VAXMIDI Is Like The IKEA Of High End, Open-Source MIDI Keyboards


Infinite Response has announced that it is now taking orders on a the first-run of its new VAXMIDI keyboard controller.

The VAXMIDI is the successor to the VAX77, considered by some to be the finest MIDI controller ever. It featured polyphonic aftertouch, hi-res velocity, release velocity and a host of other capabilities. Unfortunately, it was very expensive to manufacture and its $2450 price tag limited its audience.

With the VAXMIDI, Infinite Response is trying to take the key performance features of the VAX77 – semi-weighted hammer action keys, hi-res velocity sensing, polyphonic after touch and release velocity – and make them available in an affordable MIDI controller.

The VAXMIDI is about 1/3rd the cost of the VAX77, a result of Infinite Response focusing on the most important features and leaving the final assembly to the customer. They say that the only tool required is a screwdriver, but assembly can take a few hours.

The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller is being developed via a Kickstarter project, which completed funding last year. Here’s designer Van Chandler introducing the project:

Key Features:

  • First Open Source MIDI keyboard with semi-weighted hammer action keys,
    hi-res velocity, polyphonic after touch and release velocity
  • Imagine 14 bit velocity and polyphonic after-touch with an expansive range of sensitivity settings
  • Every schematic, every part drawing, and all source code is published and freely available under the Open Source Initiative
  • USB, MIDI i/o, 4 assignable sliders, 6 buttons, 4 combo pedal inputs (switch or CC).


  • US $649 for a 4-octave keyboard,
  • $899 for a 6-octave keyboard
  • $1149 for an 8-octave keyboard

Details are available via the VAXMIDI site.

via Jon “stub” Stubbs

16 thoughts on “VAXMIDI Is Like The IKEA Of High End, Open-Source MIDI Keyboards

  1. Would be great if the control panel on the left came in Black, the rest looks great. How much better is this than the key-bed in a Nord Electro / Piano (3), Roland , Yamaha or other major brands ?
    Any comparison data ?

  2. I don’t know if those makes have high-res velocity. But to me the biggest advantage is that it measures the speed of the hammer and not the speed of the key. I think that is a significant difference.

  3. I’m not sure the above write up makes clear that the KickStarter campaign is over:
    the work has been done , the parts have been manufactured &
    the project is on schedule to complete for backers end of March.
    So the orders now being taken on new website are for a small additional existing “surplus” batch of @100 units
    ( 15 x 4 octaves , 50 x 6 octaves, 35 x 8 octaves , 50:50 white: black )
    However , once this is sold, due to part supply issues , there will then be a 9 month delay before the next planned batch can be available , so anyone interested should order soon or be prepared to wait a while .
    Anyone interested should visit the new site rather than Kickstarter .

    I write as a proud Kickstarter backer . I was impressed with the original idea, & am pleased to have been consulted & informed throughout the process . It is the new technology that is important here , but not just the new sensor technology or key mechanism in themselves , but that they were redesigned from the original hi-end Vax77 deliberately to be be more economical & for easy (self) assembly / maintainance / customisation . I repeat , the easy assembly has been inherent to the design , so rather than being cheapskate afterthought , every element & design choice has been made knowing the user will be inspecting each part before fitting in a product that is designed to last a lifetime !! Indeed most of the setbacks were of contractors or initial design / parts not being of optimal quality so on every occasion the specs were UPPED from the original Kickstarter plans . I am looking forward to receiving mine , the only problem is that whilst I love the idea of PolyAftertouch performance , I cant really play to be able to give demos that will do the keyboard justice.

    1. How can the Kickstarter project be completed if they haven’t shipped anything yet?

      My biggest fear about Kickstarter projects is that the one I back will be one of the projects where they take the money but never actually ship something.

      To my mind, the project is complete when everything promised to backers has been delivered.

  4. I get your point. Let’s be more clear. The kickstarter is finished. The project was completely funded.

    Wally’s post above highlights most of the important details about the status. The reason why we’re not nervous, is that developer has been in almost constant contact, showing us photos, design drawings, interim manuals, listening to feedback, and assembled some knowledgable backers to help with the design process. The reviews for the VAX77 were so positive, it added to the credibility of the project.

    All of the parts are either finished or are in production. Backers will receive their keyboards (to be finally assembled by the user) in the next month or so.

  5. While I get the IKEA reference — in that, as a cost-saving measure, the user will complete the assembly– please don’t infer that the IKEA reference has anything to do with quality or anything negative.

    This is a very high quality keyboard with an innovative design and top-quality materials that are designed to keep the price point low, but still provide an excellent, expressive, cutting-edge and durable controller.

    I could not be more excited to be getting one, and to have helped with its development.

    1. Nobody should think that IKEA is a ‘bad’ reference, frankly. IKEA, just like many companies have both crap/disposable products for students who need $100 worth of stuff for their dorm, but also have very nice pine, and higher end business and kitchen stuff which is very very good. I have IKEA pine furniture in my bedroom, and their old business line office furniture, which I bought in 1995 (20 years ago!), still going strong, literally.

      So, the cheap IKEA stuff is crap, the more costly stuff is not. But you still have to put it together in the “flat pack” business model. I like having spent $2K on stuff here vs $5K. Similarly I didn’t buy the original VAX77, but bought the new version as it’s now more cost effective and I’m not scared of using a screwdriver and RTFM. 🙂

  6. I love the specs of the machine… is like a new release of a Doepfer LMK4+
    We need more master keyboard controllers with poly-aftertouch and multiple MIDI DIN connectors.
    Remember the amazing Roland A90 for example… amazing master controller for hardware setups.

    1. It’s strange that Roland stopped making high quality polyphonic aftertouch keyboards 20+ years ago. Perhaps we’ll see a poly AT and high quality master keyboard controller renaissance!

      1. I owned both an A80 and an A50. The A80’s action felt great as a piano controller. However, it’s very widely known that the pressure sensors weren’t very sensitive. Even with a fix mod (one resistor change if I remember correctly), you would probably break some of your fingers trying to get a full 127 pressure value! Also, the GUI/OS was horrible. I never owned any gear where I had to read the manual as often to remember how to get to some menu.

  7. Been waiting a long time for this ever since the Kickstarter campaign finished – still hoping it will actually ship/arrive and work as promised! Polyphonic aftertouch would/will be amazing on a full-sized keyboard. (Though I still do like the Xkey and QuNexus.)

  8. In case anyone ever looks into this, after they finally shipped the kits (more than a year late btw) nobody was ever able to get the polyphonic aftertouch working properly. There were numerous problems with the overall design (notably no fixed mounting inside and tight tolerance requirements that the manufactured parts didn’t actually meet) which made it impossible to get it to work right across the whole keybed, which is a shame because the polyphonic aftertouch bit was actually pretty clever – it used optical sensors and a tapered window on the key hammer that would let more light through based on how hard you were pressing. The modular nature was clever as well. Unfortunately they “shut down” – the web site and forums (which were full of questions that they never responded to) have vanished and they apparently said they will not be pursuing follow-on projects.

    After this failure, I have low expectations for the KMI K-board, but you never know…

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