MIDI to USB
For a basic MIDI to USB solution that will allow you to plug your MIDI keyboard or other MIDI device into your computer, the M-Audio USB Midisport Uno MIDI Interface is a common solution. The interface will plug straight into your USB and is powered by the USB port so there is no need for an external power source. Some of the features include:
MIDI to USB Options With More Functionality
As an entry level solution to being able to plug MIDI to USB the M-Audio USB MIDIsport Uno MIDI interface above (and similar models) should provide a perfectly adequate solution, however, more upmarket solutions allow you to get more functionality integrated into the device.
Examples of such solutions are as follow:
You can move to an integrated audio/MIDI interface that includes both MIDI to USB but also includes a low latency audio USB interface. One of the main issues here is that if you are doing music studio work on a pc, you might encounter the latency problem. That is where there is a small audible delay between the playing of a sound on your computer and your hearing of that sound. This can effect a music production situation in many undesirable ways. If you are playing a MIDI keyboard into a synth on your computer, there will be an audible delay between playing a note and hearing it.
Additionally, if you are playing back tracks on your pc while recording an additional track in some sort of studio software, the tracks may not sync properly due to the delay. Many studios include an ability to compensate for this, however if you are running real time effects on the track being recorded and as such want to hear the computer version of the track rather than the external sound. You will not be able to get a properly timed recording process with input signal monitoring.
More upmarket Audio/MIDI interfaces include what is called an ASIO driver that reduces this latency to an inaudible level. An example of such an interface is the M-Audio Fast Track Pro 4×4 Mobile USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Preamps. You can then get more upmarket and for example increase the number of audio inputs so that you can record several parts simultaneously (See for example the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra High-speed 8 x 8 USB 2.0 Interface).
MIDI Controller with USB and MIDI I/O
||If you do not have a keyboard to send your MIDI signals, you can get keyboards that will allow USB and/or MIDI interfaces. Here you have your controller keyboard and your MIDI I/O in the one device. If you want to play live with a MIDI synth or sampler module you can plug this controller straight into your MIDI device, or alternatively, you can plug the USB on the controller into your computer to act as a keyboard controller straight into your USB. Some of these solutions also include additional controls such as faders, that you can assign to MIDI parameters (such as your different track volumes for mixing). You can also get an array of other controllers integrated here such as touch pads to assign to drums or samples. An example of such an interface is the M-Audio AXIOM 49 Advanced 49-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Controller.|
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