music composer
music composer music composition techniques cubase tutorials music essays reviews contact

Keyboards
choosing a good keyboard a checklist of things to look out for
touch sensitive keyboards the different types of sensitivity available
keyboard weighted keys the four different weighting options for keyboards

yamaha p95 review 88 note digital piano
casio px-330 review light weight keyboard
m-audio keystation pro-88 budget mother keyboard

Sustain Pedals
sustain pedal polarity why pedals are often not compatible with keyboards
yamaha fc4 sustain pedal a well-built yamaha pedal
yamaha fc5 review budget pedal from yamaha
m-audio sp2 review a sturdy m-audio pedal

USB Microphones
best usb microphones things to look out for when buying a usb mic
snowball-blue microphones retro looking classic mic logitech usb mic popular desktop mic samson co1u mic review studio condenser

MIDI Equipment
what is MIDI? with a list of popular control numbers
usb to midi cables for recording your ideas into your computer etc. yamaha UX16 USB/MIDI a midi/USB cable adaptor guitar midi interfaces for transforming your guitar into any midi instrument!

Sound cards
usb sound cards a list of things to look our for when buying one.

sounds cards for the Mac

covering the different types of cards & uses.

maya 44 sound card a short review of this popular sound card.

 


MIDI to USB Cables

 

Many commentators suggest that MIDI technology may become obsolete within the next ten years. USB cables offer a much more advanced way of transmitting data over a cable - both in terms of speed and in terms of bandwidth. In recent years, the USB port has become common place on keyboards and external music outboards. Indeed, some more basic models only offer USB out (and in) - completely replacing the MIDI in/out device.

However, as most older keyboards (and electronic musical instruments) often only have the MIDI in/out as a way of transmission, and virtually all laptops and PC's do not have MIDI inputs, then if you want to record or playback a work on keyboard via your computer, you're going to need some way of doing this.

 
MIDIRoland MPU 401 Box
Photo: John R. Southern (Toronto, Canada)

 

 

 

 

The problems associated with using a soundcard as a solution

Traditionally, transmitting MIDI into the computer has been achieved through buying and inserting a sound card into your PC, which has a MIDI in/out port (usually via an adaptor which plugs into your MIDI cable/s). However, there are obvious drawbacks to such a solution:-

It's time consuming to set up - it involves opening up your PC, inserting the card into a spare PCI slot (if you have one) and then installing separately supplied software.

It's usually not possible to do this with a laptop, and a laptop is increasingly the prefered device for most home computer requirements.

 

 

USB to MIDI Cable - the perfect solution

The USB to MIDI cable is a great way of solving this problem, and generally needn't cost the earth. In fact, it's usually cheaper to do it this way than by buying a specialist sound card.

A MIDI to USB cable does not require any "powering" as the cable is already powered via the laptop (or PC).

It's quick and easy to connect - simply plug the USB cable into your computer, and the MIDI cable (which will have to connections - an "IN" and an "OUT") into your devices in and out.

A MIDI to USB cable then becomes a great way of capturing your musical recordings and playing them back at a later stage. Applications could include:

a. recording piano works which you are in the process of practising. You can then play them back via your computer (with appropriately installed software such as Cubase or Logic) and assess your performance. Such software also makes it possible to catalogue and compare these renditions.

b. build up sophisticated multi-track recordings. Music software enables you to record several tracks, and layer these one on top of another (for example, a bass sound, then a piano sound, and perhaps a string accompaniment). The USB to MIDI cable will make it possible to transmit all these ideas to your computer.

 

 

Where to buy?

 

USB to MIDI cables can be obtained from specialist music retail stores or online with stores like Amazon. You will generally find that it's cheaper to buy online. However, if you think you may need some technical assistance, sometimes buying from a specialist store can be useful if you have one near at hand.

Which one to buy?

Here are three popular models worth considering:-

The Alesis Audiolink (link to manufacturers website)

The Yamaha UX16 (review)

M-Audio Uno (link to M-Audio site)

 

 

 

 

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