feel the need for a MIDI interface. Using a MIDI interface, you can connect MIDI keyboards, sound modules, and other MIDI gear to your computer. These interfaces accept standard 5-pin DIN MIDI cables, and convert 5-pin DIN MIDI to standard USB connectors.
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What is an MIDI interface?
A MIDI interface is a device that allows equipment such as keyboards and sound modules to be connected to each other, but most often connected to a computer.
These equipment are usually cross-platform so it should work equally well on Mac or PC.
If you have recently got yourself an electronic keyboard, such as Yamaha or Casio, you would know that its easy to connect it to a computer and work with a range of software. However, depending on the model you have, the keyboard may not be able to make a direct USB connection to the computer, and USB is the simplest way to make the connection. That is where an inexpensive midi interface can solve your problem, in case you don’t intend to do anything fancy with the setup.
You can however also connect your computer to a MIDI controller or a sound module, you just need to plug a MIDI interface in between.
A MIDI interface provides MIDI In/Out to and from a computer or MIDI-equipped hardware via standard 5-pin MIDI jacks. There are standalone MIDI interfaces, virtually all of which connect to a computer via USB.
Here’s a video that shows how to make the various midi connections using a midi-interface:
Do you really need a MIDI interface?
There are many who use the term ‘midi interface” to also refer to an audio interface, which is a different device altogether (it lets you connect mics, comes with preamps, and removes latency).
If you are work mostly with software synths, you may not need a dedicated MIDI interface. A single MIDI port will do fine, which will be available on a keyboard controller. On some controllers with USB outputs, this interface is built-in). There are many MIDI keyboard controllers now come with a MIDI interface built-in.
Only when you work with a lot of hardware MIDI devices, you will need a MIDI interface (the more gear you have the more ports you need).
There are so many gear that use MIDI (besides keyboards). MIDI sound modules, Effect processors (such as reverbs, delays, harmonizers, guitar pedal rigs), Multi-track recorders, Control Surfaces, all these gear use MIDI.
You can find 1×1, 2×2, 4×4 and 8×8 MIDI interfaces commonly available.
Best MIDI Interfaces
MIDI interfaces commonly come in 1×1, 2×2, 4×4 and 8×8 port configurations. So an 8-port midi interface will have 8 Ins and 8 Outs.
The simplest interface has just one MIDI In port and one MIDI Out port, which allows 16 channels of MIDI data to flow to and from a connected device.
USB Midi Cable Interface – Connection Made Easy
A USB midi cable / interface is the easiest way you can connect your digital piano keyboard or any other midi gear to a Computer – PC or Mac.
These are plug-and-play USB MIDI Interfaces that adds an MIDI input and output (16 MIDI channels in/out) to your computer. Its bus-powered for total portability.
One of the most important reason people want to connect their keyboard to a computer is because they want to save/edit their songs on a computer. Once your song is on a computer you can do a whole lot of things with it. But before you can connect your keyboard to a computer, you will need a MIDI cable. Lots of people are not sure on how to make this connection but it is not at all difficult as you will see further.
A USB midi cable is the easiest way you can connect your keyboard to a PC. It is as simple as plug and play!
Every PC will have USB ports and normally, you will find MIDI jacks behind every keyboard. So you need to take your USB cable and connect the USB side to your computers USB port and the MIDI side to the MIDI In/Out of your keyboard. Once the connection is made, you should be able to transfer MIDI data from your keyboard to the computer.
Best 1×1 midi interfaces
Here are some popular 1×1 midi interfaces. Most of these are bus powered, connects a MIDI device to a Mac or PC, and come with all the Cables and Connectors.
- Roland UM-ONE MK2 USB MIDI Interface: One-in/One-out MIDI interface with high-performance FPT processing for low latency, Data indicators for both MIDI input and output.
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- CREATIVE EMU XMIDI 1X1 USB MIDI Interface: 1 MIDI in / 1 MIDI out, USB 1.1. USB bus-powered
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- Hosa 1×1 USB to MIDI Cable: 9′ total length. Connecting you MIDI equipment to your computer’s USB port has never been easier. Simply load the included driver and connect the cables — it’s that easy!
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- M-Audio MIDISport UNO 1×1 MIDI Interface: The MIDISport Uno is a 1×1 MIDI interface (with Cables and Connectors) that is totally portable, and powered by your computer’s USB port.
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Midi interfaces come with multiple ins/outs
iConnectivity mio10 Advanced 10 by 10 MIDI Interface
Connect all your MIDI gear — 5-in MIDI, USB MIDI, Network MIDI — and up to two computers at the same time with the powerful, flexible mio10 MIDI interface.
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More midi interfaces here.
Also Read: iOS (iPad, iPhone) MIDI Interfaces
Midi Interfaces: Summary
Latest USB Drivers – For Connection Issues
These interfaces should work with both Windows and Mac and as such the connection mentioned above should work without any problem. However, in case you face any difficulty, make sure you download the latest Drivers.
Once the connection is done, you are on a roll. There are endless possibilities to what you can do with your music once it is on your PC. You just need to have a decent computer and sequencing software.
Technology is changing fast in this area as well and now you do get a wireless MIDI interface, such as the CME WIDI-X8 that can actually send MIDI information via radio transmitter, just as a wireless microphone transmits voice.
The advantage of wireless is of course a much cleaner desktop setup and the ability to change setups without having to rewire. This is a big plus for someone who has lots of equipment in his/her music recording setup.