July 2

Wireless MIDI Groups via WIDI app for iOS and Android

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WIDI Wireless MIDI
Thank you for showing your interest in WIDI, CME's wireless MIDI solution. This blog is constantly evolving and adapting along with new developments in the field of WIDI groups.

Take the time to understand the basic terminology and walk through the entire process step by step. In short, the process of activating WIDI groups is divided into several steps:

How we work!

Before you dive deep into the possibilities of WIDI technology, make sure you understand how we work at CME.

As a small innovator, the CME team focuses entirely on the development of Bluetooth MIDI technology. Our mission is to bring Bluetooth MIDI to every MIDI enthusiast and make it available to every MIDI device.

Our long-term goal is to enable you to use Bluetooth MIDI at any time. It doesn't matter if you work with iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, MacOS or other Bluetooth MIDI devices from Korg, Roland, ROLI or any other manufacturer.

Even if you work with traditional MIDI hardware and without computers, WIDI can be for you.

Community-driven development

Bluetooth MIDI (BLE MIDI) was developed by many smart engineers from different companies and brands, brought together by The MIDI Association and approved as an international standard in 2015.

That said, it's not about them. It's about you. What do you really need? What works for you? And what should we do to make it user-friendly and easy to operate. That's why we developed WIDI.

In addition, we are blessed with a community that is so actively bursting the bubble of our developers. You give us focus, honesty and let the whole community enjoy your contribution later on.

That is why you are central to our development process. You are the Community of MIDI Enthusiasts.

WIDI App

iOS WIDI App version vs WIDI firmware version

First of all it is important to distinguish two different types of updates. You will need the latest iOS app version 1.2.XX or higher. You will need to update that first. Next, to fully access the latest features, you need to upgrade your WIDI devices' firmware to version v0137 or higher.

Android WIDI App version vs WIDI firmware version

Also for Android the same rules apply. Only it concerns different versions. You will need an updated Android app version 1.3.XX or higher. You need to update that first. Next, to fully access the best experience and group connectivity, you will need to upgrade your WIDI devices' firmware to version v0137 or higher.

Upgrade firmware one-by-one!

It is important to understand that WIDI devices upon themselves are designed to be as easy in use as possible. That is why WIDI devices pair automatically. They automatically switch between the central role and the peripheral role. This is made visible via the turquoise (central) and blue (peripheral) led indicator colours of your WIDI device.

Generally speaking, if you create a pair of two devices, it does not matter if your device is the central or peripheral. As both roles allow bi-directional (2-way) transmission of MIDI. The central and peripheral role become important when setting up groups with multiple WIDI devices.

Let's make sure to update your WIDI device to the latest firmware version(s).

If you update one single WIDI device, simply boot it and pair it with your WIDI App. Next you can update to firmware v0137 or higher.

Please note, when working with multiple WIDI devices, you can only update one-by-one. A common mistake that is made, is to boot multiple WIDI devices at the same time. This will make the WIDI devices pair automatically to each other. And when paired, the WIDI App cannot locate the device anymore as they are already occupied.

The solution to this is to set each individual WIDI device into "force peripheral" mode via the WIDI app. This avoids the automatic pairing as your WIDI device is set as peripheral and therefore will be waiting to connect to a central device.

So, when you update the firmware, turn on your WIDI device one by one and update the firmware one by one or set them individually to "force peripheral" mode to avoid automatic pairing!

If you run into complexities, try the exact procedure as described in this blog.

So, there we have step 1! 

First update all your WIDI devices with iOS WIDI app v1.2.XX (or higher) or Android WIDI app v1.3.XX (or higher) to firmware v0137 or higher.

Step 2 - Create WIDI group via WIDI App

Please note that features of WIDI devices are constantly updating. That is why the first group functionality was only available for WIDI devices. In January 2022, group auto-learn was added as a feature to the latest firmware. It allows up to 5 standard Bluetooth MIDI devices as part of the WIDI group.

In short, when you use WIDI app to set your WIDI group, you can only work with WIDI devices. If you want to add other standard Bluetooth MIDI devices, you can only do this with the group auto-learn feature that has been added later.

Let's start with creating groups for WIDI devices via WIDI app!

Read this transcript that describes the video content step by step!

  • Step 0: Ensure you use iOS WIDI App (version 1.3.11 or higher) or Android WIDI App (version 1.3.9 or higher)
  • Step 1: Please upgrade your WIDI devices to the latest firmware (first fw version for group connection is v0137). If you have multiple units, remember to not power up multiple WIDI devices at once. As they will pair 1-to-1 automatically, and that will make it impossible for the iOS app to pair with your WIDI devices. 
  • Step 2: Set your WIDI to the peripheral role and give it a new name.
    * Select "Force peripheral" in BLE role section, the setting will be saved into your WIDI automatically.
    * Click the device name in Status section to rename your device. You will need to reboot your WIDI device to see the changes.
  • Step 3: Repeat above steps to set all WIDIs that you want to add in a group.
  • Step 4: After you set all WIDI devices in peripheral role, please switch them on.
  • Step 5: Click "Groups" menu and click "Add a new group".
  • Step 6: Enter your name for the group.
  • Step 7: Drag & drop your WIDI devices to the central and peripheral places.
  • Step 8: Click "Download group", the group setting will be saved in all WIDI devices. Next, all units will be rebooted automatically.
  • Step 9: Wait for few seconds, all WIDI devices that you set as the group will connect to each other.
  • Step 10: All settings will be remembered even when you switch your WIDI devices off. Next time when you switch them on again, they will connect to each other in the same group.

    * Note: If you want to forget the group connection setting, please go to each WIDI Status page and click "Reset default connections".

How many WIDI devices can I add to this group?

When working with a WIDI group, there can only be one (1) central. Besides this, there can be up to four (4) peripherals. The number is limited to ensure latency and jitter performance is still acceptable.

1-to-4 MIDI Thru // 4-to-1 MIDI Merge

Can I only add WIDI devices to the group?

As said, with the latest firmware (January 2022) you can now add other standard Bluetooth MIDI devices to your group. Please note that this is strictly limited to the group auto-learn feature.

This means, you cannot use the above mentioned group section to select the central and its peripherals. The complete process to use group auto-learn is fully explained in this blog.

MIDI Thru vs MIDI Merge

When creating a group, you can add up to 5 devices. The group always will have 1 central WIDI device. That is because the group settings are saved in this devices and to understand the settings it needs to be a WIDI device.

Besides this you can add up to 4 peripherals. As communication is 2-way, like bi-directional, you actually create a MIDI Thru or MIDI Merge functionality. In short. this means that with this firmware (v0137 and up), you can bypass MIDI interfaces, MIDI merge boxes and MIDI Thru boxes. You now can create the following wirelessly: 

  • 1-to-4 MIDI Thru  - Group of max. 5 devices
  • 4-to-1 MIDI Merge - Group of max. 5 devices

Can I create multiple groups and run them simultaneously?

Yes you can. You can create groups starting from 2 devices. You can  have multiple WIDI groups to build a complete wireless system with automatic setup. This means, you create the group step-by-step first via the WIDI App. And when it is saved, it connects instantly upon reboot.

This way, you can fully automate your advanced MIDI settings by setting your different connections by default via multiple groups.

What do the LED indicators mean?

When you turn on your WIDI devices after you create the group, they automatically connect to each other. One WIDI device will take the central role (turquoise LED indicator) according to your predefined group settings.

My WIDI devices light up blue but my MIDI devices do not respond?

In a few cases this is caused by a phenomenon called MIDI loop. Please try to switch off MIDI thru functions in your MIDI devices or DAW. Or deselect WIDI as MIDI Input device in your DAW. When working with MIDI hardware, try to locate the MIDI Thru switch in your MIDI instrument and switch it off.

My WIDI devices disappear (or are only shortly visible) from the Bluetooth general settings?

Once a WIDI has been connected to another, you will not be able to see it from other BLE MIDI device (such as your WIDI App). That is why when you want to connect WIDI device to WIDI app, you must set them one by one. Also you need to force them to the peripheral role prior to setting the group in the WIDI App.

If you do not do this the WIDI device is set to auto role by default. It will try to connect to another WIDI automatically. If this is the case, you have no way to see it from your iOS app because it was occupied by other connection.

When you set a group, that means the central is in "Auto role" with predefined peripheral address. It will only connect to predefined WIDI peripherals. Or switch itself into peripheral mode to connect to another central.

Can I reset a group?

If you want to reset the group, you need to switch on the central first. And only the central. Not the peripherals.

The WIDI App has to become your temporary central to push group settings into the central WIDI device. Therefore, you need to have the central WIDI available to connect with WIDI App.

Next you can select from your WIDI App the option "Remove Group Settings" to delete the group and create a new one.

How do I reset my Bluetooth connection on iOS?

Please note that Bluetooth cache causes many issues when working with advanced WIDI technology. Just like WIDI is designed with automatic pairing and auto role switching, iOS is developed with Bluetooth cache to improve the consumer experience. 

When using Bluetooth MIDI, you actually become a prosumer. You are digging much deeper into Bluetooth technology compared to a regular Apple AirPod music experience. If you experience issues with your WIDI device on iOS, always try to reset your Bluetooth cache by toggling the Bluetooth off switch in the iOS preference settings. Just follow the instruction below.

Just follow these easy steps to simply reset Bluetooth on iOS and forget your Bluetooth accessory.
1. Launch Settings and head over to Bluetooth.
2. On the right side of the Bluetooth device name, tap on the "i" icon.
3. Now tap on "Forget This Device" button and confirm.

Turn off Bluetooth and Restart
4. Restart the Bluetooth on iOS by toggling the Bluetooth off/on switch in settings

Pair Again
5. Now pair again with WIDI

How do I properly setup iOS and WIDI?

Check out this video and use midimittr as a bridge app on iOS. It works in the background and does not interfere with other music apps you like to use.

I can already connect multiple devices via iOS and macOS?

Yes you can connect multiple WIDIs with MacOS or iOS as a central as well. It can take up to 7 peripherals. Please note this is based on MacOS/iOS Bluetooth MIDI and can have a negative effect on latency performance. To do this you need to force all WIDI devices to the peripheral role or switch them on one by one. This way they can connect to the central and not automatically pair to each other.

Please note that this is not the same as the WIDI Group connectivity we are discussing and testing here. 

I experience different latency and/or jitter performance with WIDI groups compared to WIDI to WIDI connection?

WIDI groups can introduce a small amount of additional latency. In order to give the appropriate time slot to each connected device, Bluetooth timings cannot be set the the lowest amount like with a direct WIDI to WIDI connection. If your most important metric is latency, make sure you set all WIDI devices in the group to the default "preferred latency" mode via the WIDI app.

If you are working with MIDI clock and are in need of the best jitter performance, make sure to set each individual WIDI device  “preferred jitter” mode available through the WIDI app. 

As WIDI groups are an essential part of our future developments, our engineers are constantly working to improve the firmware to deliver even better results. If you are not satisfied with its performance, please report your feedback. If we are unable to solve it, we are quite easy with refunds.

I'd like to report feedback!

Simply reach out to us through the support form. We are happy to work with you and always try to reply within 24 hours!


Tags

Bluetooth MIDI, WIDI, Wireless MIDI


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  • All good stuff. Used Midimttr and it works great with IOS UNLESS 2 WIDImaster devices are connected directly to each other. In that case, you will get a “failed to connect” in IOS and the offerings in Midimttr are greyed out and unresponsive until you release the WIDImaster from direct connection with another WIDImaster. I was hoping unity could have been accomplished.

    • When the WIDI devices are connected to each other, the are occupied and cannot be connected to iOS. The current version of group connectivity allows connection of multiple WIDI devices. Unfortunately, iOS devices changes their Bluetooth addresses every 15 minutes. Therefore our engineers need to find clever solution to add other devices outside of the WIDI range. That said, in time, we will get there.

    • What you can do is create a group within iOS. You simple pair the first WIDI device and after this one is paired with iOS, you can pair the second one,. Or you can set both WIDI devices, one by one, to peripheral mode, so they do not pair to each other. Next you can build a group following the iOS standard. Please note, performance wise, this is not similar to a WIDI group. Hope this helps.

  • I’ve just had issues with SL Mixface that seemed to shut the (3) Widis down. I have fixed the problem via group creation but still don’t fully understand what happened or if the solution could have been simpler. I seemed to get it back at times but left it for a while and connection was lost again. I suspect a similar 15minute timeout like Apple maybe?

    • Hi Terry, thanks for reaching out. It is hard to say from here. Make sure you update your WIDI devices to the latest firmware and do a factory reset afterwards. I think it is best to get in touch directly. I’ll reach out via email.

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