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Stereo Minijacks for MIDI Connections Compatibility Guide

Overview

Standards.  They offer us a means of ensuring compatibility by agreeing to all do things the same way.  But sometimes the technology gets ahead of the standards and we have some challenges to ensure compatibility. This is the case for Stereo Minijacks used to carry MIDI signals.  The MIDI standard does not currently define how to map the parts of the MIDI signal to the connectors of the stereo minijacks. As devices have gotten smaller, however, manufacturers have gone ahead and defined their own mapping.  This has resulted in a few conflicting ways of doing the mapping, and as a result, some incompatibilities that are hard to predict until you get your equipment home and find it doesn’t work.

But as always the industry has found ways to enable compatibility between these devices. You just need the right adapters and the knowledge of when to use them.

MIDI 5 Pin DIN to Stereo Minijack

The standard MIDI connector is the MIDI 5 Pin DIN connector. If you have a piece of equipment that has a male MIDI 5 Pin DIN connector, and you want to connect it to a device that has a stereo minijack, you will need an adapter.  But be warned that you need to have the correct adapter for your equipment.  1010music sells a black and white MIDI adapter that can be used with 1010music eurorack modules and any other compatible equipment. (More on that later.)  The MX4 module comes with two of these adapters in the box.

 

Stereo Minijack to Stereo Minijack

In some cases, you can patch directly between devices using stereo minijack cables. 1010music modules use a minijack connection that is known to be compatible with the following:

Products Compatible with the Stereo Minijack Cables

  • 1010music products
  • Arturia BeatStep Pro
  • Novation products
  • inMusic (Akai) products

Products that use an alternative signal mapping for the minijack connections cannot use standard patch cords/stereo minijack cables. Instead, these products can be connected by means of a pair of MIDI adapters. Use the black and white MIDI adapters provided with the MX4 to connect to the MX4 jacks, then use the appropriate MIDI adapter to connect to the external device. The following products are known to require a MIDI adapter:

Products that Require a MIDI Adapter:

  • ADDAC System products
  • Arturia BeatStep (not to be confused with the BeatStep Pro)
  • IK Multimedia products
  • Korg products
  • Line 6 products
  • little Bits w5 MIDI module
  • Make Noise 0-Coast

See the Technical Specifications below for more details about the connectors used by 1010music products.

If your device isn’t listed above, how can you tell if the stereo minijack connector on your MIDI device is compatible? Compare the technical specifications below with those provided with the external device, or just try it out. Either it will work or it won’t. Attempting to connect with incompatible cables should not damage devices designed in accordance with the MIDI spec.

Technical Specifications

1010music uses the following mapping. The diagram to the right shows the numbering of the pins on a MIDI connector and the labels of the connection components of a stereo minijack. 1010music products are compatible with cables that use the following mapping of MIDI signals between female MIDI connectors and stereo minijacks:

 

MIDI Signal MIDI Connector Stereo Minijack
Current Source Pin 4 Tip
Current Sink Pin 5 Ring
Shield Pin 2 Sleeve

 

Check the documentation for your other MIDI devices to determine if they use the same mapping or if adapters are needed. If they use the same mapping, then the devices can be connected directly to 1010music products with a standard patch cord/stereo minijack cable.

If you find that the other devices do not use the same mapping, you can use a pair of MIDI adapters to connect the devices. Use the black and white MIDI adapters available from 1010music to connect to the 1010music module, and connect that to the appropriate MIDI adapter for the external device. You could also use this spec to make or buy a cable that converts the signal to the mapping needed.

You can learn more about the state of the industry for MIDI stereo minijack connectors at The MIDI Association website.