MIDI 2.0

Something really exciting happened while I was designing my MIDI controller: MIDI 2.0 was adopted! After 37 years of MIDI 1 (with an additional upgrade to support 14 bits signals), the new MIDI is finally here.

Why a new version? As said, the old version has been around for a while. It was developed in 1983 back when computers were not as fast and powerful as they are now. Since in music timing is essential, the protocol was set up in such a way that signalling was fast. This meant that concessions were made to speed things up. For example: MIDI 1.0 only can send 7 bits of data for Notes and CC signals (Control Change). This is mostly fine for MIDI notes (7 bits means a total of 128 combinations which means a range from C-1 – G9), but for instance for CC, this is not very fine grained (you can actually hear the steps increase/decrease when turning a knob).

Besides that, MIDI was made as a one direction communication protocol. This means that devices cannot talk to each other.

In MIDI 2.0, these two problems are solved. CC messages now have a 32 bit resolution (that means 4,294,967,296 different values!). MIDI devices can also now talk to each other. This way they can configure themselves and also brings in another reason to upgrade devices: if the other device (or software) fails to communicate over MIDI 2.0, the MIDI 2.0-device will switch back to MIDI 1.0, enabling backwards compatibility!

So will the KNTRL9 support MIDI 2.0: definitely yes 🙂