Overview

Play your classic synthesizers using the NeoTrellis M4 by sending MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) data over UART (serial port) to a traditional MIDI DIN-5 connection. No USB MIDI required!

The MIDI standard is excellent for getting note and CC (and pitch bend, mod wheel, etc.) data from one device to another. Many modern controllers can only send USB MIDI, and lots of classic synths only have a DIN-5 connector. The Trellis M4 can send serial data over its UART port. With a little bit of plug adapter magic, we can get all of that data sent right on over to the standard DIN-5 MIDI cable!

Parts

Adafruit NeoTrellis M4 with Enclosure and Buttons Kit Pack

PRODUCT ID: 4020
So you've got a cool/witty name for your band, a Soundcloud account, a 3D-printed Daft Punk...
$59.95
IN STOCK

3.5mm (1/8") Stereo Audio Jack Terminal Block

PRODUCT ID: 2791
One truth about working with audio is you always need the cable or adapter you don't have in your toolbox. That's why we love these terminal-block audio connectors so...
$2.50
IN STOCK

JST PH 4-Pin to Male Header Cable - I2C STEMMA Cable - 200mm

PRODUCT ID: 3955
This cable will let you turn a JST PH 4-pin cable port into 4 individual wires with high-quality 0.1" male header plugs on the end. We're carrying these to match up with any...
$1.50
IN STOCK

USB cable - USB A to Micro-B

PRODUCT ID: 592
This here is your standard A to micro-B USB cable, for USB 1.1 or 2.0. Perfect for connecting a PC to your Metro, Feather, Raspberry Pi or other dev-board or...
$2.95
IN STOCK

In addition to the parts above, you'll need:

  • Standard DIN-5 Male to DIN-5 male MIDI cable
  • 3.5mm TRS Male to DIN-5 female MIDI adapter. Pinouts vary, unfortunately, as this was only recently standardized by the MIDI organization. We can use the now-standardized pinout of the "Type A" adapter, or you can simply swap two of the wires coming from the JST PH 4-pin cable to accommodate "Type B" connectors.

These Type B Malekko Heavy Industry adapters work great, and they're super bright pink! At only $6 for a two pack it's hard to beat the price.

And, if you're interested in this project, you'll probably have favorite synthesizer with a DIN-5 female MIDI-IN port on it! This covers most synthesizers built since 1983, so there are plenty to choose from.

feather_Minimoog.jpg
minimoog - photo taken by Krash, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=467546

I'm using the Trellis M4 to control this modern all-analog minimoog "inspired" synthesizer, the Behringer Model D, which has no keyboard, but a MIDI IN jack designed for this type of use. It's highly affordable, and it sounds super thick and great.

This guide was first published on Nov 20, 2018. It was last updated on Nov 20, 2018. This page (Overview) was last updated on Nov 20, 2018.