Home Recording Academy | An Intro to MIDI

MIDI is a great tool that has opened up a new range of possibilities for studios since its introduction about three decades ago. Still, it sometimes remains a bit misunderstood, so we put together this intro to MIDI to offer a simple explanation of this digital technology.Home Recording MIDI

This technology came along just as studios were beginning to experiment with digital recording, and while both MIDI and digital recording have now become acceptable practices in almost every studio, many found the technology a little scary when it was new.  But, like most studio equipment, MIDI was refined over the years, and is now so versatile it can sound great alongside most any analog instrument out there.

And it’s this mix of analog and digital that seems to be the happy medium of most recording studios today. Here at Sage, we use a perfected mix of digital and analog equipment to make sure you get the best CD mastering services available.

What is MIDI?

Let’s start with the basics: MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and was developed in 1983. Essentially what this means is that a MIDI device provides a digital communication which uses the 1s and 0s of digital technology – no actual audio information is transferred.

MIDI caught on nearly immediately after being introduced, but the number of companies working with MIDI were so numerous that MIDI devices quickly began to be incompatible with each other. To solve this problem, General MIDI was established in the early 1990s as a standard MIDI protocol. This established a common set of specifications between all MIDI equipment.

How Does MIDI Work?

A MIDI signal contains a large amount of information, but there are four main pieces of information that controls how a device functions.

  • Note On – as you would expect, this piece of information tells when the equipment should begin the note.
  • Note Off – the note has to be told when to stop playing, as well.
  • Note Number – every note a MIDI device is capable of playing is assigned a number, and the device must instruct which number is to be played.
  • Note Velocity – finally, velocity tells how loud the note should be played. The volume also is assigned a number: 0 is the quietest and 127 is the loudest.

What Can MIDI Devices Do For Your Studio?

MIDI devices are most often seen in studios as keyboards or drum machines, though additional types also exist. The options for MIDI devices are nearly endless, and are constantly expanding in the audio industry.

Similarly, there was a time when audio mastering engineers might have scoffed at anything digital, but these days we’re producing some of the best sounding masters to ever be released by combining analog and digital technology.