MIDI Keyboards & Controllers

MIDI Keyboards and Controllers

The idea behind MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, was to give instruments a consistent interface to work with computers and other electronic devices. Nowadays, while you most commonly find it on keyboards, MIDI is everywhere you find music. It's come a very long way from the original eight-page version you could find in 1983.

Output Matters

While the protocol supports a wide range of digital outputs, there are only two that matter to most people. DIN-out MIDI controllers use the standard five-pin DIN interface that's been around as long as the protocol. It's almost everywhere in the industry and you can always find audio equipment to support it. More recent releases have often been in the form of USB-out MIDI keyboards and controllers. While it may not be as common on musical instruments, the USB interface is otherwise ubiquitous to the point you can find it anywhere from cars to mobile phones. Most importantly, you can find it on computers, which makes editing and composing a snap.

Keyboard First

Just as you don't want to use a computer without the proper keyboard, you also don't want to work with MIDI without a proper keyboard. Not only does a keyboard help get you in the right frame of mind for music, it also provides a music-specific input that's hard to replicate with other devices. With velocity sensitive keys, most let you control note volume by how hard you press the key.

Keyboard Alternatives

Once you are comfortable with your keyboard, there are plenty of alternative controllers to look at. Where keyboards help you create music, controllers help you have fun with it. Many are great for performance, too. You can set up controller pads to automatically bring in pre-programmed beats whenever you want. It's perfect for DJs.

Have Fun

Remember, there is always a learning curve with everything you do. Nobody is an expert the moment they first sit down at a keyboard. However, with MIDI keyboards you can not only learn to create music, but you can also master it one note at a time.