MIDI 2.0 Specs Now Available for Download

The MIDI Association has announced that complete specifications for the MIDI 2.0 update are now available to the public.

The original MIDI spec, introduced in 1983, consisted of a transmitter talking to a receiver.

The MIDI 2.0 specification now enables two-way communication between MIDI devices. This allows for features like automatic setup, based on one device querying another, obtaining a response, and configuring itself. This also ensures backward compatibility: if a MIDI 2.0 device can’t carry on a two-way conversation, it recognizes that it’s talking to a MIDI 1.0 device, and adjusts its communications accordingly.

Aside from improving ease of use and workflow, MIDI 2.0 delivers more nuanced expressiveness for electronic instruments. It’s now possible to convey the same kind of subtle expression normally associated with acoustic instruments, thanks to higher-resolution dynamics and control data, extended controller options (including per-note controllers for exceptional articulation), and simplified controller assignments.

The complete set of five core MIDI 2.0 specifications, as ratified at the MMA (MIDI Manufacturers Association) meeting during the Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, California, is now available for download to developers and the general public. To obtain the set of specifications, simply join The MIDI Association, a “global community of people who work, play, and create” with MIDI.

Individuals can sign up for a free membership on The MIDI Association website, and companies that would like to become MMA members to access the MMA’s software and tools for MIDI 2.0 development can now apply online here.

The following MIDI specifications are now available:

  • M2-100-U v1.0 MIDI 2.0 Specification Overview
  • M2-101-UM v1.1 MIDI-CI Specification
  • M2-102-U v1.0 Common Rules for MIDI-CI Profiles
  • M2-103-UM v1.0 Common Rules for MIDI-CI PE
  • M2-104-UM v1.0 UMP and MIDI 2.0 Protocol Specification

Gene Joly, the MMA’s current President, states “We are happy to provide access to the complete MIDI 2.0 specifications to everyone, and believe MIDI 2.0 will unleash a level of innovation in music and the arts we haven’t seen since MIDI 1.0 changed the world. All of us are excited about what MIDI 2.0 will bring to music and the arts.”

Going to SxSW next month? One member of the group who developed MIDI 2.0, Brett Porter of Art + Logic, is leading a session on “MIDI 2.0 For Musicians,” March 19 during South by Southwest 2020. Porter says, “The new MIDI 2 spec brings everything into the 21st century, making MIDI faster and more expressive … [during this session] we’ll look at the new concepts and capabilities that are coming and the impact this will have on existing systems.”

For more information: You can find out more about MIDI 2.0 on The MIDI Association website.


Header image: South by Southwest 2020
MIDI 2.0 chart: The MIDI Association

11 thoughts on “MIDI 2.0 Specs Now Available for Download

  1. I hope this leads to development of a theremin midi controller, which was previously not possible without stepping of notes or extensive programming

  2. This has been a long time coming. I’m surprised it took so long. This should have happened 20 years ago. People have been trying to improve MIDI for a long time and got nowhere because of a lack of interest. Finally everyone else has awakened.

  3. I wish there was a MIDI over 3.5mm plug/socket standard.
    Also an analog CV standard (Roland, Korg etc.) not the linear va logarithmic nonsense.

  4. Its nice to see this finally appear. The new setup capabilities alone make it worthwhile. MIDI 1.0 accommodation is appreciated and sensible. Most real-world users will never need much of what this offers, but things like MPE will pop up and show off its merits. I’m still waiting for that mega-ROLI virtuoso to appear on “America’s Got Talent.” THEN the world outside Synthtopia will start noticing.

  5. Goodness, already??!!
    How do they expect anyone to keep up with this frantic rate of change?

    Meanwhile, the C language standardization committee is seriously considering adding the keywords “true” and “false” to the language, representing the values 1 and 0 respectively.

    Really folks, these are heady times!

  6. Well, obviously I would have liked for everyone to come to my SXSW session about MIDI 2, but the Coronavirus had different ideas this year. If you need me, I’ll be in my back yard doing my presentation for my dogs and the neighborhood kids.

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