MSK 014 release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gracious Host welcomes USB-MIDI devices to Eurorack
TORONTO, Ontario - March 27, 2022 - North Coast Synthesis Ltd. has opened Eurorack synthesizers to USB-MIDI control with its first digital module, the MSK 014 Gracious Host. This interface module allows common USB devices, including MIDI keyboards, PC typing keyboards, and mice, to function as musical controllers with control voltage output. It operates in a number of different modes selected by the MIDI channel, including basic note to control voltage mapping, polyphony with note assignment, arpeggiation, and quantizing input voltages to MIDI-selected notes.
"The real star of the show here is the hosting feature," says North Coast module designer Matthew Skala. "When people think of USB-MIDI interfaces, most of the popular ones need to be plugged into a computer for power and to make the USB protocol work. That style of interface cannot connect directly to a musical keyboard. This module is different because it actually is the computer. Your keyboard or other controller plugs directly into it."
As well as MIDI music keyboards, the Gracious Host can use common PC keyboards and mice as control devices, giving performers many options for play styles. The PC keyboard interface offers both piano-like and isomorphic layouts. The module's control software, known as firmware, is free software under the GPL3 license, and comes with a 130-page Programmer's Manual to support users who may wish to modify it.
"That firmware documentation was a lot of work," recalls Skala, "and it put this project behind schedule and over budget even on top of the issues I was already having trying to build a new product during a pandemic and a supply-chain crisis. That's why this is the first new North Coast Synthesis module in almost two years. But technical openness is an important part of what my company is all about, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what clever users will do to expand on the existing firmware. Making it hackable had to stay a priority."
North Coast sells the MSK 014 Gracious Host from its own Web storefront for $330 Canadian including shipping (assembled module), or $220 for a do-it-yourself kit.