MIDI or USB - what's best

I want to add a keyboard to my computer music setup and was wondering if it’s worth going for onw that plugs straight into a USB port or whether to stick to the traditional MIDI interface.

I am thinking in terms of latency or any other pros and cons I need to consider.

I am by no means a keyboard player so will just be putting in pretty simple parts for the forseeable future.



If you get one with a midi out it will probably be more versatile in future if you want to connect it to another midi device.

This is assuming you have midi I/O’s on your DAW already.
If you don’t then it might be easier to get the USB but if you do then the midi keyboard would be more attractive.

More keyboards to choose from if you go for midi rather than just USB.

Can get a midi keyboard with built in sounds. You may not use the sounds in your final recording but they are useful for recording as if you use them to record you won’t get the latency issues you may get using soundfonts etc. with a midi controller.


You can pickup a Roland Sound Canvas module for cheap on ebay…with your KB it would make a nice MIDI setup without having to turn your PC on.

i use a roland ed pc 300 midi keyboard its fairly cheap very simple and connects either by usb or midi, advantage of usb is that i dont need to plug it into the wall wheni use it. one connection and i’m off

Hi guys,

Thanks for all the comments so far - like the idea of monitoring with the internal sounds while tracking and also the “no wall-wart” factor of USB is worth considering.

As nobody has addressed it directly, I assume that USB versus MIDI has no bearing on latency and it’s all down to the spec of my PC and buffer settings etc.

A bit of counterweight though … I have had bad experience with USB-ing MIDI.

I used to have a USB connection to my S90 synth, but I was never succesfully able to synchronize it with audio. I’m not telling that it can’t be done, only, I was never able to.

Only months later (just out of warranty, what do you expect) … the USB connection on my S90 went up in thin air … so I had no other option left than to go back to plain old MIDI. Never had any synching problems since then though …