What Is Bluetooth MIDI? (Explained Simply!)

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MIDI has been around since the 1980s. It was a protocol designed to make it easier for competing audio devices to ‘talk’ to one another.

It is fair to say that it completely revolutionized the recording industry. Anybody involved in music production will have become intimately familiar with the MIDI protocol. 

Of course, MIDI isn’t a tech that has rested on its laurels. Oh no. It has gone through a wealth of upgrades in that time.

This included MIDI 2.0 (read our summary here) and all manner of protocol extensions. However, one shake-up to MIDI has got the audio world buzzing; Bluetooth MIDI.

So, what is it? Is the buzz worth it?

What Is Bluetooth MIDI?

Bluetooth MIDI is a concept originally devised by Apple, and it was included in iOS 8.0 and later. This is the standard that the team behind MIDI decided to go with.

After all, the goal of MIDI has been to ensure that various devices in the audio sphere could easily be connected up.

The Apple implementation worked and already had adopters, so why not go with it?

Bluetooth MIDI is simply a tech that allows MIDI devices to communicate wirelessly.

Imagine playing the piano (some of the modern ones have Bluetooth MIDI incorporated), and every button press is recorded on your computer or even the phone in the palm of your hand.

Absolutely no wires involved. No special software is required either. If a recording device supports MIDI, then it will support Bluetooth MIDI.

That’s all there is to it. It is simply MIDI connections over Bluetooth, much in the same way that you would hook your headphones up to Bluetooth.

It just results in wireless connections, which MIDI has always struggled with (so many wires are required for a good MIDI set-up!)

Is Bluetooth MIDI The Same As Bluetooth Audio?

This is where a good bit of confusion seems to lie. People confuse Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio. They are not the same.

Obviously, the Bluetooth part is similar. Both protocols used Bluetooth for wireless communication.

Bluetooth Audio will only send audio, though. Bluetooth Audio is when you connect your wireless speakers to your phone.

The only connection here will be the audio output of your device, sending that audio signal wirelessly to your Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth MIDI, on the other hand, is a MIDI connection. Anything that you can do over a wired MIDI connection, you can do using Bluetooth MIDI.

This means essentially recording the devices that you are using. Manipulating information in your DAW, etc.

Of course, you can still use it in much the same way as Bluetooth Audio, too i.e. pump whatever you are playing on your audio device out of your speakers.

The Advantages Of Bluetooth MIDI

Now, it is fair to say that Bluetooth Audio isn’t all that great. It can suffer from a bit of latency now and then. It is excellent for streaming audio, but that’s it.

Thankfully, Bluetooth MIDI doesn’t go down the same route. The bit rate transfer is considerably better with Bluetooth MIDI.

Bluetooth MIDI has latency of around a few milliseconds. Comparatively, USB is in the tens of milliseconds. It may not sound like much on paper, but this is a huge difference.

The tech is nigh on perfect at the moment, although, as with all MIDI developments, it is likely to be improved even further as time goes on.

Of course, the major advantage of Bluetooth MIDI is the fact that it does work on the MIDI protocol. This means that any device, software, etc., that is compatible with MIDI will work with Bluetooth MIDI devices.

You have the same amount of control with your Bluetooth MIDI devices as you would if you were wired up to a MIDI interface. In fact, the lack of wires is going to be the only difference.

You won’t even know that you are using Bluetooth MIDI.

The best part is that many devices can be retrofitted to work with Bluetooth MIDI. This includes some of the older devices.

This is because you can purchase Bluetooth MIDI adapters that you just plug the MIDI device into. It is nice and simple.

In fact, it is pretty much the same as getting any old Bluetooth connection hooked up.

Of course, Bluetooth MIDI also expands the range of devices you could get connected to.

In the past, if you wanted to use MIDI with your mobile device, you would have to purchase some pretty decent equipment to get everything running.

Nowadays? Not so much.

Modern iOS and Android versions both support Bluetooth MIDI as standard, and there are a ton of different apps in the respective app store that could work with it.

Is Bluetooth MIDI The Future?

This is tough to say. What we can tell you is that Bluetooth MIDI is certainly here to stay.

It is a fantastic piece of tech with a host of different advantages for users to get to grips with. It is going to be kicking around for a long time.

That being said, some people are still not sold on Bluetooth MIDI. You probably know just how to set in their ways the audio industry can be. Some people love their wires.

Some people will swear that there are latency issues with Bluetooth MIDI (even though there aren’t).

Since more and more MIDI devices are being produced that have Bluetooth MIDI installed (including some massive pianos from some of the world’s biggest manufacturers), it is likely that Bluetooth MIDI will become more popular as time goes on.

However, we doubt it will ever replace wired MIDI networks.

That said, it is set up to work well with music makers who use their mobile devices to produce.

It may see an increase in usage among smaller gigs, however, due to the limitations of the Bluetooth protocol, we doubt that it will ever be used in full-scale concerts.

Wrapping Up

Bluetooth MIDI is nothing too complicated. Honestly, it is just MIDI that works over Bluetooth.

If you are familiar with MIDI, as you likely are, then Bluetooth MIDI is just a way to communicate without all those wires.

It is a newish tech, but it seems to be rapidly expanding in popularity. Keep an eye on it.


Does Bluetooth MIDI Lag?

Bluetooth MIDI has extremely low latency, as low as a few milliseconds. If you are experiencing lag with Bluetooth MIDI, then there is likely too much distance between the two devices, there is interference somewhere in the room, or 

Can Bluetooth MIDI Work With Computers?

Yes. While it is likely to get the most use working with mobile devices, both modern Apple and Windows operating systems support the Bluetooth MIDI protocol as standard.

Is Bluetooth MIDI Good?

Absolutely. It allows wireless connections, and you probably wouldn’t even know you are using a wireless connection,

Want to pick up a MIDI keyboard for traveling? Check out our guide to the 7 Best Portable MIDI Keyboards!