Live Broadcast on Facebook
On Monday March 16 2020 we went live on Facebook to tell you more about WIDI Master. In this blog you can watch the video and read the content we discussed during the live show.
In short we welcomed all new WIDI Enthusiasts and showed the working prototype. It did not go that easy. As due to a power cut on our demo location in France we were almost forced to cancel the WIDI Master in action. Luckily we managed to stretch time and interact with you during the show. By doing so we found sufficient time to restore the power and still do the first prototype demonstration.
After a brief welcome by Thomas Gerbrands (CCO, the guy who talks and writes a lot, Amsterdam), Jerome Dumas (CTO, the WIDI wizard, France) answered questions and went into the deep concerning BLE 5, range, latency and jitter. Next Zhao Yitian (CEO, the modest leader of CME) explained more about the first "crowd created project" and the connection we love to have with you.
After reading this blog you can also find more details about our development process and the live broadcast in this Medium article.
What you will see is:
- Introduction by Thomas Gerbrands
- Technical WIDI Master by Jerome Dumas
- Crowd Created Project by Zhao Yitian
- Q&A with live audience
- The special week to book your WIDI Master and the involved risks by Thomas Gerbrands
Feel free to watch this 50 minutes episode about WIDI Master here or go to our Facebook page. As always you are invited to leave comments and ask questions. Our team is dedicated to find the answers for you. You can also read this blog as we will discuss the questions we answered in the live broadcast below.
It is said that WIDI Master is the successor of the Xkey Air and WIDI BUD. Can you tell us how these products are related?
First of all it is important to clarify that MIDI and audio are two different things. MIDI does not transport audio signals. MIDI is a protocol that allows musical instruments to communicate with each other.
To answer this question: Yes, WIDI Master is definitely the successor of our two previous products featuring MIDI over Bluetooth. We first developed the Xkey Air, a wireless MIDI keyboard. After this we developed the WIDI BUD, a bluetooth MIDI dongle to be used with the Xkey or other bluetooth MIDI device.
Bluetooth requires one central and one peripheral to establish a connection. Let’s call one master and one slave. The master device is usually the computer, and the slave is the device to which the computer is connected to.
Xkey air was a slave device able to connect to any computer or tablet equipped with Bluetooth. We found some computers were not equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) so we developed WIDI BUD. It is actually a USB to MIDI master dongle. Once connected to USB, WIDI BUD is able to connect to an Xkey and play the role of the computer.
Now with WIDI Master we integrated both features in a single product. This product is able to act as a MIDI master or slave, automatically.
This allows any MIDI instrument to connect to another instrument, without the need of a computer. A MIDI cable can then be replaced by using 2 WIDI Masters. One will function as the master, and the other as slave. By pairing them with Bluetooth they are able to communicate through a wireless connection.
Wireless connection between MIDI hardware
The difference between WIDI Master and other similar products like Yamaha MD-BT01 and Quicco M1 is the central role of WIDI Master. Can you explain what that means and what the main difference is?
As I previously said, a bluetooth connection requires one master and one slave. Yamaha or Quicco products are slave only. They require a computer to establish a connection.
Our WIDI Master can both be master or slave. That is the main difference. It starts as a master for few seconds and scans for any slave device nearby. It automatically connects to another WIDI Master slave to establish the connection. There is no computer required, and this is the main difference with other MIDI over bluetooth devices.
Also we implemented BLE 5 to reduce latency and expand the reach. Together with automatic pairing WIDI Master delivers better performance and easy operation for any user.
WIDI Master does not need an external power supply. Can you tell us how WIDI Master is powered and what is important for our viewers to consider when checking if the WIDI Master will fit their system?
WIDI Master is powered from the instrument MIDI output to which it is connected. We are using the latest BLE 5 low energy technology, which requires less than 10 milliamps to run. It is compatible with both 3V and 5V MIDI devices.
In the case of you want to connect WIDI Master to an instrument that has no MIDI output, we have another solution in progress. We will provide a wiring to create a custom cable. This solution will be able to power the WIDI Master from a USB adapter or power bank.
Latency is always a hot topic when it comes to wireless MIDI. Can you tell us more about the current tests and achievement of WIDI Master?
Yes, latency is definitely important in such a product, the most important. Please note we already developed two MIDI Bluetooth products. As mentioned previously these are the Xkey Air and WIDI BUD. These products were using BLE 4 technology, and we never had complaints about latency issues. Our Xkey Air was used on stage by professional musicians.
WIDI Master uses the latest BLE 5 technology. This is even faster than BLE 4. Latency depends on the environment, and how far are the two connected devices. We are fully compliant to the MIDI over bluetooth class. Furthermore we developed internal algorithms so both devices can negotiate the lowest possible latency. Until now we were able to measure latencies as low as 3 to 4 milliseconds, depending on the connected devices. Most often we measured latencies around 5 to 6ms.
To be fully transparent, we also measured some Jitter. This means the latency was not constant, but oscillating with a few milliseconds. This could cause audible artefacts when synchronising midi instruments with a MIDI clock. Jerome is currently working on a firmware release that will reduce this jitter. This way we aim to reach a constant latency around 5 to 6ms in a good environment.
WIDI Master implements BLE 5 and is backwards compatible with BLE 4
WIDI Master works with BLE 5. Can you tell us the benefits of BLE 5 and how WIDI Master uses this for better results?
We are using BLE 5 in WIDI Master. This allows to increase speed by 2, thus reduce latency. It also helps to improve range and we developed internal algorithms so both WIDI Masters can define which Bluetooth physical layer they will use depending on their signal strength (RSSI).
If devices are close to each others, they will switch to the fastest layer to communicate. When further away from each other, they will use a slower layer (which does not affect latency too much). This all leads to an automated optimisation of performance in a given environment
BLE 5 also helps to reduce power when compared to BLE 4. This is always positive for a product powered from MIDI port.
WIDI Master is like a virtual MIDI cable and can handle all MIDI messages. Can you explain how this will work for real-time clock, sysex?
Yes, all MIDI messages are compatible with WIDI Master. This includes long exclusive systems (up to 1K bytes length) as well as MIDI realtime messages. And also fast MIDI clock.
Many people ask if they can connect one WIDI Master with multiple slave WIDI Masters. Will this work and what are the limitations?
Yes, that will be technically possible. We plan working on this soon after we launch the product. We will release a mobile application for both android and iOS so you will be able to decide which slaves should connect to which host.
We will work on this a bit later and check how latency will be affected if multiple slaves are connected to a single master.
We will release a firmware once we will have something working. By the way you can upgrade firmware by air using WIDI Master.
Book your WIDI Master today (CLOSED)
We hope you enjoyed this live broadcast. Let us know by sending some thumbs in the comments. We will make this into a live broadcast series in the near future. Thank you for your enthusiasm and taking the time to read this blog and watch the 50 minutes broadcast.
Talking about Enthusiasts. We are now open for pre-order. It is from today until upcoming Sunday March 22. As this live broadcast is the only thing we have, we have to emphasise that booking now involves you taking some risks.
It is a trust thing. If you do not trust it and want to wait. Please do! We do not want to disappoint you. We ensure you that you can enjoy the same discount early April. No need to rush. No need to worry.
When you order this week you will get an invite to our WIDI Enthusiasts WhatsApp Group. This is for us a new channel to communicate with our most close connection user base. We want to discuss the future of WIDI here with our most loyal members of the community.
Please visit our new webshop and read this blog carefully. Use coupon code WIDIM2020 to get your $30 discount. Of course you can order multiple units with the same discount. That is not a problem. This first pre sale week is closed as per March 22, 2020. We aim to start the 2nd pre sale phase close to April 6, 2020
One last question for all the viewers and readers. Tell us. If you will not order WIDI Master, why not?
What are you missing? Where should we focus on? Tell us in the comments!
That is it. Keep connected!