What is the Best Free Midi software for Macs?


SeaGtGruff

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I guess that would depend on how one defines "best," as well as what specific type of MIDI software you're looking for-- i.e., what sorts of functions you need.

GarageBand is free, but my understanding is that it has limited MIDI functionalities-- you can use MIDI input to control and record with the virtual instruments in GarageBand, but there's no way to export to a MIDI file.

There are a number of commercial DAWs that have free "lite" versions available, which should be suitable for most home users. Then, if the free lite version doesn't fulfill all of your needs, you can purchase one of the non-free versions. Some of the ones I'm aware of are listed below. I haven't evaluated all of them, so the fact that a particular program is listed (or not) doesn't necessarily mean that I endorse it (or not). ;)

Aria Maestosa is a free open-source MIDI sequencer and editor that's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Cockos REAPER is available for Mac and Windows, It is not free, but the full program can be used on a trial basis for free. REAPER is very popular with home recording enthusiasts, which I suspect might be partially due to the fact that the free trial never expires-- it continues to run without crippling or limitations, although you'll be reminded to purchase a license (and the home-use license is very affordable).

LMMS, or Linux MultiMedia Studio, is a free open-source DAW that's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

MidiYodi is a MIDI editor/player that's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Ohm Studio is a free DAW aimed at "collaborative" composing, and is available for Mac and Windows.

PreSonus Studio One 3 Prime is the free "lite" version of the Studio One DAW, and is available for Mac and Windows. I use Studio One Prime occasionally and like it.

Tracktion T5 is the current free version of the Tracktion DAW, and is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

There are also free notation programs that can import and export MIDI files, so it would help to know the specific type of MIDI software you're interested in-- a DAW, a MIDI sequencer, a MIDI file player, a MIDI router, a notation program, etc.
 
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I guess that would depend on how one defines "best," as well as what specific type of MIDI software you're looking for-- i.e., what sorts of functions you need....
Wow! This post is exactly what I needed. Very throrough!
I really appreciate your help. Do you know if any of these are best for use in conjunction with a Korg Kronos?
 

SeaGtGruff

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As I said, I do like Studio One Prime; but if you're an experienced musician then I should probably mention that Studio One doesn't let you work with SysEx messages. And I just remembered that Studio One Prime also doesn't let you use third-party plug-ins, so you're limited to its one soft synth and effects.

If you need to use SysEx and/or third-party plug-ins, you might want to consider Tracktion T5. Tracktion lets you define your own set of instrument sound banks (patch change map), but I haven't tried setting one up for my Yamaha keyboards yet, so I don't know what file format it uses or whether it would be difficult to adapt a Cakewalk instrument definition file to Tracktion's format.

MuseScore is free notation software, and it's very thorough-- it can handle just about any notation situation you might throw at it. But keep in mind that it's notation software, not a DAW for recording or live sequencing. I'm not very experienced with it, but I believe you can set the different instrument staffs/staves to specific MIDI channels and set the sounds for the channels.

Speaking of notation software, here are a few others to add to the list:

NCH Crescendo is available for Mac, Windows, and Android. I use it often for quickly jotting down my musical ideas, because it's so easy to use. It's rather basic as far as its notation capabilities go, but it can import and export MIDI files.

Skipping back to DAWs for a moment, there is also NCH Mixpad, available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. I haven't evaluated it yet, but I'm pretty sure it does have MIDI capabilities (I think it didn't a few years ago).

MakeMusic Finale NotePad is another free notation program for Mac and Windows. It's possible to create an instrument definition file for your keyboard, although if I remember correctly you can't have separate definitions for different instruments-- i.e., you can have one patch list file, which has a generic name, although I think you can fill it with patch definitions for multiple instruments if they're sorted into their own banks.

MidiSheetMusic is a free open-source notation program for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android.
 

Fred Coulter

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I've just forwarded your question about MuseScore to my daughter. Hopefully she can answer from experience.
 

Fred Coulter

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MakeMusic Finale NotePad is another free notation program for Mac and Windows. It's possible to create an instrument definition file for your keyboard, although if I remember correctly you can't have separate definitions for different instruments-- i.e., you can have one patch list file, which has a generic name, although I think you can fill it with patch definitions for multiple instruments if they're sorted into their own banks.
Probably should mention that MakeMusic Finale NotePad (what a long name) is part of the Finale family. Finale is one of two major pro level notation packages out there. If notation is what you're looking for, if you find yourself limited by MakeMusic Finale NotePad, you can upgrade to a higher level program. For money.

Although my copy of Finale came about when I received a special offer that was only available to people who had downloaded and registered the free software. Basically, it ended up about 80% off. So sometimes software marketing companies get weird, and offer huge discounts to the owners of the free stuff.

Oh, and the other pro level notation software? Sibelius. (My daughter's school is a Sibelius school, although she's never had to buy or use the software. It's also a Mac school and a Steinway school. Soon they're going to start putting sponsor advertisements on the diplomas.)
 
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SeaGtGruff

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MakeMusic Finale NotePad (what a long name)
:) When I'm listing a DAW or other program, I usually include the company's name in front of the program's name in my initial mention, then I drop the company's name in subsequent mentions. I think MakeMusic refers to their free lite edition of Finale as simply "NotePad," but that's too ambiguous for me, since I use Microsoft Windows Notepad all the time. ;)
 

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