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How to Connect MIDI Keyboard to Audio Interface

This article will explain how to connect a midi keyboard to an audio interface and will walk you through the process step-by-step. This has a number of advantages, including the ability to keep your USB slots open for other purposes and the reduction of latency in any recording or performance.

In the realm of music and music technology, there are a ton of alternatives, and most things may be done in more than one manner. The same applies to MIDI keyboards. Most of the time, it would be best to just plug your MIDI keyboard directly into your computer, but this is not always the best option. Although many MIDI keyboards—certainly the more recent ones—have MIDI-USB functionality, which allows you to connect with simply a USB cable, you may not wish to do so. Having a different approach can allow you to use your inputs for other audio sources.

What is MIDI?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Initially created in the early 1980s, this technology enables various musical instruments to “speak” and link in novel and fascinating ways. As an illustration, suppose you wished to communicate a keyboard signal to a synthesizer module. This link between two pieces of equipment—manufactured by different brands—was made possible using MIDI. As a result, the MIDI cable has become one of the most essential items in a musician’s studio.

In essence, MIDI is just a signal that transmits data and event messages. It functions as a kind of instruction for hardware and software, giving it information about notation, pitch, and velocity that it can then duplicate. The most popular applications for these in the modern era include MIDI in software, drum machines, and drum pads. You can use a MIDI keyboard to perform synthesizers and virtual instruments on your computer.
A file may also include MIDI data. This can then be loaded into your software to trigger sounds. Since its inception, MIDI has demonstrated great potential, and it is now found in a wide variety of devices, including many keyboards.

What is a MIDI keyboard?

A device that can send orders to a MIDI-equipped device is a MIDI keyboard. A MIDI message is generated each time a key or pad is pressed. Using a USB or MIDI cable, the message is transmitted to the connected device. With the additional programmable pads, encoders, and faders found on some MIDI keyboards, you have more functionality in the studio and on stage. In the end, they all succeed in their primary objectives of writing and performing.

Connecting a MIDI keyboard to an audio interface

Consequently, how can you link a MIDI connection from a keyboard to an audio interface? There are several ways to connect your MIDI keyboard, and studio engineers and artists frequently employ a few distinct configurations. Each of these approaches has been described below.

MIDI cable

A MIDI cable is the first way to connect a MIDI keyboard to an audio interface. Since MIDI cables were initially made available in the 1980s, you may still send MIDI signals using some rather vintage keyboards and even synths. One of the best—and possibly the only—ways to connect this vintage equipment is via a MIDI cord into a USB interface. The steps are:

Make sure your interface is recognized by connecting it to your computer. There might need to be a driver. Typically, a modern interface will employ USB.

Set it to the MIDI input of your DAW. This is not the same as audio inputs; they must not be confused.

Connect your audio interface’s MIDI input to the MIDI output of your keyboard.

Install a device that can use this MIDI signal.

MIDI hub

A slightly alternative approach is to use a MIDI hub. A MIDI interface that doesn’t necessary have “audio” capabilities is known as a MIDI hub. It might only be concerned with sending MIDI signals, or it might let you connect several MIDI devices to a single central hub and use the signal from there. The majority of low-cost audio interfaces include the ability to input MIDI, albeit there might just be one input. Numerous inputs on a MIDI hub provide you the option of selecting the MIDI signal you want to use for any given project.

To link up using a MIDI hub:

Make sure your computer can detect your MIDI hub by connecting it.
Set it to the MIDI input of your DAW. Changing the audio input won’t do anything because a MIDI hub often doesn’t have any audio signals.
Connect your keyboard’s MIDI output to the MIDI hub’s MIDI inputs. These will function as various channels and receive signals from various sources.
Use this MIDI signal to trigger an instrument in your DAW.
When is it wise to use a MIDI hub? You might have a home studio with a variety of MIDI-capable tools, though. You might have keyboards, drum pads, and other instruments because MIDI has been a sort of industry standard (and has been since the 1980s). Without having to unplug some equipment and plug in other equipment again, you may quickly swap between them.

USB cable and DAW

The USB technique is the ideal if you want to use software solutions rather than sending signal to a variety of different MIDI hardware because it is without a doubt the simplest way to accept MIDI signal and get it into a computer.

There’s a good chance that connecting a new MIDI keyboard to your digital audio workstation will be among the most straightforward jobs you’ve ever done. To connect the keyboard to the laptop or computer, all you need is a USB cable.
Look for MIDI keyboards that are USB-MIDI compatible when purchasing one that can perform this. It will be noted in the product description that a USB cable can be used to transmit the MIDI signal. A USB A to B cable can be used to transmit the signal.