Midi has come a long way since its inception
in the eighties. With a standard known as General Midi (GM)
that encompasses from the most basic keyboard or PC soundcard
to the most expensive workstation, midi files can be played
by a variety of equipment and still sound right.
GM basically assigns instruments
in to a certain order so for example number 1 will always
be a acoustic grand piano, number 2 a bright acoustic piano
Many people often ask me about
midi setups so I’ve decided to offer some info on various
Setup 1 - Home Setup
This would consist of a PC or laptop with a decent soundcard.
In reality anything above an Intel Pentium II and with an
AWE32 or more should be able to play midi-files decently.
The better the soundcard the better the quality of your midi
If your PC speakers are not very
good you can plug the soundcard output into an amplifier directly
or using a mixer. You will need to get an adapter from the
soundcards 3.5 mm stereo out to either RCA (Phono-Plugs) for
a home stereo or to 1/4" Mono jacks for an amplifier,
although this depends on the amplifier you are going to plug
the PC into.
This would be ok for home practice
and the cost is very low.
Setup 2 - Home (Better Quality) or Small Gig Setup.
Here you would need a General
Midi compatible keyboard or module. (Most new keyboards or
modules are GM compatible).
This can be controlled via midi
from your PC. You will also need midi cable or interface for
the PC or you can also use a Joystick port to midi cable (usually
cheaper) if your PC has a joystick port.
If you want to perform live you
may want to consider something like a combined sequencer /
module as this way you don't need the PC and can trigger the
midi files directly from the unit.
Basically this is a good setup
as it does everything in one box.
Setup 3 - Further On.
Anything bigger and you need a
high quality keyboard like Korg Trinity or the newer Triton.
Also there are keyboards specialized in Midi performance like
the Solton range.
With such keyboards you have the
choice of using General Midi or the keyboards propriety sounds,
which are usually better quality, the later however are not
usually portable formats.
The keyboard can connected to a PC sequencer
in your home studio for example for preparation of backing
tracks and then on the road you can use the internal floppy,
hard disk or other devices such as a Zip or Jazz Drive to
The benefits of midi are immense
to the point where even phone manufactures are now using standard
midi files for their ring tones. From home practice through
solo or duo performance, to bands who base themselves on a
Midi is also a very useful composing
tool for live recording and for those who wish to write straight
in to a sheet of music and hear their virtual band play their
By Ernest H Slade