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I want to know the USB connections on a keyboard can be used for MIDI in/out. If not, how can you connect a keyboard to a laptop to use as a MIDI controller for Finale, Practica Musica, and other software?
 

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There's many ways. They make cards with MIDI in/out for most laptops. There are also usb or firewire interfaces available with mic- pre's and line-ins, so you can record sax, vox, etc. through the same device. It would help to know what kind of computer and keyboard you have and what your recording goals are.
 

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At the moment I don't have a keyboard, I'm doing some research first. I'm currently using a Gateway FX. I'm not looking to record, mainly just practice and MIDI input.
 

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There are many options. It depends on how much you want to spend. Do you want internal sound or software sounds? What kind of instrument sounds do you want? For serious practice you should have a good weighted keyboard but they cost a lot more. The cheap keyboards are toys in my opinion but alright for some electronic techno and ambient music. The USB midi in keyboards can be alright or can be problematic but can be fixed by adding a dedicated midi card to your computer. Audio latency is also an issue to consider which can be caused by bad USB audio. It's better to have a pro audio card with an ASIO audio driver. Sometimes the free ASIO4ALL is good enough though. If there is a slight lag between when you hit the keys and when the sound comes out, it is quite annoying. If you are connecting the audio directly from your keyboard to your speakers, there will be no lag but then you can't record it on your computer. It might be best to go to a big pro music instrument store and talk with a salesman about this.
 

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......What kind of instrument sounds do you want? .....
If you are serious about playing acoustic piano parts, you might find having a weighted keyboard (feels more like a real piano) to be important. If not, then a semi-weighted keyboard (which can be a lot cheaper) might be fine. I'm just a hack when it comes to keyboard skills, and I play as many songs with organ and synth parts as with acoustic piano parts, so I ended up buying a low-cost keyboard that was semi-weighted. If you can go to a local music store that has keyboard set up that you can try, that might help you to figure out what you want.
 

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I want to know the USB connections on a keyboard can be used for MIDI in/out.
Yes.

The midi is transmitted directly over usb into the computer (usb is far, far faster than midi needs)
All you have to do is point the sequencer or notation software to the midi usb device.

If your keyboard just has midi ports, you can get a midi-usb adapter for $40 that does the same thing.

FYI: I have a M-Audio Keystation49usb on my laptop, a 88key keyboard hooked to a Midisportusb2x2 and my windsynth vl-70m hooked up to my Motu828mkII firewire interface. Simultaneously. You just have to point the track at the device you want to use for it.
 

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A MIDI keyboard made in the last 5 years or so will almost certainly have a USB port built in. You need Windows XP (7 is much better) or Max OSX to use it. No drivers required, they are "class compliant". Just plug in and your software will recognize it.

If you have an older keyboard with just MIDI out, as Enviroguy says, there are tons of inexpensive USB MIDI adapters out there. M-Audio MIDISport springs to mind.. These devices are also class-compliant, that is, plug em in and they just work.
 

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This Yamaha keyboard has a USB port so you can connect it directly to your computer. Only $255 at amazon.com (includes headphones and a stand!)
 

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If you have a MIDI over USB keyboard without a MIDI connector, which is how the bottom of the lines seem to be sold these days, the ONLY option is to plug it into a USB port on a computer. If it's problematic, a dedicated MIDI card won't fix it.

You can get an AKAI mini for $100 or less, if you want to try this without spending too much money.

USB can certainly handle MIDI speeds with no problem, but you do lack some flexibility. If you want to use the keyboard to drive an external hardware MIDI module, for example, you need to plug it into your computer anyway, then route the signal through a USB to MIDI converter
 

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USB can certainly handle MIDI speeds with no problem,
This is not always true in certain computer configurations where IRQ interrupts are being shared with other USB devices or other parts of your computer. It also may depend on the quality of the USB driver of your keyboard. You may experience intolerable latency (time delay) or worse, your computer may bomb frequently or infrequently.

I will not buy another USB musical device unless it has non-USB midi i/o or wait until they come equipped with USB 3.0. My current favorite USB midi interface is manufacturer is MOTU.
 

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this is pretty hard to test, but my experience is that most (if not all) of the latency and many of the other problems have more to do with the softsynth you're playing via midi over usb than the midi over usb itself. The best test I can think of is to plug in the midi over usb along with a separate usb to midi converter -- assuming the drivers for the converter are right -- and route the midi coming in back out to a hardware synth. Really, MIDI is at least an order of magnitude slower than USB2.
 

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Yes. USB is not the true culprit with latency. It's your other hardware / software. The easiest solution though is unchanged. Use MIDI. Skip the USB thing altogether.
 
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