The 10 Best USB MIDI Interfaces
This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in May of 2020. The world of music technology changed forever in the early 1980s with the creation of the MIDI standard (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which enables electronic instruments to communicate with each other. These devices are required to send and receive MIDI information to and from a digital audio workstation, and issue a range of commands that control many musical functions. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
June 18, 2020:
While MIDI is fairly simple in its functionality, it is a highly useful digital standard that gives musicians great control over electronic instruments. Mostly used in conjunction with a digital audio workstation (DAW) for programming and sequencing music, a MIDI interface serves to process MIDI in/out data between the instrument and DAW, and can be seamlessly integrated into keyboards, trigger pads, audio interfaces, and any other device that is MIDI compatible.
The models in this ranking are all bus-powered, meaning they draw their power directly from the Mac or PC, and they fall into three categories, namely rack-mounted, desktop, and mobile. The latter category includes the Fore Cable Adapter, the Tbox M3, the MIDI 4x4, and the Miditech Midiface 2X2, all of which can be slipped into a laptop case and carried to a gig or recording session with ease. These are also a good solution for a home setup that has few outboard instruments, such as one that consists of a controller keyboard and sequencer software, and maybe a few peripheral devices, which don’t call for a multitude of inputs and outputs.
Desktop MIDI interfaces like the Midiplus MIDI 8x8, the Motu Micro Express, and the iConnectivity mioXM are a lot more advanced than the small-yet-functional mobile units. All feature 5-pin MIDI input and output ports on their front panels, but also have more on their reverse, allowing the user to keep a number of permanent devices connected, but have the option to plug in other instruments quickly and easily from the workstation desk.
At the more expensive end of the spectrum lie the Midiplus MIDI16x16, Motu MIDI Express 128, and the iConnectivity mioXL, which are all designed to fit standard 19-inch rack units, although the Motu MIDI Express 128 has removable rack ears, so it maintains a good profile when placed on a desktop as well. Ultimately, the prime factor to consider when buying a MIDI interface is how many inputs and outputs you require and these models allow you to connect as many as 16 instruments as once, as is the case with the Midiplus MIDI16x16. All three examples are the larger counterparts of the desktop interfaces and share many similar features, including, in the case of the iConnectivity mioXL, an RTP-MIDI port to connect a network of up to 22 devices via ethernet.