The iConnectMIDI Interface Is Like The Rosetta Stone Of MIDI

iConnectivity iConnectMIDI

MIDI is almost 30 years old. In the years since it was introduced, it’s become one of the most important standards in musical instruments and software.

For the first two decades of MIDI’s existence, you could connect just about any two MIDI-compatible devices together. With a couple of DIN MIDI cables, you could connect keyboards, synth modules, effects, controllers and computers with MIDI interfaces.

More recently, though, connecting MIDI devices has gotten more complicated. Manufacturers have switched to USB cables on keyboards and MIDI controllers. And the explosion of iOS music applications means that musicians now want to connect MIDI devices to iPhones and iPads, which use a proprietary 30-pin connector.

What do you do if you want to use an iPad sequencer to run your hardware gear? Or you want to use your computer to sequence hardware synths — and also iOS apps? Or you want to use your USB MIDI controller to play your old-school synth module?

These are the sort of situations that iConnectivity’s iConnectMIDI was designed to solve.

The iConnectMIDI is a MIDI interface that’s like the Rosetta Stone of MIDI. It not only has the physical ports to connect computer, iOS devices, USB controllers and old-school MIDI devices together, it has the power to do it intelligently.

The iConnectMIDI Hardware

In the box, you’ll find:

  • a 5V power adapter with interchangeable power plugs, so you can plug it in just about anywhere;
  • a mini-USB-to-iOS device cable; and
  • the iConnectMIDI.

The back of the iConnectMIDI, shown above, has plugs for power and 2 x 2 MIDI DIN ports.

Around the front, the iConnectMIDI has a USB port, two mini USB ports and indicator LEDs. The USB port supports powered hubs, though, so you can connect up to 8 USB MIDI devices through a hub.

Using The iConnectMIDI

Setting up the device is easy – just plug it in, and plug your stuff in, and it pretty much works like you’d expect it to. By default, iConnectMIDI passes all MIDI ports to all other MIDI ports, so you can play on a USB keyboard and have it control a software synth on your computer, an iPad synth app or a vintage synth module.

Once you figure out that iConnectMIDI lets all your tech devices talk to one other, though, you’ll find that it opens up a lot of possibilities. We tried it out with a variety of MIDI devices, including a USB control surface, an iPad and one of the first MIDI synths ever made, a Sequential Circuits Six Trak. The iConnectMIDI let everything talk to everything else seamlessly.

And when you consider that you can daisy chain a bunch of old-school MIDI gear off the device’s DIN MIDI ports, in addition to the 10 devices you can connect via its USB connectors, the iConnectMIDI starts to look super-cool.

iConnectivity has also made a free iOS app, PortManager, that lets you configure the way MIDI gets routed among the 12 DIN & USB MIDI input and output ports. And for each port, you can create MIDI filters.

This opens up a lot of possible scenarios:

  • Use iConnectMIDI to bridge between different MIDI device types, so you can connect USB controllers to your vintage gear.
  • Merge MIDI inputs from multiple MIDI ports to a single output port.
  • Send any MIDI input to one or more output ports
  • Filter MIDI events by port.

If you create a custom routing setup, you can save it to the iConnectMIDI and it will remember the settings each time you power it up.

iConnectivity doesn’t include a manual in the iConnectMIDI box, but it’s available as a PDF download. The manual is full of illustrations, like the one below, that clearly explain the different ways you can use the device with computers, with older MIDI hardware, with USB MIDI devices, or with iPads and iPhones.

iConnectMIDI MIDI Connections

In addition, iConnectivity has created a series of videos, embedded below, that demonstrate how to use the iConnectMIDI in various scenarios.

Summary

The iConnectMIDI is priced at $179. iConnectivity positions the device as a professional MIDI solution. When you consider that the device takes the place of a 4-port USB MIDI hub, the iPad Camera Connection Kit, an iOS MIDI adapter, and a MIDI router, and that it fills the roles of those devices more effectively, the iConnectMIDI is an elegant option.

If you want all your MIDI apps and gear to work together, no matter the platform, the iConnectMIDI MIDI interface offers a great solution.

If you’ve tried the iConnectMIDI yourself, leave a comment with your experience!


40 thoughts on “The iConnectMIDI Interface Is Like The Rosetta Stone Of MIDI

  1. Looks like a smart purchase to future proof some of my gear. Though it is a little expensive, it looks well designed. MIDI is still pretty important to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. I pre-ordered one of these when I first heard of them and finally received it months later. It’s a really handy device.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Nono – this does that, but adds all the USB functionality, iOS device support and intelligent filtering & routing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. They really should have also included audio interface for it. There is another product coming from some manufacturer I don’t remember, that has both midi and audio interfaces in it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • The Tascam iU2 offers both audio and midi for use with iOS devices and computers, but it does not as much MIDI I/O.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. So what exactly makes this better than an old 4×4 midi usb interface and a 5$ usb midi interface for the ipad?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      • Amazon. They work, but they’re not perfect. For example, if you send data faster than the serial MIDI can handle it, it drops it on the floor, while my Roland Quad-Capture will buffer it. But for just getting MIDI connected to USB, it might be good enough.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        • Bought one of those $5 midi interfaces on Amazon – total crap, as it adds annoying crosstalk to the audio channel. Also the MIDI functionality is iffy at best.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • David – this is intended to be a professional solution. So, it’s supports USB MIDI devices, works with or without a computer host, supports multiple iOS device, supports custom routing between ports and isn’t a ‘patched together’ solution.

      Patched together solutions may still a good option for some people, though!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. You can hook up 10 USB devices, instead of the one that you’d be able to connect with your solution. Also, you can use it without a computer. And you can customize what MIDI signals go to each port. And it’s a lot less clunky than kludging something together with the camera adapter.

    Not everybody is going to need those sort of features. If you do, though, the iConnectMIDI is really handy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Looks like they thought of everything, except one (kind of important) thing. From the manual:

    “iConnectMIDI will not power a connected iOS device from either of its two mini-USB connectors. The iOS device will draw on its own battery power; depending on its usage and the number of applications running, the iOS device will eventually need to be recharged.”

    Same issue with the camera connector. Makes it risky for live use.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Thanks for bringing that up.

      I didn’t see this as a significant issue, since you can use an iPad for around 10 hours straight.

      For some, though, it may be a consideration. I could see this becoming more of an issue as tablets get more powerful and there are more serious apps developed for them.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Waiting on the Tascam iu2
    Combined audio and midi interface and works with ios as well as pc
    And is more affordable too

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. I bought iconnect midi and it is extremely powerful. While you can use the USB to power 1 device it’s best to use a powered USB hub. Two things I’d like to see – iOS device charging and more advanced midi routing like converting program changes into note/cc messages. All in all I’m extremely satisfied with the build quality and what I’ve been able to do with it. Went on vacation without a laptop and brought this with my iPhone and nano key2 to sketch ideas. If you’re in the market for a USB midi hub, this is at the same price point as a MOTU unit with greater connectivity options plus it is standalone!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. still very expensive. The same price of my netbook + midi interface I use to route midi via free midi router software either to ipad, synths, computer, controllers etc. Plus from the netbook I can connect to the web then I can check Synthtopia to read my fav news, so yeh my netbook still best for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. This is sort of like the old Opcode multi port midi interfaces/routers. You can route, merge, split, and filter midi signals with those, and you did not need to be connected to a computer at the time you wanted to do all of that. And this has the addition of being an iPad interface.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. “The USB port supports powered hubs, though, so you can connect up to 8 USB MIDI devices through a hub”

    To elaborate, if you hook up this device to an 8 way, powered USB hub and then plug in eight, 8 port USB midi interfaces (64 physical ports total) you can still only access 8 of those 64 ports (1 on each interface)

    Why? “we only Initialize the first port of each USB MIDI device. This is a limitation we enforce in firmware” “We just looked at it from point of view of a user, do they want all of their MIDI streams interrupted if they hot plugged in another MIDI device on USB host? We thought likely no” i.e The USB spec states that if you hot swap a USB device on a hub, then all devices will get disconnected in order to have the new device connected.

    Fair enough, but all takes is a warning in the manual that this could be an issue, then we are only limited by the bandwidth of the USB cable coming into this device.

    So I still await for my 40+ physical midi ports to have the ability to talk directly with iOS.

    Maybe a company will come along that trusts the intelligence of it’s user base to decide for themselves how to utilize a product to it’s fullest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Yeah – they just missed out on all those buyers that want to want to hook up 64 physical MIDI ports to an iPad through a USB hub.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

    • You know, thinking about it, there could be a pretty huge market for a professional USB MIDI hub. I mean, there is almost nothing on those lines.
      Sure, people say USB has worse latency than DIN cabling, but I’m sure it cannot be THAT bad!

      It would need USB host functionality, maybe 2 hosts with built-in powered hubs, USB device ports (I’d say at least 4, but more like 8), and a row of DIN connectors both in and out, say 8 of each.
      Then it would need a VST control interface for routing, and tadah… :) A professional USB MIDI hub. Would be pretty cool, I guess. Maybe worthy of a Kickstarter project.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. I’m disappointed that you can’t charge the iPad while you’re playing (as you can with the Alesis iO dock?)

    Charge-while-play is such an obvious feature – why does nearly everyone (except Alesis) omit it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • Is there really anyone who *doesn’t* think that being able to charge the iPad while you play is a good idea?

      Isn’t it annoying that the iConnectMIDI interface costs just as much as (or more than) the Behringer and Alesis docks, but it can’t actually charge the iPad?

      Isn’t the iPad a much more useful device if you don’t constantly have to worry about the battery discharging?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  13. It’s clearly a very ambitious and cool gadget, but ultimately a failed design.

    My qualms about it are:
    - I heard somewhere that the iPhone cannot act as a USB host. It seems that here the iOS device needs to be the host, or no?
    - Only two USB device ports. This is problematic. Three would be the minimum (Computer, iOS1, iOS2). I’d prefer four to leave options open.
    - No power to the iOS device. This is prohibitive.
    - Only one iOS connection cable included. Come on…
    - USB host connector on the front panel. Who designed this thing?! It’s not like I’d want to plug a pendrive into it!

    Currently the only feasible iOS MIDI option seems to be the iRig MIDI. It has power input, costs less then half the iConnectMIDI, and is a lot less buggy than the Alesis. (The forums of iOS music software are full of bug reports about stuck notes on the Alesis. It’s clearly an Alesis bug, I wonder if they fixed it already.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • You must be looking for the review of the iConnectCV.

      (which could actually be a cool product)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Nice looking unit. If it could do some internal MIDI message conversions (programmable) like Midi Solution’s “Event Processor” device, I’d buy a couple today! That would be the perfect combo….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Was solid out of the box, then broke after upgrading firmware!
    But all was not lost, I was able to resend the sysex midi file at half speed using sysex librarian for Mac. Midi Ox does well for windows pcs. Then I had to hook up a friends ipad to run the free app and set back to Factory Reset, twice. Now it’s all better again. Works for what I need. But if you need CV check out the TE OPlab MIDI CV

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Does this mean that my trusty Steinway feeling Roland A-80 since it has obviously no USB can not be used as my midi controller? It sounds like I have to buy a crappy midiman to get this to work for me? I have some old school rack mount synths… Wavestation SR, Matrix 1000, EMU E6400 ultras and a wheelbarrow full of emu Proteus 2000′s will all the various sound cards….. and of course softys the only synth I have with USB is the Roland XV-5050….I don’t trust it, it is in the shop more than my rack, Can that be used as the f=cking connection I need? God this would be a terrible thing to overlook …..but I have not read all so will shut up and wait for the pro answer

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. for studio production, chaining more than 2-3 midi devices at once is just silly. this doesnt have enough midi outputs for a pro studio.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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