Which MIDI-USB cable do I need?
November 6, 2017 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I am attempting to get both a Rock Band keyboard and a Roland FR2 digital accordion to communicate with my Windows 10 machine and am having trouble finding a MIDI-USB cable that works.

I have tried this one and this one, which appear to be basically the same components assembled at different factories.

The cables are definitely the problem, since I have tried a friend's cable (superficially identical to the ones listed above), and it did work, but unfortunately he does not recall where he got it. There are dozens of these cables for sale on Amazon at markedly different prices, and apparently different manufacturers, but they all look the same to me.

Can anyone suggest a cable which will reliably work for my setup? I'm willing to shell out a bit more if it's certainly going to work. Ideally the cable would be at least 6 feet long.
posted by subocoyne to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a known shitty issue. Here is a buying guide for USB/MIDI interfaces. I'd not be confident that it would work for any general rando item until you spend about $35 or so, the Roland one or iConnectivity would probably be fine.

The rockband keytar in particular is a bit finicky, my suspicion is that it tries to do some non-standard MIDI handshake/detection, because it doesn't want to be a game controller and a midi device at the same time. I can confirm it works fine with a actual nice interfaces (though I've only personally tested it with my iOS midi interface).

A key term is "interface". I also got tricked by that cheapo "cable" on Amazon, if it's any consolation. I'm sure it does/can work for some small subset of Windows versions and MIDI devices, but eh, you get what you pay for, and as you know music stuff is expensive.

Some people recommend getting more in/out than you need for mixers/interfaces etc, but you know better than we do how likely you are to want to put many things in at once.

Finally, a popular misconception is that MIDI carries sound. It does not. You probably already know that, but on the small chance you don't, be aware that you'll need an audio interface if you want to put audio out from the accordion in to your computer.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:55 PM on November 6, 2017

Oh, and once you pick an interface, you can get rather long USB cords or long MIDI cables to get to 6 feet or longer. "extension" cords that go USB A male/A female, or MIDI male/female exist, but imo you're better off and cheaper to just get a long normal A/B USB cable, or long normal male/male MIDI cable or both. This stuff doesn't degrade signal with cable length the way some audio cable will, so you can get rather long with no issue.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:15 PM on November 6, 2017

If all you need is simple midi IO then I can vouch for the Roland UM-ONE. It worked out of the box for me with no issues. I'm pretty sure it is class compliant so it should work on pretty much anything.
posted by Television Name at 6:18 PM on November 6, 2017

Thank you SaltySalticid for the buying guide! I ended up springing for the UM-ONE and it works like a charm out of the box.
posted by subocoyne at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2017

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