They’re true veterans of the modern studio, but why would you need a MIDI interface?
The MIDI interface has been a standard feature of studios practically since MIDI itself appeared. When it was recognised that computers could be used to control digital musical equipment, then the interface was developed as a means to let the two parties communicate.
However, in this age of software studios and super-powered computers, you might wonder, why would you need a MIDI interface?
Here are some very good reasons…
You want to connect your keyboard or module to your computer
This is the most common use for a MIDI interface. You might have a keyboard or piano that you want to connect to your computer to compose using DAW software, but it doesn’t have a USB socket.
Alternatively, you might have a sound module whose sounds you’d like to employ in a current composition. A USB MIDI interface means that you can send MIDI note information (and other control data) to and from the computer.
You can input a performance from a keyboard into your software, or send a musical part from software out to external keyboard or module.
Just remember- out of the MIDI ‘out’ on a keyboard into the MIDI ‘in’ on the interface to input MIDI data to the software, and out of the MIDI ‘out on the interface, into the MIDI ‘in’ on the keyboard on the module to send MIDI data top an external device 😉
Synchronising external gear to a computer
If you’re not recording, then MIDI can still be very useful for synchronising effects. For example, if you perform using sequenced sections, or previously recorded tracks (say, a string section recorded in a studio), but also used tempo sensitive effects on a guitar part (delays, for example), you can often set guitar multi effects unit to MIDI clock synchronise to MIDI clock.
This will keep everything perfectly in time.
Connecting gear to your iPad or iPhone
So, you’ve got a selection of MIDI equipped gear already, and you’ve just bought an iPad. You’d like to be able to hook your iPad and use synth apps within your rig, but don’t want to buy another controller keyboard to do it.
If you get a MIDI interface for your iPad, you can use any MIDI equipped keyboard you like. Easy.
Backing up equipment settings
One of the less common uses for MIDI technology is to back up sounds and equipment settings.
Most synths and other bits of MIDI gear have the ability to back up data via a Sysex (System Exclusive) bulk dump. This sends device settings out via the MIDI output on the piece of equipment in question, meaning that a connected device can ‘record’ the data. It can be transmitted back to the device later, restoring settings.
One of the really useful, but again, less common, uses of iPads and iPhones is as a MIDI backup device.
Using an iOS compatible MIDI interface (like the Roland UM-One MK2 USB MIDI when paired with an adapter) with an app like Line 6’s MIDI Memo allows the user to back up settings to compatible Apple iOS devices.
So, for example, you can have a backup of all of your synth sounds for a gig stored on your iPhone. If you gear crashes, you use your phone to restore all of your settings.
You need to connect more MIDI gear
You might already have an audio interface with MIDI connections on it, which is great. But, if you expand your studio, you may find yourself in need of more MIDI connections than it can provide.
Alternatively, you might have run out of MIDI channels (each port will give you sixteen).
In this case, you can buy an additional USB MIDI interface and solve the problem.
There are many more reasons for using a MIDI interface, but these are some of the most common and useful.
You can find a full range of MIDI interfaces in our online store, here.