We first came across Tinami in the summer of 2017. Seemed like a neat idea – from an online template 4 x 4 grid of MIDI control possibility you can populate it with the knobs, buttons and sliders of your choice. Hit the order button and Tinami will make you your very own customised MD-1 and deliver it to your door. 1 year later they are about ready to go and are hoping to take £31,133 on Kickstarter in preorders to help them finish the project.
The concept comes from the notion that most of us have MIDI controllers full of stuff that we never use. So why not only have a MIDI controller with only the controls you need. Like I said – it’s a neat idea. The online designer could not be simpler – just drag in what you want – done!
So has anything changed since the original concept? Not really, they are sticking to their originally neat idea and have spent the last year refining it and building a software application to configure it.
The software, called MD-1 Blueprint, gives you full control over the nature and assignment of parameters. You can map MIDI CC numbers, Sysex, NRPN numbers, note numbers all that MIDI stuff to your controls and save it as 1 of 16 profiles. These profiles are saved to the hardware and can be accessed via a couple of buttons. This means that you don’t need to be connected to a computer to change profiles, you can just tap through them in the middle of your set.
The other idea they’re developing is to make the MD-1 properly modular. At the moment the idea is that you design the controller online and they build it for you and ship it. That’s great in of itself but this new development really tips it over the edge into something more brilliant. What they are trying to do is make it as simple as possible for you to take it apart and reconfigure it yourself. The trick is to do this without making it all very expensive. So they reckon that people would be happy to take the knobs off and the top of the case off so that they can rearrange the controls. I wholeheartedly agree – I think most people would be capable of this and it would give the MD-1 a whole other aspect. Maybe they could even sell additional control modules so I could swap out knobs for faders.
Having the right MIDI controller
I really like this project. I suffer from never quite having the right MIDI controller to hand. They are usually too big or come with a keyboard or other things attached that get in the way. Usually I’m wanting to compliment a setup with a bit more simple control and the MD-1 drops right in there as an awesome solution. I like the size of it. It’s not too small, there’s a comfortable amount of room around the controls and it appears heavy enough to stay still on your desk. I’m not 100% sure exactly what configuration I’d want, which would have put me off getting one, but if they finish the modular idea then that’s no longer a barrier.
I have one question which is about the fader/slider option. These are still mentioned and appear on the website but they don’t appear in any of the videos. I wonder whether these make the whole thing more difficult as they take up 2 spaces on the grid. Maybe there’ll have to be an alternative top cover that has slots in it?
The Tinami MD-1 is on Kickstarter now. If you like in Ecuador you can get one with any shipping charges. For the rest of us it starts at €200 for a knobs and buttons version, €250 for one that also has faders. They plan to ship in January 2019. You can go and design your own on their website right now.