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XP MIDI Troubleshooting

February 1, 2005

Last month, we looked at how to make sure your MIDI interface was functioning properly in Mac OS X with AudioMIDI Setup. This time, we’ll look at some tips to make sure your MIDI interface is working properly in Windows XP.

The easiest way to make sure your interface is working properly is to check your sequencer application. Are you getting MIDI input and output? If not, there are two crucial factors to check: First, is the MIDI interface connected properly and powered up? And second, are the drivers installed correctly?

The best place to check this is within Windows Device Manager. Click the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties from the pop-up. In Properties, click the Hardware tab and choose Device manager.



In the list of device categories, click the [+] next to Sound Video and Game Controllers. If your MIDI interface is listed by name, it’s likely that the hardware is recognized and the software installed. If the device isn’t named and there’s a “!” or a “?” on the device, It could be installed improperly or have a problem.

If this is the case, but the interface is still not functioning properly, right-click the device and choose “Uninstall.” It’s important to uninstall the drivers first. Reinstalling the same driver over and over without first uninstalling rarely fixes the problem.


Restart the computer. Once it’s restarted, you should be prompted by XP’s New Hardware Wizard that a new device has been detected. Follow the Wizard to reinstall the driver software.

If your MIDI interface isn’t listed in Sound Video and Game Controllers, check the category Other Devices in Device Manager for an unnamed “USB Device.”


If you’re unsure if this unnamed device is your MIDI interface, simply disconnect the USB cable between the computer and the interface. If the unnamed device disappears in Device Manager, it’s the MIDI interface. This indicates that the computer sees the interface, but the necessary drivers aren’t properly installed. You can right-click the “USB Device” and choose “Update Driver.” The New Hardware Wizard should appear and take you through driver install.


In addition to following the New Hardware Wizard’s instructions, you’ll also want to check user guides for install steps. Some MIDI interfaces need some specific steps to be followed for installation to be successful. You may need either the software CD that comes with the MIDI interface, or internet access to download the latest version of the interface’s drivers.


Some USB MIDI interfaces require that the device be disconnected while installing the drivers, others require the opposite. To prevent problems, be sure to read instructions carefully before connecting the hardware and beginning driver installation.

Special thanks to Sweetwater’s Dave Federspiel for teaching me how to troubleshoot MIDI interfaces in Windows XP.

Todd G. Tatnall is the Senior Tech in Sweetwater’s Technical Support department.

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