For many years, AtariST machines made by Atari were known for being one of the best computers to have for making music as they came with MIDI as standard. Even today there are artists that use AtariST for music. But now in 2020 most of the musicians can open their eyes. Because now the core spec for the MIDI 2.0 standard has finally been confirmed and adopted by the MIDI Manufacturers Association.

The association behind it is calling MIDI 2.0 “the biggest advance in music technology in decades”. The decision was taken at the recent Winter NAMM Show which is the MMA’s annual meeting.

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MIDI 2.0 Means Two-way MIDI Conversations

The difference between the new and MIDI 1.0 is that messages went in one direction. It went from a transmitter to a receiver. MIDI 2.0 is bi-directional and changes MIDI from a monologue to a dialog type of music communication system.

For example, with the new MIDI-CI (Capability Inquiry) messages, MIDI 2.0 devices can talk to each other, and auto-configure themselves to work together. They can also exchange information on functionality, which is key to backward compatibility. MIDI 2.0 gear can find out if a device doesn’t support MIDI 2.0, and then simply communicate using MIDI 1.0. So MIDI 2.0 is fully MIDI 1.0 compatible.

Higher Resolution, More Controllers and Better Timing

To deliver an unprecedented level of nuanced musical and artistic expressiveness, MIDI 2.0 re-imagines the role of performance controllers, the aspect of MIDI that translates human performance gestures to data computers can understand.

Controllers are now easier to use, and there are more of them. In fact, there are over 32,000 controllers, including controls for individual notes. Also, an Enhanced 32-bit resolution gives controls a smooth, continuous, “analog” feel. The New Note-On options were added for articulation control and precise note pitch.


In addition, dynamic response (velocity) has been upgraded. What’s more, major timing improvements in MIDI 2.0 can apply to MIDI 1.0 devices and in fact, some MIDI 1.0 gear can even “retrofit” certain MIDI 2.0 features.

Profile Configuration

MIDI gear can now have Profiles that can dynamically configure a device for a particular use case. If a control surface queries a device with a “mixer” Profile, then the controls will map to faders, panpots, and other mixer parameters. But with a “drawbar organ” Profile, that same control surface can map its controls automatically to virtual drawbars and other keyboard parameters—or map to dimmers if the profile is a lighting controller. This saves setup time, improves workflow, and eliminates tedious manual programming.

Property Exchange

While Profiles set up an entire device, Property Exchange messages provide specific, detailed information sharing. These messages can discover, retrieve, and set many properties like preset names, individual parameter settings, and unique functionalities—basically, everything a MIDI 2.0 device needs to know about another MIDI 2.0 device. For example, your recording software could display everything you need to know about a synthesizer onscreen, effectively bringing hardware synths up to the same level of recall ability as their software counterparts.


Built for the Future

MIDI 2.0 is the result of a global, decade-long development effort. Unlike MIDI 1.0, which was initially tied to a specific hardware implementation, MIDI 2.0 is a new Universal MIDI Packet format that makes it easy to implement MIDI 2.0 on any digital transport (like USB or Ethernet).

Further development of the MIDI specification, as well as safeguards to ensure future compatibility and growth, will continue to be managed by the MIDI Manufacturers Association working in close cooperation with the Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI), the Japanese trade association that oversees the MIDI specification in Japan.

MIDI will continue to serve musicians, DJs, producers, educators, artists, and hobbyists and anyone who creates, performs, learns, and shares music and artistic works in the future.

For more details about MIDI 2.0 specifications check out the complete music radar article about the MIDI 2.0 announcement. It is really great to see this going to new ways. Many musicians everywhere will be happy once this is out for the public to use. Demonstrations from Korg, Roland, and Yamaha, who showed prototype MIDI 2.0 devices sending and receiving MIDI 2.0 protocol messages are shown at the NAMM session meeting.

MIDI 2.0 is decoding the future. The future simply looks brighter now.


Source: Music Radar