KICKSTARTER: The Retro-bespoke Tinami MD-1 MIDI Controller

It must be Kickstarter season, as we received PR for two interesting projects within the space of a day. Unlike the Natus One, the Tinami MD-1 Custom MIDI Controller looks back in time as much as it looks ahead, thanks to its retro-styling that takes cues from rotary mixers and vintage synthesisers.


Based on the concept that we only use a small subset of knobs, buttons or sliders on our all-purpose MIDI controllers, the Tinami MD-1 lets you custom design a control layout to suit your needs. When the product is available, the Tinami website will provide a builder app to mix and match from retro styled knobs, sliders, and buttons (both lit and unlit), in a portable, wood-panelled, USB-powered square unit.


You’ll also have MIDI editing software, which can hold 16 different mappings in memory slots, to quickly switch templates, MIDI DIN in/out sockets, and a 12V power connector.

My take

I remember seeing some early versions a year or so ago, and they had a prototype of the nifty building tool to design your ideal layout, using knobs, faders, buttons, and lit buttons. The marketing material talks about this as a ‘custom’ controller, but I’d liken it much more to being bespoke, rather than custom.

I’ve been thinking about what I’d use something like this for, and working through the obvious stuff, I think what makes the most sense is to have this replace a guitar pedal style effects box, maybe controlling Traktor or Ableton Live audio effects. In fact, you could set this up as a rotary mixer for Traktor, if you really wanted to.

The real hurdle for the MD-1 will be exactly the same as we’ve had countless times in the past: Custom controllers are expensive, and thus unattractive to all but the most ardent of users. The saving grace for this controller is actually its industrial design. We’ve got a unit that not only throws back to yesteryear, but is complete, and not modular.

Your take

Have you dreamed of having a bespoke retro-styled MIDI controller? What do you feel is missing from your own setup?

The crowdfunding campaign for the Tinami Labs MD-1 custom MIDI controller is now live on Kickstarter, and they’re asking for €35,000 to get the project off the ground!


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