If you are using your sound card in combination with a synthesizer keyboard, you can face problems when you upgrade from Windows XP to either Vista or Windows 7. In both Vista and Windows 7 you cannot change the default MIDI device in the Control Panel anymore.

In XP, you can simply access the Sounds and Audio Devices in the Control Panel, select the Audio tab and change the default midi device.

Default midi device selection in Windows XP

So when you plug a midi keyboard (for example a Roland keyboard) to you MIDI port in Vista or Windows 7, you might not be able to use it, or get errors when trying to use it.

In some cases it can help to install XP drivers for your sound card if newer drivers are not available for Vista or Windows 7. Simply try running the driver install program in XP compatibility mode (right-click the setup.exe file or other install file).

But if that does not work, or even if you have the right drivers, it might help if you can change the default MIDI device.

As we can see in the Vista screenshot, there is no configuration for the midi device anymore.

Sound settings in Windows Vista

So how do we change the default midi device in Vista and Windows 7? Well unfortunately it needs to be done through the registry. Even in XP when you change the default midi device, the registry is updated.

The registry key involved is:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ActiveMovie\d evenum\{4EFE2452-168A-11D1-BC76-00C04FB9453B}\Default MidiOut Device

By default there is a REG_DWORD entry named MidiOutId with the value 0xffffffff, which reflects the default Microsoft GS Wavetable Syth device. But as you can see in the screenshot, there will be an entry in the registry for each available midi device. So apart from the “Default MidiOut Device” we see “Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth”.

Change default midi device in registry

This registry key again has a subkey called MidiOutId, each with a different value. The Microsoft GS Wavetable Device will have a value 0×00000000, while the second available midi device will have a value 0×00000001, etc.

To change the default midi device in Vista and Windows 7, you need to select the midi device you want to use, check the value of the MidiOutId in the registry, and then assign that value to the MidiOutId of the Default MidiOut Device key.

Some more notes on this:

  • 64-bit operating systems also have a registry key named “devenum 64 bit”. If you have a 64-bit audio driver installed for your sound card, you might need to change that as well. I have not tried this myself yet.
  • Make sure you restart the Windows Media Player after this change before you can play midi files through an external midi device (e.g. Roland keyboard).
  • Older motherboards can have an “Onboard MIDI I/O” option in the BIOS. The MIDI port can also be disabled, so check this setting if you cannot find the midi device as expected. Best to check the motherboard manual or manufacturer’s website for details.

15 Responses to “How to Change the Default MIDI Device in Vista and Window 7”

  1. Jeekem says:

    Thanks- I have five possible settings for this key so I set each one as default and exported the key renaming it each time.
    Now whenever I want to change the Default MIDI Out I just run one of the Registry hacks I made.

  2. John says:

    Thanks, I could to set up my midi device, excelent help.

  3. Geoff says:

    @Jeekem – Using multiple valies for the default midi out in the way that you do is a great way to use multiple midi devices. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks a lot for the hint! Got my Romio II USB Interface working as default interface for WMP. Unbelievable, I can’t stop laughing about microsoft’s ludicrous support for audio interfaces. First I had to find out that simultaneous output to analog and SPDIF outputs is no longer supported and now this. And microsoft’s standard answers are: it was never supported / the hardware manufacturers have to fix it.

    But imagine how happy I am to have such a beautiful translucent taskbar and window frames. They make all my audio trouble fade awayyyyyy…. :)

    I gave midi with Linux a serious test. It’s really worth it. Plug&Play works and with a sequencer like Rosegarden you’re up and running immediately.

    BTW: Copy this to a file named “MidiOut Device 1.reg” and run it to change the midi out as described above. Replace 00000001 with ffffffff to change it back to the default device:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ActiveMovie\devenum\{4EFE2452-168A-11D1-BC76-00C04FB9453B}\Default MidiOut Device]
    “MidiOutId”=dword:00000001

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ActiveMovie\devenum 64-bit\{4EFE2452-168A-11D1-BC76-00C04FB9453B}\Default MidiOut Device]
    “MidiOutId”=dword:00000001

  5. Geoff says:

    @Mike – Thanks for your feedback, and I am glad you were able to fix it.
    It is indeed amazing how large comapnies think they can just explain everything away by denying past functionality or quality.
    I am sure you have also read the issue with the video quality of the new XBox software… same story from Microsoft.

  6. Juan says:

    It’s too bad that this solutiion has not worked for me.
    I have several USB midi devices including an EMU 0404 midi, MOTU AV and a Fantom G with USB.
    I use windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.
    Cubase 6 has not problem playing midi through all of them.
    I made all kinds of changes in he MidiOutld key values to change default as I have about 12 midi posibilities from “O” to “b” in hex but windows media player only played a midi file when the Microsoft Wave synth was selected as default device.
    The problem is bigger than that because band in a Box seems to have tthe smae issue and while it sees my midi drivers it reponds with error messages saying that the device driver is properluy isnatlled but in use by another application.
    Even the Roland Fantom G Editor does not work yet it works fine on XP Mode under Windows 7.

    What a royal pain and whi know if they will fix it on windows 8.
    By reading many many posts there are a lot of users having these problems with midi and audio.
    Make you want to run to Apple, aargh!!!!

  7. Geoff says:

    @Juan – Pity it did not work for you, and yes, there are many problems with this unfortunately.
    In many cases I think it actually has to do with the way the program is accessing the multimedia devices in Windows (similar problems exist for webcam devices).
    So that means it can only be fixed either in the application (by the programmer), or Microsoft indeed solves the underlying issue independent of the way the devices are opened by the program.

  8. Sérgio says:

    My notebook does not have the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth! What do I do?

  9. Geoff says:

    @Sérgio – Since the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth is part of the DirectX installation (DirectMusic), I’d suggest you try reinstalling DirectX by downloading the redistributable version.
    You can also try to disable the Windows sounds, if you set it to “no sounds” Windows will not use the software synthesizer, which will free it up to other applications.

  10. […] How to Change the Default MIDI Device in Vista and Window 7 […]

  11. AdamH says:

    Thanks. This worked perfectly for my Windows 7 64-bit system. It’s so nice to have my MIDI working properly again.

  12. Geoff says:

    @AdamH – Glad it worked for you!

  13. Frank says:

    Thanks! It finally worked for me. Have a Roland UM-One interface using it with my Roland CM500. I could not find it as an available midi device (although the system showed the UM-One as working). However, I used the Dosbox “mixer /listmidi” command that showed it as #3. Changed the Default Midiout device key to 3 and voila, its working. Thanks again!

  14. Frank says:

    To add to my above comment, I am using Windows 7 32bit. I might add, the lack of midi support/sound settings in Win7 is yet another reason why folks keep sticking to using XP and even Windows 98SE!

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