MIDI Cable extension trick

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
User avatar
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1627
Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 3:19 am
Location: Central MA

MIDI Cable extension trick

Post by Rodgre » Wed May 21, 2008 12:16 pm

I wanted to share a couple of little cheats that I've used to make MIDI extension cables for the studio.

Knowing that the standard MIDI cable is only transmitting on three of the five pins in a DIN plug, I've taken a few short (3') Hosa MIDI cables, cut them in half and wired a male XLR to one and a female XLR to the other. Use your ohm-meter to make sure you've got the right wires, as most MIDI cables still connect all 5 pins, all you need to find is the center three. The shield is always in the middle pin, and on the Hosas I've come across, the yellow and green wires are the other pins used.

Once you wire these up, you can use standard XLR mic cables or even use a snake to get from the live keyboard rig to the sequencer (or whatever you're MIDIing into).

Another trick I've used is taking advantage of the fact that a MIDI cable will probably have all 5 pins connected, though you only use 3. I've made a couple of splitter boxes with two 5-pin female DIN panel jacks on one side of it, and one 5-pin female DIN panel jack on the other side. Inside, I connect the shield (center pin) of all three jacks together. Then I connect the two other pins used on each connector to either side of the single output jack. The five pins are something like this from left to right:

IN 1-PIN 2 / IN 1-PIN 4 / SHIELD from both INS / IN 2-PIN 4 / IN 2-PIN 2

If you wire up two boxes like this, you will then be able to use two short MIDI cables from the controllers to the splitter/combiner box, then one 5-pin DIN cable to where ever you need it, to another splitter/combiner, and from that box, 2 short cables to the devices you wish to use.

I do realize that there are ways to merge MIDI signals to use one cable, but sometimes it can be simpler to have a setup like this ready to go when a keyboard player arrives.


Posts: 1081
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:54 pm
Location: Duluth, MN

Post by ashcat_lt » Sat May 24, 2008 4:40 pm

It's been several days and nobody's offered any appreciation for this info. I for one found it quite informative. I might actually use it someday. This is not so much a bump as a simple thanks.

re-cappin' neve
Posts: 652
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2003 2:17 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Post by junomat » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:49 pm


I just tried this as I never wired my studio for MIDI. And boom! Worked great after figuring out which wires were which.

Thanks for this tip!

User avatar
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:41 pm
Location: Metamora, IL

Post by sonocide6 » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:43 am

Ever run into impedance issues or signal loss doing this? I know it's digital, but splitting signals and pushing cables might cause you to lose a few bits.

User avatar
studio intern
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:43 pm
Location: Eugene, OR

Post by homestudiogallery » Wed May 20, 2009 10:03 am

So in theory you could use a shielded TRS cable...
Then run your MIDI into a patch bay. Thus eliminating the need for larger input output midi interfaces! You could run your hole studio off 1 in 1 out if you don't need to record simultaneously. Wow!

But maybe I'm wrong and the patch bay wont work... but i hope it does. I have only a 1 in 1 out midi interface and six midi synths, i get awful tired of unplugging replugging.
Post and look at home studio pictures for free! Show people what your space and gear looks like, or get ideas from others.


Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 91 guests