Original Post From http://forum.recordingreview.com
It’s sometimes difficult to started with MIDI. The communication between all the different components can get very confusing. This article is designed to help you through the process of solving your MIDI problems. The basic chain for MIDI is quite simple. The biggest problems occur in the understanding of what each piece of the puzzle does. In this first example, I’m going to assume we want to record a piano part within Cubase using Kontakt2.
#1) We need a way to enter the MIDI data. This sounds very unmusical, but it’s important for me to write in this fashion to make sure you understand what is really happening within your MIDI sequencer. You CAN enter your MIDI data with a mouse within Cubase and most other software based MIDI sequencers. However, most people prefer to have a little more human element in their MIDI productions and therefor using a MIDI controller (piano style keyboard) is the most popular way of entering MIDI data. You can also enter the data with an electronic drum kit, a MIDI guitar pickup, triggers, or using one of the keypad style gadgets out there. It needs to be said that any old keyboard with MIDI out can be used as a MIDI controller. Just to clear up the part, “entering the data” is the same thing as recording a performance or playing an instrument. In our first example, we are recording a piano part, so we will use the standard piano style MIDI controller.
#2) Now we need to hook our MIDI controller to our computer. The old standard was the 16-pin MIDI cable. Most computers do not have a MIDI cable input, but many audio interfaces do. You’ll need to plug this cable into an audio interface that has built in midi. (If you don’t have an audio interface with built in MIDI ports and your MIDI controller leaves no other options, like USB, you’ll need to obtain a MIDI interface. Most modern midi interfaces designed for working with computers use USB to connect to the computer. No special MIDI interface is required.
#3) Now it’s time to make sure the MIDI Sequencer / Recording software is picking up the MIDI signal. Most will have a meter that flashes when MIDI signal is received. So hit a few notes and see if anything lights up. If nothing lights up, there is probably a problem with your MIDI controller, the MIDI interface (if applicable), or the signal is not being routed properly within the recording software. You’ll want to check the manual for your recording software for specifics.
In our example, when we strike a key on our MIDI controller, we see a meter light up on the Cubase transport. This tell us that Cubase is getting the signal. If we do not see the meters on the Cubase transport lighting up, we have a problem. It’s possible that your operating system isn’t receiving the signal. Make sure your drivers are installed for your device(s). Also make sure that you have properly setup and set as the default MIDI device in Control Panels > Sound and Audio Devices if you are using Windows. Also make sure that you have the device setup in your recording software / sequencer as well.
Now we need to create a MIDI track to actually record the MIDI data and we may have to specific which MIDI input we want to use. (This is sometimes handled automatically). When we strike a key on the MIDI controller, a meter should light up on for that MIDI track. We have the data in the sequencer, but we still won’t hear any sound. Cubase (or any sequencer itself) doesn’t necessarily play sound. We need virtual instruments that utilize either synths or samples to actually create the sound based on the MIDI data we send to it.
So, in Cubase, we’ll open up the MIDI instruments section and load Kontakt 2 (our sampler software of choice) and then select a piano sound. Going back to our MIDI track, we need to send the MIDI signal to that piano sound by setting the output of the that MIDI track to Kontakt 2, on the appropriate channel.