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Midi Recording

The MIDI Cable
The "Ins" and "Outs" and Where to Stick em
by Ron Tongue

The MIDI cable has a unique design to it compared to most other audio cables. There are three different types common to most MIDI instruments.

PC MIDI Cable - 15 Pin Joystick Port

midi cable to soundcard port

Even though this type of connector is obsolete, I feel it's necessary to mention it because there are still plenty of musicians out there with this type of gear.

MIDI files are very small compared to a digital audio file. Because of their small file size and low bandwidth, it does not take very much computing power to operate a MIDI studio.

In other words, an old Windows 3.1 with Voyetra can power todays top of the line MIDI keyboard.

The purpose of this PC cable is to connect your MIDI instrument into the joystick port on the back of your computer. It is a 15 pin connector found on the sound card. By using this port, you don't need a MIDI interface.

soundcard midi port

15-pin MIDI / Joystick Port

This MIDI keyboard cable has a 15 pin plug at one end and two 5-pin din connectors at the other. It usually has an extension off the 15-pin connector so you can still connect a joystick if you want to.

TIP!! Proper Hookup - First, connect the 15-pin connector to the joystick port on the back of your soundcard. Because it is a rather large connector, you may want to secure it by tightening the attached screws on each side. Then you need to connect the two 5-pin connectors to your MIDI instrument.

A common mistake is usually made at this point.

You may notice that one 5-pin connector says "in" and the other says "out." This refers to the signal flow from the soundcard. Therefore, you must crisscross the two connectors (opposites attract). Connect the "in" connector on the cable to the "out" connector on your MIDI instrument. Then connect the "out" connector on the cable to the "in" connector on your MIDI instrument.

Standard 5-Pin MIDI Cable

midi cable

Up until recently, these were the industry standard. In fact, they still might be, but the newer technology which I'll talk about in a minute will probably take over. The purpose of these MIDI cables is to connect your MIDI instrument to your MIDI interface.

In this case, you are going to need two standard MIDI cables. A standard MIDI cable has a 5-pin connector at both ends. You should notice that the MIDI ports on both your MIDI instrument and MIDI interface are named "in", "out", and sometimes there is a third port named "thru."

A common mistake is usually made at this point.

Do NOT connect the ins to the ins and the outs to the outs.

You must crisscross the signal so it flows "out" of one and "in" to the other (opposites attract). Therefore, connect the "in" on your MIDI instrument to the "out" on your MIDI interface. Then connect the "out" on your MIDI instrument to the "in" on your MIDI interface.


usb midi cable

Recently, within the past few years USB ports have become more and more common on many MIDI keyboards. This is the same type of port that many people use to connect their mouse to their computer. Many external devices such as hard drives and audio interfaces may use a USB port.

In this situation, a standard USB cable should do. Simply plug the proper end into your MIDI instrument and computer then configure both machines properly. By using the USB port you don't need a MIDI interface. Keep in mind, every MIDI keyboard that I've seen with a USB port also has standard 5-pin MIDI ports.

NOTE!! Another advantage to the USB port on these keyboards is it make the transferring of large files such as sound samples faster.

Moving Forward
Earlier in this session I mentioned the MIDI "thru" port. Most MIDI instruments have them, but few know what they are for. Let's take a closer look at this so called MIDI cable "thru" port.

midi last
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