USB capabilities for your keyboard

Oct 24 2014 0 Comments

Ok Folks... here's a short little explanation for those of you wondering about the USB capabilities for your keyboards. PLEASE NOTE: This particular blog post is NOT focused on MIDI ports. A USB connection can transmit MIDI data, but here we're dealing specifically with USB cables and connections.

When you take a look at the back panel of your board, depending on what make/model of keyboard you have, you'll likely see several ports. When it comes to USB, you'll be looking for one of these:


This board, the Yamaha MOX8, has both.  In most cases, you will see one or the other.

All USB technology assumes one of 2 roles when connecting to another machine. One is the "host" the other is the "device". When it comes to keyboards, a "to host" port means that this port will allow you to connect to a computer... meaning that the computer is the "host" and the keyboard is the "device". You'll notice that it looks similar to a printer cable... that's because they are identical. The computer is the "host" and the printer is the "device". An example of this connection on a keyboard would mean using the MOX8 as a MIDI device in Finale, or perhaps Logic. On the other hand, the "to device" port would allow connection to any number of USB devices, such as a USB flash drive, or perhaps another USB device which you would want the MOX8 to control somehow.  An example of this relationship would be to connect a flash drive which, in the MOX8's case, enables .wav files to be both saved and retrieved from the drive.

ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND: It is important to consult each keyboard's manual on USB capabilities. For example- a Yamaha YDP-162 has a "to host" port. This means that connecting to a computer is possible.What it does NOT mean is that you can transfer any and all data from the computer to this machine, and vice versa.  Each keyboard is designed differently, with different purposes in mind. A YDP-162 can be used as a MIDI device in certain software, i.e. Finale, Sibelius, GarageBand, etc. You cannot upload anything to the YDP.  It's functionality is limited. A Nord Stage 2however, is able to obtain new sounds from Nord's website, and you can customize which sounds you want on the machine, through the use of the USB cable. Not all keyboards that contain USB capability share the same functionality.

Hopefully, this helped! Any specific questions about your keyboards USB capability? Leave me a comment below! Or send me an email at

Thanks for reading.

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