How To Connect A MIDI Keyboard To iPad Or Computer With Cables

View video: How To Connect A MIDI Keyboard To iPad Or Computer With Cables

Presented by Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor, Brendan Hogan, this helpful video explains step by step how to connect a MIDI piano keyboard to a computer or iPad using cables (wired connection). 

This is a basic but important step on your path to beginning your piano lessons with Musiah or making music generally.


1. The information in this video relates to PC / Mac and iPad 4 or better up to iPad Pro (2nd Gen)

2. Older iPads may require different adapters to the ones shown in the video.

3. The new iPad Pro (3rd Gen) uses a USB C cable, so the adapter needed will also be different.



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Happy playing,

Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor

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Video Transcript

Hello and welcome. Today I'm going to show you how to connect a MIDI keyboard to an iPad or computer using simple cables.

Let's start by taking a look at the back of a MIDI keyboard.

Depending on the make and model of your MIDI keyboard, you may have older style MIDI In and MIDI Out ports like this, or you may have a USB port like this.

Some keyboards, like this one, even have both options.

To use the MIDI In / MIDI Out ports, you'll need a MIDI-to-USB cable like this.

To use the USB port, you just need a standard USB 2.0 cable which is the same type of cable often used to connect a printer to your computer.

If both kinds of port are available on your keyboard, you're probably wondering which one should you use.

I always recommend using the USB port if available because sometimes there can be incompatibility issues between MIDI-to-USB cables (especially the cheaper ones) and certain makes and models of MIDI keyboard.

So connecting from the USB port eliminates these potential issues and it's generally easier to use and more reliable.

Sometimes MIDI keyboards have two USB ports. Typically one is labelled USB-to-Device and the other USB-to-Host.

For transmitting MIDI notes, USB-to-Host is the one you want.

Whichever type of port you use, once you connect either a MIDI-to-USB cable OR a USB 2.0 cable to the back of the keyboard, the other end of the cable is the same. It's just a standard USB plug that you can connect to a USB port on your computer.

Or, if you're using an iPad, you'll connect the USB plug to an adapter which in turn connects to your iPad.

Which adapter should you use?

First up, it's important to understand that an iPad on its own does not have enough energy to power itself plus a MIDI keyboard. So which adapters you can use will depend on whether your MIDI keyboard has its own power supply.

If your keyboard has its own power supply, there are many adapters that will work such as: 

On the other hand, if you are using a MIDI controller, typically it won't have its own power supply. Instead it draws its power from the USB connection – which is fine if you're using it with a computer, but the iPad simply won't be able to power the MIDI controller.

In this case, what you need is an adapter that can power both the iPad and your MIDI keyboard, such as the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.

In this scenario you connect a USB 2.0 cable from the back of your MIDI keyboard to the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter and then plug that into your iPad.

And to provide enough power to run both the iPad and your MIDI keyboard, you would also connect your iPad power supply to the USB 3 Camera Adapter.

So this particular adapter will work with any MIDI keyboard whether or not it has its own power supply and regardless of whether you're using a USB cable or a MIDI-to-USB cable.

Another benefit of using the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter is that your iPad will be continuously charged, whereas if you run it on battery, you'll need to charge it in advance.

There are also a number of all-in one MIDI to iOS adapters available.

These can be cost-effective if your MIDI keyboard only has the older style MIDI In / MIDI Out ports and you don't currently own any MIDI-to-USB cables or adapters for your iPad.

Examples include:

Each of these connects slightly differently, so I recommend doing your own research before purchasing one of these.

Also, where an all-in-one adapter can be useful is if you encounter an incompatibility issue when using a MIDI-to-USB cable with an iPad Pro.

Yes, it can sometimes happen that a cheap MIDI-to-USB cable will work with an older iPad but not with an iPad Pro.

In this case, I do know for a fact that the iConnect MIDI 1 does work with the iPad Pro.

So once again, USB connection, if available, is your safest, most reliable bet. But if you do need to use a MIDI-to-USB cable, to avoid issues, spend a few bucks and get a good quality one.

When possible, a good rule of thumb is to buy the same brand of MIDI-to-USB cable as your MIDI keyboard. So use a Yamaha cable with Yamaha keyboards, a Roland cable with Roland keyboards, and so on.

Alternatively, a good quality cable like the M-Audio Uno will work with almost any brand of keyboard.

And lastly when buying an adapter for your iPad, if possible try to buy an Apple branded adapter. Non-Apple branded adapters may sometimes be cheaper and might work, but they are not supported.

Anyway, there you have it folks. That's how to connect a MIDI keyboard to a computer or iPad.

I hope you found this information helpful and that you'll soon be putting these tips to good use.

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