The Best MIDI Interfaces for PC / Mac / iOS and More

The Highest Rated MIDI Interfaces

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MIDI has been connecting musical equipment since 1982 and it's still going strong. Here we present to you the best MIDI interfaces for connecting your computer, tablet or even phone to your other MIDI gear. We've focused on interfaces with single in/out ports as these are enough for most situations. We've also included one 5x5 option for more complex setups.

Note that most of these interfaces are class compliant so you'll be able to use them with iOS or Linux too - make sure you read the "Things to Consider" section if you plan to use one with an iPad/iPhone.

Also here's one 'weird trick' that might save you some time with many of these interfaces. The In/Out cables are often labeled in a way that's technically correct but confuses a lot of users at first. The MIDI cable marked as 'In' should go into your keyboard's 'Out' port and vice versa.

The Best MIDI Interfaces

FORE USB MIDI

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$19

This is a generic-looking 'Amazon only' product and brand that's been racking up genuinely good reviews since 2017. There are other midi interfaces that look very similar to this available on Amazon and in all likelihood, the 'FORE' brand is simply printed on by the Chinese manufacturer for the re-seller. But people find it works well and they provide pretty good support for their product.

The interface is a simple Y configuration with the usual 1 MIDI In / 1 MIDI Out cable and a USB connection. It features a flashing indicator light and comes in various colors. Being class-compliant, it doesn't require drivers and most users find it to be 'plug and play'. The seller warns that the device does not transmit system exclusive messages.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Class Compliant and compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS (via CCK/Lightning adaptor) and Linux. Sysex messages not supported
  • Power Supply: USB
  • Length: 6.5ft
  • Weight: 3.84oz

Pros

The interface works well for the vast majority of users for standard midi channel applications with a wide variety of equipment at a price they appreciate. The vendor stands behind their product with support being very highly praised when issues do arise. They seem to be very keen to maintain their good ratings by accurately describing the product.

Cons

Apart from the confusion regarding the In/Out labeling, the biggest complaint is that the indicator light is too bright and some have felt the need to cover it with tape. The lack of midi sysex will rule it out for some and there are reports that it can have problems with Midi Time Code as well. Unsurprisingly the construction isn't the sturdiest. It's better suited for home use than on stage.

Overall

If you're looking for a cheap interface for home use and don't need sysex capabilities this is a good option.

iConnectivity mio

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
iConnectivity mio 1 in 1 out MIDI to USB interface

At publication time this was the Highest Rated MIDI Interface.

The mio is a USB Class Compliant (plug and play) bus powered MIDI interface. It is a low latency and affordable option for the basic single device MIDI connections. The makers boast of it's "Indestructible" Class Compliant drivers that are "engineered to today's strict guidelines to ensure compatibility for years to come". They also mention that it's been engineered "properly" to avoid the device introducing electrical noise into your system although this does seem like a rare occurrence for MIDI interfaces in general. There's a free companion controller app called "iConfig" available for Windows, Mac and iOS that allows you to route and process MIDI in various ways as well as update the device firmware.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Class Compliant and compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS (via CCK/Lightning adaptor) and Linux
  • Power Supply: USB
  • Length: 5ft
  • Weight: 3.5 oz

Pros

Many users praise this interface for living up to its plug and play functionality. It works well with Mac and Windows operating systems and has no noticeable latency. A lot of users were pleased they didn't need to install drivers. It has a sturdy and compact build that feels secure and is very affordable.

Cons

Some people find its 'iConfig' software editing interface to be confusing and complicated to use. Although it should be mentioned that this is only needed for additional advanced functions. As with many MIDI interfaces, problems can be encountered when sending System Exclusive (SysEx) MIDI messages. The 5ft cables are also a bit short for some setups and extensions may be needed.

Overall

This is our overall best pick for a simple and reliable midi interface at a good price.

Roland UM-ONE mk2

83
GEARANK

83 out of 100. Incorporating 1400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Roland UM-ONE mk2 USB MIDI Interface

The Roland UM-ONE mk2 is a compact and affordable USB MIDI interface that has low latency timing. It comes in a form of a "Y" cable. It has data indicators for its MIDI ports and has conveniently integrated USB and MIDI cables. There's a small switch on the side labelled "COMP/TAB" that allows you to set it to use the supplied "old school" Windows/Mac drivers ("COMP") or the more modern "Class Compliant" Mode ("TAB") that doesn't need drivers so it also works with IOS (iPad 2 and later, via Apple's CCK/lightning connector), Linux and newer Android devices. Just one thing to keep in mind with iPad compatibility is that the manual states that you need to connect it through a powered USB hub, presumably because it may use more power than IOS provides. However here Roland says it's compatible without needing extra power and users have reported that it works connected straight into the Apple adapter as well.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Driver Mode available for Windows/Mac, Class Compliant Mode : Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and iPad 2 or later (via CCK/lightning connector)
  • Power Supply:USB. May need powered USB hub for iPad/IOS connection
  • Size: 2.38" (W) x 1.19" (D) x 0.56" (H)
  • Weight: 4 oz.

Pros

Many users found this interface convenient since it's easy to set up and has a straightforward manual. For those Windows/Mac users who prefer to use the drivers the setup there is generally straightforward and there are drivers available all the way back to Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.4. The Class Compliant MIDI option ensures that it can work with iPads, Linux and modern operating systems.

Cons

There were some users who had driver setup problems particularly with older versions of Windows and Mac operating systems. In some cases it also seems that the "COMP/TAB" was confusing for some and they needlessly battled driver issues when the Class Compliant mode could have had them up and running. The mixed signals over whether a powered USB hub was required for iPads also caused some anxiety for buyers even though it worked fine without needing the powered hub.

Overall

This simple and straightforward MIDI interface is a great choice for you if you're a beginner starting out when it comes to using MIDI hardware. This is a good choice if you just need to connect a single keyboard or module to your computer.

Yamaha MD-BT01

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$55
Yamaha MD-BT01

The Yamaha MD-BT01 is a Bluetooth wireless MIDI Interface that has MIDI In/Out terminals for Mac and iOS systems. Bluetooth MIDI is a new technology standard initially developed by Apple and so it's mainly only been compatible with Apple devices although other operating systems such as Windows 10 have added support. The unit is powered by the MIDI connection so no cables are required allowing a truly wireless setup. Yamaha provide a companion App that allows you to easily use multiple MD-BT01s in your setup. Keep in mind that this interface obviously won't work with USB.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Bluetooth LE MIDI. Compatible with iOs 8 or later and Mac OSX Yosemite or later with Bluetooth 4.0 installed.
  • Power Supply: Powered by MIDI Connection
  • Size: 0.67"(W) x 2.63" (D) x 0.67"(H)
  • Weight: 0.81oz

Pros

iOS and Mac users provided positive feedback for this device saying and Bluetooth connection is generally easy to set up. Comments about the latency generally ranged from non-existent to acceptable, In terms of range it can work up to 30 feet even through walls and obstructions.

Cons

A small number of users have criticized it for not being immediately recognized by iOS devices when pairing but it does work most of the time. Some of them also mentioned its build is a bit flimsy and may not plug in easily to some MIDI devices. There were also some reports of latency issues particularly when sending a lot of MIDI data so there could be issues with sending complex multi-channel pieces. Of course the big question of "would you trust this for a live performance" comes up and it does seem that most prefer the reliability of a wired connection when performing in front of an audience.

Overall

This interface is a great choice if you want an easy to set up wireless system that works at up to 30 feet distance.

IK Multimedia iRig MIDI 2

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
IK Multimedia iRig MIDI 2 Midi Interface

The iRig MIDI 2 from IK Multimedia is described by the makers as a 'Universal MIDI interface' and it does offer more connectivity options than other interfaces. On top of being USB class compliant, it comes with a lightning cable for connecting to IOS devices directly so you won't need Apple's USB to Lightning adapter. Also optionally available are 30-pin connectors for older IOS devices as well as a Micro-USB-OTG connection for Android devices that take this size and have OTG support.

The unit features 3 MIDI ports: In, Out and Thru and these have light indicators as well. In addition to the interface buyers also get access to a variety of free IK Multimedia software including SampleTank 4 SE for Mac/Pc and various apps for IOS and Android.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports:1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out, 1 MIDI Thru
  • Compatibility:Class compliant and compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux and Android via OTG to Mini-DIN cable
  • Power Supply: Host device (USB/Lightning Cable)
  • Size: 1.95"(W) x 3.1"(D) x 1.18"(H)
  • Weight: 2.12oz

Pros

Many users praise how simple it is to use and integrate their iOS device to MIDI devices. It has a very quick response and low latency close to real time. It's flexible to use since it lets you attach either a lightning cable or USB cable. Some have mentioned that it's very small in size that makes it easy to carry around and In his review, saintjoe from soundsandgear.com has mentioned it's a "truly mobile MIDI interface that works with any MIDI capable device since it allows you to hook up with standard MIDI cables."

Cons

One minor flaw many reviewers mention would be its dependence on power of its host device which for tablets and phones means you can't charge at the same time. This is expected with compact midi interfaces though. Some owners have taken issue with the free software, both for difficulties in the registration process as well them not being full versions. Also it doesn't come with any midi cables so you'll need a few of these to get going.

Overall

If you want the flexibility to connect easily to multiple types of devices, particularly IOS then this is the best option.

5 In/Out MIDI Interface

Most users without really complex studio setups can make do with single in/out midi port interfaces and these are typically what they prefer. The larger models also often don't get as highly rated, perhaps due to power users having higher expectations. We thought it would be useful to include a multi port option for those that are interested and this one made the list based on Gearank as well as coming in at a handy price too!

MOTU micro lite - 5x5 USB MIDI interface

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$139
MOTU micro lite — 5x5 USB MIDI interface

The MOTU micro lite 5x5 is a professional MIDI interface that provides 5 MIDI In/MIDI Out and 80 MIDI channels that are compatible with all versions of Mac and Windows devices. It has a metal casing that's both portable and convenient for desktop operation. It also has removable rack attachments and a custom center-joint fastener that allows you to mount two of these interfaces side by side in a standard 19-inch equipment rack. The number of MIDI ports can be expanded by plugging it to other MOTU MIDI interfaces.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 5 MIDI In, 5 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Proprietary Drivers Supplied for Windows and Mac (Not Class Complaint)
  • Power Supply: USB
  • Size: 9.5"(W) x 7"(D) x 1.75"(H)
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Pros

Many people praise it for its simple design, how well-built it is and its low latency. For an interface that has multiple ports, it's simple and straightforward when it comes to configuration. A few musicians have tried connecting multiple keyboards and synth modules and gave positive feedback on how easy it is to integrate it with their computers. A few reviewers mentioned they never had any sync issues when synced with other devices.

Cons

Some users notice their DAWs don't recognize this interface right away. Some of them had to unplug and re-install drivers of this interface in order for it to work. A few have mentioned this doesn't have any routing options either. This interface is not class compliant which means that you are dependent on drivers from the manufacturer for it to function. If there are new Windows or Mac updates in the future then you may need to install new drivers.

Overall

This is an affordable choice for your professional or home studio that's expandable and has extra features.

Things To Consider When Buying A MIDI Interface

  • What is a MIDI Interface?

    Simply put, it's a device that allows you to connect MIDI devices, such as hardware synths and keyboards that use 5-pin MIDI jacks, to your computer or tablet.

  • Connectivity

    Some MIDI interfaces come with "Y" cables: 2 MIDI connectors (1 In/1 Out) on one end and a USB connector. Some have multiple MIDI sockets and this is usually necessary if you want to connect multiple MIDI controller devices at the same time - an example would be connecting an Electronic Drum Set and a MIDI Keyboard to your computer. You can usually daisy chain MIDI output (receiver) devices through a single computer connection though.

    There are MIDI Interfaces that are compatible with IOS devices, such as iPhones or iPads, with the use of Apple lightning cables. Any class compliant USB device can be connected to iOS devices via an Apple Camera Connection Kit or Lightning adapter - note that your iOS apps must use CoreMIDI.

  • Power

    Many MIDI interfaces don't need additional AC power cables or batteries and can be powered via USB when plugged to a PC, Mac or Linux box.

    Important information for iPad users: The iPad limits the amount of power available to USB devices so even though you can use Class Compliant interfaces with it you may need to use a Powered USB Hub (link to Amazon.com) to provide sufficient power. This does not apply if your MIDI interface has its own power adapter.

  • Class Compliant USB MIDI

    Class compliant devices are plug-and-play devices that don't need extra drivers to work (although manufacturers often supply them anyway). Although theoretically any class compliant device should work with any operating system that supports them you may have trouble with older operating systems so if you don't have the latest version of your OS then check the compatibility information carefully before purchasing (or upgrade to the latest OS if you can).

  • Number of MIDI Ports (Input/Output/Thru)

    MIDI devices come in 3 ports: In, Out and Thru. An interface with single MIDI In and Out ports is enough to connect one MIDI controller (i.e. keyboard) to a computer and usually you can also daisy chain to other MIDI receiver units (such as sound modules) using the Thru ports in these. If you want to use multiple MIDI controllers you'll generally need multiple MIDI Input ports to your computer. Also it can be easier to control multiple MIDI receiver units with each having their own dedicated port and this can also reduce latency when there's a lot of MIDI data flying around. Another reason to have more MIDI channels is if your sound modules don't have a MIDI Thru port for daisy chaining. Each MIDI port contains 16 channels.

Best MIDI Interface Selection Methodology

The guide was first published on April 19, 2017 written by Denise Azucena and the latest comprehensive update was published on April 10, 2020 written by Daniel Barnett with contributions from Denise Azucena.

We looked at all the popular and highly rated MIDI interfaces available from major American music gear retailers and short-listed the 18 most promising for detailed analysis. During this procedure we processed more than 5,300 individual review and rating sources from user and expert reviews and forum comments. We then selected the highest rated interfaces to recommend above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Great comparative study, very

Great comparative study, very clear and what I have been looking for for’quite Some time. Don’t know why I didn’t find the article earlier.
Thanks a lot for your great work.

Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your appreciation of the work we do - remember to check with us first next time!

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