How to setup MIDI Keyboard

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Making music is fun! Or is it? It is when you know what you are doing. But the initial learning phase? Oh Boy, is it tough! However, with the development of technology (cliche line incoming), it has become much easier to learn musical instruments. Yes, making good music does require devotion and hard work, but the path is more comfortable now.

​How? With the help of modern devices and how various software can teach you easily on these modern devices! Let’s get to the point. We are talking about MIDI keyboards now. Did you want to learn the Piano but could not? Here’s a replica for you! It’s a keyboard but only more natural to deal with, and you can also get the sound of other instruments through it. If a complete composer is what you can aim to be, better check our best midi controllers list.

​Suppose you have a MIDI keyboard already. So, you are looking for ways to use it. But, you have no idea how to set up a MIDI keyboard. Luckily enough, it is not a complex process- it is quite easy to do. You can do it yourself.

What is a MIDI keyboard?

Before we explain how to set up MIDI Keyboard, you would want to know what a MIDI Keyboard is. A MIDI keyboard is commonly a piano-style electronic musical keyboard that can send commands to MIDI-musical devices or computers. It produces a MIDI message when you press a pad or key. The message is transferred to the device and connected through a MIDI or USB cable. Some MIDI keyboards have extra programmable pads, faders, and encoders which gives you more control in the studio or stage.

You want to make music but don’t have enough musical instruments?  Don’t worry, you need only an electronic device and then record your music with a MIDI keyboard. It is a kind of keyboard that allows you to produce music with virtual instruments, a controller, and some software for recording.

How to Setup MIDI Keyboard

How does a MIDI keyboard work?

Before we get to the answers to your question, you need to know how a MIDI keyboard works. Or else, you won’t understand what to put where. So, MIDI means Musical Instrument Digital Interface. You see, MIDI puts your music on a digital interface to record and work with it.

This is the primary purpose of MIDI keyboards. They make sounds, yes, and they also let you transmit those sounds to your digital devices. As a result, you can listen to them, make changes, edit if necessary.

You can easily imagine the flow of the audio signals here. Other than that, it also lets you use software that helps you learn how to use the MIDI keyboard and play music.

How to setup MIDI Keyboard- The Hardware

Connecting the Devices.

The first thing you have to do when you are trying to set up a MIDI keyboard is to connect it to the device you are going to be transferring the signals to. Now, this may be your computer, MAC, laptop, or even IPad. Now, the connecting method is usually the same for all.

However, the first thing you have to do when you are buying a MIDI keyboard is to check its compatibility with your device. Because not all MIDI keyboards will play on all devices, so, that will be your first obstacle to deal with.

The good news for you is that we’ve already prepared an infographic that ought to solve tons of problems. So here, you go.

Are you a beginner looking to make music but not willing to spend a fortune on instruments? Go with MIDI Keyboard. They’re the kind of keyboards that allow you to create your music with virtual instruments, a controller, and some recording software.

As much as they may look similar to the piano keyboards, they’re not the same thing. In fact, for beginners, a MIDI controller is all you need to start with if you want to venture into the world of making music.

Setup MIDI Keyboard

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1 .  Use the MIDI Ports and Cables

If you just got yourself a traditional MIDI keyboard, then chances are with it, you got the standard MIDI ports and cables as well. This is a two-way connection. Audio signals first go out from the MIDI controller device to your external device. Then, they come out of the external device to the MIDI controller again.

This is usually the flow of signals between the devices. Now, you will find two MIDI ports on the MIDI controller and two on the external device. So, a total of four- with two ins and two outs.

Now, connecting the cables is super easy- you just have to press them in. However, you have to be careful where you are putting each. For example, you have to connect the Out of the MIDI cable in the Out of the MIDI device, then connect the In of the cable to the external device- because first, the signal will travel from the MIDI controller to the external device.

After you are done with that, you have to reverse the process. Now, you have to connect the Out of the external device with the In of the MIDI controller. So, the MIDI controller will get signals from the external device.

It is as neat as that!

If for some reason, the device does not seem connected, you may have made a mistake with the ports. Check again if you have connected the right cables and each at the right places. The MIDI device should be connected now.

2 . Use the USB Port 

MIDI ports and cables were the traditional methods for connecting the MIDI controller to your computer. It required too many cables and with it some confusion as well. If you have bought a MIDI controller with a USB port in it, you are a lucky one. You are safe from all the “In” and “Out” confusion.

This is pretty simple. All you have to do is connect the USB cable to the MIDI device and the external device- given that the external device has one. In fact, you will find the term ‘USB’ written on the port so there will be absolutely no confusion.

In case if you want to connect the MIDI controller to an IPad through USB, then you can buy a MIDI cable to the lightning connector type of connector if your IPad does not have a USB port.

3 . Bluetooth Connectivity 

To make things even easier for you, MIDI controllers now often come with Bluetooth connectivity as well. In this case, all you have to do is turn the MIDI controller on and then tap the button for Bluetooth if it does not turn on automatically.

After you are done turning the MIDI controller on, you can now turn the Bluetooth connectivity of the external device on and wait for it to detect the name of the MIDI controller. It will either be MIDI or have the brand name, maybe with a few numbers here and there. Click on it and connect. Of course, getting connected does not mean you are done yet. There is more you have to do to use the MIDI controller.

4. Connect via android device

The idea of having the option to interface a keyboard to your telephone and make it emulate the sound of a real piano would have seemed like a sci-fi thing several years ago. Yet, innovation has progressed quite far lately that it is now totally conceivable. Only you have to follow some guide –

First, you have to buy a cable depending on your phone’s port type. Not all android phones got the same port type. Some got type-c and some have the older Mini-USB type connection.

Find out what kind of connection you have on your MIDI. Most MIDI keyboards that you are probably going to own will have a USB port, intended to be connected to the USB port on your PC or laptop. Quite possibly there is a chance that you have an older model MIDI keyboard that has a traditional 5-pin MIDI association.

Get yourself an adapter cable. As no phones have a standard USB slot built-in, you need to arrange an adapter to convert USB to whichever association your Android gadget has. For my situation here I would say I need a USB to USB C OTG converter which I can order from Amazon. If your MIDI is an older model then you will also require a MIDI 5 pin to USB-A adaptor.

Plugin the USB or MIDI 5 Pin cable. If you have a modern MIDI keyboard with a USB port, it ought to have accompanied a USB 2.0 link which has a standard USB connector toward one side and a USB-A at the other side. Interface the USB to the adapter. The MIDI keyboard USB cable comes into the converter cable which at that point interfaces with the phone.

Then you have to download an app to use. One of the popular android apps is called Perfect Piano. It’s free to use, comes with loads of built-in sounds and you can download. Open the app try some notes yourself by connecting your phone to headphones or speakers to get better sound.

The Software

You have come this far, and now your external device- the computer, MAC, or the IPad knows that there is a MIDI controller somewhere, and it is connected to it. But it won’t know what to do with it, and neither do you. So, here’s what you have to do.

Install the Driver Software

Most probably the external device has never been connected to a MIDI controller before. Thus, you have to set the device up in the computer, Ipad or MAC as well. Luckily, the MIDi controller will come with its MIDI driver software since you paid for it.

Now, you have to install the driver software, and it is usually as easy as clicking on next and agreeing to the terms and conditions. You may have to put in your name or open up an account, but that is about it. Then, all you have to do is wait until the driver software is installed.

In case the driver installation is not so simple, you have to check the manual of the MIDI controller. It will usually have a detailed description of how you can connect the software to the MIDI controller. Furthermore, some MIDI controllers may come with a CD as well. You can check out YouTube videos for particular brands as well. This way, you can also get acquainted with the problems you may face.

Using Software Packages 

As you already know, some MIDI controllers come in a package, and they offer software or app packages too. In these cases, you can use the app or software for free up to a certain time.

In the case of a package you usually have to use the code, the MIDI controller comes with. In the case of an app, you just have to download the app first and then put in the information about the app that the MIDI controller provided you with.

Then, you can enjoy the benefits that come with the MIDI controller.

Time to Check The connection

That is pretty much all you have to do to connect the MIDI controller. The next thing you should do is get started with using the MIDI controller. Now you can check the connection.

For example, the external device may not receive specific signals from the MIDI controller. In this case, there may be something wrong with the cable. You may have placed the wires wrong, or the cables themselves may be at fault. If the hardware is defective, then there is nothing you can do, but only a technician can.

To get the fastest response, just contact the customer service of the brand you bought from and ask what may be wrong. If they are a reliable brand, then they ought to know what to do and help you.

It may happen that the external device can detect your MIDI controller but cannot install the driver software. Or, the driver software does not work even after you install it. In these cases, if you are not a computer expert, you will have to browse the internet or the manual to see if you have done anything wrong.

One universal blessing of the internet is that you will find many people having the same problems. So, you look up the issue mentioning the model number of your MIDI controller, and you will probably get the solution. If you cannot find the solution,  contact customer service.

Why get a MIDI Controller?

It’s a simple but good question, even though the benefits of a MIDI controller may vary from person to person. Firstly, the MIDI controller helps you record your music. You may just be learning, but by having the ability to listen to what you make, you get more opportunities to improve as well.

If you are not learning, you can record the music you make and use it for many purposes. Furthermore, since the controller transmits the music to a device, you can save it to work on it later. Thus, it allows editing your music easier!

As mentioned earlier, the MIDI controller does make the learning process much more comfortable. The question again is, how. And the answer is: with the various software or applications. Still, some of these applications are very interactive. Therefore, you can track your progress well while learning quite intensely and in an effective way.

Finally, a MIDI controller does not only let you play the Piano. You can tweak the tones with various control switches like modulation and more. Furthermore, you can also add drum beats to it! Even if you have never played the drum, you can quickly put something together on your MIDI controller and learn to do better with time!

On top of all that, a MIDI controller costs way less than a piano. So, you get to work on your hobby without breaking the bank.

How do you choose a MIDI controller?

Before setting up a MIDI controller, you need to have a MIDI controller. If you buy the wrong one then there are chances, you will never manage to set it up, and even if you do, you won’t be satisfied with what you get. That is why you must be careful when choosing a MIDI controller. Here are some factors you can consider when choosing one.

Where you will use the MIDI controller: You have to consider this to decide if you want a small, portable MIDI controller or a big one. A big one will offer you more keys and features. However, a small one will let you perform live. You can even connect the MIDI keyboards to sound boxes to get the maximum sound. So, first, decide where you will be setting the MIDI controller up.

The Type you want: There are MIDI controllers that sound more like Pianos, there are those that have a sprig effect in the end, and there are those that just seem more electronic. It is entirely up to you to decide which kind of sound you want. Based on that, you can choose from the hammer-weighed, synth, and other types of controllers available.

The amount of control you want: A controller will give you some amount of control over your music. But how much do you want? Do you want to control the modulation level? The volume? The DAW interface? Do you want drum pads to include beats in the music you make?

Based on what features you want and the overall control you want- you can select among various MIDI controllers.

The device compatibility: You may find out that the MIDI controller you bought is not compatible with the device you originally planned to use with it. What a bummer! This is why you have to be aware beforehand of this factor. Check what devices and apps the MIDI controller can work with. If it does not work with a device or app that you plan to use with it, then it is best to make a pass.

Furthermore, check the connecting method for it. Will you have to buy something extra to connect it? Or, the supplied cables and ports will be enough to do the job? These are specific factors to consider.

Final Word

As you can guess, sometimes it is super easy to set a MIDI controller up; other times, it’s just not. It is best if you consult the manual of the specific MIDI controller in question. If you still face some kind of problem- then there definitely is a problem in either the setup or the cables and the device.

The first thing to do would be to check how you connected the device. If you still cannot find a problem out, then there may be a problem with the parts. You may try finding the source of the problem.

If you have trouble with software installation, you can consult a friend who knows what to do or can contact customer service directly.

If you set the MIDI controller up every time you use it, then you may want a MIDI controller that is fast and easy to set up. The software will cause no trouble once it is installed. However, the cables and ports may get a bit loose.

Therefore, in this case, you can consider replacement parts. You will have to check how easily available the ports and cables are in fact; one becomes inefficient.

After everything comes to life, you can focus on bringing others to lie or yourself with the music you make!

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