One of the biggest advancements in music in the 20th century was the development of MIDI. First appearing in the early 1980s, the MIDI standard is as popular as ever today thanks to its ability to store music recordings in a way that allows them to be edited, remixed and re-mastered limitlessly. Working with MIDI can be entirely digital, but to take full advantage of it in the most intuitive way possible, you'll want to gear up with the controllers, utilities and interfaces that let you take physical control of the sounds. MIDI controllers are some of the most important pieces of equipment in a modern recording studio. In order to allow the most natural-feeling control for any style of play, they come in a number of different types.
For DJing or controlling special effects, a pad controller is a great choice. For playing a wide variety of instruments, especially digital piano, a keyboard controller is the right tool for the job, be it live or in the studio. You can also pair the keyboard with a pedal controller for an authentic digital organ. There are even wind controllers for saxophonists and other woodwind players, which enable you to accurately replicate breath and embouchure techniques that a keyboard can't capture. You can use any of those MIDI controllers with a hardware sound unit—but if you're using software solutions instead, you will also need an interface. MIDI interfaces allow you to connect controllers directly to your devices. There are even iOS interfaces which, together with a MIDI app, can turn your iPad or iPhone into a pocket-sized portable recording studio. In addition to hardware and software interfaces, available alongside them are an assortment of routing boxes for wiring and managing even the most complex MIDI device configurations.
No matter how simple or how complex your MIDI setup needs to be, you'll find the controllers, utilities and interfaces that you need to get it up and running. Whether that means full-sized studio components or compact portable devices to take to live shows, it just comes down to choosing the hardware that best suits your needs.