Here’s a really quick tip, but it demonstrates something in one illustrative video: Keith McMillen’s QuNexus is a brilliant, mobile solution for MIDI and analog control voltage.

Of course, time was when the mention of control voltage would say to people either eccentric vintage gear collectors or expensive racks of modular. But CV’s appeal is fast spreading. On the modular side, prices are tumbling, and compact suitcase rigs can easily cost less than some pricey plug-in bundles (cough). On the used/vintage side, there’s just a lot of gear you might want to connect. And now, there are affordable units like Korg’s Monotribe.

What’s great about the QuNexus is that you get MIDI and CV in one very portable, very affordable box, with a keyboard attached. Add the MIDI Expander and you don’t need a computer, either. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical of the QuNexus when I first saw it, but it’s gradually become one of my favorite pieces of gear – enough that I always want it in my bag – just like those Apple video adapters, it’s always with me. It’s just stunningly playable for something so small and thin, and the connectivity makes it versatile.

Via Google+, I heard John Keston showing off a little Monotribe and Volca KEYS rig. It’s adorable and small, perfect for quick jams or mobile music making. He comments more on the setup:
QuNexus with Korg Monotribe and Volca Keys Demo

The mobility is thanks to using minijacks; it’s frankly a shame that we don’t have a “mini” MIDI standard, too, as hardware has gotten smaller. You’ll need breakouts, so look to the KMI CV cable kit.

This isn’t your only option. I’ve been playing lately with Akai’s MAX25 keyboard, which also features CV and MIDI (and a step sequencer, and an arpeggiator, and lots of controls). Even without CV, I think the MAX would be my top choice for a full-sized controller keyboard; with it, it’s the logical full-sized-keys alternative to the QuNexus here.

But such is the world we live in: MIDI, CV, USB, and OSC appear to be four connections standards we’ll be living with for a long time to come.

And there you go: it probably took you longer to read this article than it would to get the setup above up and running. (Hey, so, okay, maybe my writing isn’t always ultra-slim and mobile.)

Make the connection with this: the CV breakout cable keeps the QuNexus ultra-slim by plugging into 3.5mm minijacks.

Make the connection with this: the CV breakout cable keeps the QuNexus ultra-slim by plugging into 3.5mm minijacks.

  • jonah

    With the CV cable kit It seems like with the two TRS cables used for output you have to use an additional cable to split the signal into TS and TR? Am I understanding that correctly?

    And the MIDI expander will convert CV in on the QuNexus to MIDI out and USB MIDI out?

    Personally, and this isn’t specific to KMI, but I’d take a bit of thickness in order to cut down on the rats nest of cables you end up with along with all the extra bits and bobs you have to keep track of.

    I mean, I’m trying to imagine the adapters I’d need to go from the analog4 TRS CV outs to the QuNexus CV in! :)

    I think Atari had the right idea with the MIDI ports. :) Personally I’d have no qualms about buying a qunexus or something along those lines as thick as a VHS tape, with the MIDI expander built in and retractable cables.

    • Peter Kirn

      That’s assuming you even need the CV in on the QuNexus, though.

      I think what they did makes sense in this case in that they have a wafer-thin piece of hardware that you may *not* always be using with hardware.

      So, you have a cable or two to handle it when you’re in the studio… but then you can also just use a single microUSB cable on the road with your laptop.

    • Matt KMI

      Hi Jonah,

      The picture posted above is a little hard to read– the output cables are 1/8″ stereo (for the QuNexus side) split to two 1/8″ mono plugs. All are male. So, once you’ve got the cable kit, you don’t need anything to split the outputs. If you want to use QuNexus with anything other than 1/8″ plugs, you’ll need adaptors.

      Additionally, the CV in cable has two 1/8″ inputs. These are combined into a TRRS plug for the QuNexus side of things. If you wanted to split one of the outputs on the Analog4 to the QuNexus input, you’d need a 1/4″ TRS to split (2) 1/8″ mono cable.

      You can use the QuNexus as a MIDI to CV converter from any of the sources. USB MIDI can be sent out the CV ports and the Expander. Expander MIDI can go to CV and to the computer, etc…

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Matt @ KMI

  • Keston

    Cheers, Peter. I agree that the QuNexus is so flexible and useful. What makes this particular application exciting for me is not that I can play the Monotribe with the QuNexus, but that I can control it THROUGH the QuNexus. Thus making it possible to sequence the Monotribe via a DAW, or route a controller with standard sized keys to it, without having to install a MIDI mod.

    Jonah, you are correct that the QuNexus TRS out needs to be split to two TR cables, which then go into another Y cable ending at TRRS for the Monotribe. *phew* And as Matt from KMI mentioned, CV/Gate can be converted to MIDI either with the Expander, or connected via USB to a computer or iOS device.

  • Audrey Leshark

    Hey, Peter! So the qunexus cv out goes directly to sinc in on monotribe? So it can send notes to volca keys too, if I power qunexus by usb to wall adapter? Please answer :) that’s an important question to me :) Audrey