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