Do MIDI controllers & keyboards come with speakers or softwares?

Do Midi controllers or keyboards come with speakers or sounds?
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In this article, we will go over one of the most significant queries people have about MIDI keyboards and controllers. And that is, Do MIDI controllers & keyboards come with speakers & softwares?

Since most of us with non-musical backgrounds have little knowledge about studio equipment, queries like these can make us think the same about MIDI keyboards, controllers, synthesizers, and even digital pianos or keyboards.

However, there are some significant differences in the working and uses of these instruments regarding the different work environments.

Therefore, it is necessary to point out and clarify these common doubts about studio instruments like MIDI controllers and keyboards. It will help you to know about MIDI instruments so that you can make the right choice according to your situation.

Related: Setting a Home Recording Studio – A step by step Guide!

Do MIDI keyboards or controllers have a speakers or not?

Since most of the MIDI instruments do not have a dedicated set of speakers, connecting external speakers is the only way to listen to the audio from MIDI devices. There are two ways to listen to sound from the MIDI controller keyboard: headphones or speakers.

Do MIDI keyboards come with softwares?

Software Bundle with M-Audio Oxygen Pro MIDI keyboards

Many MIDI keyboards and controllers offer softwares that include a few VSTs, DAW, and other software products for free. All these softwares provide a good starting point for an individual to explore their MIDI instruments and use different features.

Not to forget, MIDI instruments can also be integrated with major DAWs like Logic, Abelton, Cubase, etc., to control numerous DAW features. Moreover, you can assign knobs and faders in a MIDI keyboard to control various parameters of a VST instrument.

Also check: How to play MIDI Keyboard without Using a DAW?

One of my favorite MIDI keyboards, the M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini, comes with an exclusive set of free softwares. It includes:

  • MPC beats,
  • Abelton Live Lite,
  • Hybrid 3.0, including sounds from analog synths,
  • AIR plugin bundle.

The working of MIDI keyboard or controller

This article’s discussion is mainly related to MIDI and the MIDI signal. Therefore, let us take some time to know what MIDI means. And how is MIDI signal a game changer over other types of signals?

MIDI is a protocol used by instruments to transmit signals and data from one device to another. It connects different computers, musical gear, instruments, studio equipment and other audio devices.

For example, a MIDI keyboard can be connected to analog or modern keyboards to control its sounds and attributes. This usually comes in handy in a massive studio with tons of synthesizers.

In such scenarios, all the MIDI instruments are connected to a MIDI hub which can then be controlled through a computer to route its signal.

Related: MIDI Keyboard vs Keyboard vs Synth – The Key Differences!

How to get sound out of MIDI keyboard controller

Connecting external speakers to MIDI instruments like keyboards or controllers can be achieved in multiple ways. Let’s talk a bit about each one of them.

1) Using Audio Interface

One way to get the sound out of your MIDI instrument is to set up an audio interface. Setting up an audio interface is pretty simple.

An audio interface acts a hub where you can connect all your studio instruments. The audio from various input devices like the MIDI keyboard or controller is routed to the audio interface. Remember, the audio comes out through the output devices connected to the audio interfaces like studio monitors.

After setting up the audio interface with a PC/Laptop, connect the MIDI keyboard or controller to the interface using either MIDI cables or the other ways mentioned in this article if your MIDI device does not come with MIDI ports.

Then, launch any DAW as per your preference and use the MIDI instrument through the DAW itself.

Also Read: Setup MIDI Keyboard in Logic Pro X – A Definitive Guide!

2) Using Laptop or Computer’s Built-in speakers

Another simple way to get sound from a MIDI instrument is through built-in computer speakers. Since, most of the computers or Laptops have an internal speaker system, you can hear audio coming from MIDI using these speakers.

Firstly, connect the MIDI instrument to your Laptop/ Computer. Then, install all the necessary drivers to setup MIDI keyboard or controller to use with your device. Once the setup is complete, you can launch any DAW, set output to your Computer’s speakers and use it to control any VST present in a DAW.

3) Using external speakers

The following method focuses on getting sound from MIDI instruments using external speakers.

So, you have a MIDI keyboard and a set of high-quality studio monitors, but you want to avoid connecting it through an interface?

Another way is to use studio monitors or external speakers to listen to audio from a MIDI keyboard.

Connect the external speakers to your computer and set the output settings in your DAW to external speakers. Next, install and set up the MIDI instrument on the computer.

Doing so will use external speakers as a new output source, and all the MIDI audio will come out through the connected speakers.

How to use a Digital piano or keyboard as MIDI instrument?

Most digital pianos or keyboards can be used as a MIDI instruments. However, you need to check a few things to ensure that the keyboard has MIDI capabilities. Look for output ports such as MIDI, TRS, or USB.

These ports can connect any digital keyboard or piano to extend its use cases as a MIDI instrument. It will also allow you to assign knobs, faders, buttons, and even pitch wheels to control DAW features and VST parameters.

Once you have found a port for MIDI connection, connect the keyboard to the PC using either MIDI cables, USB connection, or 1/4″ TRS cables.

Can I use a MIDI instrument as a Piano?

Most of the time, the answer to whether a MIDI instrument can be used as a piano is Yes. A MIDI instrument such as a keyboard can easily connect to any DAW on a PC/Laptop, thereby letting you select a VST based on a piano.

A MIDI instrument comes in various types and sizes. For example, it can include only drum pads, keys, or a mix of both. It is best to get a MIDI keyboard if you want to use a MIDI gear as a piano. MIDI keyboards offer a lot of features and options to choose from.

Additionally, if you want to learn piano and music production simultaneously, 61-key or 88-key MIDI keyboard will support music production and learning piano. It will become easier to practice with both hands and reach multiple octaves on the keyboard.

When learning music production and piano, I would suggest going with a 61-key MIDI keyboard with different faders, knobs and buttons. This will let you take complete control over the music production and learning piano aspect.

MIDI keyboard with built-in speakers

Speaker unit. However, exceptions are always there; one such exception is the AKAI’s MPK Mini Play MK3 MIDI keyboard.

The AKAI MPK Mini Play MK3 MIDI keyboard has many features and software bundles. It comes pre-loaded with great sound patches and drum presets, which you can play without connecting to a Computer or external output source.

Considering the price, the MPK Mini Play MIDI keyboards have a lot to offer to music artists, bedroom producers, singers, songwriters etc. The MPK mini-play comes with:

  • 25 touch-sensitive keys,
  • eight drum pads with velocity response,
  • four assignable controller knobs,
  • Built-in speaker unit,
  • Starter software bundles,
  • and, buttons to control other keyboard features.

The MPK Mini play is suitable for producers of all levels and those who are learning music theory and how to play the piano. The MIDI keyboard is relatively compact, making it easy to place on a small desk and fit in tight places. Not to forget, it offers excellent portability.

Conclusion

All in all, most MIDI instruments like keyboards or controllers do not come with speakers. But, they do come with softwares. These softwares provide a good starting point to know your MIDI device. However, you must invest in a DAW and certain VST instrument.

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