Secret Base Design Turns Apple TV Into MidiTV

miditvSecret Base Design, in conjunction with Confusion Studios (MIDI Designer) and Audeonic Apps (MIDI Bridge/MIDIbus), has announced MidiTV, free software that brings MIDI to the Apple TV streaming set top box.

Why would you want MIDI on your television?

MidiTV + an Apple TV turn your television into a big-screen platform for music apps. This means that you can use your Apple TV to run MIDI software, use your TV as an extra screen for your DAW, use it as a platform for MIDI-controlled VJ software and more.

Or, as the developers say, “If MIDI is available, there will always be something great to do with it!”

Here’s the official intro video for MidiTV:

The video shows two client apps for Apple TV — MidiTV Clock and MidiTV Orchestra — and how to use them with your Mac DAW or with MIDI apps running on iOS devices.

All of the MidiTV apps are currently free. The developers want to see if there’s interest in using the Apple TV to run MIDI-controlled applications.

They also plan to release a software development kit (SDK) for MidiTV within a few days, so that other developers can create Apple TV apps that can be MIDI-controlled.

Here are the key components of the platform:

  • MidiTV Host — a free Mac app that lets you send/receive MIDI to an Apple TV
  • Apple TV MIDI applications – these first MidiTV apps are free downloads that you can search for using your Apple TV:
    • MidiTV Orchestra — 16 general MIDI channels, with a SoundFont engine built in. Channel 10 is linked to standard GM percussion, but the other channels can switch to any GM instrument (and respond to program change messages). The TV app will display the MIDI played on each channel, so you can see what’s going on in a complex piece.
    • MidiTV Clock — a tempo/beat/bar display, that watches incoming MIDI clock messages. There are also eight visual meters, responding to CC 100-107. This is set up so that you can map the CCs in Ableton Live, and then have a remote display of VU meters (using, for example VUplug).
  • VUplug – this is a Mac DAW plug-in that will track volume levels and send that as MIDI to your Apple TV MIDI apps.
  • music IO for iOS also now has MidiTV support built into it. This lets you connect your iOS devices to Apple TV MidiTV applications.

Check out the video and let us know what you think of the idea of MidiTV and MIDI-controlled apps for your television. And if you’ve got ideas for apps that you’d like to see on a big screen, let us know in the comments!

13 thoughts on “Secret Base Design Turns Apple TV Into MidiTV

  1. There was an update of something recently, which was covered here, that had MIDI to Appletv as part of the update.
    I don’t think the MIDI’fied apple tv concept will take off.

  2. This looks very interesting to me.

    I’d love to hook this to a projector and use it to create midi-controlled visuals that are tied to my music.

  3. Thanks much for the coverage! And I should clarify that it’s the whole music IO team involved in this — Confusion Studios (MIDI Designer) and Audeonic Apps (MIDI Bridge/MIDIbus) have their hands in it too.

    I’ve been working with some film makers who use Isadora (from, which is a MIDI-controlled video processing system; that’s a large part of the motivation to do this. I don’t think we’ll make an Isadora clone — but there’s plenty of space to do something cool in the same universe. And with the SDK, maybe the Isadora folks will port to the TV, or cook up something new. MIDI Designer has found a second home in film and TV studios, for knocking together one-off lighting control interfaces; I don’t know what people will do with MidiTV, but I think there’s a community out there where it fits.

    At $150, the Apple TV is a stupidly powerful graphics engine with an HDMI port out the back. MIDI is a great way to do sequencing, interfacing, control, and it’s incredibly low bandwidth. It seemed like a no-brainer to put them together.

    1. Any chance this will work with a touchscreen interface to control Lemur? I’ve been doing this on Android TV boxes and an Acer touchscreen, but would much rather use an AppleTV.

  4. I could imagine a nice home piano teaching program being developed for the AppleTV using MIDITV and a wireless MIDI keyboard. Possibly some music games as well.

  5. Wow! Literally outside the box thinking! Seriously, this is a whole area that I’m not sure anybody else has even considered. I don’t know how much groundswell we can expect in this area, but hats off to SBD for building the answer before anyone has even asked the question.

    1. I’ve been considering some ideas since the Appletv with apps was just a rumour but start to search for devs lately since I can manage my needs with touchOSC on iphone + iPad. Appltv could be the perfect embed platform as Intel Nuc replacement almost for audiovideo apps and fx stompboxes… but Apple seems not interested in make things like that happen. So I will continue collecting old iPhones/iPods 6 gen and use them as platform….

  6. This looks like something new and exciting.
    Could you use this as a rompler or synth module……………..are there any apps out there ……

    1. MidiTV Orchestra is basically a ROMpler — it’s a SoundFont engine (with the widely used GM font from S. Christian Collins). We might make it possible to add other SoundFonts in an update, so you could customize if you want. I’m hoping some synth developers decide to port — things like Audulus might fit nicely (it’s already universal from iOS to OS X, and it could download patches developed elsewhere onto the TV — I think building a patch directly on the TV with a remote would be a pain).

      1. Yeh being able to add soundfonts would be great…….
        It would make an ideal sound module…………rather than taking a mac mini everywhere…………very exciting stuff……….it will be interesting to see where it goes / if anyone ports a sequencer

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