Connecting two MIDI controllers up in studio

bill5

Senior Member
I'd like to be able to have two keyboards set up in my studio so I can just power one off and the other up and, as seamlessly as possible, use the other right away (I'd have to select it in my DAW of course). Any clues appreciated! I've done a net search and it's only caused more confusion...most of them talk about using 2 at the same time, which I don't want or need to do, and their explanations are a bit befuddling anyway. Some say connect one keyboard to the other, others say you need an interface with multiple MIDI jacks (which I almost never see). Where's the easy button? :)
 

Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
If they have USB, just connect them both to your computer (or hub). I have three keyboard controllers connected all the time, always ready to go. In Cubase and Logic, it sees them instantly.
 
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bill5

Senior Member
Not USB...can I just get a converter cable and from there it's the same? What about the AI don't I need to route through that to take advantage of the superior sound card?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Any multi-input MIDI interface will do that, and the inputs are merged automatically.

I like the iConnectivity ones, in part because they used to be a writing client, but in part because they're very good.

You just need a 2 x 2:

 
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bill5

Senior Member
Any multi-input MIDI interface will do that, and the inputs are merged automatically.
Thanks but again I don't want to use two keyboards at the same time. How does that fit in the keyboard/AI/computer chain? Keyboard > MIDI AI > "regular" AI > PC? Ugh I don't need more complication :) I'm surprised standard AIs, at least in the mid-range or high end, don't have multiple MIDI in/out jacks.

Maybe the other potentially really really dumb question I should ask is this: should I hook up my keyboard(s) to an AI regardless to take advantage of its sound card, or will the voices sound the same as when I hook up my keyboard directly to the PC? I have always made this assumption...
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
You don't have to use two keyboards at the same time, but you can have them connected and turn on either or both when you want to play it/them.

The issue is simple: you have an audio interface with a single MIDI input, but you need two MIDI inputs. And the answer is equally simple: a MIDI interface with two MIDI inputs (or more if you think you'll ever need them).

Your DAW - or really, your computer - won't care where the MIDI is coming from - the inputs are all merged, whether they come from your audio interface, a separate one, or both.
 
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Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
By the way, you could also use the MIDI input on your audio interface and add a second "MIDI-to-USB converter" (aka basic 1x1 MIDI interface) for your other keyboard. I don't know if the $16 one they have on Amazon works, but that's how cheap the cheapest ones are.

'm surprised standard AIs, at least in the mid-range or high end, don't have multiple MIDI in/out jacks.
Most audio interfaces just have the MIDI I/O as an extra add-on. The manufacturers figure that people with more extensive MIDI setups will need dedicated MIDI interfaces, or maybe they assume that every MIDI device these days has a USB connection anyway.

Bear in mind that every port takes up space on the unit.
 
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Polkasound

Senior Member
I use a MX-28S MIDI patch bay. It has two inputs and eight outputs. I needed it back in the day because I had several sound modules and processors to control, but I still use it today because its a convenient way to switch between two different MIDI controllers connected to my DAW.
 
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bill5

Senior Member
By the way, you could also use the MIDI input on your audio interface and add a second "MIDI-to-USB converter" (aka basic 1x1 MIDI interface) for your other keyboard.
? So you mean like a "splitter" that would have convert my one MIDI input to two? And why would I necessarily want USB? What if I have 2 MIDI keyboards?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
? So you mean like a "splitter" that would have convert my one MIDI input to two? And why would I necessarily want USB? What if I have 2 MIDI keyboards?
Bill, you're making this complicated. MIDI is what comes out of your keyboards; USB is what goes into your computer.

You have two MIDI keyboards. You have one MIDI input. You need to add a second MIDI input for the second keyboard.

Please re-read what I wrote above about the options for doing that.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
I use a MX-28S MIDI patch bay. It has two inputs and eight outputs. I needed it back in the day because I had several sound modules and processors to control, but I still use it today because its a convenient way to switch between two different MIDI controllers connected to my DAW.
You're going to confuse the holy living hell out of Bill. He's going to think he needs to run out and buy a MIDI patchbay, a device that was superseded 30 years ago. :)
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
You're going to confuse the holy living hell out of Bill. He's going to think he needs to run out and buy a MIDI patchbay, a device that was superseded 30 years ago. :)
Heheheh! It's an antiquated piece of equipment for sure, and it isn't needed to do what he wants to do, but it's a simple way to switch between two keyboards using standard 5-pin MIDI cables. The two main reasons I still use one is because I have some older outboard gear that I control with MIDI, and my PC's USB functionality hiccups now and then.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
I bought my first setup in 1985, all Yamaha: QX-21 sequencer, DX-7, and RX-15 drum machine (which I still have).

After programming one pattern on the RX-15, I knew it was hate at first sight: I needed to sequence the parts by playing the pads.

The QX-21 had a single MIDI input.

So I up and built a simple A/B switch to go between the DX-7 and RX-15.
 
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bill5

Senior Member
Bill, you're making this complicated. MIDI is what comes out of your keyboards; USB is what goes into your computer.
Thanks but I know what MIDI and USB are. :) And I get the logic of the MIDI interface (even though I maintain it's odd that not even higher-end regular ol AIs don't have extra such jacks, just like they have more XLR jacks. Sure people wanting more than one keyboard hooked up is a rarer demand, but I didn't think it was that rare). I just did not get your statement "you could also use the MIDI input on your audio interface and add a second "MIDI-to-USB converter" -

Also can you or anyone give a definitive answer to my other question: do I want to hook up my keyboard(s) to an AI regardless (in whatever way this works) to take advantage of its sound card, or will the voices sound the same as when I hook up my keyboard directly to the PC? Or does it depend on if it's a sampled sound vs "digital" (synth created, not sampled)?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Sure people wanting more than one keyboard hooked up is a rarer demand, but I didn't think it was that rare).
It's totally normal, not rare at all.

I just did not get your statement "you could also use the MIDI input on your audio interface and add a second "MIDI-to-USB converter" -
Right, I just meant that you can use them simultaneously.

Also can you or anyone give a definitive answer to my other question: do I want to hook up my keyboard(s) to an AI regardless (in whatever way this works) to take advantage of its sound card, or will the voices sound the same as when I hook up my keyboard directly to the PC? Or does it depend on if it's a sampled sound vs "digital" (synth created, not sampled)?
If you're recording the output of your keyboards, the sound is going to be better if you connect the audio out to your interface.

MIDI obviously isn't audible, so it doesn't matter where it's connected.
 

rrichard63

Perpetual Novice
Also can you or anyone give a definitive answer to my other question: do I want to hook up my keyboard(s) to an AI regardless (in whatever way this works) to take advantage of its sound card, or will the voices sound the same as when I hook up my keyboard directly to the PC? Or does it depend on if it's a sampled sound vs "digital" (synth created, not sampled)?
Your MIDI instruments will sound the same. A MIDI port embedded in an audio interface is still just a MIDI port and is not affected in any way by the audio passing through the interface. Most audio interfaces provide a MIDI port as a convenience to users, who need one less USB connector on their computers. It's not because the MIDI port has any interaction with the analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog functions of the interface.
 
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bill5

Senior Member
Your MIDI instruments will sound the same. A MIDI port embedded in an audio interface is still just a MIDI port and is not affected in any way by the audio passing through the interface. Most audio interfaces provide a MIDI port as a convenience to users, who need one less USB connector on their computers. It's not because the MIDI port has any interaction with the analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog functions of the interface.
Thanks - yeah I realize there's no analog going on here, but I thought still it might make improve that digital sound in the end (just like in olden days when a better sound card in your PC meant the sounds would often be better for the same games or apps or whatever, even with the same settings).
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Bill, do you understand that MIDI is just a series of standardized computer codes? It says things like "note on here at xxx velocity [meaning level], now the sustain pedal on, sustain pedal off, now note off" - that kind of thing.

There could be differences between MIDI interfaces beyond their features, for example some earlier ones were less solid. But they have nothing to do with the sound quality.
 
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bill5

Senior Member
Bill, do you understand that MIDI is just a series of standardized computer codes? It says things like "note on here at xxx velocity [meaning level], now the sustain pedal on, sustain pedal off, now note off" - that kind of thing.
? Please see post #14.