Your complete quick guide to connecting your keyboard to: PC or Mac; Laptop or Desktop; Tablet or Smartphone.
If you are just starting out with your home recording studio set-up, the first thing you may wish to do is find out how to connect a MIDI keyboard or digital piano up to your computer, tablet or phone. This will enable you to use any interactive MIDI software and apps: quickly record virtual instrument tracks; write your own songs and music; learn to play and more.
Why Connect Your Keyboard?
MIDI Connection – Step By Step
Do You Have Traditional MIDI Ports?
Most traditional keyboards and Digital Pianos have MIDI in and out as standard. Look for ports like the one in the image below. It is possible your keyboard is only a controller, and may only have MIDI out. That’s OK. The principal of MIDI connection is still the same.
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Connect Keyboard/Piano with MIDI Ports to any Mac or PC – Option 1: USB-MIDI interface
So if you have a keyboard with MIDI ports, then the simplest and cheapest solution is a USB-MIDI interface. The following are all highly recommended USB-MIDI interfaces which will do the job easily and cost-effectively.
Roland UM-ONE MK2 USB MIDI Interface High-performance FPT processing, very compact, affordable, and easy to use. Compatible with PC, Mac and iPad.
iConnectivity mio 1-in 1-out USB to MIDI Interface Plug and play – no drivers or difficult installation needed, ultra low latency MIDI Input and Output
Creative EMU XMIDI 1X1 USB MIDI Interface Active-Sensing messages filtered, MME, DirectMusic and CoreMIDI supported
M-Audio USB Midisport Uno MIDI Interface Perfect for connecting a keyboard or controller to your computer with upward mobility – add as many USB Midisport interfaces to your computer as you have USB ports
We advise that you always stick with a well-known brand which is why we recommend any of the above. They all have good manufacturer support, up-to-date drivers and good guarantees in the event of any problems. If you want even more choice, then you can follow this link to find the current top 10 most popular MIDI interfaces.
Connect Keyboard/Piano with MIDI Ports to any Mac or PC – Option 2: Audio Interface + MIDI Leads
The versatile Presonus iTwo Multi-Platform USB Interface with MIDI input and output
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface with MIDI input and output
Standard MIDI leads to connect from keyboard to audio interface
Connect a Keyboard with traditional MIDI ports to an iPad: 4 Options
USB MIDI interface or Audio Interface + powered iPad adapter
If you want to connect your keyboard to your iPad, and it has the MIDI ports as shown above, then you have 4 different ways to do it. Options 1 and 2 are identical to the solution for PC and Mac. You buy either a USB-MIDI interface OR a USB Audio Interface with MIDI input and output (so any of the products shown above) and use a lightning to USB adapter (as shown to the left). It is very important you buy one that allows you to charge at the same time … or you will not have sufficient power!
USB MIDI interface or Audio Interface + powered iPad adapter and standard MIDI leads
Option 3: Audio Interface for iPad with MIDI
For example: the IK-Multimedia iRig Pro Duo audio interface for iPad with MIDI
Option 4: MIDI Interface for iPad
For example: the iConnect MIDI 1 Lightning Version USB-MIDI Interface
Does Your Keyboard have a USB Port?
Got an iPad? Then you should be able to connect with a standard USB cable and a lightning to USB adapter (as mentioned above).
OR, to connect to iPad you could buy the Voker Midi Cable to Lightning Connector. This is an interface especially designed to connect from the USB output of a digital piano to ipad, via lightning.
Bluetooth MIDI | A Brilliant iPad Solution
Some manufacturers are now including Bluetooth audio/MIDI support for connecting your keyboard with your smartphone or tablet. For example, the Roland Go:Piano and Roland Go:Keys both have bluetooth – use them with any compatible apps on your iPad or smartphone.
No MIDI Keyboard Yet?
Want To Record MIDI and Audio?
There are lots of recommendations in there for kit that will let you do BOTH. And put your keyboard right at the heart of your home recording studio. Or … see the Focusrite 2i4 and the Audiobox iTwo USB Audio/MIDI interfaces mentioned above.
Why do MIDI IN jacks connect to MIDI OUT jacks? Surely it makes more sense to connect a MIDI IN jack to a MIDI IN jack. After all, they’re both labeled IN. Same goes for MIDI OUT to MIDI OUT”
The accepted way actually makes a lot of sense. Think about it. You want MIDI data to go out of your controller and in to your sound module. After all, you wouldn’t connect the audio out jack of your sound module to the outputs of your mixer, would you? No, you connect the audio output to an audio (mixer) input. And then you connect the mixer outputs to the inputs of your amplifier. And then you connect the amp’s speaker outputs to the speaker inputs. Same thing with MIDI. Think of MIDI data as “flowing” in the same way that audio signals “flow” through your audio system.