RECORDING: MIDI controllers don’t “make” sound by themselves, they “control” sounds in a program

I can’t count how many times I’ve come across people (personally or YouTube commenters) who buy a MIDI keyboard controller (M-Audio Axiom, Oxygen, etc)… or a pad controller (Akai MPD18, Korg PadKontrol, M-Audio Trigger Finger)…. and wonder why they’re not getting “sound” from it.

News flash: MIDI CONTROLLERS DON’T MAKE SOUNDS on their own. They need a software program that has sounds built in to it (aka “virtual instrument”), to “control” the sounds of that virtual instrument. That’s why they’re called MIDI CONTROLLERS. Midi controllers merely send data to and from the computer. They do not have sounds built-in.

I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but seriously, a MIDI controller is not something you can just buy and expect to work right out of the box. You have to have a basic understanding of how a MIDI controller “communicates” with a recording program/sequencer (aka “DAW” which stands for “digital audio workstation”) .  DAWs interact with MIDI controllers in basically the same way, but unless you know the ins and outs of using a DAW or virtual instruments, it’s kind of overwhelmingly confusing. Ultimately, it’s a matter of research and reading, something people don’t do enough of, when they are getting into home recording. You know the old expression RTFM? If you’ve never see those letters before, they stand for “read the fuckin’ manual.” Haha. Ok, all jokes aside…

Here’s a great YouTube video clearly explaining what a MIDI controller is, and how it interacts with Garageband for Mac. Please pay close attention to it.

Here’s another great video, by Lewin at GaragebandandBeyond (YouTube):

And here’s a great page on the Tweakheadz website that explains what MIDI is, what it can and can’t do, and how to set it up in your home studio (very detailed):

Hope this helped… if it’s still confusing, it’s a good idea to google your butt off and find out as much as you can about MIDI controllers and how to use them in your setup. A combination of that, and having a friend who already has a home studio and knows his or her way around it is another great thing. Good luck!


About chriscaulder

Posted on February 15, 2012, in midi controllers, recording. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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