Low Cost Midi Connection to Jack

I usually encourage the people that live in my community to set-up an Ubuntu Studio. On the other hand, I realize that many people don’t have the money to spend on the “extras” with a home recording studio. I am always looking for low cost solutions to connect a MIDI keyboard to the jack audio server, in case people already have a MIDI keyboard.

Many MIDI-USB devices range from $40 to $200+ which although a good price, may not appeal to individuals that are on a tight budget, or need to spend money in other important areas.

I tried connecting an inexpensive MIDI-to-GamePort adaptor into an older PCI (Ensoniq) soundcard that I added to a computer system, and it worked! Here are links to these types of hardware devices for reference:


[ Ensoniq Sound Card WIKI ]

I installed the Ensoniq Sound card into the computer, and hooked up the MIDI adaptor to the Game Port.

I then configured Jack to include the following:

  1. In the main menu, I select PREFERENCES ->SOUND, I clicked on the INPUT tab, set input to use the Ensoniq soundcard, and changed the connection for the Ensoniq sound card to ANALOG INPUT.
  2. In the Jack window, I clicked SETUP, and set the input to the Ensoniq PCI soundcard, and set the output to DEFAULT.For more information on how to configure Jack settings, please refer to the following WIKI I created: [ Setting up Jack Server ]

It seems to work fine. Sometimes, the port numbers for the Ensoniq card change their values when the Jack server starts. Jack may use port 20, or use port 16. I find this annoying in case I want to use a shells script to automatically launch Jack server, launch keyboard applications and automatically connect to the Jack Server. But there is a solution to the problem…

If you issue the command aconnect -l then you can see the listed port connections (in my case the port for my Tascam US-122 USB device. This can then be incorporated in a Bash shell script (i.e. parse out the port number and store into a variable) to make the necessary connections with Jack…

I just setup a Ubuntu Studio system for a friend and instructed her on how to use the system (including what to do if Jack detects Ensoniq soundcard with port 16 instead of port 20 (then reboot!)). She is now using this system…

I got a little excited by this low cost discovery, and the fact that I have these hardware pieces to provide a lower cost solution. I made the following short musical demo on the system that I created for my friend to prove this method works. Here is the audio demo using audacity to record Hydrogen (Drums), Bristol Organ (Hammond B3), and Qsynth (Piano with Phase and Wah-Wah effect):

[ http://matrix.senecac.on.ca/~murray.saul/songs/Murs_Groove.mp3 ]

Murray Saul


~ by Murray Saul on June 29, 2010.

3 Responses to “Low Cost Midi Connection to Jack”

  1. thanks for ur tutorial 🙂

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