iWA: Instant Wireless Audio by CME

CME iWA
wireless audio by CME

Low latency wireless audio for today's music makers.

Following the successful launch of WIDI Wireless MIDI, CME introduces the next step in ultra-low latency wireless audio without compromising sound quality and playability.

CME iWA

CME iWA wireless audio technology latency comparison with audio over Bluetooth 

Crowd Creation: Become part of the process

You're invited to join the wireless audio revolution. The first goal is to activate at least 1,000 people.

Currently, this technology is in the conceptual stage. After the first milestone has been reached, an early prototype of a portable near-field loudspeaker for mobile music making will be presented.

Of course, other products that fit within the concept of CME's ultra-low latency wireless audio technology will be pitched along the way.

Following your wishes, feedback and input, this prototype will be made ready for production. At the same time, you will be invited to place your pre-order. As an early adapter you will receive an exclusive 40% discount.

Feel welcome to register right now and read the entire story of instant wireless audio below. 

CME iWA - Instant Wireless Audio 

  • ultra low 5ms latency
  • lossless 24-bit/48kHz stereo
  • minimal interference
  • affordable pricing
  • made for prosumers & creators

Is wireless ultra-low latency lossless audio really that complex?

As wireless audio technology moved from analog to digital, a recurring challenge arose between latency and high sound quality. For some time now, only a limited number of solutions have been available for digital wireless transmission of uncompressed stereo audio.

The big problem is the extremely high costs for those solutions.

Why not use Bluetooth technology to make it accessible?

CME has been working on wireless technology for over 15 years. Currently, the WIDI range is taking the world by storm with the most advanced Bluetooth MIDI technology available.

Bluetooth 5 is perfectly capable of handling the MIDI protocol. Latency can be reduced to 3 ms between 2 WIDI devices. That said, when you talk about Bluetooth audio, you're entering a completely different arena.

Latency is created by two major factors in wireless audio transmission, namely: data rate and interference. To wirelessly play CD-quality stereo music, you must be able to transmit 1.411Mbps (1,411kbps) per second. And 24bit/48KHz even needs 2.3Mbps

The Bluetooth standard delivers only 1Mbps (1,000 kbps) by default. And that's not enough. In addition, these specifications only describe the transmission speed in perfect condition. In practical applications you will probably only achieve 50% of this.

Obviously, the stable low-latency data rate of Bluetooth cannot guarantee the lossless transmission of 1.4Mbps CD stereo music.

Therefore, several compression algorithms have been implemented in the technical specifications of Bluetooth headsets and speakers. For example, the maximum data rate of AAC as used by Apple is 320kbps.

As a result, the process of compression and decompression on top of the wireless transmission can lead to a latency of 100ms and easily more…

Test results iWA prototype A + B, May 2022

Bluetooth is not the only technology. What about 2.4 GHz?

Another widely used technology for wireless audio transmission is the 2.4GHz non-standard proprietary protocol, such as Boss' WAZA wireless headphones and many other wireless guitar audio transmitters.

CME has already released the WIDI-X8 wireless MIDI interface based on the proprietary 2.4GHz protocol in 2005. Since the data rate of MIDI is only 31.25 kbps, 2.4GHz (as well as Bluetooth) provides sufficient speed for timely and accurate transmission.

To this day, CME remains the leader in wireless MIDI. With decades of experience in both Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz, our engineers know what wireless technology can do. And certainly what the limitations are. And those limitations come with lossless audio.

Fortunately, that is about to change.

What is the difference between iWA and 2.4GHz solutions available?

The 2.4GHz frequency works in the same bandwidth as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Therefore, this protocol is sensitive for interference. When interference occurs, most 2.4GHz devices do not have the capability to perform rapid frequency hopping as Bluetooth (and WIDI) can.

As with Wi-Fi, the solution implemented to reduce interference for 2.4GHz is to drastically reduce the data rate (often below 1Mbps) and repeat the transfer of the same data to make sure nothing is lost. This is not a problem for file transfers, but not suitable for real-time audio.

Again, with lossless audio in stereo, the data to be transmitted is relatively large. Therefore, many 2.4GHz solutions are mono designs for microphones and guitar signals. Even with a high resolution of 24-bit/48KHz, the data rate of mono audio is only 1,152 kbps.

As you can see, 2.4GHz can provide a solution for mono sound, but not for lossless stereo.

And unfortunately, another problem arises...

Power consumption

While the 2.4 GHz proprietary protocol can achieve relatively high data rates, it consumes much more power than Bluetooth. Usually the 2.4GHz solution consumes 10 times more power compared to Bluetooth.

That's why the JBL Bluetooth headset has a battery life of 50 hours, while the Boss's WAZA only lasts 5 hours. When the battery is low, the data rate and transmission stability of 2.4 GHz is significantly reduced.

And that is another serious challenge for professional musicians....

What about 5GHz?

There are also a few wireless mono audio transmitters that operate in the 5GHz range. Technically, 5GHz can deliver a better data rate by implementing a Wi-Fi protocol.

However, as already explained, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz) has its limitations when it comes to real-time audio and power consumption.

5GHz will only work better when using a proprietary protocol that is fully focused on real-time lossless audio transmission. 

But even then, the solution will again become very expensive and still be vulnerable for interference.

What is iWA by CME?

iWA is the ultra-low latency wireless audio system evaluated by CME. Based on the above, our clever engineers are constantly striving for the best balance between performance and cost in this future system.

For example, during our evaluation we had to let go of several technical solutions with "very good" technical indicators, but with "very expensive" components.

From that point of view, the current concept yields the following:

  1. Enough data rate redundancy to meet the stable transmission of high-quality uncompressed stereo audio
  2. No interference from crowded and noisy 2.4GHz frequency band
  3. Latency performance meets the demands of modern music makers 
  4. Data transfer stability can still be guaranteed in very low voltage condition
  5. The cost should be acceptable to most music users

Feel welcome to sign up today and be a part of the process. You are invited to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns in the comment section below.

And last but not least, watch this video to see where we stand today.

  • Quad says:

    For me, I have a huge interest in a wireless tx/rx pair that is a virtual wire that results in a line level signal that can go into most devices like any aux in. I’d use it for many other needs before I’d use it with a speaker.

    I have zero interest in an integrated wireless speaker. It’s unlikely your choices in a single speaker unit will match my needs; I have several speakers that I use in different circumstances and one type doesn’t cover the bases. I’ve painstakingly sought out the speakers I like and it’s a complicated mix of features, size intended use, quality, and price points. There’s a reason why there are so many speakers by so many vendors (an even one brand or line of speaker often has many models for varying need).

    A combined wireless speaker will cost more than just the wireless portion (and does not leverage my existing speaker investment).

    Perhaps you can gauge interest in a speaker versus a standalone transmitter/receiver by a poll? I think you’ve already decided, but….

    • Zhao Yitian says:

      Hi Quad, thank you very much for your comment. A standalone transmitter/receiver is definitely on our radar, and when we develop wireless speakers, we actually develop a dedicated transceiver solution at the same time. But to make it into a final product, there are a number of potential issues that need to be addressed. In any case, first we need to know how many potential customers want ultra-low latency wireless audio solutions. After we understand the market size, we will evaluate additional ideas and product plans and make a final decision with the community. So your participation is very important.

  • Syd says:

    I agree with Quad, I would prefer to have a standalone TX/RX pair compared to a wireless speaker. Since your product mainly targets musicians/singers prosumer, I would argue that a wireless speaker would not be as successful as a standalone TX/RX pair. Most prosumer musicians/singers have already invested in monitor speaker, PA system, guitar amp… what we are missing is a good reliable wireless system.
    Something like this from Skaa: https://www.skaastore.com/products/rush-receiver + https://www.skaastore.com/products/akiko-pro-for-analog Skaa solution would be great but their lowest latency is 19ms which is to much IMO for musicians/singers.
    If you have a standalone TX/RX pair solution at around 5ms latency for lossless high-quality stereo audio at a reasonable price you will have a huge success. Have you thought about crowdfunding this project on Indiegogo or Kickstarter? I think you would get a better sense of the market size that way, especially since you already produce great WIDI products, this would reassure potential buyers.

    • tgerbrands says:

      Thanks Syd for taking the time to comment. We’ve done crowd funding campaigns before. That lead us to develop our own crowd creation campaign with WIDI Master. This is the beginning of such a campaign with iWA.

      Of course, we fully understand that many musicians are in need of TX/RX adapters. Just like WIDI delivers Bluetooth MIDI adapters. With the speaker we more or less launch a very clear concept, like an example, of what iWA can do.

      Along the way, there are many directions we can go. One of them is certainly the TX/RX solution. That said, as we know from our WIDI experience, adapters come with all kinds of challenges. This is limited by considering a straight-forward speaker solution.

      Please note, that nothing is fixed at this stage. Together we explore the instant wireless audio technology. Once validated by the community we can go many ways.

  • ←Previous post
    >