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Studio One 6: How Do I Setup a MIDI Hardware Keyboard/Synthesizer?

In Studio One 6, an External Instrument is an external MIDI hardware synthesizer, workstation, or other device that can generate or manipulate sound. External Instruments are set up globally and then are available for use in any Song. This also includes MIDI drum pads, drum machines that have their own internal sounds, and any device that sends MIDI Note Messages. 


Make sure your external devices are connected to your computer either by MIDI cable or with a USB connection. Please consult the device's documentation for instructions on how to connect that device to a computer.


One thing to note, a MIDI connection alone will not allow the monitoring of audio from the external device. Please make sure your audio interface is setup for Studio One in Studio One > Options (Windows) / Preferences (macOS) > Audio Setup.  The external MIDI devices audio outputs are connected to the interface, and routed into Studio One either by hardware monitor, or via an Audio Track. 


Section 1: Setup New Instrument

To set up your Instrument, navigate to Studio One > Options > External Devices. (macOS: Go to Studio One > Preferences > External Devices) and follow these steps:


In the External Devices menu, click on the [Add] button.

  1. In the External Devices menu, click on the [Add] button.

  2. In the left hand browser select [New Instrument].  Type in a Manufacturer Name and a Device Name in the appropriate fields. This will make using your New Instrument easier.

  3. Specify which MIDI channels will be used to communicate with this Instrument. MIDI channel 1 is selected by default.

  4. Select the appropriate MIDI device port from the drop-down menu for Send To. This is for sending MIDI out to your external device.

  5. You can choose to send MIDI Clock to this Instrument and/or use MIDI Clock Start by checking the appropriate boxes. You should send MIDI Clock to your Instrument if it has a built-in sequencer or components (such as LFOs) that need to sync to Studio One.  Enabling MIDI Clock Start will send MIDI Clock Start signals to your Instrument.

  6. CC Automation Interval: You can vary the speed at which Automated MIDI CC messages are transmitted, using the CC Automation Interval slider. You can vary the value between 10-100ms, with the default value being 10ms.
    Enable (MIDI Polyphonic Expression): Enable MPE if your Instrument is able to receive MPE data. 
    Pitch Range: Use the Pitch Range field to specify the range of the instrument.

  7. Press OK. Your External Instrument is now available for use in any Song. To use an External Instrument in a Song, be sure that an Instrument Track is routed to it and that the appropriate Audio Tracks have been added and configured.

    Below is a view of where the External Instrument MIDI send is set in your Song.


Section 2: Setup New Keyboard

Please note that Studio One views “Instruments” and “Keyboards” as separate devices even if they are integrated into the same piece of hardware.  If your synthesizer also has a built in keyboard, you will need to create a New Keyboard in the External Devices set-up menu by doing the following:


To configure a New Keyboard:

  1. For piano keys, drum pads, and other MIDI devices that send MIDI NOTE messages, you will need to create a [New Keyboard].
  2. Type in a Manufacturer Name and a Device Name in the appropriate fields. This makes identifying the New Keyboard easier.
  3. Assign the MIDI "Receive From" to the MIDI port your device is connected to. For the basic configuration, don't assign the MIDI "Send To" port assignment.
  4. Don't check any of the MIDI Filters, only check filters if you want block MIDI messages.
  5. Set this as the [Default Instrument Input] if you want this to be set automatically when adding an instrument in Studio One.
  6. Press the [OK] button to save the configuration.


Below is a view of where the New Keyboard MIDI Receive is set in your Song. Set the MIDI Receive for the track here. This can also be set in the Track Inspector.


Monitoring an External Instrument

You can use an Aux Channel to monitor the audio output of an external instrument if you don't want to record the audio to your hard drive. Please refer to Studio One 6: Monitoring An External Instrument.


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