What is it?
The WIDI Master is a new MIDI-over-Bluetooth-wireless system from CME and one of three different wireless MIDI systems they’ve been developing.
Designed for hooking up devices with traditional 5-pin DIN MIDI connections, WIDI Master can communicate directly with Bluetooth LE-equipped devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
Significantly, and unlike a number of other options on the market, you can also use two pairs of WIDI Masters to connect two MIDI-socket-equipped devices. Each WIDI Master pack includes two MIDI adapters – main and sub.
The slightly larger main unit is connected to your device’s MIDI Out (from which it gets its power) and this acts as a send-and-receive module. The smaller sub unit connects to your device MIDI In and gets its signal when plugged into the main unit using the small flying lead.
The detachable design means the main WIDI module can also be used on its own for output only. Powering things via the MIDI Out is fully supported by the MIDI standard (both 5V and 3.3V), and CME has a database of tried-and-tested MIDI devices on their website, which is worth checking out in advance.
Still, your device may not support it. This could simply be down to internal pin wiring, and for the more technically capable, CME’s website includes workarounds that modify your instrument or facilitate hooking up an external PSU. Alternatively, you could try CME’s MIDI Jack device instead, as this allows external powering.
Like anything Bluetooth, pairing properly is key to success and if you’re using two WIDI Masters they pair automatically (check the blue LED on the main unit). For other devices, it’s worth following CME’s detailed instructions as there are various options that facilitate the process.
Both Android and iOS users are advised to use apps (Bluetooth MIDI BLE Connect and midimittr respectively). Meanwhile, Windows 10 users must check if their DAW supports Microsoft’s latest UWP API. With everything paired, the main unit blue LED stops pulsing and flickers to indicate MIDI data activity.
Performance and verdict
In use, we connected both my Novation and Studiologic controllers to iPad and OSX devices without a problem (I didn’t try Windows). We also connected two MIDI devices with a pair of WIDI Masters. These paired straight away and worked without extra steps. We easily managed 10 metres distance with no problems, and, in this range, the connection was very stable.
• Roland WM-1 and WM-2
The WM-1 is a two-plug device that offers MIDI I/O on standard 5-pin ports. Plug this into your MIDI hardware and it should immediately be able to communicate with your Mac or iOS device via Bluetooth MIDI.
What about latency? WIDI uses what CME call Smart Connectivity Algorithms (SCA). These combine various features including smart pairing, latency reduction and range optimisation to deliver a more reliable wireless experience.
Of course, in practice, you simply notice the overall performance. We did a quick comparison with a direct USB MIDI connection and the timing was close. Looking at the MIDI note data revealed the WIDI data to be marginally later, but this wasn’t obvious when playing.
As people who remember how liberating it was moving from two MIDI cables to MIDI over USB, losing the cables completely is very welcome, and though we’ve tried new controllers that implement MIDI over Bluetooth as standard, the device-to-device option is new to us. All told, we'd say that WIDI Master is a great success.
MusicRadar verdict: A simple, reliable MIDI-over-Bluetooth solution that can link MIDI equipment or connect directly to Bluetooth LE devices.
The web says
“The WIDI Master definitely makes long MIDI cable runs a thing of the past. On a pedal-board setup, there might not be any need for this product as MIDI pedals can easily be connected and daisy chained to each other.“
MorningstarFx (opens in new tab)
“Not only does this get rid of MIDI cables between different vintage instruments, it allows new control over many MIDI devices. There is no need for any special software, computer or extra hardware, and there is no increase in latency.“
Music Connection (opens in new tab)
- KEY FEATURES: Bluetooth 4 or 5, MIDI over Bluetooth LE compliant
- CONNECTOR UNITS: Main and Sub both with 5-pin DIN MIDI plugs
- LATENCY: minimum 3ms
- RANGE: maximum 20m
- POWER CONSUMPTION: 3mW
- DIMENSIONS: Main –21 x 49 x 21mm Sub – 18 x 24 x 18mm
- WEIGHT: Main – 12g, Sub – 11g
- CONTACT: Hand In Hand distribution (opens in new tab)