Should I Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface?

Are you looking for the best way to connect your midi keyboard to your computer? You may be wondering, “Should I Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface?” Let’s take a look at some advantages of connecting your midi keyboard to an audio interface and different ways you can connect your midi keyboard to your audio interface and to your computer.

Should I Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface?

If you have a midi keyboard and an audio interface, then absolutely you can connect them together. Is it necessary to connect your midi keyboard to an audio interface? No. You can connect your midi keyboard directly to your computer via a USB cable if you have a USB connection on your keyboard. However, there are some advantages to connecting your midi keyboard to your audio interface especially in a home recording studio setting. An audio interface will give you one central location to plug in all of your instruments, connect all of your midi devices, and all instruments will run through the same ADC/ DAC converters giving you consistency in recording.

Advantages of Connecting My Midi Keyboard To My Computer With An Audio Interface

You can connect your midi keyboard to your audio interface via the midi in and out on your audio interface.

Keep in mind that the midi connections will not transmit sound.

Midi is information that you can use to write and compose music, control other midi devices, control Virtual Instruments and can even be used to control your DAW software.

If you are setting up a home recording studio you may already have a midi keyboard and different instruments like a guitar, bass, vocal microphones, drums, etc.

An audio interface will give you one central location to connect all of your instruments to your computer.

1. Connect All Of Your Instruments To Your Audio Interface

First off you can connect all of your instruments and your midi keyboard to an audio interface and leave them connected so when inspiration hits you are ready to record.

All of your instruments will be running through the same interface which will give you consistency in sound.

Your midi keyboard will connect to your audio interface through the midi in and midi out ports.

Connect All Of Your Instrumets To Your Audio Interface Diagram

The advantage of using an audio interface to connect all of your instruments to your computer and DAW software is huge.

2. Better Quality ADC/ DAC Converters

Analog to Digital Converters and Digital to Analog Converters make it possible for instruments and computers to talk to one another

An ADC converter converts Analog signal into a digital signal that your computer and DAW software understand and can work with.

A DAC converter converts Digital signal into an analog signal that humans hear and understand.

An audio interface will have better quality ADC/ DAC converters than your computers built in ADC/ DAC converters.

This is important because you want the best sound quality when you are writing and recording music.

If you have a keyboard or synthesizer with built in sounds that you want to use in your productions, you can connect your keyboards 1/4″ audio outputs to your audio interfaces 1/4″ inputs and send all of the audio directly into your DAW software.

The ADC (Analog To Digital Converter) will convert your analog signal to a digital signal that your computer and DAW software can work with.

Keep in mind that midi has no sound so the ADC/DAC converters will not affect your midi data.

3. Connect Your Studio Monitors To Your Audio Interface For Best Results

Another huge advantage to using an audio interface to connect all of your instruments to your computer and DAW software is the audio quality in play back.

Your audio interface is where you connect your studio monitors and headphones for listening to playback.

When the sound comes back out of your computer it has to be converted from a digital signal to an analog signal. The DAC converter in your audio interface takes care of this for you.

The ADC/ DAC converters in an audio interface will be better quality than the onboard ADC/ DAC converters in your computer.

This means that the sound quality coming back out of the audio interface will be much better than if you just hook up to the audio outputs on your computer.

The audio input and outputs levels can easily be controlled directly from your audio interface.

How To Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface?

The easiest way to connect your midi keyboard to your audio interface is by coming out of your keyboards midi output jack and plugging into your audio interfaces midi input jack.

Notice that you also have a midi output jack on your audio interface. You can come out of the midi output jack and go back to your midi keyboard, or you can send the midi data on to another midi device or effect.

Now that the midi information has been sent into your audio interface, it will be sent to your computer and DAW software via the USB connection from your audio interface to your computer.

Video Credit: Creative Sauce

Do I Need Midi On My Audio Interface?

You may be wondering, “Do I need midi on my audio interface?”

If you have an audio interface that does not have midi in and out, you can connect your midi keyboard to your computer via a USB cable if your midi keyboard has a USB output.

The USB output on your keyboard will only transmit midi data and not sound.

If your keyboard has onboard sounds and has an audio output jack, you can send the audio output signal from your keyboard to an audio input jack on your audio interface.

This will connect the keyboards audio to your audio interface which will be sent to your computer and DAW software.

In this instance, the midi information will be sent directly to your computer through the USB connection, and the audio signal will be sent to your audio interface and then on into your computer and DAW software.

This will work just fine. You may need to adjust your playback timing inside your DAW software.

Advantages Of Connecting My Midi Keyboard To My Computer With A USB Cable

So, what is the advantage of connecting my midi keyboard to my computer with a USB cable?

Let’s say you only want to use a midi keyboard for your production work. You are not interested in playing a guitar, singing, or using any type of live instruments.

You may just be getting started and do not have an audio interface.

What you do have is a midi keyboard, a computer, and DAW software.

The advantage is, it’s very easy to connect your midi keyboard to your computer via a USB cable.

Simply come out of the midi keyboards USB connection and plug directly into your computers USB connection.

Keep in mind that the USB connection will only transfer midi information that can be used inside your DAW software to control virtual instruments, keyboards, drums, synthesizers, you name it.

This is a great way to get started and you will find that your imagination will be the only limit.

Whats The Difference Between A Keyboard And A Midi Keyboard?

You may be wondering, “What is the difference between a keyboard and a midi keyboard.

This is really a good question and can be best answered by distinguishing that a keyboard will have an onboard library of sounds and a midi keyboard is simply a keyboard device that does not have an onboard library of sounds.

Electronic Keyboard Or Synthesizer:

A keyboard or synthesizer has onboard sounds, can be played on its own and will have audio output jacks so you can connect your keyboard to an amplifier or a PA system.

Some keyboards will also have built in speakers so you can listen to your keyboard through the onboard speakers.

Electronic keyboards and synthesizers will also have midi in and outputs.

Midi Keyboard Controllers:

Midi keyboards are also called Midi keyboard controllers and do not have built in onboard sounds.

Some midi keyboards will come with a VST (Virtual Instrument) software package that you can download onto your computer, and you play your midi keyboard through your computers DAW software.

Most midi keyboards only have USB and midi in and out connections.

Midi keyboards typically do not have 1/4″ audio output jacks because there is no onboard audio to send. Midi keyboards only create and send midi data.

How To Connect My Keyboard To My Audio Interface

If you have an electronic keyboard with a library of onboard sounds that you want to create music with, it’s very easy to connect your keyboard to your audio interface.

You can connect your keyboard to your audio interface and listen to your keyboard through your studio monitors.

This is very convenient because you do not have to connect your keyboard to a keyboard amp.

This is a great and convenient way to practice keyboard in your home recording studio and to write and record music inside your DAW software.

How To connect My Keyboard To My Audio Interface

Simply come out of your electronic keyboards 1/4″ audio output jack and plug directly into one of your audio interfaces 1/4″ input jacks.

If you have left and right audio outputs on your keyboard, you can just use the left jack for a mono connection or you can use both left and right connections if you want a stereo connection.

If your audio interface has midi in and out connections and your keyboard has midi in and out connections, you can also connect your electronic keyboard with the midi connections.

Simply come out of your keyboards midi out and plug directly into your audio interfaces midi input.

You can then come out of the audio interfaces midi out and send the midi to another midi device or send the midi signal back to your keyboard.

Keep in mind that midi does not carry audio signal. Midi connections only carry midi data.

Once the midi is connected to your audio interface, it will be connected to your computer via the connection you have to your computer with the audio interface. This is usually a USB connection.

The midi data can now be used inside you DAW software for composing in your piano roll or playing virtual instruments.

Midi is a very powerful and creative tool inside your DAW software.

I highly encourage you to take full advantage of midi and virtual instruments inside your DAW software.

Relevant: If you want to learn more about audio interfaces be sure and check out my article: The Best Audio Interface For A Home Studio.

Advantages Of Using Midi Data Inside My DAW Software

Now that you have your midi data connected to your DAW software you can take full advantage of the unlimited possibilities at your finger tips.

Do you need to lay down a beat for that new song you are writing? Cool, just load up a virtual instrument drum set and lay down a beat.

Do you need a violin or a complete orchestra? No problem. Just load up a virtual instrument orchestra.

You can load and play any virtual instrument that you can get your hands on and create any kind of music that you want.

You don’t have to be a college educated composer. You can point and click to create midi data inside your piano roll function inside your DAW software.

Advantages Of Using Midi Data Inside My DAW Software

Anything you play on your midi keyboard is recorded as midi data inside your DAW software. This data can easily be edited.

You can write and produce anything you want with midi and virtual instruments. It is really unlimited.

I could and probably will write at least 10 articles about virtual instruments and how awesome they are.

Today, virtual instruments are created by sampling real instruments and are very good quality.

If you are interested in virtual instruments, be sure and check out East West Sounds, Spitfire Audio, Native Instruments, UJAM and there are many other good brands out there.

The Advantage Of Using Virtual Instruments

If you are a keyboard player, you will have a huge advantage with virtual instruments.

You can already play the keys and when you connect your midi data to a virtual instrument you literally have any instrument you want at your fingertips.

If you are reading this and are not a keyboard player, don’t worry. You can get yourself a midi keyboard and still take full advantage of virtual instruments and midi.

EastWest Sounds Virtual Instruments

Connect your midi keyboard to your audio interface or directly to your computer and start working with midi data inside your DAW software.

Take full advantage of the awesome virtual instruments available to you today.

You can create full symphony orchestras, create your very own sound designs with virtual synthesizers, lay down completely original beats, play an oboe solo, you can add any instrument or sound to your music.

Virtual instruments are a songwriter, musician, and producers’ dream.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using real instruments to write and record with.

I’m just saying that virtual instruments are more budget friendly than going out and buying a bunch of real instruments and then learning how to play them.

When was the last time you tried to play a French horn, violin, or an oboe? I wonder what those three instruments would cost you?

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“A MIDI keyboard does not need an audio interface to connect to a computer. It needs either a separate MIDI interface, or some keyboards can connect via USB. Some audio interfaces do include MIDI, and these dual-purpose interfaces can be used to connect a MIDI keyboard to a computer.”https://homemusiccreator.com/does-a-midi-keyboard-need-an-audio-interface/
“Strictly speaking, you don’t need an audio interface to make the MIDI work well. But you may experience latency issues using a USB connection. Latency refers to the obvious delay between the sound you hear and the pressing of the MIDI controller’s key.”https://www.becomesingers.com/studio-setups/need-audio-interface-for-midi-keyboard
“Midi keyboards are great for small studios. The possibilities of what you can do with midi keyboard will blow your mind.”https://productionden.com/how-to-connect-midi-keyboard-to-audio-interface/
“all MIDI is is a signal that carries event messages and data. It’s effectively an instruction for hardware and software, telling it things like notation, pitch, and velocity, for the equipment to then reproduce. In the modern age, the most common uses for these include things like drum machines and drum pads, plus MIDI within software. A MIDI keyboard can allow you to play virtual instruments and synthesizers on your computer.”https://primesound.org/how-to-connect-midi-keyboard-to-audio-interface/
“Neither USB or MIDI from your keyboard will transmit sound. They will both, in fact, transmit only MIDI data [just by different routes] to the computer. The computer will then have to have some type of DAW, midi recorder plus some type of ‘sound module’, VST instrument etc to make any sense of the incoming note data.”https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/76720/different-ways-of-connecting-midi-keyboard-to-hardware-via-audio-interface-or-v
“A MIDI keyboard is a device that can send commands to a MIDI-equipped device. When you press a key or pad, it creates a MIDI message. The message is sent to the device it’s connected to with the use of either a USB or MIDI cable”https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/getting-started-with-midi-keyboards/#
“A midi keyboard is a relatively small instrument that serves as an electronic piano. By using this musical tool, a virtual gateway will open up for you via which you can record your music on your PC or MAC system.”https://homerecordio.com/how-to-connect-midi-keyboard-to-audio-interface/
“You need an audio interface with Midi in and out on it. Your computer probably has an audio interface built in – it probably doesn’t have midi in/out on it, but it may. If it doesn’t, at the least you need to get the cables and device that allows you to add midi. If you are serious about creating music on your computer, you should really think about getting a good audio interface (external USB or something else that will connect to your computer). Presonus makes some in the range of $150. They are pretty good. I use an RME Babyface Pro, but that was expensive.”https://www.quora.com/Do-I-need-an-audio-interface-if-I-only-use-virtual-instruments-and-a-MIDI-keyboard-to-play-them
“Simply put, you do not need an audio interface for use of a MIDI keyboard. For the most part, USB MIDI keyboards have a built-in interface so you can use your keyboard on your recording software without a dedicated audio interface. However, you might be missing out on a few nifty features that audio interfaces provide.”https://www.sound-beat.com/do-i-need-an-audio-interface-for-a-midi-keyboard/

Conclusion

Today we learned how to connect a midi keyboard or synthesizer to an audio interface and some great advantages of using an audio interface.

Remember, there are several ways that you can connect your midi keyboard to your computer so you can play, compose, and write your music inside your DAW software.

If you like playing, writing, and producing music, then you are in the right place. Take a little time to look around my website. It is full of information to help get you going in the right direction.

If you want to learn more about audio interfaces be sure and check out my article: Will An Audio Interface Make My Music Sound Better?

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave your questions or comments below. I’m always happy to help out when I can.

5 thoughts on “Should I Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface?”

  1. I am not really much of an artist but, I would love to learn to play a keyboard.  I think I will go for the 61 key keyboard.  This should be enough for the things I want to do In my home recording studio and If I want to learn to play this will give me more keys.  Thanks for the great article. 

    Reply
    • A 49 key keyboard is enough to accomplish a lot of production work like fills and lead lines.  If You want to learn to play the keys properly, I recommend an 88 key keyboard.

      Reply
  2. I used to play Piano, but parents got me a Roland Digital Piano. Reading this article brings me back memories of how I learned how to connect certain wires and other accessories to amplify the sound of a keyboard.

    I think you provided your readers a well put thorough diagram of how to connect what to where on here.

    It seems simple and to the point.

    I cannot thank you enough for this, makes me want to be an artist even more and make my own music!

    All the best,

    ~Angelina

    Reply
  3. I have a fairly old 76-key Ensoniq synthesizer that I have tried to hook up with MIDI a number of times – and I’m sad to report that the last time I tried it that the computer interface was too clunky to be worthwhile. I do feel like having this tool would make it much easier to finish compositions that need a little work, so I really appreciate the details to get things hooked up properly. 

    Reply
    • Hi Aly, Glad this article was helpful to you.  An audio interface may make it easier to connect an older synthesizer to a computer if you are having trouble connecting directly to your computer. 

      I have another article you may find helpful if you are shopping for an audio interface:  The Best Audio Interface For A Home Studio.  Be sure and check it out!  

      Reply

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