What is a Midi Sound Card?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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A musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) sound card is a piece of computer hardware that allows a user to connect musical instruments and similar devices through a MIDI connector to a computer. This is typically done to use a computer to record music, especially for use in a MIDI format, and the sound card may also often act as a standard sound card as well, allowing connection of microphones, speakers, and similar devices. A MIDI sound card can potentially be built onto a computer’s motherboard, but is often a separate device installed onto the motherboard inside of the computer case.

MIDI is a standard used in a number of different industries as a way to get audio information onto a computer hard drive. This audio data can then be recorded, edited, and used in a number of different applications, depending on what is needed by a computer user. A MIDI sound card is an audio device that uses this type of interface and is installed onto a computer’s motherboard, which allows a musical instrument, often a keyboard, to be connected to the computer. The instrument can then be used as an input device to create music or audio information that can then be saved onto the computer.


A MIDI sound card has often been used in creating digital music. It will not typically actually record audio information, as the device used for input does not really play music into the computer. Any audio information is not sent as waves of sound but as digital information indicating pitch, volume, tempo, and other pieces of information that can be translated to audio sound through the use of an audio editing program or similar software. This means the resulting audio from using a MIDI device typically sounds somewhat synthesized and may sound innately digital or computerized in nature.

Much like other types of sound cards, a MIDI sound card will typically allow a user to connect speakers and a microphone to the computer as well. Sometimes multiple sound cards are used to allow the MIDI card to be solely for input of audio, and a separate card to work as output to speakers or headphones. The input device used with a MIDI sound card is typically a keyboard, which will have a MIDI connector that runs from a plug on the keyboard to the sound card. These may be standard keyboards that can also produce music or specialized MIDI keyboards that do not make music and only serve as a digital audio input device.


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