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Do You Need a Computer to Use a MIDI Keyboard? (Answered)

I often get asked if you need a computer to use a MIDI keyboard. In this post, I will answer this questions and more about MIDI controllers and keyboards.

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Do you need a computer to use a midi keyboard? (answered) - audio apartment

If you’re just starting in music production, you are probably shopping around for a midi controller or keyboard. These wonderful little devices let you control and create music. But how do you produce sounds? And do you need a computer to use a MIDI keyboard?

This article will teach you what a MIDI controller is, how they work, and whether they require a computer to be used. So, whether you’re just starting out in music production or you’re a seasoned music producer, this post is for you. 

Image of a person playing music using a midi keyboard. Source: gezer amorim, pexels
Image of a person playing music using a midi keyboard. Source: Gezer Amorim, Pexels

Do you need a computer to use a MIDI keyboard? No, you don’t need a computer to use a MIDI keyboard. However, MIDI keyboards don’t make sound on their own. Instead, they send MIDI signals to a connected device that processes the signals and makes sound. so you will need to link it to some sort of speakers, or a computer that has speakers. Alternatively, you could hook everything up to a sequencer and do away with the computer.

What are midi keyboards and controllers?

Keyboard controllers are electronic instruments that send MIDI data to other devices. They are often called “MIDI keyboards.”

Not all MIDI controllers are keyboards, and not all keyboards are MIDI controllers. A MIDI keyboard can give you a more tactile and hands-on experience and let you be more creative when making musical sequences.

If you shopping around for a new MIDI controller, check out these top-rated controllers. They are some of the best don’t he market, packed with features, and won’t break the bank.

Do you need a computer to operate a midi keyboard?

A computer or laptop isn’t required to utilize a MIDI device, but you will need a way to hear the music being played. A MIDI keyboard controller makes no sound. So you need to connect it to a noise source like a computer or tone generator (synthesizer).

Image of a man wearing headphones while playing music with a midi controller connected on a computer. Source: rodnae productions, pexels
Image of a man wearing headphones while mixing music with a controller connected to a computer. Source: Rodnae Productions, Pexels

Can I use a midi keyboard with my phone or tablet?

Yes! In this day and age, we can’t leave the house without our mobile phones or tablets. So musicians would seek a way to connect their MIDI keyboards to smartphones and tablets to use them with music creation and practice programs. There are now a lot of MIDI synthesizers and other MIDI instruments that you can download as apps and use on your phone or tablet.

Should you use a MIDI keyboard without a computer?

After showing that it is possible to use a mobile device, the question is whether it is worth setting up MIDI with devices other than a computer. Computer software is your best bet if you want to make full-fledged audio products but don’t have the funds for a hardware synthesizer. Good mobile applications let you play on the move, but even the finest can’t compare to the full PC versions.

But if you only want to dabble and need an audio output device, a MIDI sound module or good software on your smartphone would do just fine. You may choose the best MIDI route once you know how serious you are about learning it and what kind of music you want to compose.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “How to Connect a MIDI Keyboard to a Computer” from the Creative Sauce YouTube channel.

A video called “How to Connect a MIDI Keyboard to a Computer” from the Creative Sauce YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about whether you need a computer to use the MIDI keyboard.

Do you need a computer for MIDI?

No, you don’t need a computer to use a MIDI keyboard. You could hook everything up to a sequencer and do away with the computer.

What do you need to play a MIDI keyboard?

Depending on the model, you may need to install the controller’s software before you can hook it up to your system. The user manual will have everything you need if you need information on how to plug in the device or where to get the necessary drivers or firmware.

Can I use a MIDI keyboard as a piano?

Is a MIDI keyboard suitable as a piano substitute? A common feature of MIDI keyboards is the lack of built-in speakers. In addition, it’s meant to be something other than a stand-alone device that can make piano-like sounds. Instead, it’s meant to be used with another sound source, like a virtual instrument or digital audio workstation.

Conclusion

So do you need a computer to use MIDI? No, but you do need a sound output. And now that you know this, you can consider buying a MIDI keyboard. One specific type of MIDI keyboard will not be ideal for everyone, along with how it is used. Depending on how you will use your keyboard, it is ultimately up to you whether you use it with a computer or a mobile device.

This article covered a MIDI keyboard and controller, whether we need a computer to operate a MIDI keyboard, and whether I can use a MIDI keyboard with my phone or tablet. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Keyboard controllers are electronic instruments that send MIDI data to other devices.
  • A computer or laptop isn’t required to utilize a midi device, but you will need a way to hear the music being played.
  • Musicians can connect their MIDI keyboards to smartphones and tablets to use them with music creation and practice programs.
  • The USB port is still widely used to connect devices like flash drives, keyboards, and mice.
  • Extra tips:
    • A sound module is any device that can read midi data and generate audio in response to that data.
    • MIDI modules often include USB connectors for easy connection to any computer or mobile device.
    • Each MIDI device has an in/out jack where the MIDI wire may be plugged in and out.
    • The back of most keyboards will be a port for a cable with five-pin connectors that serve as the instrument’s midi in and midi out connections.

So, do you connect your MIDI keyboard to a computer with speakers? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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