How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface: Ways & Steps

How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface: Ways & Steps

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to connect a midi keyboard to an audio interface and give you a step-by-step guide to connecting your keyboard. There are a number of benefits to doing this, as it can reduce latency on any recording or performance, or allow you to keep your usb slots free for other things.

There are so many options in the world of music and music technology, and usually there is more than one way to do something. this is the same for midi keyboards. In most cases, you can simply plug your midi keyboard directly into your computer, but this isn’t always the smartest choice. Although many midi keyboards (admittedly the newer ones) come midi-usb capable, so you can only use a usb cable, you may not want to connect this way, and having another method may allow you to use their inputs for other audio sources. .

Reading: How to connect midi to interface

what is midi?

How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface: Easy Ways

midi is an acronym. stands for musical instrument digital interface trusted source midi – wikipedia midi (/ˈmɪdi/; an acronym for musical instrument digital interface) is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol , digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices to play, edit, and record music. this technology was first developed in the early 1980s as a way to allow different musical equipment to “communicate” and connect in new and exciting ways. for example, you may have had a keyboard and wanted to send the signal to a synth module. midi enabled this connection between two pieces of kit that weren’t even made by the same brand. this led to the midi cable being one of the most important pieces of equipment in a musician’s studio.

midi data can also be saved into a file. you can then load this to trigger sounds within your software.

midi’s potential was clear from day one and it is now used on a large number of computers, including many keyboards.

what are the outputs on a midi keyboard?

The layout of each midi keyboard and midi controller will probably be slightly different, but it is industry standard that the outputs are placed on the back of the keyboard or controller. these must be labeled. you’ll usually see there:

  • usb output. In the modern age of music technology and MIDI keyboards, a USB output is often all that is needed to connect your MIDI keyboard to a computer. as we said, this is not the method that everyone uses and it may not be the best way to get your midi signal on a computer. that’s why we’re also exploring how to connect midi keyboards to audio interfaces.
  • midi input. It is usually located next to the midi output. it’s a midi input for you to connect to other devices, and may or may not be in place on the back of your keyboard. It’s important to keep this in mind because midi is a one-way signal. if you accidentally connect your interface to midi in instead of midi out, then you won’t get a signal.
  • midi out. this is what you will probably focus on when connecting to an audio interface. the midi output is where the midi signal is sent from and is designed to be connected to other parts of the audio “chain”.
  • audio outputs. if you have a keyboard that outputs audio as well as midi then it may also have audio outputs. these do not carry midi signals, but are designed for you to send your audio signal directly to the speakers.
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When you buy a midi keyboard, it may come with a signal diagram. this allows you to see where the audio will be sent and where the relevant inputs and outputs are. On almost every midi keyboard made in the modern era, there are connections for both midi and usb, so you need to decide which one is right for you.

why use an audio interface?

How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface: Easy Ways

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Having established the fact that most midi gear can be plugged directly into a computer, what’s the point of an audio interface? Why go to the effort of connecting your keyboard through a USB or Thunderbolt interface? there are a couple of main reasons:

  1. saves on the use of usb or thunderbolt ports. your audio interface can act as a central hub, and you can connect a midi device to it, as well as audio devices and microphones, before sending the signal from here to your trusted source daw what are digital audio workstations ( daw)? The music industry has come a long way since you needed to record a song in one take, all in one place. today, brass may be in new orleans, vocals in nashville, and percussion in pretoria. then an audio engineer brings it all together thanks to today’s amazing equipment, software and technology. .
  2. is generally faster. Plugging into a USB input can cause additional latency, meaning the signal is delayed and out of sync with the rest of the music you’re creating. this can lead to all sorts of logistical problems and recording issues for musicians.
  3. if you have older equipment, it may not have usb capabilities built in. you can use a simple midi interface to effectively take the midi signal and convert it to something a computer can read via usb.

An audio interface is also a way of combining the audio signals from two sources. For example, if you want to sing and play the piano at the same time, you can pass the audio signal through one of the inputs and the midi signal through another. these can power a daw at the same time and you can record multiple sources. if you were to connect a usb microphone and a usb keyboard to the same computer, you’d most likely run into problems with inputs and with delay and latency.

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connect a midi keyboard to an audio interface

so how do you connect the midi cable from the keyboard to the audio interface? There are multiple methods of connecting your midi keyboard and a few different setups that are commonly used by musicians and studio engineers. we’ve explained each of these ways below.

via midi cable

The first method of connecting a midi keyboard to an audio interface is via a midi cable. midi cables were first introduced in the 1980s with the advent of this technology, so you can still use some fairly old keyboards and even synthesizers to send midi signals. a midi cable to a usb interface is one of the best ways to connect this old gear and might be your only option.

The steps are simple.

  1. connect your interface to your computer and make sure it is recognized. driver may be required. a modern interface will typically use usb.
  2. set this to your daw’s midi input. don’t confuse this with audio inputs, they are different things.
  3. connect your keyboard’s midi output to your audio interface’s midi input.
  4. load a capable instrument to use this midi signal.

this is not necessarily the most popular way to connect midi keyboards in the modern age, there are a few different options.

via midi hub

How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface: Easy Ways

a midi hub is a slightly different method. a midi hub is another word for a midi interface that doesn’t necessarily have “audio” capabilities. it can focus solely on sending midi signals or allow you to plug multiple midi devices into a central hub and then use the signal. Most cheap audio interfaces have an option to input midi, but there may only be one input. A midi hub can have numerous inputs, allowing you to choose which midi signal you want to use for any given project.

to connect through a midi hub:

  • connect your midi hub to your computer and make sure it’s recognized.
  • set it to your daw’s midi input. since there are normally no audio signals on a midi hub, changing the audio input will do nothing.
  • connect your keyboard’s midi output to the midi inputs on your midi hub. these will act as different channels and take signals from multiple places.
  • load an instrument into your daw and use this midi signal.

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when is a midi hub a good idea? Well, you might have a home studio with a lot of different midi-capable equipment. Due to the fact that midi is something of an industry standard (and has been since the 1980s), you may have keyboards, drum pads, and more. you can easily switch between them without having to unplug your computer and reconnect another computer.

via usb cable and daw

This is by far the easiest way to take the midi signal and pass it to a computer, so if you’re trying to use software solutions instead of sending signals to lots of different midi hardware, the usb method is the best.

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if you’re shopping for a midi keyboard that can do this, be on the lookout for models that support usb-midi. this will be stated in the product description, and what it means is that the midi signal can be carried over a usb cable. you can use a usb a to b cable to carry the signal.

Other equipment is also worth investigating. for example, many mac users don’t use usb, but instead use the faster thunderbolt connection to carry the signal.

either method involves the use of a daw or “digital audio workstation”. you can use something simple like garageband, which comes free with apple devices.

to connect via usb cable and daw:

  • Connect your keyboard to your computer and make sure it is recognized. a driver may be installed automatically or you may need to download one from the manufacturer’s website.
  • set the midi keyboard to your daw’s midi input.
  • load an instrument into your daw daw and use this midi signal to play the instrument.

As you can see, this method is one of the simplest out there. the midi signal is sent directly to your daw. If you’re looking for a portable setup, you don’t need to carry around an interface to connect your midi keyboard. That said, it also has its downsides. trust that the product has an excellent driver and can communicate with minimal latency.

does midi generate sound?

this is one of the questions people often have if they are new to audio interfaces, midi keyboards and music production. midi and audio are separate signals. Some midi keyboards can also produce audio, but most don’t have a sound module that generates a sound. instead, you trust your daw and the trusted source for virtual instruments. what are vst plugins and what do they do? vst plugins are capable of emulating instrument and effects hardware for a fraction of the price from inside your favorite digital audio workstation. to make the sound.

midi only carries data. your keyboard (or other equipment) may have the ability to convert this data into hard audio, or you may have to send it to a computer or other sound module.

final thoughts

In the world of music, there are always several ways to achieve the same end result. When you have a keyboard with MIDI support, you have the option of connecting it through an audio interface, or you can even connect it directly to the computer. Our guide on how to connect a midi keyboard to an audio interface shows that there are a few different methods, and which one to use depends on the rest of your setup and what you want to achieve as an end result. . Fortunately, connecting your midi keyboard is usually a simple and straightforward task, and means you can play virtual instruments and control more aspects of your virtual instrument.

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