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MIDI to USB Cable for Yamaha PSR-640 Keyboard

krs


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I want to connect a Yamaha PSR-640 Keyboard to a Mac and use Garage Band.

I obviously need a MIDI to USB cable, but when I do a search for that, a lot of different cables show up priced anywhere from a low of around $7.00 to $40.- and more, but when I then read some reviews and discussions, it seems people have a problem to actually get the combination GarageBand, MIDI and external MIDI device to work.

Question to the group....Is anyone using a Mac/GarageBand with an external MIDI keyboard and has that working properly?
Which specific MIDI to USB cable are you using?

This is something my son wants to do - I'm not that familiar with MIDI, so maybe I'm not providing all the info needed to get a recommendation.
 
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I can’t say I’m aware of a simple midi to usb cable for this, if there is its new to me.

I have a midi keyboard (the din plug out) and I need to use my midi box which is usb in to my Mac, and midi cables (in/out) to the keyboard. Before I had this large rack mount one I used to have a small 1x1 midi device that worked. But I think it was like 75 bucks plus the cables.

I think now there’s keyboards which are usb without the need for the box
 

krs


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Thanks for the comments.

I see a huge selection on amazon.ca
Starting at rock bottom prices like this one:
Robot Check

But then when I google, people seem to have no end of problems getting Midi on a Mac to work with those.

I assume there are only a few IC's that do the conversion, so other than the quality of the construction they all should work the same.
I was hoping someone in the forum had actually tried one - I guess I need to be the guinea pig here.

PS: This seller actually specifically mentions OS X in the description
Robot Check
 
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Some of those other cheaper brands I don't really know, so I can't comment on them, they may work. I have had extensive experience using m-audio small ones (like the 1x1s) since early 2000s, and I currently use a rack mount 8x8 by motu. They're all well recognized brand/devices. Never had any real issues and used them with GarageBand, logic, and several other DAWs.

EDIT: Let me add. Ive used midi a lot back in the 80s, between devices live, midi has always been a bit of a nightmare, with sometimes going through the 'song and dance', turning devices on off, being important which one you did first etc etc. Im amazed it has survived as a standard for this long. So my gut tells me, get name brand stuff. It may still give some issues, but I so far (knock on wood) have done well with the units Ive used. Sometimes a keyboard department at a reputable music shop can help best.
 
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Also check that you won’t need a midi in (I usually connect both in/out cables for computer control of my keyboard) as well. That robot is only midi out, which can work for most simple controls of softsynths, it most simple midi boxes will have both in/out.
 

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I did a bit more research since I posted earlier.

The really cheap MIDI to USB cables/converters seem to have a 50/50 success rate based on the reviews.
Some people comment that what they bought works great and the next person posts a review for the very same item which says it doesn't work at all.

But I have the feeling that some people may not connect the MIDI cable properly connecting the MIDI-in on the cable to MIDI-in on the keyboard when they should be connecting MIDI-in to MIDI-out.

In any case, it seems once you hit the $C 20.- plus price point, reviews become much more positive.

This particular unit caught my eye at the $C 20.- price point
Robot Check
 
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Assuming I’m looking at the right one you posted. It’s hard to tell as the pics don’t show the din jacks on it.
But the description says 1in/out. So it appears (but I’m not 100%) it’s only midi in to the midi device and one out to computer. That may be enough for what you want to do, (simple control of software synths and recording midi notes) but midi boxes in general, are usually bidirectional, with both midi in, and midi out from the keyboard to the midi device, and the other side is the usb into the Mac. (There’s also midi thru but that’s for when you daisy chain midi devices). Example having the midi notes recorded in say GarageBand play back using the sounds in the keyboard. It’s an important distinction.

You need the other midi cable to have the Mac speak back to the keyboard. If you want or need that functionality. Honestly I’ve never really seen the cheap ones with only one direction (out from keyboard to Mac).
 
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And yeah midi as I said is frustrating at times. The biggest issue is generally getting the controller (keyboard whatever) handshake with the target device (Mac in this case). There are a number of settings as well to set, and if there’s issues you have to wrap you head around how midi communicates.
 

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Assuming I’m looking at the right one you posted. It’s hard to tell as the pics don’t show the din jacks on it.
But the description says 1in/out.
Yes, I saw that in the description, but I assumed it was a typo and should read 1in/1out

The picture shows two DIN plugs and also 2 cables coming out of the "DIN" side of that module.

81TN3Ib1w-L._AC_SL1500_800.jpg
 
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Ok that has both directions then. You’re good on that front. I asked a studio tech who’s opinion I trust, he said the cheapo ones these days generally work as well, they didn’t use to.mileage will vary but he seems positive about it. I’m a bit superstitious on midi so I use the better ones but I have pro studio sessions running so a bit more mission critical.
 

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I don't want to go for the cheapest one either, but the price differential from a low of around $5.00 to over $100.- seems rather ridiculous.

There can't be that many different chips for that MIDI to USB conversion since it is a pretty specialized functions.
What I gathered so far from a bit of research tonight is:
1. People who have the cheap units that didn't work and took them apart found that there wereplaces on the board inside for components that just were not there. They claim that's why it didn't work (possibly), but the manufacturer could have also used a multi-purpose board.
2. There seem to be a number of iterations of the IC's used - makes sense - and some vendors claim they use the latest version which makes the whole unit more stable.

So my guess is that many of the really cheap ones possibly use older versions of the IC's - with amazon, I can just send it back at their expense if it does not work.
Just a lot of hassle, that's all.
 

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Robot Check

This is the more recent updated version of the midi interface I used for years. Most I know use this one, or similar. You’ll notice, that the midi cables going to your keyboard, has both in and out.
Good Grief!!!

When I was looking for the IC used for the MIDI to USB conversion, I just came across that same unit being sold in Germany.
For Canadians it's $C 113.-
For Germans, after taking out the VAT, the price is only 28 Euros or $34.04 Cdn.
M-Audio USB Uno USB-MIDI-Interface – Musikhaus Thomann

Just shows again that price and retailer costs don't necessarily have a relationship.
I think that is true especially for amazon.
 
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Amazon is all over the map on pricing. (Literally :) ) I find most music gear stuff is often over priced with the odd item being cheaper. My studio mate tells me he’s used the cheapos with no real problems and he’s One of my go to guru guys when I’m stuck.

Something so simple yet so much research :)
 

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After fixing/replacing the power DC jack tonight and getting the keyboard to power up again,I decided to order two of the MIDI to USB converters -
The cheapest one I could find at $C 2.37 with $4.- shipping with supposedly the latest chip - this one will take 4 - 6 weeks to get here, and
a mid-priced one from Proctor at just over $C 20.- which should be here this week.

That will eventually tell me if there is a difference.
 
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from what Im gathering, if it works, it will work :)

Midi only really becomes a pain in the **** in the 'handshaking' attempts, and controlling stuff from other devices. Id be curious if the 2 dollar one worked a charm, it'd kick the poop outta the $200 one I have in my rack. (to be fair it IS an 8x8 tho with 5 devices hooked in)
 
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It’s interesting that there was this discussion of a midi controller and just the other day this came across my feed:
How will MIDI 2.0 change music? — Quartz

Wow. After allllllll this time. I don’t know why it took this long. But midi 2.0! It’ll make my more expensive rack mounted midi controller obsolete at some point! Never thought I’d see this.
 
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Curious, did the cheap one work?
 
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