I'm not a music professional, and I just need enlightments about something I haven't found even after almost an hour of research over the web, google and stack exchange included.

I have any instrument, connected with MIDI->USB cable to my computer.
Drivers installed, some softwares I tested recognize my keyboard and are able to record some sound sometimes, when configuration is OK.

But now, here's my new need:

I'd like to know if there exists some kind of virtual interface, a software that will:

  • Retrieve playing MIDI in realtime
  • Pass it through some configuration (instrument, audio effects, whatever, even a simple instrument will be fairly enough)
  • Output the "MIDI to sound" information into:
    • A system input device (for recording, like, some "virtual input" I might use in softwares like Audacity)
    • Or either an output device (to be able to listen in realtime to the generated sound with my headphones or speakers).

Does this kind of setup is feasible in any way?

2 Answers 2


I think what you're looking for a is a virtual instrument or virtual instrument plug-in or VSTi (technically that is a specific kind of virtual instrument, but some people use the word as a catch-all).

A virtual instrument takes MIDI input and provides audio (sound) as an output. Usually a virtual instrument is used as a plug-in inside of host software or a DAW. Both refer to larger programs that can record and sequence audio and MIDI information, as well as provide input and output functions for MIDI and audio streams.

A typical way to use a virtual instrument in a DAW is as follows:

  1. Create a new track in the DAW - some DAWs have different types of tracks, and the track type you would want for a virtual instrument might be called "virtual intrument", "instrument", or possibly a "MIDI" track.
  2. Insert the instrument plug-in into the new track. Each DAW has its own process for inserting plugins.
  3. Change the MIDI input routing settings on the track to connect your MIDI controller to the virtual instrument. When using USB MIDI, if the drivers and operating system settings are in place, usually the name of the MIDI controller will show on the list of MIDI sources to choose from.
  4. Check and/or change the output audio routing for the track to send the output to an output bus, mix bus, aux bus, aux return, etc. Usually an output bus lets you hear the audio in real time and an aux bus or mix bus lets you record the audio (and also hear it in real time as you record).

It can take a bit of fiddling around to get the whole thing working because there are so many combinations of DAWs, virtual instruments, interfaces, and controllers, all which have to work together to make it work.

There are thousands of virtual instrument plugins available. Many online retailers have entire sections of their virtual store devoted to them:




Also, some DAWs include a selection of virtual instruments to get you started.


You seem to be describing a basic function of a MIDI sequencer program, where 'virtual instruments' - software synthesizers and samplers - can be controlled by MIDI input and monitored in real time. (Or as near to real time as the audio latency - the time it takes the system to create sound after receiving a MIDI instruction - allows.) Look at a program such as Cubase, with its plug-in effects and VST instruments. (There are cheaper, if less fully-featured, alternatives.)

  • I played around with Frooty Loops once, (now called FL studio) and I recall it was a little more MIDI friendly than Cubase. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FL_Studio Jul 27, 2017 at 1:22
  • Buying Cubase just to do what the OP wants is a bit like doing the school run and the weekly shopping in a Ferrari IMO. There are plenty of free DAWs (digital audio workstations) that will host a synth and a few plugins - but specific recommendations are off-topic on this site.
    – user19146
    Jul 27, 2017 at 1:36
  • I'm pretty sure that's NOT what the asker is looking for. Jul 27, 2017 at 14:26
  • 1
    @AlexRockAncelet There's an entire blog post about why recommendations are off-topic: stackoverflow.blog/2010/11/23/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping Jul 27, 2017 at 14:47

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