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The Best MIDI Interfaces - $36 to $150

MIDI Interfaces

Originally published on Apr. 19, 2017 and last updated on May 2, 2018.

Whether you're looking to get your first good MIDI interface, or if you're looking to upgrade so you can plug more MIDI devices simultaneously into your computer, then this guide is for you. Note that many of these interfaces are class compliant so you'll be able to use them with iOS or Linux - make sure you read the "Things to Consider" section if you plan to use one with an iPad.

Contents

The Best MIDI Interfaces

iConnectivity mio

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$36
iConnectivity mio 1 in 1 out MIDI to USB 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, including 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 advanced functions. Also a few users reported issues with sending System Exclusive (SysEx) MIDI messages. There were also some cases were people reported MIDI signals getting cut off.

Overall

This is a basic interface which lets you connect a MIDI device easily without the hassle of installing additional drivers.

Creative E-MU Xmidi 1x1 Tab (V3)

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$31

The E-MU Xmidi 1x1 Tab is a simple "Y" cable Class Compliant MIDI interface from the makers of the original 'Sound Blaster' audio cards. It's probably the simplest and least feature packed USB MIDII interface on this list and is literally all cable and connectors. They've been making them since 2006 in a few different forms and if you click the manufacture's link it seems they haven't updated their documentation since then but we can assure you that this 'Tab' model is a "Plug and Play" / Class Compliant device that works with all modern operating systems.

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 5.5 ft
  • Weight: 5 oz

Pros

It seems this device's lack of features is a virtue with most users reporting it being easy to set up and use. Generally people found their computers recognized the device straight away. As with the other devices in this list the USB Class Compliant MIDI means that it can work with all serious modern operating systems now and into the future without having to worry about drivers.

Cons

A few users mentioned that it had a cheap build that can easily break and others received defective cables at purchase. There was a report that when transferring 'System Exclusive' messages (SysEx) the unit could not handle the highest data rate leading to data corruption.

Overall

This interface is a good MIDI interface if you want the simplest possible option for you to connect your MIDI device to your computer.

Roland UM-ONE mk2

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ 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 adaptor 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

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
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 are adding 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.

midiplus Tbox 2X2

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$30
midiplus Tbox 2X2 USB MIDI Interfaces

The Tbox 2x2 is a simple MIDI interface with a total of 32 MIDI channels of (16) inputs and (16) outputs. Aside from its compatibility with different operating systems, it can be used to connect other older hardware equipment as long as they have standard 5-Pin MIDI connections.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 2 MIDI In / 2 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Class Compliant
  • Power Supply: USB powered
  • Size: 3.8" (W) x 2.7" (D) x 1.7" (H)
  • Weight: 0.32 oz

Pros

Overall, this interface is quite compact, durable and reliable for its price point. Reviewers also mentioned how it was easy to set up with no drivers needed, and there weren't any reports of connectivity issues with their devices. Additionally, standalone VSTs and DAWs were able to easily recognize this interface once plugged in. In regards to hardware connectivity, it connects seamlessly with modern and traditional hardware synthesizers.

Cons

There were some reported issues when it comes to sending SysEx (System Exclusive) MIDI messages to older synthesizers, although there were no problems in sending CC messages.

Overall

This is beginner friendly interface for those who are looking for something affordable and easy to set up.

iConnectivity iConnectMIDI1

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
iConnectMIDI1 1 in 1 out MIDI interface

The iConnectMIDI1 is a 16-channel USB MIDI interface powered via USB. It comes with a lightning-to-iConnectivity mini-USB connection cable for connecting your laptop to an iOs device. This simple interface allows you to connect your MIDI compatible controller, synthesizer, keyboard or drum machine to your Mac, PC or mobile device. In addition to that, there are no drivers needed to install when connecting to any operating system.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports:1 MIDI In / 1 MIDI Out
  • Compatibility: Class Compliant; iOS, Mac and PC compatible
  • Power Supply: USB bus powered
  • Size: 2.5" (W) x 5" (D) x 7" (H)
  • Weight:19.2 oz

Pros

A lot of reviewers who own an iOs device, such as iPads and iPhones, found this straightfoward and easy to use and set up. They were also able to utilize any hardware keyboard they once connected. From using VST apps to sequencing mobile digital audio workstations, this works well without any reported latencies.

Cons

One reviewer mentioned the cable was too short for their preference, which eventually was compensated by extending the connection by adding more MIDI cables.

Overall

This is an exceptionally portable and simple interface to use with iOs devices and for live gigs.

iConnectivity iConnectMIDI2+

83
GEARANK

83 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$90

The iConnectMIDI2+ has multi-host capabilities where it connects not only Mac, PC or iOs devices, but also traditional MIDI hardware. Aside from sending and receiving MIDI messages, Its Audio passThru™ allows digital audio to integrate between devices without delay. This is effective when using your Mac or PC as a synth slave to your iOs device, or even running a soft synth on your mobile device as a touch-controlled plug-in for your DAW.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 2 MIDI-In / 2 MIDI-Out
  • Compatibility: Class Compliant
  • Power Supply: USB Bus Powered
  • Size: 8.43"(W) x 1.46"(H) x 5.51"(D)
  • Weight: 34.08 oz

Pros

When it comes to routing devices, it's very flexible when using soft synths with their iOs devices to their PC or Mac. A number of owners were impressed by its Audio passThru™ feature, which allows routing of audio signals to their DAW from external routed equipment. An example of this would be audio routing the VSTs from their iPad to their laptop. There were reports of zero latencies when it comes to playing synths. Additionally, the digital audio workstations' were able to detect the interface easily.

Cons

There were a few users who reported that setting up with an iPad is trickier, and eventually found solutions by adjusting MIDI settings on their computer. Some also mentioned some of the advanced features take a while to learn.

Overall

This is an excellent versatile MIDI interface for those who are familiar with an advanced understanding for MIDI routings.

M-Audio MIDISPORT 2x2 Anniversary Edition

84
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$70

The M-Audio MIDISPORT 2x2 was part of M-Audio's 20th anniversary celebration, it expands on the features that are found on the first edition model released in 2000. Aside from offering two of each MIDI inputs and outputs, it features a stand-alone MIDI merge and THRU functionality, ideal for connecting multiple MIDI devices and daisy chaining. Connectivity is made easy by simply plugging it into a computer device, and is also powered via USB.

Specifications

  • Number of MIDI Ports: 2 MIDI-In/2 MIDI-Out
  • Compatibility: Class-compliant operation under Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X
  • Power Supply: USB powered
  • Size: 7.6"(W) x 6.5"(D) x 2.4"(H)
  • Weight: 14.4 oz

Pros

Musicians with a professional background found this interface to be reliable and effective for connecting MIDI gear to their PC or Mac, especially for live settings. It provide no midi feedback problem and zero latency when it comes to both recording and playback of MIDI. It's quite functional with old MIDI equipment, not to mention easy to set up. In addition to that, it is lightweight yet feels very sturdy in regards to its construction. One reviewer mentioned that its LED is excellent for MIDI testing, for finding out if it's configured and operating properly, and checking the status of the signal.

Cons

A few reviewers mentioned it consumed a lot of power from their devices and preferred it to have an external power source.

Overall

If you are looking for an effective and responsive MIDI interface, this is a highly recommended choice.

Additional 5 In/Out MIDI Interface Option

The larger 4 and 5 in/out models don't get as highly rated as the smaller models, perhaps due to power users having higher expectations, and none were rated highly enough to make the list above so we've added a reliable one here for anyone in need of more.

MOTU micro lite - 5x5 USB MIDI interface

82
GEARANK

82 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ 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 dependant 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 necessary if you want to connect multiple MIDI devices at the same time - an example would be connecting an Electronic Drum Set and a MIDI Keyboard at the same time. Multiple MIDI sockets are also useful if you want to leave multiple devices plugged in even if you only use one at a time - saves the hassle of unplugging and plugging in different devices constantly.

    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 will usually need to use a Powered USB Hub 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. A single MIDI port (Output) is enough to connect your MIDI controller to a computer. Having multiple synth modules, keyboards or effects processors means you need a dedicated interface with more MIDI channels to connect to, which helps reduce latency. Another reason to have more MIDI channels is if one of your sound modules don't have a MIDI Thru port for daisy chaining. Each MIDI port contains 16 channels.

Best MIDI Interface Selection Methodology

We looked at all the popular and highly rated MIDI interfaces available from major American music gear retailers and short-listed the 24 most promising for detailed analysis. During this procedure we processed more than 4,200 individual review and rating sources from user and expert reviews and forum comments - that's 30% more sources than last year. We then selected the highest rated interfaces to recommend above. For more information about this process 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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