Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Midi Tutorial Part 2: Setting up a midi keyboard with your computer

Note: The following article is a general outline to introduce readers to the general concepts and methods behind setting up midi. The specific details of how to setup a midi keyboard with your computer will vary depending upon the hardware and software that you use.

Setting up a midi keyboard for your computer
1. Most keyboards these days operate using USB. If you have a USB keyboard then continue to step 4. However, if you do not have a USB keyboard then you will need to get a midi/USB interface. I recommend the M-Audio 2x2 USB interface. It runs for about $60 and can handle up to 32 channels of data on its 2 midi ports.

2. Install the midi port much as you would with any USB device. Plug it in with your computer, and the hardware wizard will pop up instructing you what to do next. If you are running Windows then you will need to install the drivers supplied by M-audio.

3. Next plug in your keyboard to your midi interface using a standard midi cable. The setup should go midi out from your keyboard to midi in on the interface.

4. If your using a USB keyboard plug in your keyboard to the USB port and install a USB device with the hardware wizard that pops up. If you have the keyboard connected through a midi interface then you need to install the midi drivers manually for your keyboard. The specific keyboard will have instructions on how to do this.

5. Next open your sequencer and go to the midi setup screen. There find the midi in option and from the pull down menu you should find your new USB keyboard. If you use a midi interface instead of the keyboard select the midi in port that your keyboard is connected to on the interface.

6. Viola!!! Your midi keyboard is now setup and now when you load up a synthesizer in your DAW it should play.

Tips on using the keyboard.
Initially your keyboard will be set as default to midi channel 1. This is also the default setting for when you load up a midi synthesizer. There is a problem with this if you are not careful. If you have six synthesizers loaded with them all set to midi channel 1 and your keyboard to channel 1, then when you play your keyboard all of the synthesizers will play together. The same problem also applies if you try to record live from your keyboard. All of the tracks will be recorded into the piano roll/pattern editor for all of your synthesizers. To solve this you have to change the midi channel for each synthesizer. The midi channel for each synthesizer is found in the same window as the synthesizer gui, and varies slightly for different software sequencers. Remember you only have 16 midi channels to choose from, so if you use more then 16 synthesizers or use synthesizers which are multi-timbral you might run out of midi channels to record. In this case you will have to double up on some synthesizers and turn off midi for synthesizers you don'’t want to record on. This midi channel information also applies to any knobs or sliders that you have assigned tosynthesizerss in your DAW so be aware of that.

Alternatively, if you used a midiUSBb interface you can add additional keyboards to add more channels. As I stated before the M-Audio 2x2 has 32 channelsavailablee on two midi in ports.


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