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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Introduction to Computer Music: MIDI Controllers

Hello Audiophiles!!!

Welcome to my Computer Music blog! In this section I will discuss how MIDI Controllers work, different types of MIDI Controllers and some tips on what to look for in purchasing a MIDI Controller.

Note: MIDI Controllers are not necessary to create computer music! However, if you want more leverage and control over your music, I would highly recommend purchasing one.

What is MIDI?

Excellent question, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a protocol that gives software (Virtual instruments, commands) the ability to access and communicate with your MIDI controller. Basically, MIDI allows your plug-ins to be emulated onto your MIDI interface. The strange thing about MIDI sound is that its not actually an audio signal like naturally created sound. The computer is sent commands that would enable your computer to recognize the pitch, dynamics, volume, and tempo of the chosen note.

Digital sound has become extremely advanced over the years. Everything you hear on the radio these days are created from a computer using digital hardware and software (Pro-Tools, Logic, etc). Digital recording has become extreamely popular for many reasons. Here are three reasons that I call the Triple C reason. (Un-original i know ;P )

- Cheap

- Control
- Convenience

However there is another form of recording called Analog, which records actual audio signals and records to physical tape. I will go over this in a later section.

Buying a MIDI Controller

This part of your journey will require you to invest a little cash, but trust me, its well worth it. There are a couple things you should consider when your buying a MIDI controller. The main question you should ask is...

-What am I going to use it FOR?

This is very important in deciding which controller your going to settle with. There are many types of Controllers out there but the main 2 you should worry about right now is a MIDI Keyboard and MIDI Pads.

MIDI Keyboards will give you more options to create melodies while MIDI Pads will give you a lot of variety with creating beats. All can be done WITHOUT a MIDI controller. Many professionals have both of these types of MIDI devices.

MIDI Keyboard Size is something you should also consider. Smaller Keyboards are convenient, cheap, and could be all you need if you are not interested in creating complex melodies. Larger keyboards (Usually 49-88 keys) offer a full sized keyboard to work with. So whether your learning how to play piano, or creating full creative melodies, a full sized keyboard is a standard choice.

Note: Avoid keyboards with built in MIDI Pads. They are usually not very sensitive and cant handle complex rhythms. This will intern not register everything you are trying to play, thus limiting you. We certainly don't want that. If you want MIDI Pads, you should invest in buying a dedicated interface.

Here is what I suggest for MIDI Controllers


CME M-Key 49-Key

M-Audio Keystation 88es

Avid KeyStudio Keyboard



 Akai MPD26 Performance Pad Controller


Akai MPD18 USB MIDI Pad Controller







  1. Thanks, I've been looking for a good keyboard for a while.

  2. nice post. what do you think about the korg nanopad? it's quite cheap.

  3. Do you recommend Reason over FL studio?

  4. As an audiophile myself, definitely love the posts man, keep it up. Looking to create some music of my own at some point.

  5. I've always wondered what MIDI was. Thanks for educating me.

  6. thanks for the info, well writen

  7. great info bro, I've always wanted to learn how to use MIDI

  8. @mikkello

    Reason and FL Studio are very different DAWs. Both can do a lot of things but they do have their own niche.

    FL Studio i find easier to create melodies where as Reason is way easier to create beats and samples.

    I hope this helps.


    I have never tried the Korg Nanopad. Try finding one at your local music store and try it out for yourself. If not, try searching for some reviews. I'm sure they are out there!

    Thanks for the questions guys.

  9. Very informative. Sound production in an interesting thing.