After 35-Years MIDI is Finally Upgrading to 2.0

Anyone who has any technical experience in music will undoubtedly have encountered the MIDI file format. Come to think of it, you’ve probably also encountered it if you’re old enough to have owned a Windows 95 PC. Either that or you can remember the remarkably crude early days of the internet and particularly Geocities websites.

It may, however, surprise you to learn that despite the technology being old (around 35 years to be exact), it’s still widely used today. Largely because its interface is one of the simplest methods of both inputting and outputting sound.

In a report via Engadget, however, it seems that all of the big-wigs at the major audio companies have finally agreed to a new standard. Yes, in March this year, MIDI 2.0 will be released! Better late than never, right?

MIDI 2.0

Now, you may be wondering why on earth it took this long for an upgrade to be made. Well, the short version is that this isn’t actually that uncommon. Take the smartphone market (as an example), for years they largely all had different charging cables. In recent years, however, the vast majority of them (with the notable exception of Apple) have now all agreed to transition to USB-C.

In other words, to make changes like this really practical, you need to have everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. They all need to agree as to what the new ‘standard’ will be.

What Improvements Can We Expect?

Largely speaking, the transition will result in two major changes. Firstly, the audio resolution will be increased from seven-bit to around 32-bit. Secondly, it will likely result in the older forms of MIDI cables being replaced with a standard USB connection. In fairness, a design change that has been LONG overdue!

With the Roland’s A-88MKII keyboard expected to be amongst the first releases to adopt MIDI 2.0, I daresay that while many in the music industry will find this change frustrating, others will be breathing a thankful sigh of relief!

What do you think? Do you regularly use MIDI sequencers? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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