The WIDI Master from CME takes MIDI functionality and removes the wires, with minimal latency to keep your creative train rolling.
We all dream of a no-latency wireless future, where home studios around the world are a thousand times cleaner, without a coiled 10-metre cable in sight. This is what CME have come one step closer to achieving with the WIDI Master, a device bringing ultra-fast Bluetooth 5.0 to your MIDI devices.
It’s stacked with all the bells and whistles you’d need from regular MIDI routing, such as clocking, MPE support, and more. The latency is the other big selling point, with CME claiming latencies as low as 3ms are possible with the WIDI Master.
So how do these little connectors work in practice? We recently had the opportunity to try a few out – here’s what we learned.
What’s in the box?
As a product, the WIDI Master is surprisingly simple. We were provided with two units, meaning we could link up two MIDI devices, one Bluetooth device and one MIDI device, or a DAW to a MIDI device, and so on.
The WIDI Master is two standard 5-pin plugs, with little baggage attached. One’s an input, the other’s an output, and they’re detachable from each other, meaning you can split them up if your setup requires it.
If you’re connecting two MIDI devices, such as a keyboard to a drum machine, you won’t need to undertake any setup at all – plug in, and you’re good to go. The WIDI Master is compact enough that it’ll fit comfortably on the back of any gear – it’s literally the same effort as plugging in a pair of in/out MIDI cables, which is a total blessing.
There’s an added layer of setup when using a DAW, but we ran into no problems. You may need to tweak your MIDI settings a little, but there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy a remarkably simple plug-and-play process.
MIDI yes, wires no
We tested the WIDI Master out on a number of setups: syncing a synth to a drum machine, syncing two keyboards together from different rooms, linking an outboard keyboard to Ableton as a MIDI controller, and linking the Genki Wave ring controller to a hardware synthesiser.
The lack of latency is really a game-changer. Ordinarily with Bluetooth devices you’ll experience some latency – minimal sure, but definitely enough to throw off a performance. Whatever tricks CME have packed into the WIDI Master work a treat, and we only experienced latency when playing between two rooms (a distance of roughly 5 metres with two walls in between), and even then, it was a fraction of a second.
When using the WIDI Master on any desktop setup, or close enough, playback is instant for all intents and purposes. It’s absolutely precise enough to run beats from a drum machine with sequences from your favourite synth, or to control your choice of DAW with your favourite full-length keyboard (not to mention wackier MIDI controllers, which should all work).
Pairing the Genki Wave with a hardware keyboard was a complete blessing, as this wonderfully unique controller previously didn’t work without some kind of software integration. This fix should apply to any Bluetooth-only device, such an iOS device, without having to use a wired MIDI adaptor.
Outside of those straight-up fixes to any Bluetooth devices you may own, the applications of the WIDI Master lean mainly towards quality of life improvements. Saying goodbye to a 5 metre MIDI cable hooking up two instruments that are inches apart is a very welcome change to any studio setup, both visually and to ease with potential reshuffles.
Playing a pair of instruments wirelessly has some interesting potential performance applications – but it’ll be up to the individual artist to find creative uses for playing two or more instruments while you’re not physically touching them. At the very least, it’s a damn cool party trick.
If you’re sick of wires, or if there’s no convenient way to run a MIDI cable between your devices, the WIDI Master should be a no-brainer. For a small unit (and a small price tag of $59), it can make a world of difference when it comes to the convenience and aesthetics of your setup.
And hey, if you can find a way to blow minds with some wireless on-stage antics, make sure you send us the tape.
Find out more about the WIDI Master here.