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My son has a keyboard, a Casio LK-110 that was a secondhand gift, which he's learning to play music on. He's interested in recording musical tracks onto the computer. The family laptop (the one he uses) runs Linux, currently Kubuntu 20.04.

I know of some free software available to help with this (e.g. Audacity), but the first order of business is to get a cable (actually an adapter) that will connect the keyboard to the computer.

Hunting around online I couldn't find any MIDI/USB adapters advertised directly as working with Linux, and the only review I found that mentioned working with Linux, was filled with caveats and said how the adapter doesn't follow the MIDI spec and only works sometimes.

Being completely new to MIDI, I don't know if the general lack of advertised compatibility is important or not. Will any MIDI/USB adapter work with Linux generally speaking, like keyboards and mice do even when not so advertised? Or is the advertised compatibility important, like how backup software preinstalled on external hard drives will ONLY work with the OSes mentioned in the specs?

Also, is the model of the keyboard an important variable for establishing whether a given adapter will work?

Essentially I'd like to get an adapter that will work with his keyboard and with Linux, that's not outrageously expensive, and that is high enough quality that it won't become a pain point even if he starts creating music semi-professionally. What should I look for, or what sort of adapter should I get?

  • Hello. This question would have better chances of answer on the askubuntu.com as your question is mostly about kubuntu compatibility of a given midi interface. – audionuma Apr 9 at 8:02
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    Also note that Audacity cannot record MIDI, only audio. – Tetsujin Apr 9 at 10:47
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USB had a MIDI transport definition almost from the start, so basically all USB/MIDI adapters are "class compliant" and work with Linux as good or bad as with other operating systems.

The problem is that the market is currently swamped with cheap USB/Midi adapters that garble SysEx messages and don't work reliably with chords, most of them featuring a violin clef (but there is also comparable garbage under the "Swisstronic" house brand). I'd recommend going to an auction site and getting an old USB/Midi adapter from a reputed manufacturer like Roland or Maudio, but one that does "Full Speed" at least (USB1.1, 12Mbps): while even that seems exaggerated considering the 31.250bps that Midi does, it cooperates more nicely with hubs than slower speeds and has less repackaging latency.

As a note aside, one of the best small adapters I encountered is cable-only (no idea which connector contains the actual converter: it's just one cable with a USB plug and a Midi plug), just one Midi connector (that autodetects whether it is in or out), named Terrasoniq Midi One and using a chip produced by Ploytec (which is a company continuing to crank out good USB/Midi converter chips). If you can get your hand on one of those, they are a handy solution for ad-hoc setups. No idea why the product was discontinued.

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    Seconded. I still have my old Emu & Yamaha devices that have been rock solid for decades, never dropped a byte. I also still have my MJC-8 [somewhere] Can't bear to throw it out, even if I haven't used it since the 90s. – Tetsujin Apr 9 at 13:50
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    Known good brands: ESI, iConnectivity, M-Audio, Miditech, Roland. – CL. Apr 9 at 18:44

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