Want to connect your modular system to USB MIDI equipment or computer-based DAWs? Simultaneously? We did too.
With over 20+ modules and three complete modular systems in our portfolio, you′d be forgiven for thinking we′re a bunch of purists, roaming the studios of Berlin by night, looking for unsuspecting copies of Ableton Live and Cubase to infect with viruses.
But nothing could be further from the truth. We love analogue hardware, and we also love the power and creativity of DAWs. We love the power and creativity of DAWs, so we′ve long dreamed of a module to bridge the gap between our computer, modular system, and USB MIDI devices. So we made one.
It′s small, and it′s MIDI
Mini MIDI draws aesthetic inspiration from a runway model… or a drumstick… or the Taipei 101. Basically it′s tall and thin. Nevertheless, this simple, space-saving format contains no less than seven connections: Pitch, Gate, CC, Start, Clock, USB Device, USB Host.
Pitch and Gate are self-explanatory, taking MIDI note information (pitch and note-on/off) from your DAW / keyboard / keytar / USB-whatever, and turning it into something your modular oscillators understand.
CC receives note velocity, aftertouch, or continuous controller information from USB and spits out modular-friendly CV, ready to command anything from filter cut-off to LFO rate.
The CC value to be converted is set using rear panel DIP switches, allowing multiple Mini MIDIs to respond to different CC values from the same DAW / instrument source. You can select from 13 different CC values (if you′re superstitious then Mini MIDI is not for you).
The remaining three DIP settings access three additional modes: Note Velocity and Aftertouch modes convert those signals to CV, while Calibration allows precise setting of scale and pitch offset.
Start(stop) and Clock offer no surprises, but if you have a sequencer in your rack you aren′t looking for surprises, just a way to trigger it and keep it in time from your DAW and other kit. If this is you, you won′t be disappointed.
USB Device lets you connect… wait for it… a USB MIDI device! An obvious use is when you want to use your favourite, gig-friendly, USB controller on stage to control that cut-off, thus keeping your real-estate-guzzling modular rack out of the way (and out of reach of that beer you have perched on a cheap M-Audio controller).
DAC: 16 bit
Pitch Output (1V / Octave): -3 V to 7 V
Gate Output: 0 V / 10 V
MIDI CC Output: 0 V to 5 V
MIDI Start / Stop: Active High (5 V)
MIDI Clock: Rising edge (5 V)
USB MIDI Host Interface output current: up to 500 mA
3U Eurorack module, 4 HP wide, compatible with Skiff cases
USB Host is the heart of Mini MIDI, bridging the gap between your modular system and a MIDI host device, such as a DAW or hardware MIDI sequencer.
We thought hard about MIDI channel assignment. DIP switches are wildly impractical, as you often need to change MIDI channels. A front panel selector would increase the size of a module that′s designed to be squeezed into the far left of your rack. (Far left, BTW, because then you can use angled USB connectors and avoid thick cables trailing all over your rack… ). In the end we used ‘first come, first served’.
On powering up, Mini MIDI sits patiently waiting for a MIDI signal. Whichever channel it detects first − from Host or Device − is the assigned channel (if your kit is dishing out ALL channels, Mini MIDI will pick the first one… which is 1). And this assignment applies to both USB MIDI connections.
Play nicely with others
Mini MIDI also works perfectly in conjunction with other Mini MIDIs (via multiple computer USB ports or USB hubs). They show up in your system with unique IDs, so each can be triggered by different MIDI channels and/or CC controllers. This can be used to send the same information to different modules/racks in your modular set-up, different information to the same module/rack, or any combination of these. And it can incorporate other USB devices.
Another insanely useful feature is the ability to play your modular set-up live, with a MIDI keyboard or controller, whilst simultaneously recording this information into a MIDI track in your DAW.
Some ultra-modular-types might complain that this is cheating, but they should remember that our grandparents insisted anything made with machines wasn′t ‘real’ music. Chill out and enjoy the possibilities!
Size isn′t everything (and other clichés)
Despite its modest appearance, diminutive size, and total lack of front panel controls, Mini MIDI is an exceptionally powerful, highly flexible, and immeasurably useful little module. We designed it to solve the kinds of problems we encountered when using similar modules, and, critically, the kinds of problems our users said they had with other such devices. Consequently, we′ve exceeded our initial expectations. We hope you feel the same!