Explore the Top Midi Editors for Musicians and Producers

Feb 5 / Max Porcelli

Welcome to the HTMEM Blog.

Navigating the world of MIDI editors can be overwhelming.
Whether you’re a seasoned producer or new to music production, our guide demystifies MIDI editors, highlighting their essential functions and unveiling the leading options for different platforms.

By the end, you’ll know the perfect tool to elevate your music without the guesswork.

Key Takeaways

  • MIDI editors allow for precise control over music creation, providing tools for editing, recording, playing, and sequencing MIDI data across multiple platforms like Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

  • VST instruments and plugins are crucial for enhancing MIDI data in music production, offering sounds and effects that can be seamlessly integrated across various digital audio workstations.

  • Online MIDI editors facilitate real-time collaboration among musicians and producers worldwide, while the decision between free and paid MIDI editors depends on the required features and functionalities for the user’s needs.

Write your awesome label here.
MIDI editor software interface with piano roll and note editing

Discovering MIDI Editors: What They Are and Why You Need Them

MIDI editors are the unsung heroes of music production. These software tools allow you to:

  • Edit, record, and play MIDI data

  • Provide a graphical interface to manipulate MIDI events

  • Create and modify music in a digital medium

  • Offer precise control over sequencing and synchronization of instruments and software

MIDI editors are the magic behind music production, providing the necessary tools for precise and efficient music creation.

You might be wondering how MIDI editors smoothen your musical journey. Let’s delve into their specifics and advantages.

Understanding MIDI Editors

At its core, a MIDI editor is a software tool designed for:

  • Editing, recording, and playing MIDI data

  • Modifying existing MIDI files

  • Employing a piano roll interface for graphical manipulation of MIDI events - a virtual representation of a piano keyboard

  • Altering the ruler display format

  • Handling multiple MIDI parts

A free MIDI editor has a broad spectrum of functionalities, including midi file editing.

MIDI editors play a significant role in music production.
They facilitate tasks like folding the piano roll, drawing velocities using the pen tool, and quantizing note on and off events.

They can edit MIDI files and export audio tracks in formats such as WAV, MP3, OGG, WMA, or FLAC.

Benefits of Using MIDI Editors

Imagine having a tool that could, with precision, control note placement, timing, velocity, and other musical parameters.

That’s precisely what a MIDI editor does. It gives you the power to edit performances note by note, make necessary adjustments, and maintain precise control over your creative ideas.

MIDI editors offer not just precision, but also compatibility.

Whether you’re using Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, there’s a MIDI editor tailored for your platform.

MIDI editors, like MuseScore and Rosegarden, provide a visual depiction of MIDI data, simplifying the manipulation and organization of musical components.

Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll editor

Top MIDI Editors for Different Platforms

With the vast array of MIDI editors available, how do you choose the one that’s right for you?

Your choice will largely depend on your platform and specific needs.

Next, we will delve into some of the leading MIDI editors for various platforms: Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll, PianoRollComposer for Windows, MuseScore for Mac OS, and Rosegarden for Linux.

To Edit MIDI Files and MIDI Tracks use the Cubase midi editor
Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll

Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll is a powerful MIDI editor offering a plethora of features.

It delivers advanced chord programming tools and is available in three versions tailored for different levels of expertise and needs: Elements, Artist, and Pro.

The Key Editor in Steinberg Cubase provides a piano roll-style grid allowing direct adjustments to pitches and note lengths within the editor. To enrich your MIDI editing with a variety of sounds and effects, Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll is compatible with a diverse selection of VST instruments, including:

  • Synthesizers

  • Drum machines

  • Samplers

  • Virtual pianos

  • Orchestral instruments

This wide range of options allows you to create unique and professional-sounding music in your compositions. For composers juggling numerous MIDI tracks, the Multipart Editing feature is a real game-changer.

PianoRollComposer interface for MIDI editing on Windows
For Windows: PianoRollComposer

If you’re a Windows user, PianoRollComposer might be the MIDI editor for you.

It’s a MIDI sequencer and DAW that offers a user-friendly platform for music composition, recording, and playback. With it, you can modify the instrument for a channel, and its interface ensures that playback, recording, and editing functions are easily accessible.

It’s also compatible with a range of Windows operating systems, including Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11 32-bit. And, with the ability to edit MIDI files and export MIDI-compatible software and hardware, PianoRollComposer provides seamless compatibility.

For Mac OS: MuseScore

For Mac OS users, MuseScore is a comprehensive open-source music notation software that offers a range of features including:

  • Unlimited staves

  • Part extraction

  • Tablature

  • MIDI input/output

  • Percussion notation

MuseScore also comes with step-by-step tutorials and resources, making it easy to learn and use.

This high level of customization makes it a versatile choice for Mac users.

For Linux: Rosegarden

For Linux users, Rosegarden offers a user-friendly and accessible MIDI editor.

It provides an environment similar to what users expect from other platforms. Rosegarden efficiently manages MIDI operations using the ALSA subsystem in Linux, making it a suitable tool for Linux users.

VST instruments and plugins for MIDI editing

Enhancing Your MIDI Editing Experience with VST Instruments and Plugins

MIDI data on its own won’t create the rich and complex sounds you need for your music. That’s where VST (Virtual Studio Technology) instruments and plugins come in.

They are software tools integrated into MIDI editors or DAW software that enhance and manipulate MIDI data.

Next, we will guide you on selecting the suitable VST instruments and introduce some popular VST plugins for MIDI editing.

If you're a composer for film or music, you'll be thrilled to learn that Cubase has just unveiled an impressive orchestral library called Iconica Sketch. This library is fully compatible with Halion Sonic, Cubase's native Virtual Instrument, enriching the DAW with a vast array of symphonic textures.

Write your awesome label here.
Choosing the Right VST Instruments

Choosing the Right Vistual Instrument

Selecting the appropriate VST instruments for your MIDI editing needs is a significant decision.

These virtual instruments create the sounds that MIDI data triggers. When selecting VST instruments, consider your computer’s compatibility, including the operating system and hardware specifications.

It’s also important to experiment with various instrument presets to identify the sounds that most effectively align with the intended style and mood of your music.

Tyrell N6 by u-he for example, is a nice and free VSTi.

midi file edited via a midi controller or VST instrument
Popular VST Plugins for MIDI Editing

If VST instruments are the musicians in your virtual orchestra, VST plugins are the conductors.

They direct and modify the MIDI data, shaping the final sound you hear. Some of the popular VST plugins for MIDI editing include:

These plugins are compatible with most digital audio workstations and support various audio formats, including the VST format, ensuring compatibility with both Windows and Mac OS.

Tips and Tricks for Efficient MIDI Editing

As with any software tool, knowing how to use editing tools effectively can make all the difference. Faster and more efficient editing means you can spend less time on the technical details and more time on the creative process.

Next, we will highlight some handy tips and tricks for efficient MIDI editing, including the use of keyboard shortcuts and workspace customization.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a significant speed-up tool when working with MIDI editors, such as when using a MIDI keyboard. They allow rapid access to frequently used functions without having to navigate through menus.

Some of the key shortcuts for MIDI editing that are compatible across different platforms are CTRL+Arrow up/down for shifting midi notes by a single tone, ALT+Numpad 8 for shifting notes by an octave, and CMD+U for quantizing notes in the sequence.

Steinberg Cubase, for instance, provides shortcuts such as copy (Ctrl/Cmd-C), cut (Ctrl/Cmd-X), and toggle activation of the focused object (Alt-A), or just Q to quantize.

In MuseScore for Mac OS, the majority of keyboard shortcuts can be customized.

Customizing Your Workspace

Customizing your workspace can greatly enhance your efficiency in MIDI editing.

For example, in Steinberg Cubase Piano Roll, you can rearrange windows, set up individual workspaces for dual monitor setups, and utilize the Side Zone (Properly, the Inspector), and the Lower Zone for convenient widescreen display editing.

In PianoRollComposer, a MIDI Sequencer and DAW for Windows, you can tailor your workspace to suit your needs for composing, recording, and playing music.

MuseScore for Mac OS also enables workspace customization by providing the option to create a personalized workspace using the Advanced preset.

Rosegarden for Linux enhances MIDI editing by initiating a track-based overview.

Collaborating with Others Using Online MIDI Editors

Music is a universal language, and technology has revolutionized how we can collaborate in creating it.

Online MIDI editors, which utilize the Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology, offer a platform to come together and create music in real time, no matter where you are in the world.

Next, we will explore the benefits of online collaboration and introduce some of the best online MIDI editors for collaborative work.

On Cubase, you can also collaborate online with VST Connect, which allows you to connect and record with musicians in remote locations. VST Connect enables real-time audio and MIDI streaming, as well as video communication, making it feel like you are recording in the same room.

Advantages of Online Collaboration

Online collaboration using MIDI editors opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Real-time editing means that musicians and producers can work together live, streaming and recording MIDI, remote recording of collaborators, division of work by elements, and inviting others to contribute to the project.

Online file sharing simplifies MIDI editing collaborations by enabling:

  • Simultaneous access and editing of MIDI files by multiple musicians and producers

  • Near-instant feedback

  • Streamlining the editing process

  • Streamlining file-sharing and communication

  • Increasing visibility

  • Enriching the collaborative creative process

Online MIDI editor collaboration platforms
Top Online MIDI Editors for Collaboration

Numerous online MIDI editors facilitate collaboration.

Like Steinberg VST Connect, even Soundtrap enables real-time collaborative work on MIDI tracks and provides tools such as chat and video calls within the project studio to ensure smooth communication.

Amped Studio allows for the simultaneous creation and editing of melodies with others, as well as special functionalities like transforming sung melodies into MIDI note sequences.

Free version of a free midi editor? Is it better a free software?

Free vs. Paid MIDI Editors: Which One is Right for You?

When choosing a MIDI editor, one of the key decisions you’ll need to make is whether to opt for a free or paid version. Both options have their own set of advantages.

Next, we will elaborate on the benefits of free MIDI editors, the advantages of paid MIDI editors, and the distinct perks of the Cubase MIDI Editor.

Benefits of Free MIDI Editors

Free MIDI editors offer a cost-effective way to get started with MIDI editing.

They provide basic editing functionalities without any financial investment. These editors ensure accessibility for all users through user-friendly interfaces, customizable settings, and support for assistive technologies like screen readers.

Free MIDI editors, like Amped Studio, Mixpad, MuseScore, SynthFont, Crescendo, and Rosegarden, provide effortless editing and manipulation of musical elements.

Advantages of Paid MIDI Editors

Conversely, paid MIDI editors provide advanced functionalities and superior performance.

They provide enhanced functionalities such as playback start offset, bar insertion and deletion, and the ability to adjust note positions. Paid MIDI editors also offer comprehensive editing history and professional editing functions.

Professional musicians and producers often find the investment in a paid MIDI editor worth the cost for the additional features and functionalities. There PRO MIDI editors are commonly included on every available DAW on the market.

Advantages of Cubase MIDI Editor

Cubase MIDI Editor is an advanced MIDI editing tool that offers a unique set of advantages, including:

  • Superior MIDI editing capabilities

  • Efficient multi-timbral VSTi management

  • Effective cue track management for recording

  • A logical editor for advanced MIDI manipulation

  • Seamless MIDI controller integration

  • Scoring Capabilities and much more

Its advanced editing capabilities provide precise control over various musical elements such as on and off velocities, dynamics, controller data, SysEx, standard MIDI file meta events, as well as audi and effects.

MIDI Editor Summary


MIDI editors are essential tools for any musician or producer.

Whether it’s a free or paid version, for Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, or an online editor for collaboration, there’s a MIDI editor out there to suit your needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a MIDI editor?

A MIDI editor is a program or application specifically designed to create, edit, and process files in the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) format, which contains control signals for notes, duration, volume, pitch, and other music parameters but does not contain the actual audio content.

Which DAW has the best MIDI editor?

Cubase Pro is considered the best DAW for MIDI editing and composition due to its extensive features and tools tailored for film scoring and music production

What is the best MIDI file player?

The best MIDI file player depends on the platform you are using.
For Android, Lark Player is a good option, while for iOS, Sweet MIDI Player is recommended, and for Windows, Mac, and other platforms, VLC is a versatile choice.

What are some of the top MIDI editors for different platforms?

Some top MIDI editors for different platforms are Steinberg Cubase, PianoRollComposer for Windows, MuseScore for Mac OS, and Rosegarden for Linux. Consider trying one of these options based on your operating system.

How can VST instruments and plugins enhance my MIDI editing experience?

VST instruments and plugins enhance your MIDI editing experience by providing increased flexibility and the capability to generate a diverse range of sounds. They are software tools integrated into MIDI editors or DAW software that enhance and manipulate MIDI data.

About the Author

Max Porcelli

Steinberg Certified Trainer, DJ, and Producer with 29 years of experience. He owns 989 Records, an Electronic Music Label based in Italy. Every Saturday he hosts an exciting Radio Show called 989 Records Radio Show on air on Patchouli Deep Radio, London. 
Write your awesome label here.

Bootstrap your Career in Music Production

free samples download MIDIed
Created with