Austin, TX-based controller manufacturer Infinite Response created what some consider to be the finest MIDI controller ever produced – the VAX 77, above.
When Keyboard Magazine reviewed it, they called it ” the renaissance of the true high-end master MIDI keyboard.”
The VAX 77 featured polyphonic aftertouch, hi-res velocity, release velocity and build quality that made it the Cadillac of keyboard controllers. Unfortunately, the VAX 77 was very expensive to manufacture, with a $3,000 price – putting it out of the range of most musicians. It was discontinued in 2013.
Now the company has announced plans for a new, affordable version of the VAX keyboard. They’ve updated the design to make improvements, while also reducing the cost. To make the new VAX as affordable as possible, a DIY build option will be available.
And they plan on making the keyboard open hardware. The source code, schematics, drawings and STP files will be on their website for anyone to download and build upon.
The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller is being developed as a Kickstarter project. Here’s designer Van Chandler introducing the project:
Key features of the new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller design:
- The new VAX offers a weighted hammer action but with the return speed of a fast synth action. The important improvement to the action, compared with the original VAX77, is that the hammer releases the keyweight at the bottom of the keystroke, similar to a grand piano. It won’t “wear you out” after hours of playing like the VAX77 did with its constant force springs.
- The new VAX will transmit velocity and hi-res velocity. It will also transmit polyphonic aftertouch and release velocity.
- The new VAX will be powered through the USB port and no external power will be required. It will not have a touch screen display and it will heavily rely on computer hosts such as MainStage to handle splits and controller assignments.
- The new VAX will have traditional pitch and mod wheels and a couple of pedal inputs. The chassis will be similar to the VAX77 except that it will be extruded from aluminum instead of magnesium.
- Assembly involves sliding modules (first the sets of two octaves of keys then the pitch & mod wheel module) into the chassis on built-in rails and securing them in place with plates at each end. The only tool required is a screwdriver
- The new VAX will be offered as an Open Source product. That means Source Code, Schematics, Drawings and STP files will be on their website for anyone to download and modify. Since the new VAX is an assembly of modules, it will be easy for 3rd party developers to create and offer new modules and accessories.
The VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller is available to project backers starting at US $400, vs an expected $550 price for later production models.
Note: Expected delivery dates are March-April of 2016. Details on the project are available at its Kickstarter site.
via Geert Bevin