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You may have bought your first MIDI keyboard. Or maybe you’ve got it in the corner of your studio. So, you’ve set it up and connected, but it doesn’t seem to do anything…
Best Program For Midi Keyboard
Fortunately, there are now many professional MIDI keyboard software available for all platforms, as the technology is now almost 40 years old!
Midi: Your Guide To Midi And Midi Controllers
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best free MIDI keyboard software in 2022 to turn those “1s” and “0s” into music.
(If you’re still looking for your first MIDI keyboard, we’ve rounded up the best MIDI keyboards for beginners for you!)
Throughout this guide, you’ll come across the term DAW, which stands for Digital Audio Workstation and the software you use to create music on your computer. Thus, many of the best MIDI keyboard software fall into this category.
For Apple users, GarageBand is the best free MIDI keyboard software. It has all the modern DAW features found in more expensive packages like Ableton Live or Pro Logic, but for free! If you’re using a PC, we recommend BandLab CakeWalk.
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If you have an Apple setup, especially one based on the new M1 chips, there’s no denying that GarageBand is the way forward.
An iPad or iPhone with GarageBand installed can be like a multi-track studio on the go when combined with a mobile interface like the RØDE AI Micro.
GarageBand is a fully equipped music production studio on your Mac with a complete sound library including instruments, guitar and voice presets and an incredible selection of session drummers and percussionists.
GarageBand is the clear winner of this roundup and one of the best free music apps of the period. As you may already know, it’s only available on Mac computers, but Windows users can check out our list of free GarageBand alternatives for Windows.
Learn Piano Online With Midi Keyboard
GarageBand was one of the first widely available free download apps, making music accessible to everyone.
Starting life as a simple sequencer application, GarageBand has evolved over the years into a very sophisticated DAW with MIDI capabilities. GarageBand can be considered the younger brother of Apple’s flagship Pro Logic with a more beginner-friendly feature set.
With built-in piano and guitar lessons, GarageBand can help you become a more competent musician, or even learn a new MIDI keyboard.
Plus, you can use the many built-in instrumental effects to record, edit, remix or overdub your latest beats. Often I’d even use GarageBand on my iPad or iPhone to edit my latest work to get to the next gig!
Best Midi Keyboard Controllers Under $500
If you already have an Apple device, chances are you already have GarageBand installed – if not, it’s easy to download from the App Store.
GarageBand for iOS makes it incredibly easy to play, record and share music wherever you are. Take advantage of a wide range of tools from around the world.
Built on over 30 years of continuous innovation, BandLab’s Cakewalk is the new standard for the modern recording studio.
If you’re looking for more GarageBand features but you’re on a Windows PC, this free MIDI keyboard software is a complete music production package.
Best Free Midi Software In 2023
As one of the first DAW software solutions for recording artists, Gibson produced the software for several years until it was acquired by BandLab, which made it a free application.
While Cakewalk was originally used to record guitars, it supports many virtual instruments and also includes a large selection of built-in sounds.
For keyboard players, all you have to do is drag your MIDI keyboard into the mixer and start playing.
A previously commercially paid DAW, CakeWalk has all the features you’ll find in many high-end DAWs, including sequencers, effects, loops, and multi-instruments.
Connect Your Piano Via Midi To Virtual Piano
MidiEditor feels like a throwback to the MIDI days in the 2000s. It is a full-featured DAW with MIDI functionality available for both Windows and Linux.
The serious GUI actually reminds me of the MIDI programs on the old Atari ST computers – one of the first home computers with professional MIDI inputs!
There are a large number of patches available on the Internet that allow you to add a bunch of virtual instruments to the already built-in virtual piano and drum kits.
Unfortunately, it’s a DAW workhorse and doesn’t offer the lessons found in many of the other free MIDI keyboard software packages we’ve reviewed.
Novation Flkey 37 Usb/midi Keyboard
For Windows users, this is one of the best recording software applications available for free with your MIDI keyboard.
If you don’t find the user interface as creative as you’d like, you can always export your MIDI files to another DAW for more features.
Learning with the piano is like playing your favorite video game: fun and exciting. Earn trophies for each level you complete and level up to earn more.
If you want to start playing your MIDI keyboard right away, Pianu.com is a great option for you. As a browser app, you can use it on almost any platform you like.
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This is probably the easiest to use software we’ve reviewed – just go to pianu.com/keyboard and connect your keyboard to your device.
Pianu.com isn’t as complex a DAW software as GarageBand, but it’s great if you just want to play the piano.
In fact, Pianu.com is designed to teach you how to play the piano starting from the basics with many built-in lessons.
What I really like about this app/webpage is the ability to play along with songs from contemporary artists like Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Lady Gaga.
The Best Midi Keyboards Of 2023
Not everyone has an iPad or iPhone – poor bastards! (Just kidding, there are many alternative Android tablets and high quality phones in the market).
With many new Android tablets and phones now equipped with USB-C connectors, connecting a MIDI keyboard is easier than ever. A traditional USB-A or B female converter cable will fit most MIDI keyboards.
This highly versatile free MIDI piano software has many functional modes including single or double row, two players and multichords.
We especially like the online multiplayer mode where you can participate in weekly activities such as online chat, contests and song contests.
Best Midi Sequencer Software In 2023
As with most applications available, the sounds are not recorded from an actual instrument, but are pre-programmed.
Surprisingly for a free app, the sounds are pretty impressive, and you can even download additional instruments like synths, strings, and brass for free.
We conclude with a free MIDI piano software application for Windows for those who just want to play the piano and nothing else.
Piano Time is very easy to plug in and get started with your new keyboard. It recognized my Novation MIDI keyboard easily and I didn’t even have to go into settings.
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As you might guess from the name, Piano Time is designed to simulate the sound of a piano. You can’t add other virtual instruments or add reverb or delay, but the sound is very convincing.
It comes preloaded with some basic tracks for you to play as well as some simple scale exercises for you to try. Supported keyboards also illuminate the keys to show you how to play.
MIDI data transmits musical performance information. Specifically, what notes are played, how hard they are hit, and how long they are held. Many controllers used by DJs will also use MIDI to communicate with applications such as Serato or Traktor.
In the analog world, sounds are made when instruments are struck. With a MIDI keyboard, things are not so simple,
Best Midi Keyboards
A MIDI keyboard or MIDI controller simply outputs digital control signals that, among other things, tell the MIDI synthesizer which notes to play.
If you’re interested in music production and synths, you’ve no doubt already come across MIDI.
If you want to pick up a MIDI keyboard before anything else, check out our AKAI MPK Mini Mk3 review!
Developed in the 1980s, it was designed to help communicate and play musical instruments with minimal difficulty.
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Initially, MIDI cables were used to transfer this data and connect MIDI compatible devices so they could communicate with each other. Although it’s still common, many synthesizers these days can send MIDI over USB, and MIDI can be used entirely out of the box, as is the case with many DAWs. So you don’t need a MIDI cable to use MIDI.
So your computer or DAW may recognize the MIDI keyboard as a plug-n-play device, but you still need something to send MIDI to that plays the sound (like a VST synthesizer).
All of the apps/software packages we’ve reviewed here can be used with your MIDI keyboard, and many of them even have key mapping.
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