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#2029489 - 02/08/13 08:06 PM USB to host vs. MIDI
dooger94 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/13
Posts: 23
I've seen quite a few new digital pianos that instead of having a MIDI connection, it has a USB to host connection. I've seen it mostly on the Yamaha's I was looking at. Are these 2 the same thing? Can I do all the same things with a USB as I can do with a MIDI?

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#2029494 - 02/08/13 08:14 PM Re: USB to host vs. MIDI [Re: dooger94]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3510
Loc: Texas
They function the same, yes. The original MIDI has a few advantages (it can go longer distances, for example, and there's less concern about it becoming obsolete). But USB-MIDI is becoming more and more common. Eventually I suspect most pianos will not come with the old-style MIDI stuff.

There was someone a while back that somehow measured the latency of his piano over MIDI and USB-MIDI and found it to be smaller in the former. I have to think that would be specific to that piano, though, because there's not a good theoretical reason for it. Latency is normally an audio-buffer thing, not a MIDI thing (in any significant way).

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#2029522 - 02/08/13 09:02 PM Re: USB to host vs. MIDI [Re: dooger94]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3928
Originally Posted By: dooger94
Can I do all the same things with a USB as I can do with a MIDI?

No. In most cases, USB requires the keyboard to be connected to a computer, whereas with a traditional 5-pin MIDI connection, you can not only connect to a computer, you can also connect directly to most other MIDI devices with no computer in between. So, for example, if you wanted to gig with a keyboard, and hookup, say, a MIDI foot controller, or a second keyboard to trigger some of its sounds, or if you wanted to connect a MIDI sound module to your keyboard to expand its sound palette, then you would want the regular MIDI connection rather than USB. That said, if you get a Yamaha that only has USB and you later wish it had a regular MIDI Port for a particular application like the ones I mentioned, there is a company who makes an adapter to do that conversion... however, only one company makes it, and it's almost $200.

OTOH... most people who need to ask the question of what the standard MIDI connection is good for most likely will never need it. ;-)

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#2029528 - 02/08/13 09:08 PM Re: USB to host vs. MIDI [Re: gvfarns]
xorbe Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/12
Posts: 573
Loc: Mt View, CA
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
There was someone a while back that somehow measured the latency of his piano over MIDI and USB-MIDI and found it to be smaller in the former. I have to think that would be specific to that piano, though, because there's not a good theoretical reason for it. Latency is normally an audio-buffer thing, not a MIDI thing (in any significant way).

I thought I read somewhere that some boards send the data out over USB at the exact same speed as legacy MIDI (ie, a byte and a pause, a byte and a pause, over that shiny high speed usb cable). Therefore if the data passes through some sort of make-shift MIDI-to-USB conversion, the latency could only get worse ...

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