USB MIDI devices - when MIDI is not MIDI...

Technical information about MIDI - and some dubious practices to be aware of
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USB MIDI devices - when MIDI is not MIDI...

Post by superphool » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:36 pm

"USB MIDI" is a relatively recent introduction and is often very confusing to people buying what they think are MIDI compatible devices.

The confusion exists as there are various MIDI standards for both the physical interface and the software & data formats.

A USB MIDI device can conform to one of the standards, without having the physical MIDI connection to connect to any other MIDI device.

When connected to a computer, it appears as a MIDI input and/or output device to any MIDI compatible programs, working the same as if a hardware MIDI device was connected to the computer through a USB - MIDI interface.

For things that will only ever be connected to a computer that is fine, as long as people understand the limitation when they are buying the equipment.

The problem appears when you want to connect that USB-only device to directly to another instrument or piece of equipment, in the way MIDI was originally intended.
If one or both only have USB ports for MIDI - you cannot connect them together using MIDI.

USB MIDI only works with computer-based devices like PCs (and often smartphones & tablets, usually by using an externally powered USB hub).

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