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Infinite Response's new Poly AT Midi Controller now shipping
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John Hendry
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:43 pm    Post subject: Infinite Response's new Poly AT Midi Controller now shipping Reply with quote

Infinite Response's new site: http://vaxmidi.com/

Vax Poly AT Midi Controller version 1.1 is now shipping with 10 week back log.

Finally! $649.00 for 48 keybed, $899.00 - 72 key, $1149.00 - 96 key where you can set the key guides B to C or E to F to make 72 and 48 key versions work best.

And perhaps the best part is this is an Open Source project so with 3D printing services available you'll be able to modify parts or add new ones that become available.

The instructions say all you need is a screw driver and 4 hours building time... lol. They forgot the hex key. But it probably could be done that fast with experience but the average mortal keyboard player will need a few days I'm betting. There's some repetitious key assembly using CA glue, and some piano tech skills needed working with felt and shimming up the key guides with finesse. I can't see getting a 72 keyboard built for the first time in two or even three evenings. Five minutes per key gluing is six hours alone, and that's just one step for 72 keys that will probably realistically take ten minutes or more averaged out as there are several steps involved where cleaning with alcohol is needed to apply surface pads. That eats up time by the number of keys and for 96...LOL you will be glad when they are done that's for sure. Not hard to do, even testing the electronics is really simple, but it will take time to put a 72 or 96 key version together. Seems more like two full days burning the candle nitpicking to get things right. But the hardest part it seems may be getting the logo case lettering on straight but the video even has that covered. Nice looking case with support rails that can support a few more keyboards on top of it.

Without having played the new Vax Midi I can't say anything about its action and how it feels to say if it lives up to Infinite Response's reputation of excellence... all I can say is it's not how I would have thought to do it and there are some very interesting design concepts like using latex elastomer in place of "proper" metal tension springs that "feel" like metal springs. It cannot be a cost consideration as good quality metal tension springs needed to do the same job sell for pennies by the thousand and last for years. A latex elastomer is a more dampened less reactive feeling type of spring (used in light weight aircraft) and combined with a large surface area of rotation dampened by one of three different grease viscosities used I can only say a LOT of organic thought went into this design and the final say will be how well it responds to the human touch.

It seems by simply tapering the key tension slightly by progressively shortening the elastomers, and dampening the keys using different viscosity grease you will end up with one end of the keyboard feeling lighter than the other. But that will take some serious tuning and trail and error so on the first build's setup I'd stick with the 3 viscosities used for even tension. But it looks like being able to tweak the response is part of the simple design. So just have to see how the key mechanics work out... so far that's been the easy part for manufactures that stumbled over getting the electronics right that sorely needed to support Poly AT and other advanced features of expression the VAX77 and new VAX Midi controller have ready for the new midi standards.

Where the new Vax really differs is the key sensor uses light and a microprocessor clocks the keyboard sensors at 200 KHz 5 microsecond resolution. The sensor is shown performing on an oscilloscope and it looks flawless, much better than the original. And the specs reading the sensor to give you some frame of reference is over 2000 times for every flap of a hummingbird's wing in real time. And the sensor is recording the work being done, the hammer's movement NOT the lessor key travel making it move. While Poly AT and release velocity are important sought after features they are not the only important features the new Vax Midi supports as this is a high resolution midi keyboard capable of supporting the new higher resolution midi standard just like the original VAX 77.

Can't wait to read the reports coming in and try one out... I think Sam Ash or Sweet Water should assemble one just to get one on the showroom floor.
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psionic311
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Van had surgery in mid-February. They are assembling the units that were ordered pre-assembled, and will then get to shipping the rest of their stock a few at a time. Unfortunately they are now sold out of all VAXMIDI units, despite the website not being updated to show SOLD OUT status. Look for this title in the forum for more details:

Feb 27, 2017 email update (includes shipping and source code info)
http://vaxmidi.com/vaxmidi-open-forum.html
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John Hendry
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the update... didn't know that. Sure hope he's doing well and wish him the best of health. I figured there would be more delays than there has been on something like this, but looks like things are moving forward as planned after a few bumps. Can't wait to hear what the first group has to say...
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psionic311
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's been another delay. This quote taken from the Vaxmidi forum:

There was some unfortunate news that a design flaw had revealed itself to the early builders, that under some rare conditions of very fast playing, or if a key is only partially struck that can cause the sensor to misread the note. The solution involves having to scrap all 15,000 hammers, recast them with a new design that corrects this problem.
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Sharp
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a disaster. I also don't quite get the appeal with this product at all. Poly Aftertouch is not exactly something I've ever contemplated ever needing. I'm much rather throw my money on a sample library than an overpriced DIY keyboard controller.

Sharp.
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psionic311
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

$900 for a quality weighted controller is not a bad deal. In my case, I've been reserving the lowest 3rd tier of my rig for a weighted controller for about a year now. I've considered and decided against the PX5s, a MOXF88, a Motif XF8, and any of several cheaper quality MIDI controllers.

They may not be for everyone, but I've wanted a poly AT keyboard for years now, and did a lot of research to decide to go with the VAXMIDI. Throw in high resolution velocity, and the fact that the top surface will double as a 44 inch shelf for my OB6, VL3, multi FX modules, and this board meets all my stringent requirements. Kickstarter projects often have obstacles, but Infinite Response's reputation was enough for me to be a backer.

Well worth the wait.
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EvilDragon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I'm just going for a Seaboard Rise 49 instead. At least you don't have to put the damn thing together yourself.

Sadly for IR, this seems like an ongoing fiasco.
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fcoulter
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If Dekard's Dream uses the MIDI standard for polyphonic aftertouch, this might not be a bad way to talk to it.
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Korg: Kronos2 88
Other: Tyros 5 76, DGX-650, YPT-320, Fretted Clavichord, Upright Piano, DX-7, SY-99, eMu MPS (last three in attic)

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psionic311
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really hoping the piano action is top notch. Many raved about the action on their previous board the VAX77, with the exception that the spring mechanism pushing the keys back up against the fingers tired the hands out after long periods of playing. The new design still uses very long individual keys, but an elastic tube instead of a spring. The Roli Seaboards look very interesting, but due to space and clutter issues, I'd be more inclined to use TouchKeys with my existing controllers if the VAXMIDI doesn't come through. I still need a weighted action keyboard.

The 6 octave version just covers the range for the classical piano pieces I play, especially since it starts at F and goes to E (works with 3rd movement of Moonlight Sonata!). It's supposed to be very sensitive to initial velocity (hi-res MIDI CC88 like the PX-5S), to release velocity, and due to the length of the keys and the nature of the sensors for each key, to slight changes in aftertouch -- perfect for Pianoteq and most of my synths. This will be my life-long master weighted controller to hone my piano chops on. It may not be a Kurzweil Midiboard, but it is about the same width and weight as my Kronos 61, so it's still very portable.

Unfortunately Van has had heart issues and surgery, and has been twice bitten with bad batches of the metal rod and hammer in the keys. They are making sure they release only a quality product, at the expense of continued delays in ship dates.

The VAXMIDI is sold out, despite still showing availability on the website.

Never heard of Deckard's Dream before, looks promising. With that and others like Omega Code 8, seems like CS-80 clones are on the rise. Can't wait to try Vangelis-style poly AT using my Andy with the VAXMIDI...
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EvilDragon
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly I am not sure this new VAX will provide the utmost in piano feeling, as it's not meant to do that. I don't think it will compare that well to a good weighted graded hammer action, which is what you will want for proper piano feeling. New VAX is not graded or fully weighted (it's semi-weighted instead - and that's not good for piano stuff, IMHO), nor does it have ivory touch or wood weighting like some premium actions out there (Kawai VPC-1, Roland RD-2000).
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John Hendry
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

psionic311 wrote:
It's supposed to be very sensitive to initial velocity (hi-res MIDI CC88 like the PX-5S), to release velocity, and due to the length of the keys and the nature of the sensors for each key, to slight changes in aftertouch -- perfect for Pianoteq and most of my synths.


That's what it's all about, getting the keyboard to respond to subtle changes especially a soft touch which adds a lot of "length" in the key stroke with constant velocity change instead of 4 steps to have the keyboard respond like a real stringed instrument, but not just a piano but a guitar or any "real" instrument. It's not just about Poly-AT although that in itself opens up new potential. I guess some people just don't use AT and with CH AT I can see why. But for someone that has half of Sharp's knowledge it can create a new dimension that CH AT can't create with KARMA adding yet another dimension.

I understand the complaints some have regarding assembly but for my needs that is a plus with the open source design allowing future expansion and additional possibilities as I want it, not the manufacture that's always on a limited budget. I used to joke about adding a gyro and accelerometer but not anymore... not for accessories.

Really sad to hear of Vans health problems and again wish him the best. As for the hammers as I said before I would expect issues on any new project like this as that is the reality of creating anything mechanical and as long as they get it resolved I'm not going to worry about it especially if the electronics are solid.... my concern is for Van as guys like him don't come around often.
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Look what you get when you subtract the 1st harmonic comma from the 2nd that makes things heavy.... but .20e-5 isn't G. That time got stuck in a hole.
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John Hendry
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EvilDragon wrote:
Honestly I am not sure this new VAX will provide the utmost in piano feeling, as it's not meant to do that. I don't think it will compare that well to a good weighted graded hammer action, which is what you will want for proper piano feeling. New VAX is not graded or fully weighted (it's semi-weighted instead - and that's not good for piano stuff, IMHO), nor does it have ivory touch or wood weighting like some premium actions out there (Kawai VPC-1, Roland RD-2000).


In speculation without trying it I'm inclined to agree with you but hope you're right as I want some compromise for a synth controller. A piano key feels the way it does as it must hit a real string and requires the rather complex mechanics to do so, whereas an electronic synth doesn't have to use a hammer and can do without it. I have the original Fatar Studio 2001 that has good "stab" and piano action, and even have a new keybed for it should I damage or ware out the original keybed.

I haven't tried the Kawai VPC-1 but have played the Roland RD-2000 and agree it's excellent and almost got one as when I tried several on display it was probably my favorite keyboard action although a little slow to nitpick as I recall. I had two Roland A80s at one time and the build quality was exceptional but the rotary damping was way too slow for how I play now and despite having Poly AT the AT circuitry needed a resister added and after doing that it still felt like hitting a hard brick at the bottom and there was nothing you could do about that... without major hacking. When the Fatar Studio 2001 came out I got several with parts as a dealer and everyone preferred it over the A80s slow action and I reluctantly sold the last A80 keeping an Elka MK76 for Poly AT that has wood keys and the problems that go with wood keys especially in Hawaii so I don't consider wood keys an advantage unlike the "Ivory" key texture finish that makes playing much nicer IMO.

It's the weight and balance of the keys moment arm that matters and that can be changed along with the key tension on the new VAX to grade the keys to your own personal preference and I'm sure after it's done in several configurations each one can be copied to fit individual needs and preference.

For now all we can do is wait and see, however unlike Sharp I'm excited as the early reports coming in are positive despite the setback of the hammer redesign. The original VAX77 went through a major design change too that this version learned from and if it surpasses the original VAX77 it will be a real accomplishment and create quite a few happy players that finally have what they have been asking for. Other than the Elka line of keyboards that's Poly AT was hardly perfect I have not found any AT response CH or Poly worth mentioning so I can understand why some people question it as it needs to be done correctly to have the control response needed to appreciate it.
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psionic311
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not too concerned that a weighted controller be as close as possible to a real grand piano's action. If the keys have a decent bounce and a good response to nuance, I think I will get used to them well enough that I can perform classical pieces somewhat decently. I wasn't overly impressed with the Kronos 61's response, but having no choice I've adapted my technique and I am now comfortable enough with its action.

And if the VAX is too light or sluggish, being something of a DIY board, it can be adjusted by adding weights, changing the lengths of the elastomers, trying different greases, etc. But it is a fair enough point that the action may not be super awesome, so I will lower my expectations a bit. I'll just be happy to have a full-fledged but portable 3-tier system with multiple synths that will serve both gigging needs and more esoteric needs in the studio.
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John Hendry
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

psionic311 wrote:
And if the VAX is too light or sluggish, being something of a DIY board, it can be adjusted by adding weights, changing the lengths of the elastomers, trying different greases, etc. But it is a fair enough point that the action may not be super awesome, so I will lower my expectations a bit. I'll just be happy to have a full-fledged but portable 3-tier system with multiple synths that will serve both gigging needs and more esoteric needs in the studio.


Just got done comparing different model keyboards key triggering. Of the 3 main electronic additions the VAX adds, poly AT, hi-res velocity, and release velocity I will appreciate the hi-res velocity the most as 4 steps cannot respond playing soft below the first step nor add more on top above the 4th step and that limits expression and velocity ratio voice triggering locations for voices. Release velocity will add even more control and Poly AT will allow me to use after touch and not make a mess like CH AT, and I'll mostly use it to simply increase an individual key's volume or an assigned voice in various combinations as part of the program/combi. Some sounds are much better at blending the velocity steps together while others expose the roughness... like flying an RC plane with a cheap low resolution radio TX.

Regarding the action a perfect piano hammer action is not a perfect synth action by a long shot so some compromise must be made. I want a good synth action and the new VAX eliminating the constant spring tension of the VAX77 seems aimed at that. We'll see soon enough but either way it's high time other manufactures look at the VAX electronics and catch up. You can get a Fatar Studiologic SL Grand weighted 88 key controller for $899.00 so $400 added for implementing the new midi standard and modern electronics seems like more than enough and not sure why someone like Korg doesn't give in and give us back what got left out in the 80's done right using todays awesome low cost electronics.
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psionic311
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you mean "4 steps"? Are you referring to piano multi-samples with 4 steps of velocity?
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