MIDI is officially getting an upgrade!

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

The MIDI Manufacturers Association has finally confirmed and adopted the new MIDI 2.0 during their recent annual MMA meeting. The new MIDI protocol offers a wide variety of new capabilities, like two way messaging, higher resolution, better timing, more channels, profile configuration and more!

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was created way back in 1983 and has been used as the standard for communication and digital interface for a wide variety of devices. Including electronic instruments, computers and other audio devices meant for playing, editing and recording music. For some it might be a surprise that MIDI hasn't really been updated since its creation! We listed the most important updates coming with MIDI 2.0 here:

Backwards compatible

An amazing thing about the new MIDI 2.0, is that it will be completely backward compatible with MIDI 1.0 gear and software, meaning you don't have to throw out all of your old instruments and software if you buy one new piece of gear that works with MIDI 2.0.

Two-way Midi Conversation

MIDI 1.0 is only able to go in one direction, from a transmitter to a receiver. MIDI 2.0 has the ability to send messages in both directions. This means MIDI 2.0 devices can talk to each other and automatically configure how to work together. This is also crucial for the backwards compatibility. If a MIDI 2.0 device or software doesn't receive a response from a device, this likely means it uses MIDI 1.0.

From 16 channels to 256

Midi 1.0 has 16 channels, which is a bit low. MIDI 2.0 has 16 virtual cables, each with 16 individual channels. This gives the user 256 channels to work with!

Higher resolution, better timing and more controllers

The resolution and timing has gotten a serious upgrade as well. The resolution got upgraded to 32-bits and the velocity has been upgraded from 7-bits to 16-bit. The controllers got easier to use and there are a lot more of them, 32.000 to be precise, including controls for individual notes.

Profile Configuration

MIDI 2.0 gear can have its own built in profile that can automatically configure a device for a particular use. For instance; if a control surface detects a device with a "mixer" profile, then the controls will map to faders, panpots, and other mixer parameters. But with a "drawbar organ" profile, that same control surface can map its controls automatically to virtual drawbars and other keyboard parameters.

Property Exchange

Property Exchange means information can be communicated between the different MIDI 2.0 devices. Different information like present names, parameter setting and unique functionalities can be communicated using this protocol.


Source: Music Radar