MIDI 2.0 is the largest set of additions to MIDI since the very first MIDI connection between 2 manufacturers was made at the 1983 NAMM Show. MIDI 1.0 has evolved with many new features over the past 36 years. MIDI 2.0 continues that ongoing evolution and creates a foundation for expansion for many years into the future.
The MIDI 2.0 updates MIDI with new auto-configuration, extended resolution, increased expressiveness, and tighter timing -- all while maintaining a high priority on backward compatibility. This major update of MIDI paves the way for a new generation of advanced interconnected MIDI devices, while still preserving interoperability with the millions of existing MIDI 1.0 devices. One of the core goals of MIDI 2.0 is to also enhance the MIDI 1.0 feature set whenever possible.
The additional capabilities that MIDI 2.0 brings to devices are enabled by MIDI-CI. The basic idea is that if devices have a bidirectional connection, they can exchange their capabilities with each other. Devices can share their configuration and what MIDI functions are supported.
Devices use a bidirectional link to configure MIDI features when both devices agree to support that feature. MIDI-CI discovers and configures device features using 3 categories of inquiry: Profile Configuration, Property Exchange, and Protocol Negotiation.
If a device does not support any new features, it uses the MIDI 1.0 as usual. Devices connected to that device will continue to use MIDI 1.0 in communication with that device.
Expanding MIDI with new features requires a new protocol with extended MIDI messages. To protect backwards compatibility in an environment with expanded features, devices need to confirm the capabilities of other connected devices. When 2 devices are connected to each other, they use MIDI 1.0 and confirm each other's capabilities before using expanded features. If both devices share support for the same expanded MIDI features they can agree to use those expanded MIDI features. MIDI-CI provides this mechanism.
MIDI-CI: Expanding MIDI while Protecting Backwards Compatibility:
MIDI Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI) is a mechanism to allow us to expand MIDI with new features while protecting backward compatibility with MIDI devices that do not understand these newly defined features.
MIDI-CI separates older MIDI products from newer products with new capabilities and provides a mechanism for two MIDI devices to understand what new capabilities are supported.
MIDI-CI assumes and requires bidirectional communication. Once a MIDI-CI connection is established between devices, query and response messages define what capabilities each device has.
MIDI-CI then negotiates or auto-configures to use those features that are common between the devices. MIDI-CI provides test mechanisms when enabling new features. If a test fails, then devices fall back to using MIDI 1.0 for that feature. MIDI-CI improves MIDI capabilities in several key areas.
MIDI-CI allows devices to use an expanded MIDI protocol with high resolution and multiple per note controllers. It allows for incremental adoption of new MIDI features by providing a fallback to MIDI 1.0 devices in all cases.
MIDI-CI Includes Queries for 3 major areas of expanded MIDI functionality:
The MIDI Manufacturers Association adopted the MIDI Capability Inquiry specification at the Winter NAMM show 2018 and it is available for download here. However there is a new revision being worked on to incorporate recent changes to other specifications under development.
As MIDI-CI is a fundamental technology and needs adoption of the other specifications it enables (Common Rules for Profile Configuration, Common Rules for Property Exchange and the MIDI 2.0 protocol specification), developers should understand that the MIDI-CI will still have minor updates to the currently available specification document.
There are some common types of MIDI devices that all tend to do very similar things. We can define Profiles to define how MIDI controls the common features. MIDI-CI Profile Configuration allows devices to discover and turn on Profiles for better interoperability and ease of use while lowering the need for manual configuration of devices by users.
To explain, let's consider MIDI controlled pianos. Pianos have a lot of characteristics in common and we can control those characteristics by a common set of MIDI messages. MIDI messages used by all pianos include Note On/Off and Sustain Pedal. A Piano Profile might define that Note Number 60 is Middle C, define a specific velocity response curve, define the use of a variable Sustain Pedal (not just On/Off) message, define a controller message for the angle of the lid opening, define a message to select the type of stretch tuning, and more. Any device that reports support for the Piano Profile would have to conform to that design.
Advanced MIDI users might be familiar with manually "mapping" all the controllers from one device to another device to make them talk to each other. If 2 devices agree to use a common Profile, MIDI-CI Profile Configuration can auto-configure the mappings. Profiles can be written for device types or for unique applications that are used across multiple device types. Profiles might be written for instruments such as pianos, electric pianos, drawbar organs, drum sets, analog synthesizers. Feature Profiles could define common messages to control orchestral articulation, direct pitch control models, or per-note expression. Profile can also serve non-musical applications such as lighting controllers or industrial machines.
The following video has a demonstration of how Profile Configuration works.
Property Exchange is a set of System Exclusive messages that devices can use discover, get, and set many properties of MIDI devices. The properties that can be exchanged include device configuration settings, a list of patches with names and other meta data, a list of controllers and their destinations, and much more.
Property Exchange can allow for devices to auto map controllers, choose programs by name, change state and also provide visual editors to DAW's without any prior knowledge of the device or specially crafted software. This means that Devices could work on Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS and Web Browsers and may provide tighter integrations with DAW's and hardware controllers.
MIDI 2.0 has a new Universal MIDI Packet format for carrying MIDI 1.0 Protocol messages and MIDI 2.0 Protocol messages. A Universal MIDI Packet contains a MIDI message which consists of one to four 32-bit words.
The Universal MIDI Packet format is suited to sending MIDI data over high speed transports such as USB or a network connection or between applications running inside a personal computer OS.
The traditional 5 pin DIN transport from MIDI 1.0 uses a byte stream rather than packets. At the moment, there is no plan to use the Universal MIDI Packet on the 5 pin DIN transport. Unless/Until that plan changes, 5 pin DIN will only support the MIDI 1.0 Protocol.
The first 4 bits of every message contain a Message Type. The Message Type is used as a classification of message functions.
Message Type Examples:
The Universal MIDI Packet carries 16 Groups of MIDI messages, each Group containing an independent set of System Messages and 16 MIDI Channels. Therefore, a single connection using the Universal MIDI Packet carries up to 16 sets of System Messages and up to 256 Channels.
Each of the 16 Groups can carry either MIDI 1.0 Protocol or MIDI Protocol. Therefore, a single connection can carry both protocols simultaneously. MIDI 1.0 Protocol and MIDI Protocol messages cannot be mixed together within 1 Group.
The Universal MIDI Packet format adds a Jitter Reduction Timestamp mechanism. A Timestamp can be prepended to any MIDI 1.0 Protocol message or MIDI 2.0 Protocol message for improved timing accuracy.
All existing MIDI 1.0 messages are carried in the Universal MIDI 1.0. As an example, this diagram from the protocol specification shows how MIDI 1.0 Channel Voice Messages are carried in 32-bit packets:
System messages, other than System Exclusive, are encoded similarly to Channel Voice Messages. System Exclusive messages vary in size, can be very large, and can span multiple Universal MIDI Packets.
The MIDI 2.0 Protocol uses the architecture of MIDI 1.0 Protocol to maintain backward compatibility and easy translation while offering expanded features.
Expanded Resolution and Expanded Capabilities
This example of a MIDI 2.0 Protocol Note message shows the expansions beyond the MIDI 1.0 Protocol equivalent. The MIDI 2.0 Protocol Note On has higher resolution Velocity. The 2 new fields, Attribute Type and Attribute data field, provide space for additional data such as articulation or tuning details
Easier to Use: Registered Controllers (RPN) and Assignable Controllers (NRPN)
Creating and editing RPNs and NRPNs with MIDI 1.0 Protocol requires the use of compound messages. These can be confusing or difficult for both developers and users. MIDI 2.0 Protocol replaces RPN and NRPN compound messages with single messages. The new Registered Controllers and Assignable Controllers are much easier to use.
The MIDI 2.0 Protocol replaces RPN and NRPN with 16,384 Registered Controllers and 16,384 Assignable Controller that are as easy to use as Control Change messages.
Managing so many controllers might be cumbersome. Therefore, Registered Controllers are organized in 128 Banks, each Bank having 128 controllers. Assignable Controllers are also organized in 128 Banks, each Bank having 128 controllers.
Registered Controllers and Assignable Controllers support data values up to 32bits in resolution.
MIDI 2.0 Protocol combines the Program Change and Bank Select mechanism from MIDI 1.0 Protocol into one message. The MIDI 1.0 mechanism for selecting Banks and Programs requires sending three MIDI messages. MIDI 2.0 changes the mechanism by replicating the Banks Select and Program Change in one new MIDI 2.0 Program Change message. Banks and Programs in MIDI 2.0 translate directly to Banks and Programs in MIDI 1.0.
The MIDI 2.0 Program Change message always selects a Program. A Bank Valid bit (B) determines whether a Bank Select is also performed by the message.
If Bank Valid = 0, then the receiver performs the Program Change without selecting a new Bank; The receiver keeps its currently selected Bank. Bank MSB and Bank LSB data fields are filled with zeroes.
If Bank Valid = 1, then the receiver performs both Bank and Program Change.
Other option flags that are not defined yet and are Reserved.
New data messages include System Exclusive 8 and Mixed Data Set. The System Exclusive 8 message is very similar to MIDI 1.0 System Exclusive but with 8-bit data format. The Mixed Data Set Message is used to transfer large data sets, including non-MIDI data. Both messages can be used when using the Universal MIDI Packet format for MIDI 1.0 Protocol or MIDI 2.0 Protocol.
MIDI 1.0 is not being replaced. Rather it is being extended and is expected to continue, well integrated with the new MIDI 2.0 environment. It is part of the Universal MIDI Packet, the fundamental MIDI data format. Many MIDI devices will not need any of the new features of MIDI 2.0 in order to perform all their functions. Some devices will continue to use the MIDI 1.0 Protocol while using other extensions of MIDI 2.0, such as Profile Configuration or Property Exchange.
The foundational specification, MIDI-CI has been published and is available for download. Other key MIDI 2.0 specifications are nearing completion in the MIDI Manufacturers Association. But it will take several years to write numerous Profile and Property Exchange specifications to follow.
The MMA put out a press release at the beginning of 2019 that listed just some of the companies that are already prototyping or making plans for products to come. Those that agreed to be mentioned include Ableton/Cycling '74, Art+Logic, Bome Software, Google, imitone, Native Instruments, Roland, ROLI, Steinberg, TouchKeys, and Yamaha.
However, we do not expect any MIDI 2.0 products to be released in 2019. For MIDI to be fully useable, the industry needs devices, applications, operating systems, and DAWs to support these new specifications. It will take time for a whole system of devices to be available.
In the meantime, MIDI 1.0 works well. In fact, MIDI 2.0 is just more MIDI. As new features arrive on new instruments, they will work with existing devices and system. The same was true for long list of other additions made to MIDI since 1983. MIDI 2.0 is just part of the evolution of MIDI that has gone on for 36 years. The step by step evolution continues.
If you are a developer of MIDI software or hardware, there are a lot of reasons to join the MIDI Manufacturers Association now. This article includes some information about MIDI 2.0, but it is definitely not enough to start developing a MIDI 2.0 product. The reason we do not release specification details before they are finally approved is that if information is released too early and then changes are made, it can lead to interoperability problems.
If you join the MMA now, you not only get access to the current version of the full MIDI 2.0 specification, but will also have a voice in future MIDI specifications including Profiles and Property Exchange messages.
To implement MIDI-CI and MIDI 2.0, you need a manufacturers SysEx ID. A SysEx ID by itself is $250 a year, but it is included with your MMA membership. You will also have access to the MMA Github which has code for MIDI 2.0 to MIDI 1.0 translation (and vis versa), MIDI 2.0 Scope, a tool for sending and testing MIDI 2.0 messages developed by Art and Logic and Property Exchange Work Bench, an application developed by Yamaha for prototyping and testing Property Exchange.
So we encourage you to join the MIDI Manufacturers Association now and get access to all the documents you will need to get a head start on MIDI 2.0.
On May 25, 2019 MIDI Association members had a chance to meet the team that put the new MIDI 2.0 specifications together. The members of the MMA MIDI-CI and Protocol working groups explained their vision for the future of MIDI and reviewed the article above adding context and details.
Amos Gaynes, Andrew Mee, Dave Starkey, Florian Bome, Franz Detro, Mike Kent, Phil Burk, Rick Cohen, Tom White
Here is an audio transcript of that webinar. You can select the pop-out option and then download the audio file to your computer to listen at your leisure.
Your Friends at The MIDI Association
We have been monitoring the comments on a number iof websites and wanted to provide some FAQs about MIDI 2.0 as well as videos of some requested MIDI 2.0 features.
Will MIDI 2.0 devices need to use a new connector or cable?
No, MIDI 2.0 is a transport agnostic protocol.
That's engineering speak for MIDI 2.0 is a set of messages and those messages are not tied to any particular cable or connector.
When MIDI first started it could only run over the classic 5 Pin DIN cable and the definition of that connector and how it was built
However soon the MIDI Manufacturers Association and Association of Music Electronic Industries defined how to run MIDI over many different cables and connectors.
So for many years, MIDI 1.0 has been a transport agnostic protocol..
MIDI 1.0 messages currently run over 5 PIN Din, serial ports, Tip Ring Sleeve 1/8" cables, Firewire and Ethernet and all the different variations of USB cables,
Can MIDI 2.0 run over those different MIDI 1.0 transports now?
The most popular MIDI transport today is USB
USB is the first target for MIDI 2.0.
Can MIDI 2.0 provide more reliable timing?
Yes, and not only that the timing for MIDI 1.0 can also be improved. One of the new messages that can work with both MIDI 1.0 and MIDI 2.0 are Jitter Timestamps.
Goals of JR Timestamps:
Note: There are two different sources of error for timing: Jitter (precision) and Latency (sync). The Jitter Reduction Timestamp mechanism only addresses the errors introduced by jitter. The problem of synchronization or time alignment across multiple devices in a system requires a measurement of latency. This is a complex problem and is not addressed by the JR Timestamping mechanism.
Can MIDI 2.0 provide more resolution?
Yes, MIDI 1.0 messages are usually 7 bit (14 bit is possible by not widely implmented because there are only 128 CC messages). In MIDI 2.0 velocity is 16 bit and the 128 control change messages, 16,384 Registered Controllers, 16,384 Assignable Controllers, Poly and channel pressure and Pitch Bend are 32 bit.
Can MIDI 2.0 make it easier to have microtonal control and different non-western scales?
Yes, MIDI 2.0 allows direct pitch control of notes ( see videos)
The really exciting part of MIDI-CI is that Protocol Negotiation paves the way for a new industry standard MIDI protocol which could enable new features like higher resolution, more channels and improved performance and expressiveness (while still maintaining backwards compatibility with current MIDI 1.0 devices). A new MIDI protocol would offer a bridge between music technology and new emerging technologies in other industries and allow creators, performers, and consumers to enjoy new and exciting musical experiences in the future.by Yutaka Hasegawa, chairman of AMEI