MIDI stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface.” It does what you’d expect from the name.
When you plug a controller with this option into a computer, you’ll get ways to make music without needing a separate microphone.
The MIDI protocol has been an industry standard for over 25 years.
During the earliest days of this technology, you could connect almost anything built for music to your computer or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
An entire series of samplers, sequencers, and synths from that era can provide you with some remarkable sounds!
If you’re first getting started with the iTrack Dock, MIDI controllers, and music, it helps to get a keyboard first. You’ll also want to ensure that the instrument you select is compatible with your setup.
Which USB MIDI Devices Can I Use with the iTrack Dock?
The USB MIDI port equipped to the iTrack Dock is meant for all class-compliant USB MIDI controllers. Users don’t need to have an installed driver available for the equipment to work. It is not meant for hubs or interfaces – only for a MIDI controller.
When you want to use a computer, the combination of a mouse and keyboard makes it easy to access your favorite apps, software, and tools.
Can you imagine trying to use an Internet browser with only one of those two items?
If you want to create music, you could open a DAW to record the sounds from an internal microphone. That structure might even give you a low-fi recording that produces a signature touch.
The only issue with that approach is that your internal microphone will pick up any surrounding noise.
If a jet flies over your home or someone drives by with their subwoofers blasting at full volume, that entire take might need to get transferred to the trash.
If you have a MIDI controller, you receive a direct connection between your computer, DAW, and instrument. When you play notes or chords, the results are heard through the speakers or your headphones.
Although most beginners are familiar with a MIDI keyboard, several other gear options are also available.
You can use touchpads, audio mastering tools, and other controllers to achieve the compositional results needed for your piece.
How to Connect a MIDI Controller to the iTrack Dock
The iTrack Dock from Focusrite offers a USB MIDI port that connects a class-compliant controller.
Since it is a class-compliant instrument, it doesn’t need a driver to become operational. You’ll have a plug-and-play option that can let you get to work composing something new in just minutes.
The iTrack Dock was designed to connect a MIDI controller only. It will not work with USB hubs or other devices. It might not work with some of the devices you have at home to make music either.
That’s why you’ll want to compare your equipment to the information tables below. Although it isn’t an all-encompassing list of what is compatible and what isn’t, you’ll find the most common MIDI controllers listed.
Does the iTrack Dock Power a USB MIDI Device?
When you use the iTrack Dock from Focusrite, you’re using a single USB MIDI port. It supplies bus power to a connected device when it is installed correctly.
If your MIDI controller can operate with a bus-powered setup, that means you can use the iTrack Dock to power it.
When your controller doesn’t have that capability, you’ll need to supply it with an outside power source to have it function correctly.
If it isn’t available in your current setup, you won’t be able to use that particular USB MIDI unit.
■ List of USB MIDI Devices That Work with iTrack Dock
In the following table, Focusrite has definitive information from direct testing that shows the following MIDI controllers work with the iTrack Dock port.
Please remember that the iTrack Dock is designed to accept only one device at a time when working. You cannot connect multiple units, even if you use a splitter or another cabling method to put two MIDI controllers into one.
|Novation Launchkey Range Mini, 25, 49, and 61||Novation Launchpad S||Novation Launchpad Mini||Novation Launch Control|
|Novation Impulse Range 25, 49, and 61||Novation Nocturn Range 25, 49, and 61||Novation SL MKII Range 24, 49, and 61*||Akai Max 49 **|
|Alesis QX61||Casio PX-5S||Casio PX 350m||Casio CTK-4200|
|Korg PA 600||M-Audio Axiom Air Mini||M-Audio Oxygen Range 25 and 61||Arturia Keystep|
* The Novation SL MKII Range requires an external power source so that it can work with the iTrack Dock from Focusrite.
** The Akai Max 49 also needs an external power source to work with this equipment.
■ List of USB MIDI Devices That Do Not Work with iTrack Dock
Focusrite has tested the following MIDI controllers and found them to be incompatible with the iTrack Dock port.
Although some people might use them successfully according to their own standards, it is strongly suggested to avoid these items if you plan to use this setup with your MIDI controller and DAW.
|Akai MPK Mini MK1 and MK2||Arturia Keylab 61||Korg Microkey 37||Korg MS-20 Legacy Edition Controller|
■ List of USB MIDI Devices That MIGHT Work with iTrack Dock
Although Focusrite hasn’t officially tested the following MIDI controllers for compatibility, the company has received favorable reports from others that suggest the products are usable with the iTrack Dock.
|Launchkey Mini MK2*||Launchkey Mini MK3**||Arturia Keylab 61 MKII||Roland UM-One MK2|
* The Launchkey Mini MK2 was tested in support to transmit CCs and MIDI node data.
** The Launchkey Mini MK3 was tested in support while working in the companion app environment that comes with the product.
■ List of USB MIDI Devices That MIGHT NOT Work with iTrack Dock
The following table includes devices that haven’t been officially tested with the iTrack Dock, but the company has heard of musicians having issues with the units.
Focusrite doesn’t make an official recommendation about using these products.
If you have an alternative MIDI controller to use, you might consider having it ready if your primary item is listed below.
|Akai MPK 225||Alesis Q25||Alesis Q49||Arturia MiniLab USB|
|Behringer X-Touch Universal Control Surface||IConnectivity Mio||Korg Microsampler||Korg NanoKey 2|
|Korg NanoPad||Korg NanoKontrol 2||M-Audio Code 61||Native Instruments Kontrol S-Series|
|Samson Graphite 25||Emu MIDI 1×1|
Does the iTrack Dock Work with the iPad Pro?
When you have the iTrack Dock from Focusrite at home, you can use it with some Apple devices.
The design is built to work with the 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models that have been released to the market over the past few generations.
It’s also rated as a compatible product for the iPad Air, iPad Mini, and all regularly sized models.
If you currently own the 12-inch iPad Pro, you cannot use the iTrack Dock at this time.
It fits snugly with the iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2 when you use the product’s slip mat for your work. Focusrite designed the product with those two tablets in mind.
That means the 9.7-inch units are entirely compatible with the mobile devices.
If you compare the iPad Pro to the iPad Air 2 when using the Focusrite iTrack Dock, you’ll notice the latter doesn’t have as snug of a fit.
That’s because the tablet is slightly thinner, but it shouldn’t interfere with how you’re using the device.
You can follow these steps to have a successful experience with your iPad Air, iPad Pro, or iPad Mini and the iTrack Dock.
- Get your iTrack Dock.
- Place the red iTrack Dock slip mat into the recessed portion of the product.
- Slide the lightning connector on the dock to the appropriate position for your iPad.
- Four rubber feet come with the iTrack Dock. They come coated with adhesive on one side. You’ll need to place them glue-side-down at the top and bottom corners of the slip mat.
- The iPad should now move easily to the lightning connector on the dock. It helps to run the tablet along the bottom ridge to create a tight fit as you slide the mobile device toward the connector.
If you have any trouble implementing these steps, Focusrite offers online technical support access that can help you troubleshoot the issue. Live chat is available 24/5, from Monday to Friday, for additional assistance.
Why Am I Not Hearing My MIDI Keyboard?
If you do not hear any sound through the iTrack Dock with your MIDI keyboard controller, it may be that you’ve connected the wrong cable.
Most stage pianos and high-level keyboards offer a MIDI input and output connection. If you have it plugged into the input instead of the instrument’s output, the information won’t go to your DAW.
If you have the MIDI keyboard or stage piano connected correctly, you won’t hear anything until the DAW is loaded on your system.
You might need to create a VST instrument track within that environment to begin the playing or recording process.
Your VST instrument might need to get set to the MIDI input for your interface to function correctly. Some DAWs require all channels to receive the information before you can start hearing how you play.
After taking these steps, you should hear the output through your interface. If every other effort has been verified, you might not have your headphones plugged into the computer or laptop.
There could be a sound error on your device that requires a restart before you’re able to start playing.
You will also want to set the audio output device to the appropriate functionality within the DAW’s audio settings to ensure your unit works correctly.
How to Maximize Your Playing Experience
Once you have your USB MIDI setup finalized, it is time to start making some music! At this stage, I highly recommend some professional-grade studio headphones to maximize the playing and recording process.
Although a $30 set can help you in a pinch, the pro-quality products deliver a more comprehensive frequency range. That means your mix will sound more authentic since you’ll be working on the full spectrum.
I highly recommend using the Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone for this purpose. It uses lightweight aluminum coils that don’t mess around with the transient response.
They sit comfortably over the ears without putting undue pressure against your temples.
What I appreciate the most is the Kevlar-reinforced copper cable with these headphones. Not only is it detachable, but it also delivers minimal handling noise.
When you combine the Sennheiser HD 600s with your favorite USB MIDI controller and a preferred DAW, you’ll discover how fun it can be to make music with your iTrack Dock.