Want to connect your modular system to USB MIDI equipment or computer-based DAWs? Simultaneously? We did too, so we built Mini MIDI.
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. As much as we love analogue hardware, we also love the power and creativity that computers and DAWs bring, and for some time we′ve dreamed of a module to bridge the gap between our computer and modular system and our other USB MIDI devices! We dream no longer…
It′s small, and it′s MIDI
Our Mini MIDI takes design inspiration from a runway model. Or a drumstick. Or the Taipei 101 skyscraper. Basically it′s tall and thin. This simple, space-saving format contains 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 (or MIDI keyboard, keytar, or whatever) and turning it into something your modular oscillators understand.
CC receives note velocity, aftertouch, or continuous controller information from USB and spits it out as modular-friendly CV, ready to command anything from filter cut-off to LFO delay rate.
The incoming CC value to be converted is set using rear panel DIP switches (as are the Note Velocity and Aftertouch modes), allowing multiple Mini MIDIs to respond to different CC values from the same DAW/instrument source.
Those DIPs let you select from 13 different CC values (if you′re superstitious then Mini MIDI is not for you), which, as the quick-thinkers among you will have guessed, means that there is one more DIP mode. Calibration mode lets you precisely set your scale and offset for the Pitch output.
Start(stop) and Clock offer as many functional surprises as Pitch and Gate, but if you have a sequencer in your modular rack you probably aren′t looking for surprises, just a way to trigger it and keep it in time from your DAW. If this is you, you will not be disappointed.
USB Device lets you connect… wait for it… a USB MIDI device! There are countless uses for this, but an obvious one 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 much more cheaply replaceable 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
- +12V: ca. 22mA + current consumption of a connected class compliant USB Device , USB current supply available up to 500mA
- -12V: ca. 10mA
- 0 mA 5V
- 30 mm deep
USB Host is the key to Mini MIDI, bridging the gap from a MIDI host device, such as a DAW or hardware MIDI sequencer. Rejoice! Finally we can dust off that old Yamaha QY700 and use it to control our modular rig.
We thought long and hard about MIDI channel assignment. DIP switches would be wildly impractical, as it′s something you often want to change. A front panel selector would have forced us to 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 went with ‘first come first served’.
On powering up, Mini MIDI sits patiently waiting for a MIDI signal. Whichever channel it detects first − either from the Host or Device − is the assigned channel (if your kit is dishing out to 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). Each will show up in your system with a unique ID, 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 can incorporate other USB devices.
Another insanely useful feature is the ability to play your modular set-up live from 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 actually exceeded our initial expectations. We hope you feel the same!