What is MIDI Cable?
Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s a powerful device that is used to connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments.
MIDI cable with Online Piano App:
The use of MIDI cable has been trending a lot lately as the online piano lesson app is becoming more and more popular. You learn how to play the piano on your own at home with your IPad, keyboard, and an online app. That’s it!
We have seen incredible results from using this new technology. People can play songs after just a few weeks into the app. We were instantly intrigued. Got the one-week free trial, thinking we’ve got nothing to lose. We love the app so much, especially the kids. Got the one-week free trial up, and the rest is history.
Since you don’t have a live piano teacher with these apps, it has to be smart. So the app is designed with a step by step built-in piano lessons, and the app itself listens to you play. Let me repeat that, the APP itself listens to you play as you do all the piano lessons within the APP.
MIDI cable is not a “required” device for these online piano apps. The app can hear your piano directly through your IPad’s built-in microphone. My family has been doing our lessons just fine without a MIDI cable, we’ve been doing this for more than a year now with no MIDI. However, I’ve seen people swore how nicer it is if you connect your IPad and Piano directly using a MIDI cable. So we are giving it a try for the first time.
Here is our best pick for MIDI cables for 2020
How does my IPAD and Keyboard talk to each other with a MIDI cable?
So if you look at your keyboard when using your online piano app, you see some keys or notes. If you connect your IPAD directly to your keyboard using a MIDI cable, your iPad is no longer listening to your keyboard, but it’s sensing the actual key or note that you press as you play your piano.
So the MIDI is the communication device between your keyboard and your IPad. For example, each time you press a key on your piano, the MIDI is performing a type of protocol that sends a message to your IPad, what key you just pressed (note on message), how hard you hit the key (velocity message), etc.
Now you can see why people say that using a MIDI cable is a no brainer, right?
Lesson Learned Indeed!
I can’t believe we waited this long to get a MIDI cable. When only my daughter was learning to play the piano I would hear her get frustrated once in a while saying how she pressed the right key and the app is telling her she pushed the wrong key. I am now feeling guilty thinking about it, oops!
Here’s a video showing how much our score improved using a MIDI cable.
Why did we wait this long to get a MIDI?
We are a member of the Simply Piano online community. It’s a private Facebook group were everyone can share experience, ask questions, and get help from the experts. Although I’ve seen positive posts from members about their MIDI cable, I often see posts from other members about their issues with their MIDI cable not working as well. One time I saw a post saying how their MIDI cable gave them 75% accuracy and they were happy about it. So I thought, our iPad and piano must be pretty good because we are already getting 75% timing accuracy with our lessons with no MIDI. So since then, I thought we were fine without a MIDI. Big regret now, lol.
Fast forward when I started this blog. I bought this MIDI cable because I wanted to help those people who are having issues with their MIDI cables. I wanted to try it myself and even planned on recording a comparison of how you are fine without a MIDI cable. LOL. It turns out I helped myself.
We highly recommend getting the MIDI cable. The pictures below show you why:
With MIDI vs Without MIDI
Other great features to note on MIDI cables:
1. MIDI Cable is used to connect multiple devices and send information to each other.
2. A single MIDI cable can support 16 different channels.
3. MIDI cable is perfect for recording musical performances with notes, commands, or other information that you can playback later on.
Does MIDI cable have any effect on the sound quality of my keyboard?
No, MIDI cables are not like other audio cables, MIDI does not have any effect on the sound quality of your instrument.
My MIDI cable doesn’t work!
A MIDI Cable is a MIDI Cable. After all the research, to me, there is no such thing as a “bad” MIDI cable, unless “of course” if the MIDI is physically “broken. Speaking of “physically broken” MIDI cable, a “badly” constructed one does exist.
Piano and Compatibility
Unfortunately, I have seen quite a few issues with MIDI cable not working. The majority of the “issues” that I have seen are due to the piano itself not responding to the MIDI. A lot of these pianos that are having issues are 10 or 20 plus years old. So it is most likely a compatibility issue or a physically broken MIDI socket on the piano.
There is a free app that you can download called MIDI Wrench. With this app, you can visualize and monitor MIDI messages sent by your keyboard into the MIDI. It’s pretty cool. It’s a helpful tool to find problems in your MIDI setup.
What is USB to Host?
Does the back of your keyboard look like this picture below? This is what I have and the MeloAudio MIDI cable works perfectly!
I actually took a chance when I bought the MeloAudio as the item I saw had some bad reviews in them. However, today I checked Amazon, it now has an almost 5-star rating with almost 400 positive reviews in it. When I made the purchase I thought for $15 I can take a risk. I also planned that if this doesn’t work I’ll do what the other members at Simply Piano had recommended, which is to by a Printer cable and the lighting 8 pin to USB male adapter. I also have an instruction below on how to do this in case you decide to go with this route:
I am so happy the MeloAudio works because the lightning 8 pin to USB adapter is expensive, double the price of the Melo Audio.
Here is the step by step instruction on how to connect your keyboard to your iPhone or iPad through USB to Host with a Printer cable and Lightning 8 pin to USB male adapter, if you end up going to this route:
- You will plug your printer cable into the “USB to Host” slop on your keyboard.
- Connect the USB end (female) of your printer cable into your USB male adapter
- Plug the “lightning 8 pin” into your iPad or iPhone
A Little History of MIDI Cable:
MIDI cable existed since the seventies. When you were a keyboardist back in the seventies, you would need multiple keyboards and need to have someone play each set of keyboards to create different sounds. A few years later, keyboard manufacturers invented their own “language” that would allow their keyboards to communicate with each other. The problem was this “language” was limited to the same keyboard brands. If you had two keyboards, one Yamaha and one Roland, you would not be able to connect these two different keyboards for them to communicate with this language.
In the eighties, a “standard” language was “created” that let devices communicate with each other. This is what MIDI cable is, it’s a communication device for digital instruments, computers, and recorders. It was a big deal when MIDI cable came out since most companies were very protective of their technologies at this time. However, the companies worked together to allow this device to work with different pieces of gears, or they would miss out or lose sales due to incompatibility.
I hope you found all your answers on MIDI cable after reading this blog. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.
Jen and Bree