Zorx Electronics
WIDI Master - CME

WIDI Master - CME

by Ellison Wolf

How many times have you tripped over cables or had to awkwardly tiptoe over, around, and through a snake pit of cables in your studio or on stage in front of an audience? If cables were a punching bag, and I had a giant glove and a can of...well, you know. It was a great day when I finally got a wireless system for my electric guitar a few years ago, and [spoiler alert], it was another great day when CME’s WIDI Master showed up on my desk. Long run MIDI cables, rearranging your studio to make the cabling work better, or moving this controller closer to that synth or computer, or whatever....things of the past. Gone. All thanks to WIDI Master.
If you haven’t surmised it yet, WIDI Master is “a virtual cable” that plugs into the MIDI IN and MIDI OUT of your MIDI device/s. It has latency as low as 3 ms, and has a range of 20 meters [22 yards/66 feet] and gets its power from the MIDI OUT on your device, so there are no batteries needed.
There are two components included with each WIDI Master package; the main, larger plug that goes into the MIDI OUT of your device, and it’s sidekick that ports into the INPUT of your device, and is powered by plugging it into a small jack on the side of its larger sibling. This tandem enables you to send and receive MIDI messages over Bluetooth signals, and thankfully CME sent over a pair of WIDI Master’s to check out. If you want to get the most out of them, you really do need two sets so you can communicate with two MIDI devices like a MIDI controller and a desktop synth. Otherwise you can only pair one MIDI synth/controller/whatnot with a Bluetooth enabled device like your laptop, tablet, or fancy new phone, but if you mainly use soft synths and a controller, you’ll only need one WIDI Master. Just to be clear, when I say one WIDI Master, I mean one set, as in the main plug and the smaller plug.
My first test was to try just one unit out and see how it would work with Ableton Live on my MacBook Pro. I plugged the WIDI Master into my Keystep, turned the power on, watched the WIDI Master flash blue, then opened up System Prefs on my computer as instructed by the online instructions. I found the WIDI Master on my Bluetooth app, went to the Utilities folder on my computer, opened up Audio MIDI setup, double clicked the Bluetooth Icon, clicked “connect” to hook up the WIDI Master, and that was it. If it sounds like a lot of steps, it took less than a couple of minutes, and it wasn’t long before I was blasting nasally synth leads out of the half-inch internal speakers on my Mac. No cables, no interface, just the Keystep, the WIDI Master, and Ableton. Something else that wasn’t there? Latency. I couldn’t detect any. I decided to move to the far wall of next room, about 30 feet away, and again, WIDI Master delivered.
Next up was hooking a Sequential Pro 3 to use Genki Instruments’ Wave [review issue #5] as an augmented controller. I plugged the WIDI Master’s main adapter into the output of the Pro 3, piggybacked the sub-adapter by plugging it into the MIDI input, and opened up Genki’s free companion software to Wave, Softwave. It took me a minute to figure out how to get everything in sync, even after referencing a video on Genki’s website, but that was because I had forgotten to enable the IAC Driver in Softwave. Oops. Once my hair was back in place, however, I was off to the races. At that point it was virtually plug and play, and any parameter on the Pro 3 was easily mapped to any gesture on Wave. Softwave is a pretty customizable and easy to use software, and the combination of being able to use Wave with a keyboard based synth was surprisingly cool as it adds a lot of additional expressiveness that can be dialed in via Softwave however you’d like. You can play a bassline and add vibrato by wiggling your finger, sweep the filter with a pan of your hand while playing a lead line [while pitch bending with the left hand], and on and on. Once I learned how to set it all up, subsequent sessions were a breeze to get going as well. If you’ve got Wave, I highly recommend pairing it with WIDI Master.
Giving WIDI Master a shot in the modular world was also great, as there are already so many cables, that one less bulky cable is more than welcome. The new Expert Sleepers Disting Alpha [review in issue #4] was my target this time around. I previously DIY’ed the companion MIDI IN/OUT module for the Super Disting with parts I had lying around so that I could hook up the Keystep and control the sampler algorithm of the Disting. Again, it only took a second of plugging in the WIDI Master into both devices and I was able to control the Disting, at a distance clear of the cable clutter. If I was jamming with a Keytar I could have done some twirls á la Prince and lived out that fantasy more fully than I was ever able to way back when with the Yamaha PS-25 that my folks bought me for my 13th birthday.
It’s undeniable that we’re living in a golden age of technology. Anyone that knows me will hear me rant on about the importance, the credence, that our society puts on the next amazing invention, how it’s going to save the world and so on, but I have my own yardstick for “amazing” technological inventions, and it’s basically asking this question; “Does this invention make life better” Not just easier, but better. So many of the things that come out and are over-hyped are a definitive “NO!” WIDI Master is a definitive “YES.” Repeat after me: “No more MIDI cables!!!”
Price: $59