What is Arduino MIDI Controller?

A MIDI controller generates and transmits MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, data to devices that are enabled with MIDI. A MIDI controller can be software or hardware. MIDI typically triggers sounds and controls parameters of an electronic music performance, which can then be transmitted through a device that is supported by the MIDI program. Generally, MIDI controllers use a musical keyboard to send MIDI data about the pitch of notes to play. However, a MIDI controller can also trigger lighting and other electronic effects. In this guide, we will discuss what is Arduino MIDI controller used for and some of the best DIY projects that you can perform at home.

What is Arduino MIDI Controller

What is Arduino MIDI Controller?

A MIDI controller is generally equipped with a wind controller, which has a sensor that converts breath pressure to volume information and lip pressure to control pitch for smooth transmission of data between sender and receiver. Arduino, on the other hand, is a software and hardware development company that offers solutions for a variety of software and hardware devices. Arduino develops DIY MIDI controller kit for users, to create their own Arduino MIDI sets at home.

How to Use Arduino MIDI Controller

MIDI controllers are easy to build, and with Arduino MIDI controller kits, you can even DIY them in the comfort of your own home. Now that we know what is Arduino MIDI Controller, let’s discuss how to use them. Using a MIDI controller is as simple as it is to make them. Generally, there are two popular methods to use MIDI controllers. In this section, we have mentioned both methods to connect to a MIDI controller to figure out how to use Arduino as a MIDI.

  • Connect MIDI controller over USB
  • Connect MIDI controller over MIDI cable

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How to Connect MIDI Controller over USB

This is the simplest method to connect to a MIDI controller. However, depending on the model of the MIDI controller, you may need to install the software before you connect to a controller. After installing the software, you can use these simple steps to connect to the MIDI controller.

1. Download and install the MIDI controller software (in this case, the Arduino software).

2. Connect the MIDI keyboard with USB directly to the computer.

3. You can also connect the USB to the computer using a powered USB hub.

4. Configure the MIDI DAW on your computer.

Continue reading to learn about the 10 best DIY MIDI controller kits to build your own.

How to Connect MIDI Controller over MIDI Cable

Now that we know what is Arduino MIDI used for let’s discuss how to connect a MIDI controller via cable. You can follow these simple steps to connect the MIDI controller over MIDI cables.

1. First, connect the MIDI cable from the MIDI output port on the controller to the MIDI input port of the external hardware device.

Note: If you are trying to connect the MIDI controller to multiple devices, connect a MIDI cable from the MIDI THRU port on the first device to the MIDI IN port on the later device.

2. Now, connect a MIDI cable from the MIDI output port on the last device to a MIDI input port and, finally, a MIDI interface or audio interface (if applicable).

3. Finally, configure the DAW with the MIDI controller. Make sure to enable the correct MIDI ports on the MIDI or audio interface within the DAW to figure out how to use Arduino as a MIDI.

Please read the previous section to learn what is Arduino MIDI Controller and how to use them.

List of MIDI Controller DIY Projects

The following is a list of 10 exciting MIDI controller DIY projects with Arduino:

1. Octapot: 8 Pententiometer MIDI Mixer

This MIDI controller project showcases methods for building a simple, no-fuss DIY MIDI controller. The method uses an Arduino Nano to create this DIY project. This DIY MIDI Controller Kit gives you access to eight rotary potentiometers, or in other words, a bunch of dials. The circuit created for the MIDI controller is simple and is also great for anyone looking to get a basic MIDI controller. You can check out Crius Digital Studio’s YouTube tutorial to complete this DIY project. However, the video was created in the Greek language, but you will find English subtitles to follow along with the video and perform all the necessary steps. Read previous sections to learn what is Arduino MIDI used for.

2. Expanded 27 Controller MIDI Mixer

Crius digital studio

This project, created by the same creator as the Octapot: 8 Pententiometer MIDI Mixer Project, is a level up from the previous one. The MIDI controller is powered by a whopping 27 potentiometers to control your mix. These potentiometers are divided into 18 dials and nine sliders, giving you great access to controls to assign to your virtual instruments. Again, you’ll need an Arduino Nano kit to build this DIY MIDI controller. However, this time you will also need two HC4067 analog multiplexers to extend the Arduino analog inputs. You can find the complete guide for this project on the Crius Digital Studio website to figure out how to use Arduino as a MIDI device. However, you will have to come up with your own ideas for housing the electronics. If you have a few carpentry tools around your house, you might get some ideas from the wooden design used in this project. If you are wondering what is Arduino MIDI Controller, read the previous sections.

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3. UNTZtrument

adafruit arduino midi controller

This is one of the more challenging DIY MIDI controller kit to design. However, the process of design is fun, and you will only learn and improve. You can check out more information on this project in the guide on the official website. This project was created by seasoned designers at Adafruit Industries. However the project can be costly, but it is one of the most exciting MIDI controller projects out there. The project features an 8×8 grid of 64 backlit buttons. Additionally, you will also need a laser cutter to create the case for the controller. To know what is Arduino MIDI used for, read the previous sections.

4. Ribbon Synth

It’s a ribbon synthesizer made with an Arduino. The Ribbon Synth MIDI controller tool inspiration by the legato synthesizers in mind. The notes can overlap and slide together for more complex melodies during the transmission. In this controller, instead of using normal guitar strings, three softpot potentiometers were used. Each of the strings in the controller is triggered by a drum pad. So, you have to slide your finger along the soft spot while hitting the drum pad to play the music from the MIDI controller. Other key controls of this controller include the potentiometers on the side; these potentiometers can be mapped to other MIDI controls, joystick is another key feature of this controller. Placed at the end, the joystick can be played with your palm while playing other notes on the controller. You can find the details about this MIDI controller at Imgur to figure out how to use Arduino as a MIDI.

5. Guitar

A MIDI guitar, which looks like a guitar, is an advanced MIDI controller that can use mechanical key switches to play sound. Guitar MIDI also has an accelerometer to adjust modulation. Although guitar MIDI uses a Grand Central M4 based on the SAMD51, you can modify it by using an Arduino Mega. The guitar head is provided with LED strips to enhance the controller’s look. You can find additional information on guitar MIDI on Adafruit and Thingivers.

6. Arcade Buttons

imgur arduino midi controller

Created by Glacial Geyser, this versatile MIDI controller is one of the easier ones to build. The holes in the controller were drilled to fit sixteen 75mm arcade buttons. Some of the important components of this controller include faders, knobs, pitch bends, modulation wheels, and LEDs. You can find this project on Imgur.

Also Read: How to Extract Audio from Video on Android

7. Velocity Sensitive Keyboard

This is one of the budget-friendly MIDI keyboards that was built on an Arduino Uno. The project starts with an electronic piano, which is then reconstructed into a Velocity Sensitive MIDI controller. You can find all the details about this project on the Code Tinker Hack website.

8. Arcade RGB

Designed with the Arduino Pro Micro and fitted with 24-mm arcade buttons, this controller is one of the most exciting Arduino MIDI controller projects that you can take on. The controller transmits red, blue, and purple lights. The controller takes its inspiration from the MIDI Fighter created by DJ Tech Tools. The Arcade RGB controller lights up in blue; however, the color changes to red as you press a button. LED strips are used in the controller to make the color change possible. A 16-button multiplexer is also used in the controller. You can find a complete tutorial for this IMDI controller on YouTube.

9. Guitar Hero

Guitar hero

Created with the Arduino IDE, you will need to do a little bit of programming to successfully make this controller. The MIDI controller is easy to make, and you can find codes for creating this project online. The project was created by rglszl. And you can find instructions for making this project on the AUTODESK Instructables website.

10. Lune


Lune is one of the best DIY controller projects that you can take on. This project is suitable for creating a DJ set. In this controller, potentiometers are provided for EQ, volume, and other sound effects. The MIDI controller uses ultrasonic distance sensors to add effects. The controller is also equipped with an RGB LED pad and encoder. You can find all the detailed information on the construction of the controller on the AUTODESK Instructables website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What are MIDI controllers?

Ans. MIDI controllers are hardware and software that help transmit MIDI data from an outgoing controller to a MIDI receiver.

Q2. What does MIDI stand for? 

Ans. MIDI is short for Music Instrument Digital Interface.

Q3. Can I build a MIDI controller?

Ans. Yes, you can DIY various MIDI controllers in the comfort of your home.

Q4. What do I need to build a MIDI controller? 

Ans. You will need some basic building tools, along with a program. You can opt for various Arduino MIDI kits to complete your projects.

Q5. Are MIDI controllers expensive?

Ans. The cost of a MIDI project depends on the material you are using to build the controller. You can make a MIDI project with basic materials at a low cost.


We hope this guide was helpful to you and you were able to learn everything about Arduino MIDI controller. Let us know which MIDI project you liked the best. If you have any suggestions or queries for us, please let us know in the comment section.

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