Practical Chassis Design

Expressive Key Action

MainStage Interface / List Mode

VAXMIDI is housed in a practical and versatile aluminum extrusion. Our original keyboard, VAX77, was constructed from 14 extruded magnesium panels that were bonded with acrylic adhesive. VAXMIDI only has 2 pieces, front and back and they are bolted together into a solid unit. The top shelf is flat and there are no controls to interfere with things you stack on top, like laptops, tablets, or music. There are 3 slots on top, one vertical and two angled at 45 degrees. The slots can do things as simple as holding a pencil in place, but they are extremely sturdy and can support a second or third tier of keyboards as well. There will be numerous accessories offered that utilize the top slots.

The bottom of the chassis also has two slots which make an ideal mounting point for a sturdy keyboard stand. We are in the process of designing a simple carrying strap that locks into an angled slots on the top and the bottom.

The heavy aluminum extrusion presents a solid platform for the keybed and a stable base for aggressive playing and aftertouch.

The speed of the key is measured more accurately than any other keyboard. To use an illustration from nature, VAXMIDI reads the sensor over 2000 times for every flap of a hummingbird's wing. While that exceeds even the HiRes (cc88) MIDI specification, next generation specifications will offer additional resolution and VAXMIDI wll be ready.

Accurate velocity is only the beginning. Polyphonic Aftertouch changes the tonal characteristics of a note while it is being held. VAXMIDI keys strike felt first for a traditional feel, but underneath the felt is a layer of urethane foam that compresses as you press harder. With 10 levels of programmable sensitivity, you can set the degree of aftertouch. Because the key design incorporates a stainless steel bar, you can actually bend the key by sliding your finger up on the key. This creates an additional level of aftertouch control, making other effects, even tremelo, possible.

Release velocity sends a MIDI message based on the speed you release a note. You can, for example, control the envelope (or reverberation) based on how quickly you release a note. Release quickly and the note cuts off immediately, release slowly and the note slowly fades away.

VAXMIDI has special firmware to control MainStage software on a Mac. MainStage is a remarkable program for managing software instruments and keyboard configurations and is available from the App Store for under $30.

Plug VAXMIDI into the USB port on a Mac running MainStage and you have a complete live performance system with a vast array of traditional and electronic sounds. Build a collection of layered sounds into a MainStage Concert then access the sounds sequentailly or randomly from the display panel of VAXMIDI.

List Mode gives you similar capabilities for controlling a bank of hardware synthesizer modules or controlling a Digital Audio Workstation. Set up your channels, programs, splits and pedal assignments then store the configuration under a name you define. In List Mode you can recall these configurations instantly.

In Direct Mode, the configuration possibilities are extensive. You can split the keyboard into 2 different channels or sounds, assign the sustain pedal to control the left side, right side, or both, transpose the splits so that the octaves overlap, assign different pedal functions to different sounds, and program the buttons and sliders to perform various functions.