Back in April 2020, we pre-ordered 2 CME WIDI Masters at USD39 (pre-order price) each + USD9.99 shipping. The current price is USD59. The order shipped on July 31st and we received it on 10th August. Needless to say, we were excited to try it out with our MIDI controllers.
The product seemed well-built. My only concern would be the long-term durability of the cable that is attached to the receiver unit, but that should not matter if you don't fiddle around with it often, or accidentally yank out the cable when trying to unplug the product from your MIDI device. The product comes with a one year warranty - hopefully I won't have to utilise that.
The product itself does not come with a manual, but it can be found at www.bluetoothmidi.com, which will be re-directed to the CME Pro WIDI Master webpage.
At the time of writing, the amount of material available on that site seems sparse. Firmware updates can be done via the WIDI App (iOS/Android) but there is only a link in the site for the Android app (and still in beta) while the iOS app is nowhere to be found (I am guessing it is not released yet). For such a large company like CME, I thought the advertised supporting apps would be ready when the product ships. Anyway, no big deal here if the WIDI Master can work as advertised.
The product is powered by the MIDI Jack of the device it is connected to. I have scrolled through some posts on the Facebook user group where some users have claimed that their device cannot power the WIDI Master (due to insufficient power probably). The WIDI Master manual as a section that provides more information on how to DIY a power supply cable if the MIDI Device cannot provide (enough) 3.3v-5v power.
Update: Thomas from the CME WIDI & Xkey Facebook group shared this link which explains many points on the app release, latency etc. Worth a read.
The larger connector (called the Main Adapter) should be connected to the MIDI Out on your device, while the smaller connector (called the Sub Adapter) should be connected to the MIDI In. If your device has a 7 or 8 Pin DIN connector, do take extra care when connecting the WIDI Master as it is possible to connect it wrongly where the pins do not line up.
In the picture above, I have the WIDI Master connected to the Morningstar MC8 MIDI Controller. On first connection and power up, a blue LED light should be blinking slowly on the Main Adapter, indicating that is waiting for a device to connect.
The WIDI Master Manual provides some information on connecting the WIDI Master to:
Another WIDI Master
A Bluetooth MIDI device
So far, I have only tried connecting it to iOS and MacOS. The instructions in the manual were adequate, but I had to read it carefully a few times as the steps were not entirely clear.
Connecting to MacOS
Once the blue LED on the WIDI Master is blinking slowly, turn the Bluetooth On (if it isn't already). Do note that the connection to the device will not be via the Bluetooth menu. You first need to access the Utilities menu.
Thereafter, access the Audio MIDI Setup app.
If only the Audio Devices window appear, you need to go to the Window Menu and select MIDI Studio.
Thereafter, go to Configure devices and then Open Bluetooth Configuration.
From the Configuration menu, you should be able to see an option to connect to the WIDI Master.
Connecting two WIDI Masters
The WIDI Masters are paired automatically when both are on. In our tests, both our units connected without any issues. This could be an issue though, when trying to connect one to your laptop when both WIDI Masters are already paired. My Mac was unable to detect the WIDI Master to connect to when both are already paired. When I unplugged one WIDI Master, the other managed to show up on my Mac.
I wish there was a feature to disconnect 2 paired WIDI Masters.
Latency is a huge issue when deciding whether to use Bluetooth MIDI. Since the MIDI data is transmitted and received over the air, latency in receiving the data is a real possibility. In our tests, we used the Morningstar MC8 to transmit PC messages to the Morningstar ML5 Audio Switcher. When side by side, no obvious latency was felt.
We next moved the ML5 to about 4 meters away. No obvious latency felt either.
This could be because the data packets for PC messages are small. When I connected the WIDI Master to the Morningstar Web Editor on my Macbook (this feature is currently not available for public use), I could see the slight latency when loading presets onto the editor as compared to connecting it directly via USB. However, this is not a common use case.
In the WIDI Master manual, it states that the WIDI Master uses the Bluetooth standard for wireless transmission, so the usual variables would cause interference and latency
Barriers like walls, trees etc
Environments with more electromagnetic waves
One potential issue when using MIDI over Bluetooth would be timing accuracy when sending MIDI clock messages. We tried sending MIDI Clock messages from our MC8 MIDI Controller to the Strymon Timeline. It is stable only about 50% of the time. Otherwise, you can see the BPM jitter on the Timeline (see video below).
Update: CME Pro has reached out saying that they are working on a new firmware upgrade with a more accurate MIDI Clock timing. This will be available via the mobile app soon.
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. However, the use case for the WIDI Master becomes apparent when connecting the last MIDI Out on your pedal board to your MIDI-enabled amplifier in the backstage, for example. Or having the ability to connect to your computer via Bluetooth without a USB MIDI interface.
We hope you found this article useful. If you have any thoughts or experience with the product, do share the with us. As always, keep making awesome music!