Using External MIDI Instruments with Pro Tools

Want to use your external MIDI devices with Pro Tools? Record MIDI from a keyboard and then end up with audio tracks of the MIDI sounds? But how does MIDI become audio into Pro Tools? How do you connect everything? Isn’t MIDI a form of digital audio? Ring a bell? This tutorial is for you!

MIDI is NOT audio

Yes. This IS the place to start. Most, if not all of the difficulty that people have with utilizing hardware MIDI devices with Pro Tools has to do with a common misunderstanding of the differences between MIDI Data and Audio Signals.

More specifically, problems are caused by the assumption that somehow audio signal is carried along MIDI cables, when it is not.

MIDI is a command language

Back in the early 80’s, leading synth and keyboard manufacturers (Yamaha, Roland, Sequential Circuits) devised a standardized way to digitally interface electronic musical instruments. They called it MIDI. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

MIDI made it possible for one MIDI device to send commands, or instructions, to another MIDI device.

For example: if you had a keyboard equipped with a MIDI interface, you could connect it to another MIDI equipped device, say a MIDI Tone Module. Then you’d be able to use the keys on the keyboard to play the sounds in the MIDI Tone Module.

There are a specified set of commands that can be sent and received via MIDI. There are basic MIDI Note Events such as:

  • Velocity (how hard the note is played)
  • Note Number (what pitch is being played)
  • Note On (when the note is hit)
  • Note Off (when the note is released)
  • Pitch Bend (if you’re using the pitch bend wheel/knob)

There are also commands for adjusting the following parameters via MIDI:

  • Volume
  • Panning
  • Selecting Sounds
  • Adjusting a synth filter
  • Sustain Pedal On/Off

The more you get into it, the more you’ll realize that MIDI is one of the most important musical inventions ever.


What You Need Before Starting

  • Installed MIDI Interface, or Pro Tools interface with MIDI
  • Two MIDI Cables
  • One External “MIDI Device”, like a synth or sampler
  • Audio Cables to connect your MIDI device to your Pro Tools interface
  • Basic familiarity with your MIDI device

Step 1: Cable Connections

There are MIDI and audio connections you’ll need to make.

  1. MIDI Out of your MIDI Device to the MIDI IN of your Pro Tools Interface.
  2. MIDI Out of your Pro Tools Interface to the MIDI IN of your MIDI Device.
  3. Connect the LEFT & RIGHT AUDIO OUPUTS of your MIDI sound source to the LINE INPUTS of your Pro Tools audio interface.

Note: If you are using an interface (like the 003, 002,), make sure you’re aware of which line inputs you’re using. You’ll need to know this later in the tutorial.

Step 2: Launch Pro Tools

If you haven’t already, launch your Pro Tools application.

Step 3: Create a New Pro Tools session

In Pro Tools 8, in the session QuickStart screen, select Create a Blank Session and press OK. If you’re using Pro Tools 7, create a New Session.

Step 4: Track Menu

Go to the Track menu → Select “New…”

Step 5: Creating New Tracks

In the New Tracks dialog window, create the following tracks:

  • 1 x MIDI Track
  • 1 x Stereo Aux Input
  • 1 x Stereo Master Fader

Step 6: Viewing the Mix window

Go to the Window menu → Select Mix.

Step 7: New Tracks Look Like This

In your Mix window you should see your three newly created tracks. They should look something like this.

Step 8: Aux Input I/O

Notice the Aux Input Tracks I/O Settings. By default, it’s set to no input.

Step 9

Click on the Input tab of the Aux track. (The input tab is the one that says no input).
Hover your mouse over the word interface to reveal a menu of available interface inputs.

Select whichever Inputs on your Pro Tools interface that you connected to the audio outputs of your MIDI sound source.

Step 10

It’s a good idea to keep things organized when it comes to Pro Tools Inputs and Outputs.

Right-Click on the Aux Track input tab. (The one you just set in step 8). When you do, you’ll get a little context menu.

Select Rename1

If you’re using an Apple Mighty Mouse and are not sure how to enable it’s right-clicking feature, this post will show you how.

Step 11

In the Rename pop-up dialog, enter something that will make it easy for you to identify this input as the one that your MIDI sound source is connected to.

Step 12

The I/O tab of your Aux track should now show the new name.

Step 13: Assigning MIDI I/O

In my set-up I’m using a Roland XP-50 as the MIDI device. Notice that my MIDI track inputs and outputs display this correctly.

Step 14

We may want to set specific MIDI input and output channels for this track. Especially if we are using a multi-timbral workstation keyboard.

Click on the MIDI track Input tab.

Select All Channels. This will allow you to send MIDI into Pro Tools from whatever channel your controller keyboard / midi device happens to be set to.

Step 15

Click on the MIDI Track Output tab to set the MIDI output channel.
Set it to Channel 1, unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

Step 16

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.

Step 17

Click on the Record enable button on the MIDI track to get it ready to record some MIDI. (Get ready to play something, too!).

Step 18

For the next few steps we’re going to work in the Edit window.

Use the Command+= keyboard shortcut to toggle windows.
Or, go to the Window menu → Select Edit.

Step 19

Click on the Record button on the Pro Tools transport. It will start flashing red.
When you’re ready to start playing your keyboard, press the Play button on the transport.
Pro Tools start recording.

Step 20

Play in something from your keyboard and Pro Tools will record the MIDI data not audio signal onto the MIDI track.

Step 21

Click on the Record Enable button on the MIDI track to take it out of record mode.

You should now be able to play back your newly recorded MIDI track and hear the audio from your MIDI sound source through the Aux Track.

Try it out.

Step 22

Go to the Track menu → Select New…

Step 23

In the New Tracks dialog, create a new Stereo Audio track. Then press “Create”.

Step 24

You’re going to be sending the signal from the Aux track into the new Audio track.
You’re going to use a BUS to do this.

Click on the Output tab of the Aux track.
Hover your mouse over the word Bus to reveal a list of available Buses.
From the list of Busses → Select Bus 1-2.

Step 25

Check to make sure the I/O tab of your Aux track looks something like this.

Step 26

Once again, right-click on the Output tab of the Aux track and select rename.

Step 27

Rename Bus 1-2 “Print”

Step 28

Check to make sure the I/O tab of your Aux track looks something like this.

Step 29

Click on the Input tab of the Audio track.

Step 30

Select the Bus called “Print” from the list of available buses.

Step 31

You’ve just assigned the output of the Aux track to the Input of the Audio track.

Now, whenever you want to record the sound of your MIDI device (which is going to the Input of the Aux track), you would just change the output of the Aux track to be set to “Print”, instead of the default “Analog 1-2”.

Step 32

Click on the Record Enable button on the Audio Track to put it in Record mode.

Step 33

Press Record and Play on the transport.

Step 34

Pro Tools will now record the signal from the Aux track, in other words, from your MIDI sound source.

Step 35

There it is! The sound of your external MIDI sound source recorded as an audio track.

Start learning Pro Tools online now at Hours of expert instruction on the essentials of Pro Tools. Topics include Audio Recording, MIDI, Editing, Mixing, and Pro Tools Workflow. Members forum and access to the complete Music Production QuickStart Guide are included! Check it out right now.

  1. The right-click-renaming is not available in versions earlier than Pro Tools 7.3


  1. Mateus Garcia says:

    Hello Cris, The tutorial you send to me is helping a lot I don’t sleep good last night almost to ring the bell. I follow the step I saw everything as you tell me. I record I saw green signal but I don’t hear the sounds. I don’t know what I have to do now can you tell me if is something with volume. Cris do you live around here? I wish I know where I will bring you to my house 427 John street in New Bedford Ma to help me for ten minutes. I hope you understand my English. Have good night.

  2. Mateus ~ Thanks. I think I know what I left out.

    In some versions of Pro Tools 7 (I think prior to 7.3 o 7.4), the fader of a New Aux Track defaults to being all the way “down”. Naturally, that means – even if you are sending signal into it from your synth, your still not going to hear any output.

    Option (Mac) or Alt (WIn) + Click on the fader for the Aux track when you first create it, that will set the fader level to 0db. (Or just turn it up without using a shortcut).

  3. Geepster says:

    Hi Chris,

    This is a fantastic Tutorial for hooking up a Midi instrument. Please can you expand on it slightly as to how you would hook up TWO Midi instruments?

    (Specifically, a Yamaha EX7 and a Yamaha QS300).

    I’ve purchased 7 different books so far and not one of ’em shows how to link 2 instruments.

    Just discovered this website purely by chance and so glad I did!

    Cracking Stuff!

    Thanks in advance and very best wishes!


  4. Hello, it’s cool site with nice design 🙂

    I’ve question. Otherwise Everything is fine when you plugged instrument which model are listed on MIDI Studio Setup. I use Yamaha PSR 3000 I had *.ins definition instrument but Pro Tools can’t use them. Whan I can do?

    Thanks for help.

  5. Hello buddy…your advice is awesome…
    I have a question…
    I am using a DIGI 003 LE RACK + Axiom 61(working fine as midi keyboard) + Motif 7…but the Motif is already in my MIDI Devices Setup and I cannot record as a midi keyboard…Can you help me?

  6. Geepster ~ Thanks!

    Adam ~ The instrument definitions can be helpful but they are not essential. MIDI is MIDI regardless or whether it’s being sent into Pro Tools from a Yamaha PSR, a Korg synth, a Roland drum pad, etc. As long as you are able to get MIDI into Pro Tools and recorded onto a MIDI or instrument track you’re doing good.

    Paulo ~ Could you be more specific about the details?

  7. Simon O says:

    Well done mate you should of written the manual.
    Been up for weeks tryin to get some easy instructions, without everyone assuming you already know everything.


  8. Ken Hall says:

    My midi keyboard is a radio shack optimus md-1200. It has the 2 midi connections but no audio (rca) type outputs. Is it possible to use the headphone output with a splitter to make the 2 audio outputs? Would this work?

  9. Ken ~ Yes that could work. If you’re able to go and buy a 1/8″ Stereo (trs) to dual mono (ts) 1/4″ connectors. You could also do it by getting this 1/8″ stereo dual RCA and adding some RCA to 1/4″ adapters to it.

  10. Really good work on Pro tools but, im trying to record structure plugin rtas midi to audio; he records the midi fine but i cant see a way to record audio, is there a special way to make it with structure? thanx

  11. Guy ~ No there’s nothing unique about Structure that would make the process any different from other Virtual Instruments. Just make sure that you bus the Structure track out and use the same bus to go into an audio track. Then put Pro Tools into Record mode being sure to record enable the audio track while playing back the MIDI / Structure track.

  12. Thank you for enlightening me

    This website explains things in such a clear and precise way unlike the manuals!!


  13. Steve Ballou says:

    Every works just as you say! Now how do I get the nice piano MIDI sound and not the cheesy one?

  14. Hi friends. I have M-Powered Protools 7.4 but I cant use it because its saying no Pro Tools hardware found. Any help? Thanks in advance.

  15. Charlie says:

    This website is AWESOME! Very informative

  16. hi,
    how to add my korg pa50 in midi studio list in pro tools m-powered?

  17. LOVE YOU MAN!!!
    I took a techniques of recording course at school a couple of semesters ago but when Protools was introduced, MIDI wasn’t. I got all Geeked-up and bought the 7.4 MBox2 Factory Bundle Studio and have been struggling over making sense of poor resolution and quick curser movements on the screen and was about to give up. Most YouTube tutorials I came across only showed clearly a few pieces of the puzzle but you’ve really made it plain. I especially like the shadow and spotlight effect in how your site shows where we need to click. I’m not using Mac so things tend to look a bit different, so your simplified frames of reference are really great.

    Now the last hurdle: Now that my old Yamaha DX7 II-FD is directly connected to the MBox interface, I need to know how to connect my old sequencer [Yamaha QX-5] and tone generator [Yamaha TG-33] in the loop. I figure I can create some great combinations first on the sequencer stacking from the great library of sound in the TG-33 then (if it’s the only way) bring them into Protools via analog recording (prefer MIDI though) and learn how to set the send/receive channels on each device to get the most flexibility out of them. This is THE REAL REASON I bought Protools; it was hyped up about being able to do all that! I’ve invested a lot of money here; can you help me?


  18. Sid ~ Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated.

    I know exactly what you’re trying to do with the TG33 (great module) and the QX5.
    It is possible to integrate everything you have with Pro Tools, as I’m sure you know.

    The best I can tell you is that I do plan to cover these MIDI topics and other in my upcoming videos.

  19. Anonymous says:

    How do i control the instr. in Pro tools with an ext. midi controler? …Lets say an MPC 3000

  20. Daniel Nielsen says:

    Great site!

    I have an “Mbox 2 Mini” with no MIDI interface built in it, so i’ve just bought a “KORG nanoKEY” witch has a buil-in MIDI (In/Out). I run PT LE 7.4 on a MacBook (10.4.11). i can easily record but not hear it in playback. Can enybody help me out, please!


  21. Anonymous ~ You need to connect the MIDI Out from the MPC into your Pro Tools MIDI Interface. Then assign that MIDI device to the Input of the Instrument or MIDI track you want to control in PT. Also, inside the MPC you’ll need to make sure that it is sending MIDI and that the MIDI Note Numbers that you are sending out correspond to the notes you want to trigger in a Pro Tool Instrument.

    Daniel ~ What are you sending MIDI into? A Virtual Instrument? Or back to the Korg Nano? It sounds like the problem is just a matter of monitoring and not a MIDI problem. Can you be more specific?

  22. Cheers for the tutorials, they are very helpful. I’m stuck on one thing which is really bugging me – I have midi recorded on a Midi track, have routed it to an Aux Input track which has an insert of Grand Piano to trigger the midi. Signal is all fine in both these channels. The output of the Aux Input track is going to Bus 1-2. I then have a stereo Audio track, with the input as Bus 1-2, output as Out 1-2. And finally a master fader.

    My problem is that I cannot get signal from the Aux Input track to the Audio track – record enable does nothing (except when I stop the track, I get a flash of signal and piano sound). I can’t see where I’m going wrong with the routing, and I’ve tried closing Pro Tools AND restarting the computer to no avail. When I set the output of the Aux Input track to Out 1-2 I can hear (and see) signal in the master fader… but can’t hear through the Audio track. Any ideas??!! Help much appreciated!

  23. Neems ~ It sounds like you need to switch Auto Input Monitoring (in the Track Menu) to Input Only Monitoring.

  24. That was it! Thanks so much – I thought it’d be something simple like that as pretty sure my channels/signal routing was correct. 🙂 Off to record my midi now!

  25. LaGrande Brooklyn Don says:

    This site is great, keep up the good work I am sure I am going to need a question answered sooner or later..

  26. Hey, just discovered this website, looks great. Is there a reason why you choose to do the old pro tools MIDI in way despite the fact you are running version 8? I think since version 7 introduced them I have used instrument tracks to do the job that once fell to the combination of midi and aux tracks. Does it eat less processing power/ is there something I am missing? Overall though, I love the site I think its probably the best one I’ve seen dedicated to pro tools.

  27. AW ~Thanks for asking.

    No, you’re not missing anything ‘secret’ like CPU usage benefits or anything like that.

    It comes down to personal preference.

    I prefer the MIDI+Aux track method because I find keeping my signal routing and layout of controls consistent is more efficient.

    I find the layout of the Instrument View creates an interruption to an otherwise consistent mixer layout.

    That said: both MIDI and Instrument tracks work. I say use the one that helps you get your music done while making the technology most transparent in the process.

  28. Hey, thanks for the tutorial.

    I have a Yamaha Motif, and I can hear it through pro tools when I play live, but when I try to playback what I recorded, I hear nothing. On my Midi Track, the Input is set to “all” and the output is set to my midi controller. On the Aux track, the input is set to “In 1-2” which is the only option available to me, and the Output is “Out 1-2”.

    Any suggestions?

    • RJ ~ The fact that you can hear the Motif through PT when you play live means that the Audio connections are all good. But it doesn’t mean your MIDI setup is working. So here’s some quick thoughts about that:

      If MIDI data is visible on the MIDI track that you’ve recorded on, then the problem must be with the MIDI output routing in Pro Tools or the MIDI Channel Input settings on the Motif.

      If no MIDI data is visible on the MIDI track then the problem is with your MIDI settings altogether. In that case,

      1. double check your cable connections
      2. make sure MIDI Thru is On in Pro Tools
      3. turn MIDI Local Off on the Motif
      4. If you’ve never used the Motif as an external sound source before, it would be worthwhile reviewing the manual.

      It is possible for the Motif to be transmitting MIDI while at the same time not receiving MIDI. Becoming familiar with the Motif Tx and Rx settings is essential in this setup.

  29. Hey great tutorial. I have a question for you though. I don’t know if it was mentioned earlier or not if it was I apologize for that. I record my midi on to a midi track I go to play it back, and the sound has changed for smooth piano to stacato piano any help here would be great!!


    • Mike ~ Do you mean the actual Patch Assignment within an instrument has changed and a new patch has been selected? Or do you mean the timbre of the same Piano patch is altered when you play it back?

      What are you using for your Piano sound?
      Is it possible you have inadvertently adjusted the velocity of the performance? Changing from a soft to a hard velocity could definitely cause a smooth sound to become more staccato.

      Feel free to post more details and I’ll see if I can help.

  30. Thank you … that sounds good. To be more specific, I have my MPC3000 hooked up to my M-Audio Project I/O Mixer ….. I want to be able to control all of the virtual instruments in REASONS at the same time using the MPC3000 … Let’s say CH 1 NNxt CH 2 Subtractor CH 3 Sampler … Etc. Basically using the virtual instruments in Reasons thru PRO TOOLS , as if they were stand alone outboard sound modules ..How do I assign the channels in REASONS? ..And what is the most efficient way to set up the tracks in PRO TOOLS in doing so? via MIDI , AUX, AUDIO tracks and so on? …Thank you .

  31. Is there an Instrument in PRO TOOLS 7.4 , that is easy to use where I could store all of the new sounds or samples I get or create, and pull them up and use that devise as a virtual instrument. This would make the whole gig worth while for me….. Thanks.

  32. Anonymous ~ There’s a few ways you could approach doing what you want to do, each with their pros and cons. But for now I’ll just mention the highlights.

    First, you’ll need to configure AMS or Windows MIDI setup so that the MPC is recognized as Transmitting on 16 channels.

    Then assign the MPC sequencer tracks, each with it’s unique MIDI Transmit channel, to the Input of a corresponding Pro Tools → Reason MIDI track.

    I would suggest putting all of the MPC-triggered Reason / Pro Tools MIDI tracks into Record and I would record the MIDI data into Pro Tools.

    Doing this will save you some headaches when it comes to monitoring live MIDI across multiple MIDI tracks in Pro Tools when recording audio. Not to mention eliminating the need to lock the MPC clock to Pro Tools.

    About your Virtual Instrument question. Sure – there’s all kinds of samplers (Kontakt, Structure,) and sample players (Structure Free, Battery) that you can use with Pro Tools 7.4.

    However, since you already have Reason (which has the NNXT, ReDRUM, and NN19) you’ve got the tools you need without buying anything else. Just take the time to learn how to save and manage your Reason Sampler files in such a way that they’re easy to find and load with each PT session and you’ll be set.

  33. Im not sure. I can lay it out. I record midi using Akoustik piano plugin. I go back to listen to it and whenever the sustain pedal was used it cuts out. Thats what i ment by smooth piano. So i dont know if it has something to do with my pedal mid board or if there is a setting in protools that I can change. I use a M audio Keystation and a motif 88 key.

    Thanks Chris


  34. Mike ~ Could you try setting the MIDI “Local Control” inside the Motif 8 to OFF? Then enable the MIDI “THRU” in Pro Tools. Then, after you’ve done that try your recording and playback again (ideally on a new track) and let me know if that fixes the problem.

  35. Chris im trying to set up my Axiom61 midi controller using USB and its proving to be impossible to record or simply get sound from it via protools, how does it differ in the settings from Midi in cables?

    • Mike ~ With the Axiom everything is different because it’s simply a controller and not a sound source. With the Axiom (connected via USB) you will be able to send MIDI data into Pro Tools and to a Virtual Instrument.

      USB Controller keyboards sometimes include MIDI Output connectors (as does the Axiom 61). This is useful if you want to trigger a MIDI device that has no USB connection. But since your computer has USB, you’re better off to just connect the Axiom with a USB cable. In fact, doing it this way will be easier as Pro Tools will usually automatically detect any connected USB controllers and let you select it from the PT MIDI Input tab.

  36. Frederik Nordstrom says:

    Hi there! Thanks for a very infomative site! However, I can’t find any solution for my problem. I guess it’s quite simple, but I can’t make it work.
    I have an MBox 2 (the regular one with MIDI) and Pro Tools LE 8. I want to edit my midi recordings and therefore I need to record them as audio, like most of the questions on this page is about. But in my case, its all internal. I cant get any sounds from a MIDI track to work together with a new audio track. Fx If I want to use the Xpand, it all works great, until I try to get some “real” sound. I hope you can help me! Thanks!

    • Frederik ~ There is nothing on a MIDI track that makes sound. The sound is coming from your instrument plug-in. So, as you say, nothing will happen if you try to get sound from the MIDI track.

      What you want to do is route the audio signal from the Output of the Aux Input track that has the Virtual Instrument on it to the Input of your new Audio track.

      Once you have that signal path configured you should be able to play the MIDI track. It will play through it’s output which will be routed to the input of the audio track you’re recording on.

  37. Dennis Keller says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for such great work. Truly appreciated!

    QUESTION: In using the Axiom 61 with the USB connection will all things hold true with this tutorial with the exception of Pro Tools identifying (input devices) as the “USB Axiom 61 In 1“ and “USB Axiom 61 In 2“?

    Thanks again,

  38. Dennis ~ Thanks for saying thanks! In this tutorial the focus is on using an external MIDI device that has sounds.

    If you use an Axiom 61 as your controller, your MIDI/Instrument track MIDI Input must be assigned to the Axiom 61. The MIDI Output must be assigned to whatever your MIDI destination is; be it an external hardware device or a plug-in.

  39. Frederik G Nordstrom says:

    Hello again

    I still can’t make it work. I don’t know what is wrong but here is how I set it all up:

    1 Aux set to input 1-2 and output 1-2
    1 miditrack set to predefined 1 and xpand 2 (or 1)
    1 audio in REC set to either no input or 1-2 and then out 1-2 (no input=no sound, set to 1-2 I had a lot of noise.)

    None of it works and I wonder if I missed some other part? Is there anything in the Xpand I need to set up? Is there anything outside ProTools I need to set up?

    Thanks again for you great help!


  40. Frederik ~ Remember that internal routing of Pro Tools mixer (like when sending a virtual instrument to an audio track’s input) is done using busses, not analog inputs and outputs.

    You can see what I mean in Step 29 & 30 of the above tutorial.

  41. Cheers Chris, got it….

  42. Thank you for taking the time to write these brilliant tutorials. I would have never in a million years figured out how to print midi tracks to audio from an external synth or a vst instrument. It was one major problem I’ve had for a long time, but with these tutorials I have finally figured it out. Its very easy to do now.

    This is one of the main reasons why I have recently switched to Pro Tools. Its so popular that when you encounter a problem, you will find dozens of tutorials and youtube videos on the net to help you solve these problems.

    thanks Chris…

  43. Frederik Nordstrom says:

    Hi again

    That’s great! It works now. I can’t really tell what was wrong before, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Thanks a lot for your help and advice!
    Like Gus says, this was really a shortcut for me too. Thanks again.

  44. Hello Chris, I have mbox2 pro PT8 and a Yamaha Motif ES 6 is there an easy way to control Virtual INstruments in Pro Tools using the Motif? Would I use USB, Midi Connection or can i firewire? Thanks for the Help!

    • Alex ~ Yes! It’s very easy. I would just use a MIDI cable from the Motif into the MBOX 2 Pro. Then create an Instrument or MIDI track with a Virtual Instrument on it and assign the MBOX 2 Pro’s MIDI Input Port to the Input of that track.

      That should do it.

  45. Hi Chris,

    Thank you very much for the time you are offering to give us your knowledge.

    My question is somehow the same as many people on this page, but I will give you more details about it.

    I am using a MBox 2 Mini (without any MIDI ports) and a MIDI USB cable which connects my laptop to a Yamaha A1000 Synth.

    When I use any other program (such as Cakewalk Pro Audio) I am able to record and playback MIDI and the orange led on my MIDI cable shows MIDI activity in both directions (when I play on the Yamaha and when I playback from PC).

    But with Pro Tools (after making everything all right : MIDI track, input set to USB MIDI Device Channel 1, output set to the same as input, MIDI Thru checked) I can record what ever I play on the Yamaha, I can see the VU Meter in Pro Tools responding to my played notes, and I can see the recorded notes in the MIDI Edit window. However, I can not play back the recorded midi events! nothing is played on synth! no activity is shown by the orange led on the MIDI cable! (I have to remember you that with Cakewalk I am able to do it, which means that the problem is not with the synth nor with the cable…) and it doesn’t work even when I set the internal control to off…

    Is there any general configuration related to MIDI in Pro Tools? Do you have any idea about what can be the problem?

    Thank you in advance

    • Anouar ~ Thank you for visiting and you’re more than welcome.

      Yes – there are all kinds of general configuration settings when using Pro Tools and MIDI. Add to that the fact that every computer / OS / Pro Tools version and external MIDI device has variations in it’s way of doing things, too. It’s a broad subject that goes much further beyond the scope of the single tutorial above.

      Ideas about what might be happening in your situation? Sure. Here’s the first things that come to mind:

      When you’re using Cakewalk and hearing your MIDI performance playing back, are you hearing sounds from the A-1000? Or is the MIDI track in Cakewalk triggering your PCs internal GM soundsource?

      In your comment you do not mention how you have connected the Audio from the A1000 to Pro Tools. How are you monitoring the A1000? This is critical to making it all work together.

      I’ll wait for your response…

      PS: I have a several hours worth of dedicated MIDI-focused video and text tutorials coming soon. It’s all exclusively MIDI and MIDI in Pro Tools. If you’re signed up to the newsletter you’ll be among the first to know about the availability of those resources.

  46. Hi Chris,

    This tutorial is very helpful.. thnx!!! I have PT8 LE but I still use my sequencer from my Motif XS8 due to a steap learning curve on the MAC and PT.. I have to rush some tracks out ASAP and I just want to record what I have in my XS8 straight into PT and bounce it to a CD. I mixed all the tracks down already and they are ready to go.. I have watched tuturials, read them but it seems that I’m still missing 1 or 2 critical steps… please give me a “step by step” answer or point me to where I can go to get over this hump…

    Thnx again…

    • Carl ~ If you’ve got some music that sounds the way you want it coming straight out of the Motif 8 then there is no need to use MIDI at all. Instead you could do a simple stereo audio recording.

      1. Create a New Stereo Audio Track
      2. Assign analog inputs 1 & 2 to that track’s input
      3. Make sure the Motif audio outputs are connected to MBOX hardware Inputs 1 & 2
      4. Record Enable the audio track and press play (to start recording).
      5. Press play on the Motif Sequencer to play the sequenced audio into Pro Tools.
      6. When you’re done the recording, trim the region to get rid of excess.
      7. Use the Export Regions as Files command to export the final region as a Stereo Interleaved 16bit, 44.1kHz WAV file. (This will take the edited region and turn it into it’s own audio file).
      8. Bring the exported region/file into iTunes (or whatever you use) to burn a CD.

      I understand that if you are brand new to Pro Tools some of these steps may be new territory for you. In that case go ahead and sign up and download the QuickStart Guide. In that guide I’ve written tutorials to help you with things like Input/Output routing, Setting Record Levels, Creating tracks, and using Bounce to Disk.

  47. BTW Chris,

    in addition to my previous quesstion, I just wanted to let you know that my midi is already set up correctly and I can actually record but that’s where I’m stuck at I guess.. So far I can open a new session my biggest hang up is understanding the difference in setting up new tracks (mono, stereo..etc..etc..) and going from there.. I wish I could just hit play on my Motif and record straight into protools… not track by track but the song in it’s entirety.. Is this possible?

    Thanks again…

  48. Garrett Slavone says:

    HI Chris..

    Great site, thanks for the information. I have a different MIDI/Pro Tools 7.4/MBox2 question for you.

    I have a Korg Triton LE and build sequences/songs on its sequencer. I want to record the individual (Kick: Track 1, Snare: Track 2; etc.) tracks from my Triton onto individual tracks in Pro Tools 7.4 through my Mbox2.

    As I understand it, I should be able to slave the Triton to the Pro Tools sequencer and simultaneously record the tracks from my Triton onto separate assigned tracks in Pro Tools so I can properly process and mix said tracks. How do I achieve this?

    Up until now, I have been soloing each track from the Triton and recording each track into Pro Tools, but that takes forever when you have 10 instrument tracks within a 4 minute song. Can you help me with this? Thanks

    • Garrett ~ Thank You.

      You are correct. You can sync the Pro Tools and Triton sequencers (with Pro Tools being the Master and Triton ‘slaving’ to it). However to get each individual sound from the Triton onto an individual (audio?) track in Pro Tools, you would need to have an audio output from the Triton for each discreet sound. One output for the Kick, one for the snare, etc.

      Also, you’d need an individual Audio Input on your Pro Tools interface for each sound you want to discreetly and simultaneously record. The MBOX 2 has 2 x Analog Inputs and 2 x Digital Inputs (S/PDIF L&R). If you’re new to this process I would suggest just doing two tracks at a time to begin with.

      Sync up the Sequencers, Route your Triton sounds – each out of it’s own output. I would recommend removing or bypassing the Triton Effects Bus unless you really want to use those effects. Set your levels and do the first pass. Then go back to the Triton, disable or mute the first two sounds and set up the next two sounds and record them on two new Pro Tools tracks.

      Hopefully this gets you going in the right direction for now.

  49. Hey Chris,
    Thanks for the great tutorial. Incredibly clear and helpful. I have a couple of questions I was hoping to get clarity on.

    1. What is the difference b/w recording in MIDI and then bouncing to audio vs. just recording as audio to begin with?
    2. I hear people talking about triggering, like they are taking a MIDI signal out of pro tools and sending it into their MIDI sound module. How does that work and what purpose does that serve?
    3. I also don’t understand what the “thru” ports are for on the controller and sound module. What the heck are those for?!?! Oh man.

    Thanks again,


    • Andy~ Thanks. You’re welcome.

      1. When you sequence MIDI you gain all of the benefits of working with MIDI; tempo flexibility, ability to edit and create performances, scoring, changing sounds, changing key, etc. It’s really a massive difference but that’s the quick answer.
      2. Triggering is usually meant to describe using an Audio recording (ie: a snare track) to “trigger” MIDI Note events. Those note events can then be used to play a MIDI module or virtual instrument with a selection of high(er) quality snare drum sounds than that of the recorded snare (or Kick, Toms, etc) track. This has been a fairly common practice for a couple of decades now. But it’s getting easier and easier to do.
      3. MIDI THRU sends an exact duplicate of whatever is coming into the MIDI IN. It’s commonly used to Daisy Chain multiple hardware MIDI devices.
  50. Thanks for this quick and useful tutorial. I recently got Pro Tools and had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to set it up to send/receive MIDI and record audio from my synths.

    This tutorial got me up and running in minutes. Setting up the bus and enabling the track for recording to get the MIDI to pass from my controller through the interface and back to my synths were the things I was missing. Not only did this help me with the task at hand, but seeing how the bus is used really helped me get my head around Pro Tools in general.

    Thanks again, this was a big help!

  51. i’ve been looking for this information for an hour or so now. thanks for making my life easier.

  52. Hi Chris,

    I have done everything as instructed to setting up MIDI connection to record in Pro Tools. I can hear my keyboard playing through the Aux track, so my audio connection is good. However, when I play notes to record on MiDI track it does not respond at all. No Notes recorded after my performance. But If I use the pencil to manually put the notes in, then I hear playback during record. Could you please help?

    • Edward ~ Based on what you’re saying, something’s up with your MIDI Input.

      You could:

      1. Check the MIDI Cable that is connecting your keyboard MIDI Output to the MIDI Input of Pro Tools
      2. Check the MIDI Track Input on the Pro Tools mixer to verify the correct MIDI device and channel are assigned
      3. Check your Windows MIDI Setup or OSX Audio / MIDI Setup to verify that your computer is “seeing” your MIDI device
      4. Make sure your keyboard is sending MIDI data to it’s MIDI Output. Some keyboards have a LOCAL CONTROL ONLY setting that prevents them from sending MIDI out until you tell it to. Check your keyboard manual for that info
      5. In Pro Tools check Setup → MIDI → Input Devices… to verify that you have your keyboard enabled as an input device

      Hope that gets you on track.

  53. This is very helpful! I have been browsing around because I just started using Native Instruments, and I am a little stumped bringing these NI plug-ins into ProTools. Would this same BUSing method work so I can playback MIDI data through a software synth like Native Instruments, and not my Korg R3 or other synthesizers?

    • Stephen ~ Thank You.

      The short answer is “yes”. If you’re using a virtual instrument, you would Buss it to the input of an Audio Track. When you playback the MIDI performance into the Virtual Instrument, your would record the resulting audio onto the Audio Track.

  54. Hi Chris,

    Thanks. You were right on with my previous questions. Everything worked fine and I was able to do simple audio recordings from my Motif.

    Now I follow the same steps but there is no sound when I record and attempt to play it back. My I/O’s are set to 1-2 and I haven’t changed any MIDI settings. I’m not sure if I’m recording anything because instead of waveforms I’m getting 2 parallel straight lines. I also noticed that the sound levels top out once I enable the record button on the track. Now I’m screwed because I don’t have the correct settings saved when I want to create a track from a blank session. The only other option is to create a stereo mix? Please help me if this makes any sense.

    • Carl ~ Glad to hear it. Thanks.

      As for the other stuff. Yes – flat lines on the playlist indicate zero level or no audio.

      Apart from that there’s quite allot that I don’t know about your setup that I really would need to know in order to assist you. If you could take the time to clearly layout your system details and describe the specific problem, email it to me and I’ll take a look at it.

  55. How do I get Kore player to work in Pro Tools. I have the ancient 6.4 LE version and the guy at Guitar Center says it should work. I click on Kore player and I see it working but I cannot hear the sound out my monitors. I have the program Reason and I hear the sound of reason from my studio monitors. I am lost. Hope you can help me. Thanks!

    • Albert ~ Apologies for the overdue reply. I don’t not which operating system you use but let’s say it’s a Mac. Pro Tools 6.4 was not officially compatible with OSX 10.4. Yet Kore Player requires 10.4. So, my guess (based on the time line of PT6.4LE) is that Kore Player is incompatible with your system because it came about a year or so later.

  56. Very helpful site, Thanks.

    1. Could you explain why we added the Master Fader and what it is used for?
    2. I saw someone mention that you can use the Instrument Track as opposed to both the MIDI and Aux? Is this true? If there is no degradation in the sound quality, can you explain how this is done?
    3. If I wanted to make a multi MIDI track song using MIDI+Aux would I need to record one at a time to an Audio track and mute the MIDI for the sound to come out right?
    4. I assume that when you change from a Drum sound on you keyboard to a piano sound…the drum midi notes play piano sound.
    5. I have a lot more questions, but i know you are a busy person and don’t want to take up all your time.

      My setup: Triton studio, M-Audio FastTrack Pro with Pro Tools 7.4 M-Powered

      Thanks again for your help.

    • Raymond ~ Hopefully some quick replies will suffice.

      1. Master Fader is used because it shows you the actual sum of your tracks and busses. Absolutely critical in Pro Tools mixing.
      2. Yes – you can use an instrument track instead of the Aux and MIDI track combination and it has no adverse affect upon the audio quality at all.
      3. It depends on if the device or Virtual Instrument you are using is multi-timbral. If it is then you could create multiple MIDI tracks to trigger the device/instrument and work with it as MIDI within the capabilities (number of parts and voices) of the device. However, if it’s a mono-timbral device then yes – you would have to record each MIDI-triggerd performance as Audio before re-using the device for another part/sound.
      4. Correct

      Hope that helps.

  57. I have followed this guide….Nothing…no sound…using Pro Tools M-Powered Essential and M-Audio KeyStudio………

    • Mason ~ Hmm… yes, I can imagine that. I have not used the KeyStudio49i. However, (correct me if I’m wrong), but looking at the specs it looks as though it’s a MIDI controller and audio interface intended to control software sounds in Pro Tools Essential, not act as a stand alone external (sound-generating) MIDI instrument.

      If that’s is the case, the tutorial won’t help you. (As you’ve said ).

      However, if you think I’m missing something about the KeyStudio capabilities (ie: it is, in fact, an external sound source), please send me an email and explain further. I’ll do my best to help you come up with a possible solution.

  58. Hi Chris, I have a question. Cannot figure the following:
    I have an instrument track in PT LE 8 (MAC) connected to Kontakt 3. In Kontakt I have loaded samples on let’s say 6 different midi-channels. I figured that the instrument track in PT is assigned to midi channel 1. So if I play my keyboard. only the midi channel 1 in Kontakt will sound. My question is: can I assign 6 different midi channels on this Instrument track. For ex: I record the bass of a choir on that track on midi channel 1, the tenors on the SAME instrument track on channel 2 and so on. Is that possible and if yes, how? Thanks in advance!!

    • Marcel ~ No it is not possible to do it that way. Only MIDI performance data intended for Channel 1 (in this case) would be able to reside on the Instrument track.

      I would recommend using a single Aux Input track with Kontakt instantiated on it and use six individual MIDI tracks triggering channels 1-6. I prefer this method in almost every instance where I have a multi-timbral instrument in use.

      If you still prefer to use an instrument track with Kontakt on it, just use MIDI tracks for each additional channel / part.

  59. Owen Williams says:


    I have had Pro Tools for 2 days, this was great, thanks. It worked a treat. I have a Korg X5D and I set it up in the ‘Midi Studio Setup” very easily. I also have Yamaha DTXpress drums and when I looked for those in the setup , I could not find them. Do you know why and shall I just use GM instead ?


    • Owen ~ Yes. AMS and MIDI Studio Setup use .midnam files provide you with device info. Not every MIDI device has its .midnam file created included in OSX or Windows and is therefore, not available for you to select. That’s all.

      I don’t believe the DTXpress would be a GM device, so I would leave probably leave it empty, give it a name and select the MIDISetup”>AMS Transmit and Receive channels manually.

  60. Thanks Chris. Can you please explain a bit more:

    I would recommend using a single Aux Input track with Kontakt instantiated on it and use six individual MIDI tracks triggering channels 1-6. I prefer this method in almost every instance where I have a multi-timbral instrument in use.

    English is my second language and I do not understand this work flow…


    • Marcel ~ Sure. Let me clarify. Instantiated is the term used for inserting a plugin on a Pro Tools insert point / tab. So what I meant was: set up / insert / or instantiate Kontakt on an Aux Input track instead of on an Instrument Track. Then use MIDI tracks to trigger the sounds in Kontakt.

      By multi-timbral I mean an instrument that is capable of playing multiple sounds, each on it’s own MIDI channel, simultaneously.

  61. Hi Chris. I think I’m getting closer but not close enough. I made an Aux Input track with Kontakt. When I play the soft keyboard in Kontakt I can work on the different MIDI channels; i.e. I click on MIDI channel 1 and then I trigger the sound in Kontakt on that channel.

    What I do not understand is how to record on an Aux Input track in Pro Tools those different MIDI channels. So, what to do next is the question. I think I do not understand the function of an Aux Input track. I used to work with Audio tracks all the time – that’s it. I can send you a screen shot if you want. Thanks for bearing with me!

  62. Thank you very much for your response. It did help a lot.

    The Triton studio does turn out to be a multi-timbral keyboard. I was able to find out how to send 16 separate midi signals to Pro Tools. When I win my first award for my music compositions I will thank you during my speech.

  63. Thanks. I think I get it: when I want to use six different channels in Kontakt I make six different MIDI channels and route them to one Aux track. Is that right?


  64. Peter Roumeliotis says:

    GREAT SITE!! Start Charging for it.

    I’m using Pro Tools 8, 002 Rack, Command 8, Focusrite ISA 220, mics, etc. I have a MIDI, in a MIDI track. I’m trying to have this track trigger a Roland XV-5050 module but I’m getting latency. It is noticeably off time. Also, the violin sounds are triggered slow as shorter busts are required. I have an Aux Input track set up and from there a bus to an Audio track where I can record audio.

    How do I correct this? There has to be a way.
    Great work!

    • Peter ~ Thanks for the compliment.
      Have you adjusted the Hardware Buffer? If it’s any higher than 256 samples the latency will be noticeable. Go to Setup → Playback Engine to adjust it.

  65. Peter Roumeliotis says:

    Ok, how I set it up:

    1) MIDI Ch. I/O; Digi 002 Port 1, all channels; Out; Digi 002 Port 1 Emulated 2) Aux Ch., I/O Ch 3-4, Out ; Buss 13-14 3) Audio ch. I/O; 13-14, Out; A1-2 (Master).
    Playback Engine: H/W 256. Host Processor: 4, CPU: 90%

    I tried it again, same problem. Perhaps slightly better, but still not what it should be. Still a delay. Comes in slightly late. Any other suggestions?
    Unless there is a plug in that has great sounding solo violin sounds you can suggest?

    PS: Need any snow in Vancouver? Send you some from Montreal!

    • Peter ~ The signal flow you’ve set up is fine. I use almost exactly the same settings (on a Mac) when I’m tracking parts using external sound modules and it works fine, as it should. That said, that ‘Emulated’ Output would be the first thing I would look into.

      PS: Yes – I’ve lived at the foot of the North Shore Mountains my entire life and have never seen so little snow. By little I mean “none”. It’s been like Spring here for the last month or so. Very warm.

  66. Anthony Morgan says:

    Hi Chris,

    Just a quick note to say thank you so much for this guide – I’ve gone from knowing absolutely nothing about MIDI to being able to use it on my new record.

    Many thanks.

  67. Quick one, sometimes when I play notes in a track. I see the notes but it has a X before each note played so I just hear clicks.
    I must move each note and remove the clicks, and then I can hear what I played. What causes that in Pro Tools 8?

    • Gene ~ Sorry for the delay in responding. I have to admit I’ve never seen what you’re describing. If you are still dealing with it please feel free to email me more details (and maybe a screenshot). I’ll see if I can help you sort it out.

  68. Chris – thanks for the info. Will this tutorial work with a midi controller (like axiom 25 – not sound generating) if you insert an instrument like xpand on the instrument track?

    • Gregg ~ Not exactly. As the tutorial in written with external, sound-generating MIDI devices in mind.

      That said, based on your question it sounds like you’re definitely on the right track. You just need to bus the output of Xpand to the input of an Audio track (instead of routing the outputs of the external device to the audio track).

  69. Chris, I want to give a big thanks for the information that you have given me on MIDI. There is a little road block I’m running into when I track out my MIDI/Audio into Pro Tools. Everything is not lining up on time. All my instrument tracks record on time but my kick never does. The very first note never records on time. PS: To help you out I’m using Roland Juno-G with Pro Tools.

  70. Hey Chris, I was wondering how I could hook up my Roland to Pro Tools and record what I’m playing on my Roland in Pro Tools. I dont want to do it MIDI because I want to actually use the Roland sounds.

    • Adora ~ All you need to do is connect the audio output from the Roland device into the audio input of Pro Tools and record as usual. Pro Tools doesn’t know the difference between a guitar, a mic, or something that also happens to be a MIDI capable device.

      So when it comes to recording audio – it’s always the same process: connect your audio device using standard audio cables, make sure the correct audio inputs are assigned to the track you’re recording onto, set your levels, and record.

      Does that help?

  71. Doug Gray says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for providing such great help. I’m running Pro Tools 8.0 on a Mac with a Digi 003, and I’m getting latency when I play back midi tracks. This happens all the time whether I’m using outboard MIDI gear or virtual instruments. I’ve tried all the different buffer settings and there’s no difference. I worked with a Digi 001 and Pro Tools 5.0 for the last ten years and never had a problem. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • Doug ~ Thanks for the compliment.

      1. I would recommend updating to CS 8.0.3 as there have been several MIDI related bug fixes since 8.0. These are included in CS 8.0.3 (a free download at Digidesign).
      2. You may want to check your Global MIDI Offsets. Just in case that was somehow inadvertently adjusted.

      Please, let me know what happens.

  72. I have an M-AUDIO KeyRig 25. I am getting activity when I play or record, but am unable to get any sound on playback. I think I followed the directions pretty accurately, but could be wrong. I am not using MIDI cords. I am using a USB cord from the M-Audio straight into my computer. I also have an M-Box set up. Are there a different set of instructions for USBcords.

    Can you please give a quick in out for this if you know it. Thank you so much. I have been stuck for two days. I was doing great with live instruments, but this MIDIsetup is killing me.

    Thanks again.

    Once I get this MIDI thing figured out it looks like you have some very useful info on here!!

    • Jay ~ Yes, it’s a totally different ballgame if you’re not using an external MIDI instrument. What are you using for instrument sounds in this scenario?

  73. Doug Gray says:


    Thank you. Updating to cs 8.0.3 worked. MIDI is tight. I’d been drawing in all of my MIDI for months. Also, it sounds like I’m getting a wider stereo spectrum overall; which is nice.

    You da man. Thanks again,


  74. Hi Chris,

    It’s awesome to see all the help you’re giving; helping people make music.

    My question is:

    I have a Korg TR Music Workstation (aka Korg TR-61 or Korg TR 1 Keyboard), and ProTools LE 8, which doesn’t have my keyboard available as an option in Setup→MIDI→MIDI Studio…→Manufacturer→Model 🙁

    I tried downloading the appropriate .midnam (from DigiCake) and then in the Patch Change window of my MIDI track selecting ‘Korg_TR_Workstation.midnam’ but got an error message saying “Pro Tools could not find the appropriate patch names in the currently selected patch name document because either manufacturer/model information or instrument do not match”.

    I guess because in MIDI setup I selected what I thought was the ‘closest match’ (Korg TR-Rack) but they don’t actually match.

    Is there some way to add new keyboards into the manufacturer/model in MIDI setup?


    • Dan ~ Thank you for the compliment and, yes there is a way to it.

      You are on exactly the right track. The only thing I think you’re missing is that there also needs to be a .middev file created that corresponds to the device you’ve created a .midnam for. It’s name has to be exactly the same as the .midnam file (less the .midnam extension).

      If Pro Tools doesn’t see the corresponding .middev file in the Library→Audio→MIDI Devices folder, it won’t allow you to access the .midnam file.

      Note: Tutorials on this and other MIDI & Pro Tools topics will be available as part of the training site .

  75. Thanks for your prompt reply.

    I have edited the .middev file by opening it in notepad (forgot to mention i’m on a PC), copying the Korg T-1 code and pasting it with the name changed to exactly match my .midnam file. Success!

    I now have access to all patch data and can successfully record MIDI.

    Now only one problem remains, I think it will be the one that really shows me up as a noobie, so please excuse my ignorance but now how do i get to hear my recorded MIDI?

    Because it’s a Mini Mbox 2 and doesn’t have MIDI ports, does that mean I can’t?
    The only options I have in the output field of my MIDI track are Korg TR Workstation (16 tracks) and Predefined>Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth [Emulated] (16 tracks) & Predefined>Microsoft MIDI Mapper [Emulated] (16 tracks). Have tried all 16 tracks of all 3 options and haven’t heard a peep through my Mbox or my Korg’s speakers. Is there something I’m missing here?

    What’s happening is I can hear the MIDI as audio via the aux track as I record it, but nothing is registering when I play it back. ie The PT MIDI track isn’t triggering my keyboard. I’ve made sure they are both set to channel 1 and that the keyboard’s local control is off, other than that I’m at a bit of a loss…

    • Dan ~ Great to hear. We’ll let Chris know you were successful with that. Chris’ schedule is jam-packed at the moment so detailed answers to questions at this site may be a little sparse in the coming weeks. Thanks for using ShowMeProTools and for your patience.

      We’ve set up a mailing list for you who want to be first in the loop on the upcoming training site. It’s got hours of MIDI and Pro Tools training. Sign Up Now

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Dan ~ Sorry for the long delay in my response. Have you resolved the problem?

  76. Chuck Durley says:

    I have a Yamaha EX5 synth. I have my Midi I/O port A connected to a ProjectMix I/O contol surface. I am using Pro Tools M-Powered 8.0.3. I have set up an Instrument and Click track within Pro Tools and have assigned Inserts A-E on both tracks. The instrument track is set to use the “Structure” plug-in. When I hit any of the keys on my synth, I have no sound. Any assistance you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.

  77. Anthony Morgan says:

    Hi, this page is a constant source of great info for me – thanks for all the hard work.

    I hope this question isn’t too annoying, but I run PT 6.4 LE on a PC with a Digi001 and only started using MIDI recently. I’ve figured it out thanks to this guide, but was wondering how I can use two MIDI tracks together ‘independently’. For example, I have one MIDI track which is the right hand on the piano, which I want to sound like a bell, and the left hand is another MIDI track that I want as an organ. But when I ‘print’ one or the other to an Audio track I hear them both – how do I get them to be independent of each other?

    Thanks so much in advance.

  78. James Perales says:

    Hi Chris, Thanks so much for placing all this information up here. You have a great site, excellent for beginners at Pro Tools (like myself). I’ve already learned quite a bit from the information you have here, especially this section (Using External MIDI Instruments with Pro Tools). Thanks for placing Jpegs with your tutorials. You can definitely have my vote on any upcoming “ProTools/Music Best Site” contest. Keep up the great work! All the best. James

  79. John S. Arnold says:

    Great article Chris! Thanks to this I now have a couple of external synths running in my rig. The only problem is, I can’t hear them while in playback. In other words, I’m working on a song and I’m looking for the right sound on my external synth. I hear the sound until I press play to hear the sound with the rest of the track. Hope this makes sense, any ideas? –John

  80. I don’t know a thing about ProTools. It’s got to be easier than what I make of it. I’m ignorant. I have a question. Can the .midnam midi patches in ProTools be used as sounds that I can use and record on MIDI track?
    How can I use the Kurzweil’s sounds,and Yamaha, and Korg as instruments played on my Kontrol 49 Korg keyboard? Help.

    • Aldraco ~ The .midnam files are basically text listings of the patch/sound names for various devices. Having these names available makes it easier to call up, or navigate through sounds on a device by name instead of by meaningless program change numbers .

      If you want to use the sounds from a Kurzweil, Yamaha, or any other synth you would have to either A] have the actual hardware device connected, or B] have a software sampler like Structure or Kontakt with samples of the synths you like. There are software instruments like Omnisphere, or Titan that have impeccably sampled synths and will run in Pro Tools beautifully.

  81. Thanks but the MIDI Thru is enabled. It seems that Pro Tools doesn’t react on FX knobs on Kore. But it does (?!) react on the pitch bend from my keyboard. Makes me wonder….

    • Marcel ~ How are you doing. The comment abut MIDI Thru was actually in response to a different question from Charles, but on this thread. Sorry for the confusion. With all of the Pro Tools and MIDI lessons will be in one place.

      Regarding your Kore 2 Question:

      Have you checked to see if you have System Exclusive checked in Setup → MIDI → Input Filter… ?

      It should not be checked.

  82. I cannot seem to find this System Exclusive ‘knob’ in Kore 2 🙁

    • Marcel ~

      1. Just to be clear, I was referring in my last reply to the System Exclusive check box which is located in Setup → MIDI → Input Filter… in Pro Tools.
      2. Unless you know otherwise, I would not expect there to be a System Exclusive knob on the Kore 2. SysEx is a format of MIDI data, not a single specific control or function.

      Have you installed the Kore 2 Controller Driver?

      The driver installer is located in the KORE 2 Program Folder on your computer.

      • Windows: Program Files / Native Instruments / KORE 2 /
      • Mac OS X: Applications / KORE 2 / Driver /

      Also, Kore 2 needs to be set to Plug-In Mode, not Stand Alone Mode, in order for it to work in Pro Tools.

  83. Chuck Durley says:

    I haved followed the above instructions for using external MIDI instruments with Pro Tools and ran into a roadblock at step #9. The following is a list of my gear:

    Yamaha EX5 MIDI synth
    M-Audio ProjectMix I/O control surface

    I have the audio output from my synth into input channels 1 & 2 of the ProjectMix. When I reached step #9 (input tab of the Aux track) I did not see the analog channels (1 & 2) of the ProjectMix I/O listed. I can record MIDI but that’s as far as I can go. Is there additional configuration within ProTools that I should be configuring. I’m almost there! Your assistance is greatly appreciated.


    • Charles ~ It sounds like you are doing everything correctly.

      If your Inputs 1 and 2 are not appearing in the Aux Track Input Drop Down menu, it may be that they are not configured in the Setup → I/O... menu. Your first step should be to go there and check to see your I/O configuration.

      Setup → I/ where your Inputs and Outputs are configured; where you’re telling Pro Tools which physical hardware inputs and outputs of your ProjectMix I/O you want to appear in the Inputs and Outputs drop down menus of tracks. If not configured correctly in here – Inputs and Outputs won’t appear anywhere in the session.

  84. No worries Chris,
    No. Unfortunately still haven’t resolved my problem. I can record my keyboard as an audio track, and as a MIDI track but I can’t then edit the MIDI and have the Pro Tools MIDI file execute my MIDI device so that I can record the audio of my edited MIDI file (which means I’m limited to recording audio of what I can play live).

    Look forward to your insight.

    • Dan ~ If I understand correctly then, the problem may be:

      1. Your physical MIDI connection OUT from your Pro Tools MIDI interface to the Input of the external MIDI Instrument. ie: even a defective cable
      2. An error in the MIDI Channel Output of the Pro Tools MIDI Track
      3. Improper configuration of the MIDI Instrument

      My initial thought, considering you seem to have everything in Pro Tools working fine, is that it’s the last option.

      It’s very common for a Multi-Timbral keyboard/workstation to be able to transmit MIDI data from any of it’s operating Modes, and yet have very specific settings for receiving MIDI Data. This is actually a feature of MIDI: being able to set specific TX and RX channels.

      Are you quite familiar with how to set up your external MIDI sound source for Multi-Timbral operation?

      That said, you might want to check the first two things on my list also.

  85. I hear it monitored but when I record it doesn’t playback. I’m using a MIDI to USB cable. Does that change anything?

  86. Hi Chris –

    Just found your site and the tutorial – very helpful. I am running ProTools 8.0.1 in Windows XP and am just learning the MIDI side of things. I am trying to interface my Boss DR670 drum machine, with no success so far.Two issues:

    1. When I configure ProTools using the MIDI Studio Setup, the instrument list does not include a selection for the DR670. Not sure what this means and how to proceed, but I have set up the 670 using the NONE option for model, per the PT manual instructions.

    2. I followed your set up tutorial step by step. However, when I get to step 19-20, the MIDI track velocity meter does not show any signal from the 670 when I test. When I try to record, no data is being transmitted. I’ve checked cables etc. and tried a couple of different I/O changes with no luck.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

  87. Andre Mckoy says:

    Ello Chris. I am new to all this stuff, but you’re helping allot. Thank you allot .
    Chris is there any way in Pro Tools to remove vocals and leave just instrumental playing?

    • Andre ~ Thanks you! You’re very welcome.
      If the vocals are recorded by you into Pro Tools, on their own track. Absolutely – you can just mute the vocal track.. But if you want to remove the lead vocal from a commercial recording – like a stereo track from a CD – then the answer is “no, not exactly”.

      There is a trick you can do to get close, though. It really deserves a tutorial. But here’s a quick explanation of the basic idea.

      1. Import a song from a CD into Pro Tools
      2. Put both Left and Right tracks, each on it’s own mono audio track (the Split into Mono Tracks feature is quickest).
      3. Pan each one dead center.
      4. Then using a plugin with a Phase button (like Trim which comes with Pro Tools), reverse the phase of just one of the tracks.
      5. Make sure both tracks are also at the same volume.

      If done correctly, the mix will change noticeably because this trick essentially removes the vocals and anything else (like Kick Drum and Bass) that are panned dead center in the stereo mix. The result will be mono. Also, adjusting the volume – even slightly, will give you variations of the effect.

  88. Yo Chris, I’m having a hard time with this MIDI thing. I have a Motif 6 and Pro Tools 7.1. Trying to slave the Motif to my Digi 002. Although I am able to sequence and record tracks out of my motif I can’t hear any sound during playback, recording or just hitting random keys at all, but can see the MIDI notes being recorded.

    I followed the tutorial but still no sound. Even tried the Aux, MIDI, Audio track combo.

    Can’t figure out how to connect recorded data to the Aux. Do I need a third MIDI cable?

    My Motif has a port for MIDI Thru while my Digi 002 just says MIDI Out 2.

    I also have the Structure plug in and I have no problem creating tracks with instrument tracks. Help Please! Frustration is killin me!

    • Rell ~

      1. No you don’t need a third MIDI cable.
      2. I don’t see any mention in your comment about Audio cables?
      Have you connected the audio output of the Motif into your Digi002 interface?
      Are you able to monitor the Motif audio signal through Pro Tools – even before using MIDI to control it?

      Check out A whole online course dedicated to Pro Tools with several hours of MIDI and Pro Tools videos.