The Schultz MIDI benchmarking toolbox for MIDI interfaces, percussion pads, and sound cards

Benjamin G Schultz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) was readily adopted for auditory sensorimotor synchronization experiments. These experiments typically use MIDI percussion pads to collect responses, a MIDI-USB converter (or MIDI-PCI interface) to record responses on a PC and manipulate feedback, and an external MIDI sound module to generate auditory feedback. Previous studies have suggested that auditory feedback latencies can be introduced by these devices. The Schultz MIDI Benchmarking Toolbox (SMIDIBT) is an open-source, Arduino-based package designed to measure the point-to-point latencies incurred by several devices used in the generation of response-triggered auditory feedback. Experiment 1 showed that MIDI messages are sent and received within 1 ms (on average) in the absence of any external MIDI device. Latencies decreased when the baud rate increased above the MIDI protocol default (31,250 bps). Experiment 2 benchmarked the latencies introduced by different MIDI-USB and MIDI-PCI interfaces. MIDI-PCI was superior to MIDI-USB, primarily because MIDI-USB is subject to USB polling. Experiment 3 tested three MIDI percussion pads. Both the audio and MIDI message latencies were significantly greater than 1 ms for all devices, and there were significant differences between percussion pads and instrument patches. Experiment 4 benchmarked four MIDI sound modules. Audio latencies were significantly greater than 1 ms, and there were significant differences between sound modules and instrument patches. These experiments suggest that millisecond accuracy might not be achievable with MIDI devices. The SMIDIBT can be used to benchmark a range of MIDI devices, thus allowing researchers to make informed decisions when choosing testing materials and to arrive at an acceptable latency at their discretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204–234
Number of pages31
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number1
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Journal Article
  • Motor timing
  • Microcontrollers
  • Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
  • Sensorimotor synchronization
  • Auditory feedback
  • TIME

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