If you happen to have a digital piano or keyboard lying around at home, you can actually put your keyboard to work by using it as a MIDI controller. So how do you use a keyboard as MIDI controller? It can actually work fairly well, even if you’re using an older keyboard. 

All the keyboard needs is a MIDI-out port in order to turn it into a makeshift MIDI controller. Surprisingly, MIDI has existed for over three decades, so even really old keyboards should come equipped with this port. Before USB MIDI controllers hit the market, MIDI is what was used to connect gear. 

To turn your keyboard into a MIDI controller you’ll also need a USB to MIDI adapter cable. Make sure you don’t go for the cheapest option here. Cheaper cables may not work and if they do, they won’t work well for long. 

You’ll also need a DAW or MIDI software on your Mac or PC.  The adapter will have three MIDI ports on one end and a USB on the other. Next, you’ll need to connect the MIDI-in of the cable to the MIDI-out port on the keyboard, then connect the USB end to the USB port on your PC. At this time, you should try the keys on the board, while watching the indicator on the adapter to determine whether or not a signal is being sent. The adapter should be automatically installed on your Mac or PC. If it doesn’t and a message pops up stating it’s an unrecognized device, then the odds are you’re using a faulty cable. 

Once the PC has recognized the adapter you can launch your DAW or MIDI software. Most DAWs will detect the MIDI inputs automatically, but if it doesn’t, take a look at the settings for MIDI inputs and choose the adapter as the input. 

That’s basically all there is to it. Now, you’ll be able to load up an instrument and start playing. 

What is the Use of MIDI Keyboard 

If you want a more pro setup, take a look at MIDI keyboard controllers. So, what is the use of MIDI keyboards? Unlike a makeshift setup that consists of a standard keyboard or even your PC’s keyboard, learning how to use MIDI keyboards will allow you to effortlessly compose and edit your music, with the help of your music software program. You can record a live performance, upload a number of songs, sounds, and samplers, so you can create unique pieces of music, and you’ll have note by note control over an entire song. It really is a great piece of equipment that’s perfect for musicians of all skill levels and music producers. Now, some models can be on the pricey side, but once you learn how to use your MIDI keyboard to edit a song, there’s no turning back. You don’t have to be a pro musician to use one and you don’t even have to know how to play a specific instrument to compose a song. As an example, you can create a complex piece of music using a piano sampler, even if you don’t know how to play the piano. 

How to Use Keyboard as MIDI Controller for Multiple Devices 

If you have more than one external synthesizer, a MIDI interface may have more than a single set of in and out ports. If they do, you’ll be able to connect more than one synthesizer, separately. However, if the keyboard only has a single port interface, then you’ll need to use the thru port in order to create a daisy chain connection for your devices. 

Can You Use This Setup for All Your MIDI needs? 

MIDI Controller

While this is a convenient way to connect some of your devices, there is a major problem: all of the devices have to share the same sixteen MIDI channels. There may not be enough channels to create a full arrangement for a song that contains many different instruments and sounds. The big problem is that you’ll have to make different devices ignore certain channels you don’t want them responding to. Obviously, this will require a lot of configuration. The solution is using a multi-port MIDI interface. 

Can You Use Yamaha Keyboard as MIDI Controller? 

This is actually pretty simple. While you won’t enjoy the type of versatility that you can from using a dedicated MIDI keyboard controller, you can use your digital Yamaha keyboard as the next best thing for music recording and production. 

Yamaha, in particular, is the go-to favorite for pianists, because their digital keyboard really steps it up in terms of competing with the top of the line keyboard MIDI controllers. Take the CP33 by Yamaha as an example. This model comes with all the bells and whistles the pianist/composer could want, including modulation and pitch bend wheels, aux jacks, sustain, aftertouch, and level sliders. A pianist will often prefer using a digital Yamaha keyboard as a MIDI controller because it offers a more realistic feel, including touch and weight. So, if you’re looking for a better solution for how to use MIDI to compose your next great piece, a Yamaha offers a real graded piano feel, in addition to some of the essential mod and MIDI controls. A Yamaha can also be a more affordable option if you regularly practice on your digital piano, but also need the functionality of a MIDI controller. 


You can use a keyboard as a MIDI controller, or a digital piano, but neither solution will offer the type of full functionality that the best MIDI controller can provide. However, these solutions can work well enough, if you need some MIDI capability on the fly.

If you’re ready to make the move to a traditional MIDI keyboard controller, you’ll find models available for all skill levels, and some great software packages that you can take advantage of, if you’re on a tight budget. Many packages include top of the line DAWs so you can really focus on experimenting with new sounds, arrangements, and beats. 


Use Keyboard as MIDI Controller for Sweet Setup on the Fly
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Use Keyboard as MIDI Controller for Sweet Setup on the Fly
Learn how to use keyboard as MIDI controller, how to set up multiple devices, and why a digital piano may be the best choice for your composing needs.