Start using your external MIDI devices within Pro Tools, you need to let Pro Tools know about the MIDI hardware you’ve got connected to your system. For OSX users, this is done by creating a Studio Setup in the Audio MIDI Setup application that comes as part of OSX. This tutorial will walk you through the process.
In this example, I’m going to be using a Roland XP-50 Keyboard. In MIDI terms, the XP-50 would be considered a MIDI Controller Keyboard and also a MIDI Sound Source. In most cases, you will be connecting a MIDI device that is one (controller), the other (sound source), or both.
In order to connect a MIDI device to your computer, you need to have a MIDI interface. A MIDI Interface is simply something that gives you physical MIDI connectors on one end, usually a small box, and USB on the other end. But there are also numerous audio interfaces that happen to have basic MIDI interfaces built into them.
For example, the MBOX2, DIGI002, and DIGI003 all have MIDI Interfaces built in to them as do many of the M-Audio interfaces.
You’ll know that you’re audio interface is also a MIDI interface if it has a MIDI IN, MIDI OUT, and sometimes also a MIDI THRU. If it has multiple INs and OUTs – all the better.
I’ll be using the Digi002 as my MIDI Interface. You’ll need to verify that your Pro Tools interface has MIDI connectors on it.
No MIDI Interface?
If you do not happen to have a MIDI Interface (ie: you’re using the original Mbox, or Pro Tools HD, or some other hardware with no MIDI interface), you can buy a simple MIDI interface, like the M-Audio Midisport 2×2 Anniversary Edition USB MIDI Interface for about $70.00.
Installing the Current MIDI Interface Driver
Whenever you connect a new piece of hardware to your computer, it is likely you will also need to install a small software application called a Driver. The Driver simply let’s your computer use the new hardware, whether it’s a printer, MIDI interface, scanner, etc.
If you have an M-Audio or Avid interface with a built-in MIDI interface, then the driver is already installed. But if you’re using a stand-alone MIDI interface by MOTU, Edirol, MIDIMAN, or some other company, you should check to owners manual for the interface and make sure that, if a unique driver is provided, that you install it.
OSX has support for many of the common MIDI interfaces already installed as part of the operating system. You could always try the tutorial and see if it works without any additional Driver installation. It might work for you. But if not, you may want to come back to this step and investigate the Driver thing a little bit further
Connecting the Cables
Assuming you have some sort of MIDI interface connected to the computer, you’re going to need to connect your MIDI device to it using MIDI Cables.
Here’s a picture of what your MIDI cables should look like:
Here’s the first simple tip I want you to remember about MIDI connections:
- MIDI OUTs of a device always connect to MIDI INs of another device.
- MIDI INs of a device always connect to MIDI OUTs of another device.
- MIDI THRUs (when used) of a device always connect to MIDI INs of another device.
Create a Studio Configuration using Audio MIDI Setup
Assuming you’ve connected your MIDI device to your MIDI Interface correctly, and assuming everything is turned on, let’s get into the actual setup of the OSX Audio MIDI Setup application.
AMS allows you to create multiple configurations. A configuration is a software setup in AMS that reflects a physical hardware setup in your studio. Pro Tools will use this configuration information to make your MIDI workflow in Pro Tools seamless and easy.
Therefore, the goal of this tutorial is to teach you how to set-up a basic configuration in AMS that mirrors the actual hardware MIDI connections in your studio.
In the OSX Finder, navigate to: Macintosh HD/Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup.
Double Click on the Audio MIDI Setup application icon to launch it.
When you first launch AMS, you’ll notice two tabs at the top of the AMS window: Audio Devices and MIDI Devices.
Click on the MIDI Devices tab.
Select New Configuration tab from the Configuration drop-down menu in the upper-left hand corner.
Name the New Configuration in the window that pops up when you selected New Configuration.
You should see something like this: a New Audio MIDI Setup window with an image representing your MIDI interface. Or, in this case, my 002 Rack – which also happens to be a MIDI interface.
Click the Add Device button in the control bar along the top of the AMS window.
A New External Device icon should now appear in the Audio MIDI Setup window.
Double-Click on it.
Double-Clicking on the New External Device icon should launch the Device Properties window. In this window, you’ll be able to specify some of the details about your MIDI Device.
Click on the Manufacturer drop-down menu and Select the manufacturer of the product you’re using. If you’re product is made by a manufacturer that is not listed, that’s ok – just skip this step.
Select the Model of your MIDI Device from the Model drop-down menu.
There’s a few other settings you could make in the device properties window. But for our purposes today, we’re going to move on.
Click APPLY to apply the device property settings.
The Device icon in the main AMS window should now be updated with the Model name that you just selected.
Click-and-Drag (while holding down the mouse button) on the UP arrow of the MIDI Device and drag over to the UP Arrow of your MIDI Interface. Then let go.
Click-and-Drag (while holding down the mouse button) on the DOWN arrow of the MIDI Device and drag over to the DOWN Arrow of your MIDI Interface. Then let go.
That’s all there is to it! You’re done creating your studio configuration in OSX Audio MIDI Setup.
Press Command+Q, or go to the Audio MIDI Setup menu and select Quit.
PS: You don’t need to Save the setup. That’s done automatically.
Testing your AMS Setup within Pro Tools
Now that you’ve created a MIDI Setup in AMS, launch Pro Tools and create a new session.
In a few more steps you’re going to need to be able to listen to your keyboard / MIDI sound module. If you don’t happen to have the audio from your keyboard / MIDI device connected, plug some headphones into it now.
In Pro Tools 8 create a New Blank Session in Pro Tools. If you’re using Pro Tools 7, create a New Session.
Go to the Track Menu and select “New…“.
In the New Track dialog, select MIDI track from the Track Type drop-down menu.
Make sure you’re in the Mix window in Pro Tools (Window menu > Mix).
You should have one MIDI track that looks something like this.
Look at the following image and learn where the I/O tabs are on the mixer channel. They’re at the top of the image, in this case.
The upper tab is the MIDI Input tab.
The lower tab is the MIDI output tab.
Click and hold on the MIDI Input Tab. You should see the name of the device (as you named it in AMS) appear. As you mouse-hover over the name, a new drop-down menu will appear to the right. Select All Channels.
Click on the MIDI Output tab. Hover over your MIDI device name to reveal the right-hand drop-down menu and select Channel 1
Go to the Options Menu at the top of the Pro Tools screen and select MIDI THRU. If it is already checked, there is no need to select it.
Enabling MIDI THRU in the options menu will tell Pro Tools to send whatever MIDI notes you play INTO to Pro Tools (from your keyboard) – THRU the software – and back OUT to the MIDI device.
Letting Pro Tools handle MIDI routing this way is ideal. But make sure to turn MIDI LOCAL “Off” on your MIDI keyboard to prevent the kind of “phasing”, or “doubling-up” of sounds that will happen when the MIDI device receives two of the same MIDI events simultaneously – one directly from the keyboard and one “echo” back from Pro Tools.
Record Enable the MIDI track by clicking on the channel Record button.
Play some notes on your MIDI keyboard. You should see activity in the channel Meter, as shown.
Go to Window menu and select Edit
In the Edit window, with the MIDI track still Record Enabled, start recording.
While Pro Tools is recording, play in some notes on your MIDI keyboard. You should see them displayed in the MIDI track playlist as you record.
When you’re done, press Stop on the Transport (or press Spacebar).
Click on the Record button again to take the MIDI track out of record mode.
Press Return to bring the session back to the start.
Click Play on the transport or press the Spacebar to play back the session.
You should now see activity on the MIDI track meter and, if you have audio / headphones connected, you should be hearing sound from your MIDI device.