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#2120171 - 07/19/13 01:18 PM On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball
Michael H Offline
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Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
This year marks the 30th anniversary of MIDI and any keyboard musician who's been around for a while knows that MIDI revolutionized music making, opening up new ways of doing things that continue to evolve today. You could make a convincing argument that MIDI was largely responsible for ending the stranglehold that record companies had on the recording industry, by making digital recording in small studios easy and affordable.

I think of it like open source software, which tries to level the playing field dominated by giants like Microsoft and Apple. MIDI makes it possible for someone in a home studio to create a totally professional end product, and it makes interfacing of old and new gear possible for live musicians as well.

Since MIDI became a standard, and up until recently, every keyboard that wasn’t a total toy had standard MIDI connectors. But recently, most manufacturers have decided to drop standard MIDI connectors in favor of USB MIDI on many of their less expensive instruments. Many of us in the music community feel this is a mistake.

While USB MIDI is great for interfacing with a computer, it’s not compatible with standard MIDI devices without adding an expensive, hard to find interface, such as the iConnect Midi (recent US price: $179) that requires more wires and an additional AC adapter. On the other hand, standard MIDI devices easily interface with each other, and an adapter to hook up a computer costs less than $10, and is powered by USB.

It would make a lot of sense to include both types of ports, and would be inexpensive for manufacturers to implement. Yet, using weighted digital pianos as an example, Yamaha instruments with both ports start about $999, and Casio’s start about $799. The less expensive models for the most part leave out standard MIDI.

Personally, it’s hard for me to avoid the conclusion that manufacturers are attempting to force musicians to spend significantly more money just to get something that’s been a standard on keyboards and other equipment for years. But perhaps I’m wrong about their motivation. I do think that continued customer goodwill is essential for any business to remain viable, and that it makes sense for musical instrument manufacturers to be aware of and responsive to our needs.

MIDI has been a great equalizer. Like open source software, MIDI levels the playing field. I don’t think that’s the case any longer when full MIDI functionality isn’t available on less expensive instruments. What’s your opinion?
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120221 - 07/19/13 03:56 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
galaxy4t Offline
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Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 853
Loc: Lakewood, CA
Well USB MIDI has gained in popularity largely because of tablets and iPhones. A lot of people are moving in this direction when replacing a home computer and sales of PC's have weakened because of tablets and smartphones. Unless you need to connect to other gear, USB MIDI will work fine for some people. Yes it would be nice to have both on any keyboard, but as you say manufacturers are only giving both options on higher priced gear. I imagine this will be the case going forward.

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#2120276 - 07/19/13 06:35 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Scott Hamlin Offline
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Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: Michael H


It would make a lot of sense to include both types of ports, and would be inexpensive for manufacturers to implement. Yet, using weighted digital pianos as an example, Yamaha instruments with both ports start about $999


Very timely, post Michael. We are discussing this very issue in a few sports - the new Yamaha P105 ($999) does not include a 5-pin MIDI I/O, and the Roland RD-64 has a 5-pin MIDI OUT, but no in! Strange days, indeed!

I understand everything is going computer, but for the gigging musician who wants to use a weighted 88 as a controller, the added hassle and expense of getting another box set-up is a PITA.

All the more reason to research every aspect of a product before buying. smile
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#2120307 - 07/19/13 07:24 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3802
Loc: North Carolina
The manufacturers are assessing the market and, it seems, the low-end market doesn't need both MIDI ports and USB.

"I dislike it" doesn't translate to "Everyone dislikes it".

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#2120341 - 07/19/13 08:36 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Scott Hamlin Offline
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Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The manufacturers are assessing the market and, it seems, the low-end market doesn't need both MIDI ports and USB.

"I dislike it" doesn't translate to "Everyone dislikes it".


Very true. I'm guessing a lot of younger players or those with no older MIDI gear will ever even notice.
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Sound, Video, Design

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#2120346 - 07/19/13 08:43 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The manufacturers are assessing the market and, it seems, the low-end market doesn't need both MIDI ports and USB.

"I dislike it" doesn't translate to "Everyone dislikes it".


True, not everyone dislikes having only USB, but many people do.

And what defines a 'low end market'? I'd think that that would include anyone who would buy less expensive instruments that met their needs.

That would include musicians who don't want to pay for features they don't need, and who would go for simpler, less expensive alternatives- for instance a Casio PX150 if it had standard MIDI, rather than a more expensive PX350 or PX5S which has both.
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120445 - 07/20/13 07:01 AM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Scott Hamlin]
Mta88 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/13
Posts: 814
Loc: Trinidad and Tobago
Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The manufacturers are assessing the market and, it seems, the low-end market doesn't need both MIDI ports and USB.

"I dislike it" doesn't translate to "Everyone dislikes it".


Very true. I'm guessing a lot of younger players or those with no older MIDI gear will ever even notice.


Like me lol.. I've no idea what to do with an midi port.. Sorry frown
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#2120466 - 07/20/13 09:37 AM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
de cajon Offline
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Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 181
Loc: London, UK
If I remember rightly, part of the original 5-pin DIN MIDI standard was the use of opto-isolators, which is rather unusual. Perhaps that's the expense that the manufacturers are trying to get around.
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#2120475 - 07/20/13 10:04 AM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Fewer people these days are going to need more than the USB midi connection. This is all you need for computer recording, playing software instruments and filing up/down loads, so it makes sense to fit USB first and DINs as a second option.

But I really agree with Michael H in that midi was a great enabler for the independent musician and that it was, from the beginning, remarkably effective and efficient. From being a means for linking two keyboards for layering sounds in 1983 to enabling home studio musicians to record pretty elaborate multitrack arrangements by 1986 was an amazing advance. The DIN standard may well outlast USB so I would be very reluctant to buy a piano or synthesizer without proper midi DIN sockets on the back of it.
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Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

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#2120598 - 07/20/13 04:05 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: toddy]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
One thing I saw recently that surprised me was BOTH a type B AND a type A USB socket on a Yamaha MM6 keyboard.

I'm not sure what the significance of that was, but it could be that the MM6 accepts USB MIDI signals from keyboards that have type B sockets using a standard USB cable.

If a day ever comes when all gear can interconnect by USB that would be pretty cool, although 'vintage' gear will still need standard MIDI.

And of course there may be a totally new standard by then if, for instance, wireless becomes stable and widespread. Maybe they'll call it greentooth..
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120639 - 07/20/13 05:54 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
toddy Offline
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Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Well even my humble and not very up to date Roland has type A and type B USB connections. One of them is for computer host (type B) and the other is for downloading files & things to a memory.

But I've used the ordinary midi sockets until today - I'm seeing if the direct USB midi works as well as the original DINS (last time I tried the USB route, it wasn't good but that was to do with the hub set-up I had).

But it would certainly be an obvious move forward to accommodate universal MIDI (instrument to instrument etc etc) into USB as you suggest. It's very probable, now that you mention it. Then the DINS will be pretty obsolete, yes.


Edited by toddy (07/20/13 06:00 PM)
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2120656 - 07/20/13 06:38 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: Michael H
One thing I saw recently that surprised me was BOTH a type B AND a type A USB socket on a Yamaha MM6 keyboard.

I'm not sure what the significance of that was, but it could be that the MM6 accepts USB MIDI signals from keyboards that have type B sockets using a standard USB cable.


Yes, as Toddy pointed out - the square USB "B" is to connect to a host, or computer. The USB "A" is to connect to a flash drive to store performance settings and songs.

The new trend is to be able to record and play back .wav files onto the flash drive from the USB A port - which is a very nice feature. smile
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#2120662 - 07/20/13 06:55 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Scott Hamlin]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Originally Posted By: Michael H
One thing I saw recently that surprised me was BOTH a type B AND a type A USB socket on a Yamaha MM6 keyboard.

I'm not sure what the significance of that was, but it could be that the MM6 accepts USB MIDI signals from keyboards that have type B sockets using a standard USB cable.


Yes, as Toddy pointed out - the square USB "B" is to connect to a host, or computer. The USB "A" is to connect to a flash drive to store performance settings and songs.

The new trend is to be able to record and play back .wav files onto the flash drive from the USB A port - which is a very nice feature. smile





Right, I had forgotten about the flash storage option. And I have a Nord that uses the B-type USB for it's Sound Manager application.

Isn't it true that both sockets have two-way communication? If so, I imagine it might not be a big deal to get keyboards, etc to talk to each other this way too.
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120671 - 07/20/13 07:10 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: Michael H


Isn't it true that both sockets have two-way communication? If so, I imagine it might not be a big deal to get keyboards, etc to talk to each other this way too.


I'm not an expert on this, but from what I understand is you need some hardware in between to act has a host. So hooking up a USB cable to two keyboards will not work like hooking up a MIDI cable.

To get a DP like the Yamaha P105 to control a MIDI keyboard without a computer to act as host, you need something like the iConnectivity iConnect MIDI4 or the original Iconnect MIDI... the MIDI2 will not work for this unless you have a computer hooked up.
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#2120675 - 07/20/13 07:17 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
de cajon Offline
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Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 181
Loc: London, UK
USB was designed to be directed. You shouldn't encounter USB cables with the same termination at both ends. This is because USB hosts might be supplying power; USB targets don't supply power; so if the rules are followed you won't get both ends trying to supply power. Generally, having both A and B USB sockets means that the device can use peripherals or be a peripheral.
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#2120703 - 07/20/13 08:49 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: de cajon]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: jdeacon
USB was designed to be directed. You shouldn't encounter USB cables with the same termination at both ends. This is because USB hosts might be supplying power; USB targets don't supply power; so if the rules are followed you won't get both ends trying to supply power. Generally, having both A and B USB sockets means that the device can use peripherals or be a peripheral.


Thanks for the explanation. If I understand you correctly, does it follow that, as an example, at some future time, one keyboard could be a peripheral to another keyboard, and the same for other MIDI devices?


Edited by Michael H (07/20/13 08:49 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120706 - 07/20/13 08:56 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3802
Loc: North Carolina
Nope. You cannot connect two pianos together using USB.

When using the USB-to-host port, the piano is a peripheral to a computer. The computer is the bus master, and the piano is the slave/peripheral.

When using the USB-to-device port for a thumb drive, the piano is a controller over that thumb drive. The piano is the master, and the thumb drive is the slave/peripheral.

There are no other operating modes.

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#2120709 - 07/20/13 09:03 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Ojustaboo Offline
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Registered: 07/18/11
Posts: 155
Loc: Deleted
Deleted


Edited by Ojustaboo (07/29/13 07:03 PM)

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#2120711 - 07/20/13 09:06 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Nope. You cannot connect two pianos together using USB.

When using the USB-to-host port, the piano is a peripheral to a computer. The computer is the bus master, and the piano is the slave/peripheral.

When using the USB-to-device port for a thumb drive, the piano is a controller over that thumb drive. The piano is the master, and the thumb drive is the slave/peripheral.

There are no other operating modes.


Yes, I understand that it's not being done right now. I'm just curious whether or not keyboard to keyboard communication via USB might be feasible in the future.
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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#2120712 - 07/20/13 09:10 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Scott Hamlin Offline
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Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Yes - USB is much faster than MIDI.

I do have a another question: If I have 2 USB only keyboards and want them to "talk" to each other via MIDI, would connecting them to a USB hub work or would a external interface/computer also be needed? I don't think a USB hub would be considered a "host".. but then again I am still learning!

Thanks guys - this has been a stimulating and educational thread!
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Sound, Video, Design

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#2120714 - 07/20/13 09:16 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
toddy Offline
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Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Then maybe every midi device (or at least the more substantial ones such as keyboards) could be equipped with two usb sockets (one for each type) and could be capable of behaving as client or server....or slave/ master or what ever it is.

If you plug into the type one socket, it'll be master, if you plug into type two, it'll be a slave. Then they can get on with the peer-to-peer type relationship that they would have done through ordinary midi DINs.
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2120720 - 07/20/13 09:24 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3802
Loc: North Carolina
To Michael H and to Plinky88: If you were able to connect two keyboards so that they could "talk" to each other, what would they "say"? What would be the purpose?

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#2120722 - 07/20/13 09:28 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
To Michael H and to Plinky88: If you were able to connect two keyboards so that they could "talk" to each other, what would they "say"? What would be the purpose?


LMAO - I don't think they would talk about the weather... MIDI stuff.. note values, program changes, controller data.
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#2120724 - 07/20/13 09:28 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
It would say, for example, 'c4, velocity 87, msb-04 lsb-54 program 02'......in other words, it would 'say' the same kind of thing that midi has always dealt with.
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2120737 - 07/20/13 09:47 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
Charles Cohen Offline
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Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1258
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Why have two keyboards "talk" through a USB connection? This scenario:

. . . I want to play _two_ P105's (with their various tones) from the keyboard of one of them.

I think the only way to do that is to run each of their USB connections into a computer. And then to use MIDI-Ox (or something like that) to "connect" the "virtual MIDI ports" that the USB drivers implement.

I, too, am old enough to remember "before MIDI", and mourn its passing.

. Charles

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#2120738 - 07/20/13 09:48 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3802
Loc: North Carolina
The pianos already talk in MIDI. But the question is: What would you accomplish?

Pianos (and other MIDI instruments) send MIDI code to a computer (or other dedicated device) so that the data can be:
- Played as an instrument (with much better quality than the native keyboard sounds)
- Recorded
- Mixed with other tracks to produce a performance
- etc.
So the piano is an OUTPUT device.

Yes, pianos can accept midi INPUT, and play the sounds just as though you were playing manually. But even that is rather pointless. The tones on most pianos are poor compared to what a computer can produce. Better to feed the keyboard MIDI output to the computer/controller.

If you wish to play two P105 keyboards from a single keyboard, many pianos can already do that ... using just one keyboard. I don't know what the P105 can do, but my piano allows me to select two voices simultaneously. I don't need two pianos to accomplish that.

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#2120743 - 07/20/13 09:55 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The pianos already talk in MIDI. But the question is: What would you accomplish?

Pianos (and other MIDI instruments) send MIDI code to a computer (or other dedicated device) so that the data can be:
- Played as an instrument (with much better quality than the native keyboard sounds)
- Recorded
- Mixed with other tracks to produce a performance
- etc.
So the piano is an OUTPUT device.

Yes, pianos can accept midi INPUT, and play the sounds just as though you were playing manually. But even that is rather pointless. The tones on most pianos are poor compared to what a computer can produce. Better to feed the keyboard MIDI output to the computer/controller.

So, again, when connecting two pianos together, what would you accomplish?


I have 2 USB keyboards - I want to layer a sound on one with a sound on the other and only play one keyboard to do it. No computer. Possible with just an external USB hub or would an interface/computer be required?
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#2120744 - 07/20/13 09:57 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: Michael H]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3802
Loc: North Carolina
You'd need a computer to do that.

On the USB bus, a piano is a slave. Slaves communicate only with a master ... such as a computer.

Two slaves cannot communicate with each other. A hub makes no difference ... a slave is a slave, regardless.

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#2120750 - 07/20/13 10:05 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 549
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
You'd need a computer to do that.

On the USB bus, a piano is a slave. Slaves communicate only with a master ... such as a computer.

Two slaves cannot communicate with each other. A hub makes no difference ... a slave is a slave, regardless.


There we go... thanks. The reason I ask is with more and more USB only keyboards coming in this will become a very common question. It may not make sense to some, but connecting one keyboard to another without using a computer is something that is done very often in a live setting - and even in some home studios. smile Thanks again, Mac.
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#2120763 - 07/20/13 10:19 PM Re: On the 30th anniversary of MIDI manufacturers drop the ball [Re: MacMacMac]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
You'd need a computer to do that.

On the USB bus, a piano is a slave. Slaves communicate only with a master ... such as a computer.

Two slaves cannot communicate with each other. A hub makes no difference ... a slave is a slave, regardless.


Well... to get back to the original point of this thread, 'standard' DIN MIDI has been communicating back and forth between devices, whether instruments or computers for 30 years now. No big deal to do it, an extremely easy to implement interface, tried and true.

It just seems to make sense to keep standard MIDI readily available. Nothing is ready to take it's place yet, but of course if someone is never going to need full MIDI functionality and compatibility USB will do nicely.
_________________________
2012 Solo Piano CD of original pieces, entitled 'Journeys'. You can listen to samples at:
http://michaelhagglund.com/

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No one home?
by ScottM
Yesterday at 08:05 PM
Prokofiev's 5 piano concertos, live: Marinskij/Gergiev etc
by fnork
Yesterday at 07:36 PM
Has anyone here studied with S. Babayan
by Serge Marinkovic
Yesterday at 07:05 PM
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