Written by kurt schanaman
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MIDI connections can now be made to a computer containing a USB jack. (midi controller image by Johann Dethloff from

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) standard permits the interconnection of numerous instruments and hardware called "samplers" to a recording system. Not only does MIDI permit connection to recording equipment, but each device can be set up to act as a controller for many other MIDI devices as well. Older MIDI equipment was connected via a round plug into jacks on the back on one end and to a joystick jack on a computer on the other end. Many MIDI devices now come with USB slots on them for direct connection to a computers USB (Universal Serial Bus) jack.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • MIDI Interface with 2 or more connection ports (M-Audio, Behringer, MOTU brands)
  • 1 USB cable, male plugs on each end, for each MIDI device containing a USB jack
  • 1 USB to MIDI splitter "Y" cable per device with standard round MIDI jacks (any music instrument supply store)

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  1. 1

    Turn off all equipment and the computer to prevent any possible short circuits while making the connections.

  2. 2

    Connect a USB MIDI interface to the USB jack on the computer using a standard USB cable with male ends. Connect one end to the USB jack on the computer, then connect the other end to the "Out" USB jack on the USB MIDI interface.

  3. 3

    Connect each additional piece of equipment to one of the USB jacks on the MIDI interface, which will then route the MIDI signals of each piece of equipment through the USB cable connected to the computer.

  4. 4

    Connect devices with round MIDI jacks using a USB to MIDI "Y" cable. Such cables have two round plugs on one end that then connect to a single USB plug on the other. Older equipment has two MIDI jacks on the back: a "MIDI In" and a "MIDI Out." Match the In and Out plugs to the device, then plug in the USB end into one of the USB ports on the USB MIDI Interface.

  5. 5

    Power up the computer to which the USB MIDI interface is connected and install any software that came with the interface.

  6. 6

    Power up each of the MIDI devices, one at a time. Configure and operate the equipment as desired.

Tips and warnings

  • Use USB cables that are sold as "shielded" if possible. This will prevent signals from bleeding over into other USB cables, making for a much quieter signal going into a recording device or a computer. Such cables have a foil wrap around the internal wires to prevent signal leakage.
  • If the MIDI musical instrument and the computer or recording device both have USB jacks, and you are only connecting the one instrument to the computer or recording device, no MIDI interface is necessary. Simply connect the instrument to the other device with a standard USB cable.

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