MIDI Hardware. Interfaces, Keyboards and Controllers. Interfaces, MIDI Keyboards, USB MIDI keyboards, MIDI Controller Boxes



Simply stated, the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI, is a digital communications language and compatible hardware specification that enables multiple electronic instruments, performance controllers, computers, and other related devices to communicate with one another within a connected network.



Interfaces, Keyboards and Controllers



MIDI Hardware. Interfaces, Keyboards and Controllers Interfaces, Keyboards and Controllers Interfaces, Inputs and Outputs, MIDI Keyboards, USB MIDI keyboards, MIDI Controller Boxes


If you want to play software instruments (like Magnus Choir or some other Synth ) on your computer using a keyboard, just like a 'proper instrument', you need either a keyboard with a USB connection or a so-called MIDI interface, which connects any keyboard with a MIDI out. A pure MIDI keyboard does not produce any sound itself but sends information about which keys were struck when and how hard they were pressed. The software then produces the appropriate sound (i.e. USB interfaces: Edirol UM-1S, M-Audio Midisport 2x2 and MOTU FastLane). 


Interfaces for Mac and PC:
MIDI interfaces are available for personal computers in various designs: 
As PCI cards (for desktop PCs or Macs), which are simply installed in a free slot and are ready to use once the accompanying software is installed) 
As external MIDI interfaces that can be connected, depending on the model, via parallel or serial ports (both for PC only) or USB (Mac and PC). External interfaces have the advantages that the computer must not be opened and that they can also be used with other computers.
The manufacturers of MIDI interfaces are Edirol, Emagic, M-Audio, MOTU, and Steinberg.


Inputs and Outputs
You should pay attention to the number of in- and outputs. One in and one out should do for simple applications at first. But if you also want to use a MIDI controller box (for example with knobs for controlling assignable software parameters) or many external MIDI devices, you will need several in- and outputs. 


MIDI Keyboards:
The selection of MIDI keyboards is relatively large. You must decide whether you want a weighted keyboard (produces a piano-like feeling on the keys) or an unweighted. For playing synthesizers (and for non-pianists), the unweighted keys should be fine. The MIDI keyboard, however, should definitely be velocity-sensitive (when the keys are pressed harder the sound is louder). 


MIDI keyboards with built-in knobs
MIDI controllers are also very practical. With these knobs you can operate faders and other parameters in the software instruments without having to use the mouse. Such MIDI controllers are also available separately; see the section below called 'MIDI Controller Boxes'.


USB MIDI keyboards:
As an alternative to MIDI keyboards you can also purchase USB keyboards. These are recommended if you own neither a keyboard nor a MIDI interface and have no desire to use external MIDI devices like hardware synthesizers and samplers. (i.e. Edirol PCR-30 and M-Audio KeyStation (USB and MIDI plus faders and knobs)


MIDI Controller Boxes:
These boxes with knobs or faders are most useful in live applications, since they enable 'remote control' of the software instrument's parameters. Please note that there are 2 different basic types: models which send "absolute values" and ones using "relative/incremental values". (such as the "Doepfer Pocket Dial" or "Novation Remote 25" - sending relative values).


Audio Hardware













 KRK Systems






 TC Electronic


 Universal Audio









Where to find out more...

The following companies offer products and information that will be useful to anyone with an interest in Making Music with MIDI:

Yamaha Corp US | Korg USA | Cakewalk | Edirol

BitHeadz | MadWaves | PreSonus | Steinberg | E-Mu Systems

Keyboard Magazine | Electronic Musician



  • Acoustic Sciences Corporation produces acoustic treatment products, soundproofing solutions,  and designs for home theater, recording studios and hi-fi rooms.

  • ADK Microphones - Manufacturer of Class A Condenser Microphones and Pre-Amps.

  • Amek - professional mixing desks and post production equipment

  • AMS-Neve - professional audio recording and mixing equipment

  • Antex Electronics - digital audio and AV cards for PC

  • Apogee Electronics Corp. - A/D conversion and filtering tools

  • Bryston Ltd. - amplifier manufacturer

  • Buchla - the Buchla was one of the first analog synthesizers

  • Christec Media - independent distributor of recording supplies in Nashville

  • digidesign - makers of digital audio workstations (DAW) for Mac and PC

  • Digital Audio Labs - makers of the CardD family of PC recording cards

  • Digitech - signal processing equipment

  • Disc Makers - CD manufacturer for the independant music industry

  • Dolby Laboratories - professional noise reduction and signal processing equipment

  • E-MU Systems - samplers & keyboards for the music industry professional

  • Euphonix - professional audio mixing consoles

  • Fostex - digital multitrack tape machines, etc

  • Furman Sound - power conditioners, patchbays, and related audio gear

  • Harrison - professional audio mixing consoles

  • Kurzweil - sampling synthesizers and workstations

  • Media Technics - affordable automated CD and DVD duplication systems, ideal for producing smaller quantities of professional looking CDs or DVDs for distribution. The system prints directly onto each disc during the duplication process for a quality store bought look.

  • MicroSound - digital audio workstation

  • Nady Wireless - high performance, low cost professional wireless microphones

  • New Frontier Electronics - manufacturer of Surge-X Series Mode surge protectors, suppressors, power conditioners, precision audio analyzers etc

  • Peavey Electronics - of interest to performing musicians

  • Petosa Accordians - are played by professionals the world over. Made in Seattle, WA

  • Pro Acoustic USA - Producers of the finest ceiling speakers, in wall speakers, outdoor cabinet speakers audio stereo sub woofer speaker systems and sound systems for commercial and residential applications.

  • QSC - power amplifiers, etc

  • Q-Tuner - Q-tuners are high-tech neodymium powered pickups for guitar and bass. Visitors can download a 96/48 kHz audio wav demo.

  • Rane Corporation - professional audio equipment manufacturer

  • Roland USA - music sampling and synthesis equipment

  • Sabine - signal processors

  • Sonic Solutions - digital audio workstation

  • Spectral - digital audio workstations. A Euphonix company

  • Symbolic Sound - manufactures the KYMA digital audio workstation

  • Tannoy - speaker manufacturer

  • t.c. electronic - signal processing tools

  • Telecopy, Inc. - full service DVD, CD and Video duplication and replication company.

  • Turtle Beach - consumer and pro-audio sound cards and studio kits

  • Yamaha - professional and consumer music and audio products

  • Z-SYS - Z-Systems audio signal processing


MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA)

MIDI is a trademark of MIDI Manufacturers Association Incorporated.

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