100 Newbie Hurdles – Part 5 – MIDI Ports Explained

Previously I wrote an article that explained MIDI and VST. But there is more to MIDI than that. There are a lot of good things you can do with the MIDI ports, both in the studio and on stage. I’ll try to cover a little about what these ports can do from my personal experience.

MIDI data is transferred from keyboard to other MIDI devices and vice versa through MIDI cables. You would need one or two of these cables depending on the kind of configuration that you would be using. Usually one is enough for most common tasks.

A Midi Cable

A Midi Cable


Keyboard Rear Panel

Keyboard Rear Panel

Shown in the image is the rear panel of my Keyboard. This I took from my keyboard manual. On the left are the two MIDI ports on my keyboard and this can be connected to either your Audio Interface, Sound Module or any MIDI operable machine which would have the same two ports or just the IN port alone. Please note that the OUT of one device is connected to the IN of the other device and vice versa.

A sound module is a device that contains all the sounds that you would commonly find in a keyboard in a small box which can be used with a MIDI enabled keyboard. So your keyboard does not need to have a lot of sounds. Just needs to have MIDI and you can add many sound modules as Racks for performance or in the studio. It’s a box of all the cool sounds in a keyboard but with out the keys. Cool right?.

The basic configuration is connecting the OUT of the keyboard to the IN port of a Sound Module or Audio Interface. What happens here is that the MIDI data from your keyboard is now fed to the Sound Module and based on these notes, audio in the form of wave is sent from the sound module to the speaker or line connected to it.

In the case of an Audio Interface which is further connected to your DAW, this MIDI data is routed to your DAW, where it uses the VST in the DAW to convert MIDI data to audio or the MIDI data can be saved as it is. Yes of course, your DAW doesn’t work like a sound module, it saves the MIDI data and produces audio dynamically at the moment ‘when the track is played’, which can be done again and again.

So this seems like you can do everything with this one way connection from the OUT of the Keyboard to the IN of the Audio Interface. What is the use of the connecting it the other way round, i.e from the OUT of the Audio Interface to the IN of your Keyboard? This is where it gets interesting. This will be covered in detail in the next part because it is one super cool thing to do and I think it deserves a post on its own.

Thanks for reading.

If you have doubts, comment (preferred because others can make use of it too) or mail me at johananj@yahoo.com.

Make some music yo’all.


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