What is MIDI USB Android?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface (The History Of MIDI -). It is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors that allow a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and other related music and audio devices to connect and communicate with one another.

Some key things to know about MIDI:

  • MIDI allows devices to share data like musical notes, tempos, rhythms, and more so they can play in synchronization.
  • The MIDI protocol communicates event messages that specify notation, pitch and velocity, control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato, audio panning, and clock signals that set tempo.
  • MIDI does not transmit the actual audio signal – it just transmits the digital data that can be used to produce sound.
  • MIDI connectors and cables allow the digital data to be transferred between devices.

In summary, MIDI is an important technical standard that enables digital musical instruments, computers, tablets, smartphones, and more to communicate and synchronize with each other for music production.

How MIDI Works

MIDI works by sending digital messages between devices like keyboards, smartphones, and computers. These MIDI messages contain information about musical notes, timing, volume, vibrato, panning, and more. MIDI messages are sent over MIDI cables using 5-pin DIN connectors or transmitted wirelessly over Bluetooth or USB.

MIDI messages are transmitted on up to 16 different channels, allowing multiple devices to communicate on the same cable without interfering with each other. For example, a MIDI keyboard could send note information on channel 1, while a drum machine sends rhythms on channel 10. The receiving device listens only to the channel it needs to hear.

Some common types of MIDI messages include:

  • Note on – Triggers a note to start sounding with a given pitch, velocity and channel
  • Note off – Turns off a sounding note
  • Control change – Adjusts parameters like volume, panning, vibrato etc.
  • Program change – Selects different instrument sound patches

By combining different MIDI messages, intricate performances and compositions can be recorded, edited, and played back with great flexibility. This communication protocol remains an essential part of music production and performance today (source).

MIDI on Computers

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) has been a key part of music production on computers since the 1980s. MIDI allows computers and music software/hardware to communicate with each other and exchange musical performance data. This enables musicians to use computer software to sequence, edit, and mix MIDI musical performances.

Most digital audio workstation (DAW) software like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio support MIDI sequencing, editing, and effects processing. MIDI can be used to sequence software instruments and external MIDI gear connected via MIDI interfaces.

MIDI interfaces like USB MIDI controllers and audio interfaces with MIDI I/O provide the connectivity to hook up MIDI gear and instruments to a computer. Popular options include the Korg microKEY and Line6 UX2.

With a DAW, virtual instruments, and MIDI interfaces, musicians can create full productions using MIDI sequencing and sound generation entirely within a computer.

MIDI on Mobile Devices

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have gained MIDI capabilities in recent years. This allows musicians to use their mobile devices for MIDI input and output. For example, a MIDI keyboard or other MIDI controller can connect to a smartphone or tablet via USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi. The mobile device can then send the MIDI data to synthesizers, DAW apps, or MIDI instruments to generate or record sound.

Many music creation apps for iOS and Android now include MIDI support. For instance, apps like Priere Midi, Caustic 3, GarageBand, and FL Studio Mobile allow you to record, edit, and playback MIDI data. There are also apps specifically designed for controlling MIDI instruments from a mobile device, like Yamaha’s MIDI Controller app.

The touchscreen interface of mobile devices offers intuitive MIDI control options. Many MIDI apps support virtual pianos, drum pads, synthesizers, and other instruments on the touchscreen. This allows mobile devices to become powerful MIDI music production tools.

Connecting MIDI to Android

There are a few different ways to connect MIDI devices and instruments to Android devices:


Many MIDI keyboards, controllers, and instruments have a standard USB port that can be connected directly to an Android device using a USB cable. Most modern Android devices support USB On-The-Go which allows them to act as a USB host. A USB A to USB B cable is generally needed to connect the MIDI device to the Android device (Source).


Some MIDI devices also have Bluetooth capability allowing them to pair wirelessly with an Android device. This completely eliminates the need for cables. The MIDI device and Android device need to be within range of each other to maintain the Bluetooth connection.

MIDI Adapters

For older MIDI devices without USB or Bluetooth, there are MIDI to USB adapters available. These adapters plug into the traditional 5-pin MIDI ports and convert the signal to USB which can then be connected to an Android device. Some popular options are the iConnectivity mio and Roland UM-ONE mk2.

Network MIDI

Another wireless option is to use Network MIDI to connect MIDI devices to an Android device over a wifi network rather than Bluetooth. Both the MIDI device and Android device need to be on the same network. (Source)

Android MIDI Apps

There are several excellent Android apps for using MIDI.

Some top options include:

  • Caustic 3: A full-featured music creation app with support for MIDI keyboards and sequencers. Great for songwriting and music production.
  • FL Studio Mobile: The mobile version of the popular FL Studio DAW. Includes MIDI editing, instruments, effects and mixing tools.
  • MIDIpolly: A simple but powerful MIDI file player. Converts MIDI files into audio for playback.
  • MIDI Editor: As the name suggests, this app provides advanced MIDI editing and tweaking capabilities.
  • midimux: Routes MIDI between apps and devices. Useful for connecting keyboards, controllers and more.
  • MIDI Scope: A MIDI monitor that displays realtime MIDI messages for debugging and troubleshooting.

There are many other great options available as well. Nearly any music app that supports external MIDI on Android can benefit from connecting a keyboard or controller.

Playing MIDI Instruments with Android

Android devices can be used to control external MIDI instruments like synthesizers, keyboards, and drum machines. By connecting an Android device to a MIDI instrument using a USB cable or wireless MIDI adapter, the Android device can send MIDI data to play notes, change sounds, and control various parameters on the instrument.

There are a few ways to setup MIDI control on Android. Many MIDI keyboard manufacturers make Android apps specifically for their instruments, allowing you to customize controls and access all the sound patches. More generic MIDI apps like MIDI Controller and MIDI Maestro allow you to connect any MIDI device and map the Android screen to knobs, faders, and keys. The most common connection method is using a USB cable between the Android device and the MIDI instrument’s USB port. However wireless MIDI adapters like the CME Xkey Air or Yamaha MD-BT01 are also options for cable-free control.

Some of the benefits of using Android to control external synths and keyboards include the portability of mobile devices, large multitouch screens for expressive control, and the flexibility of synthesizer apps with custom layouts. Advanced musicians can program complex MIDI control change messages from Android to externally control layering, effects, and more during a performance. With the right apps and hardware, an Android device provides an accessible, customizable MIDI controller for anyone.

Recording MIDI on Android

One of the most powerful uses of MIDI on Android is the ability to record MIDI data from external devices. This allows musicians to capture their performances as MIDI information that can be edited and manipulated after the fact.

There are several Android apps that enable MIDI recording, like Caustic 3 and MIDI Logger Pro. These apps can capture MIDI data from external keyboards, drum machines, and other MIDI devices connected via USB OTG adapters or MIDI interfaces.

The process of recording MIDI on Android involves routing the MIDI output from your external device into the MIDI input of your Android device. The MIDI data is captured by the recording app and stored as a Standard MIDI File (SMF).

Once recorded, the MIDI performance can be edited using features like quantization to correct timing, transposition to change keys, and more. MIDI data is very flexible and allows for nuanced editing of notes, velocities, controllers, program changes and other parameters.

MIDI recording enables musicians to sketch out song ideas, capture jam sessions, or document performances anywhere their Android device goes. The recorded MIDI files can then be exported to desktop audio workstations for further production and polish.

Benefits of MIDI for Android Users

MIDI and Android devices work well together for several reasons. First, Android’s touch screens provide an intuitive way to control MIDI instruments and apps (Android documentation). The large screens make it easy to view and edit MIDI data. Android devices like phones and tablets are also portable and have good battery life, making them convenient for mobile music production and performance. Many Android phones and tablets even have microphones built in to facilitate easy audio recording.

Perhaps most importantly, Android’s open ecosystem and customization capabilities lend themselves well to music making. There are tons of MIDI apps available on the Google Play store, and Android allows you to easily connect hardware MIDI controllers via USB or Bluetooth (LANDR). You can use Android to turn almost any MIDI keyboard, drum pad or controller into a portable music production studio. The operating system’s low latency audio ensures your MIDI performances are tight and responsive too. Overall, Android provides an affordable, customizable and portable solution for controlling MIDI instruments and recording MIDI performances.

The Future of MIDI on Android

The future looks promising for MIDI on Android devices. With the release of Android 13, Google has added native support for the MIDI 2.0 standard [1]. This opens up new possibilities for connecting MIDI 2.0 hardware via USB and taking advantage of the increased resolution and polyphony that MIDI 2.0 offers.

Developers are also working on new and improved Android MIDI apps, like MidiAmigo [2]. These apps aim to provide users with more options for playing, recording, and controlling MIDI instruments directly on their Android devices. As these apps continue to evolve, they will likely add support for new MIDI 2.0 features as well.

Looking ahead, we may see Android integrate MIDI support even more seamlessly into the operating system and apps. For example, music production apps could allow users to easily route MIDI data between them. The Android MIDI API could expand to enable new creative workflows. And manufacturers may release Android phones and tablets specifically designed for music production and performance.

While iOS has traditionally dominated when it comes to mobile music making, Android is catching up. With Google’s commitment to supporting pro audio and an active community of developers, the future looks bright for using MIDI on Android.

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