When it comes to digital keyboards, increased portability almost always means less direct control over program parameters, which necessarily take second priority to performance controls. Even with heftier workstation synths, the sheer number of features and options makes it impossible to dedicate physical controls for everything.
The compromise for packing a ton of functionality into a tidy little package usually comes in the form of a tiny LED screen and an intricate array of menus and submenus, all controlled by a “data knob”, and maybe a couple of buttons. Creating new presets means twisting and tapping through dozens (or hundreds) of menu options. Crafting the perfect sound can be a frustrating exercise lasting hours, or even days.
MIDI Designer Pro takes a lot of the pain and frustration out of digital synth programming by giving you the controls you need, allowing you to discover the sounds hidden behind those layers of menus. A great example is the control layout created by André Noller for the Akai Miniak (pictured above).
As many know, this synth was nearly un-editable (at least for me) because of the missing controllers and the ‘calculator-styled’ display with one (!) endless knob and a few shortcuts to get to the menus faster (but not fast enough if you ask me).
As you can see from just one of the many screens included in the layout, André’s custom controller offers a massive improvement in the programming workflow for this synth. The good news is, layouts like this are possible for most modern digital synths, and many have already been created and shared by members of the MIDI Designer community.
So save yourself some scrolling and tapping by heading over to the community shares, where you may just find a ready-to-use layout for your synth.