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Page updated: 1-Sep-2010

MIDI Patch Panels

If you make up your MIDI cables with a 5-pin DIN plug at one end, and a 1/4" stereo jack at the other, you can use standard balanced patch panels with standard jack-to-jack patch leads to connect MIDI devices together. This avoids having to buy specialised MIDI patching systems and is more robust than plugging & unplugging delicate DIN plugs.

Make sure you adopt a convention for connecting DIN pins 4 & 5 to jack tip & ring; I use pin 4 to tip, pin 5 to ring, pin 2 to jack body & screen, leave DIN shell floating.

Keep MIDI away from audio; preferably use separate patch panel(s) for MIDI. Cables can be up to 15m if you use screened twisted pair. Full normalising works ok; half-normalising worked ok when I tested it, but I wouldn't recommend it as it probably breaks the MIDI spec. & may only work with specific MIDI devices.

Here's an example of 2 patch panels dedicated to MIDI; the rear shows the jack plug end of the midi-to-jack cables, and the front shows the jack-to-jack patch leads:-

MIDI Patch Panels

My first version connected all MIDI In's, Out's and Thru's to the panels, but I found the Thru's weren't very flexible and not every item has them, so I ended up buying some dedicated MIDI merge and splitter boxes and have wired their In's & Out's to the panels in place of the Thru's.