Sometimes it can be really hard to be sure if your MIDI keyboard controller or other your USB-MIDI interface is working correctly, particularly if you are using it with complicated software. My suggestion is to separate the two things! Test that the hardware is working OK first. Use your computer’s control panel then test the device with a MIDI diagnostic tool.
Once you can see the MIDI device is working you know that you need to work on the software configuration. Tip: Make sure you install, connect and turn on your MIDI controller first, then start up the software you want to use. Some software just won’t find devices if you turn them on after starting up the software. The video below will take you through some testing basics, then read on for links and more information. If you want a bit more info, then you might find our basic guide on what is MIDI helpful.
Which Diagnostic Tool?
If you are using Windows, then download MIDI-Ox, it’s a fantastic piece of software that shows the stream of MIDI data on your screen so you can check every key, fader, pad and wheel on your MIDI keyboard and be sure they are all working OK. Download it here:
Then if you want a step-by-step guide on how to use it, this page on the M-Audio support portal is great, with easy to follow screen shots. Although it is referring to an M-Audio device you can use this software with any MIDI keyboard or interface.
If you are on a Mac then the SNOIZE MIDI Monitor software does a similar job and they have nice documentation on their site on how to use it.
What If The MIDI Keyboard Isn’t Working?
If you still think the keyboard is not connecting correctly, then there is a useful post here on the Numark site which will help you to troubleshoot your plug and play device. Especially in Windows the native drivers can be missing or corrupted and may need to be re-installed.
If your device is not plug and play then you will need to go to the manufacturer’s site and download the correct drivers. NEVER do a ‘google search’ for drivers – there are lots of dodgy sites out there which will try to tempt you to download all kinds of things from them. Instead, go to the official site of the manufacturer of your particular device and navigate to their support/download page directly. The best manufacturers (Alesis, M-Audio, Numark, Roland, Korg, Samson etc) have telephone support as well, so take advantage of it. But do work through the above steps first!
4 Top MIDI Controllers
We have tried all the following controllers, they work really well and if you have any problems then the manufacturer’s give fantastic support. As an added bonus, they all work on PC, Mac and iPad!
Samson Graphite 49 USB MIDI Controller A USB MIDI Controller that gives you all the performance and production control you need to get the most out of your music software. Combining an intuitive semi-weighted keyboard with a feature set that is both useful and accessible.
CME Xkey 25-Key Portable Musical Keyboard USB MIDI compliant with iPad, Android, tablet / phone, Microsoft Surface Pro, Mac and PC, perfect for mobile music creation, studio recording, and live performance
Novation Launchkey 25-Key Mini USB MIDI Controller Keyboard for iPad, Mac and PC A compact mini-key instrument/controller, Launchkey Mini features 16 velocity-sensitive, three-color illuminated launch pads, which can be used to launch loops, sounds, effects, transport controls, and more.
Korg microKEY 37-Key USB Powered Keyboard a thin, lightweight, and USB-powered keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive mini keys, comfortable and easy-to-play Natural Touch keyboard
4 Great USB-MIDI Interfaces
Already got a nice keyboard, but no MIDI connection? Then you could get one of the following MIDI interfaces and soon be hooked up to your favourite MIDI software
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