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iCathedral Organ iSymphonic Orchestra

External MIDI Devices

This article describes how to connect external MIDI equipment like a MIDI keyboard to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, and how to deal with potential issues that may occur with them.

Connecting 1 MIDI Device with iPad / iPhone

Most of our audio apps (i.e. iSymphonic Orchestra) are designed to be controlled with external MIDI devices, like an external MIDI keyboard, MIDI controller and MIDI foot switches. The following section provides information about available adapters, cables and noteworthy issues for connecting an external MIDI keyboard or other external MIDI equipment with your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

In case you want to connect more than one MIDI Device with your iPad or iPhone, then please refer to the instructions about connecting two or more MIDI devices.

Prerequisites

First check which type of MIDI Interface your keyboard is equipped with. Modern keyboards generally have a USB B socket, older models are mostly equipped with a MIDI-DIN socket. Also the various models of iPad and iPhone are currently available with two different sockets. Older iOS models are equipped with the large 30 pol socket, recent iOS models have a small so called Lightning connector socket.

Depending on the type of the MIDI keyboard's socket and of the iPad's / iPhone's socket, different cables and adapter combinations exist, like illustrated next.

Only use third-party Lightning / 30 pol. adapters certified for being used with iPad / iPhone. The iOS operating system will check the connected Lightning / 30 pol. adapter for the presence of Apple's DRM chip. Many cheap adapters on the market (especially of Asian origin) lack such an DRM chip and will only work (if at all) for few minutes, then iOS will disconnect the adapter.

USB B Socket → Lightning Connector

USB B Socket → 30 Pol. Connector

MIDI DIN Socket → Lightning Connector

MIDI DIN Socket → 30 Pol. Connector

Connecting 2 or more MIDI Devices with iPad / iPhone

Even though your iOS device is only equipped with one digital connector socket (either 30 pol. or Ligthning), you may as well connect more than one external MIDI device with your iPad / iPhone. You may use a so called USB Hub device to achieve that. See the drawing above.

Another purpose of using an USB hub is the possibility to provide additional power to your connected USB device(s). It is important to know that your iPad / iPhone is only able to deliver a certain very limited amount of power to your connected external devices. If your conntected external devices are consuming too much power, the iPad / iPhone will detect it and show you a message like "This accessory is not supported" on the screen. In this case either use the power supply (if any) delivered with your external MIDI keyboard, or use an USB hub so that the USB hub delivers the required power for your MIDI keyboard. This way you may even use professional, external USB audio output devices supporting i.e. 24 Bit resolution and 96 kHz sample rate. Such high-end USB audio devices are usually exceeding the power limit of an iPad / iPod, thus an USB hub provides an adequate work-around to use such devices with your iOS device.

Connection Procedure

Please observe the following common procedure to connect external MIDI devices with your iPad / iPhone / iPod touch:

  1. Connect all cables between MIDI keyboard and iPad / iPhone correctly.
  2. Switch on your MIDI keyboard.
  3. Switch on the iPad / iPhone / iPod touch.
  4. Launch your audio app (i.e. iSymphonic Orchestra).

Trouble Shooting

We highly recommend using our free MIDI monitor app MIDI Wrench for trouble shooting any MIDI issues. This app lists all hardware MIDI devices attached to your iPad / iPhone by name, and also displays the precise MIDI data they are sending, so it is very helpful to find the cause of most MIDI issues.

The following is a list of common MIDI related issues, their cause and how to resolve them:

Problem Cause Solution
A message like "This accessory is not supported" appears on the screen, but the external MIDI device is working. The external USB device was announcing itself to consume a high amount of power first, and then stepped back to a low power profile. Click on "OK" and ignore the message. There is currently no known permanent solution to avoid this error message in such cases.
A message like "This accessory is not supported" appears on the screen and the external MIDI device is not working. The external USB audio/MIDI device is consuming more power than permitted by the iPad / iPhone. Either use the power supply (if any) shipped with your external USB audio/MIDI device, or power your USB audio/MIDI device by connecting it to an USB hub with power supply instead.
[ see above ]
You are using a third-party Lightning / 30 pol. adapter not being certified for iPad / iPhone, which lacks Apple's DRM chip. Replace the third-party Lightning / 30 pol. adapter with one certified by Apple for being an official iPad / iPhone accessory (and thus containing Apple's DRM chip).
App shows 1 external MIDI device being supposedly connected, however there is currently no external MIDI device attached to the iPad / iPhone. You probably used iOS's Network MIDI feature before, which will remain visible for the entire system as if it was a regular MIDI hardware device. This is a common circumstance if you used Network MIDI before, and not an error.
I am using a MIDI keyboard with MIDI-DIN sockets, I see no error messages, but the app does not seem to receive any MIDI data from my MIDI keyboard. You probably interchanged inputs and outputs of those MIDI-DIN sockets, since they are using all the same physical socket types. Make sure you connected the MIDI-DIN output socket with the MIDI-DIN input socket of your iPad/iPhone adapter.
I am using a MIDI keyboard which has MIDI-DIN sockets and USB socket, I see no error messages, but the app does not seem to receive any MIDI data from my MIDI keyboard. Some MIDI keyboards which have both, MIDI-DIN sockets and an USB socket, sometimes require you to configure which one of the two interface types you want to use. Check the manual of your MIDI keyboard, whether you need to select the interface type with a setting of your keyboard.
Document Updated:  2016-11-28  |  Author:  Werner Mohrlok