What is the difference between a USB host and a USB device?
In the world of USB you have two roles that your equipment can have. On one side you have USB hosts and on the other side you have USB devices.
Think of it as your computer and your mouse. The computer is the host connecting the mouse (USB device) as a client or peripheral. The computer works without a mouse and the mouse is an instrument for your computer. At the same time, the mouse is pretty useless without its host.
That's the primary difference.
The same goes for MIDI controllers. MIDI controllers act as USB devices. They work when connected to an operating system. Just like a mouse.
In many cases, USB devices are also bus powered. This means they need the host to provide power via the USB connection cable to be able to operate. That is why USB MIDI controllers "seem" almost useless without a computer.....
Why do you need a MIDI USB host?
As mentioned, most MIDI devices only function as a USB device. This means they must always be connected to a host.
In other words, you cannot connect your USB MIDI keyboard to play your synthesizer directly. To make that happen you need a computer to act as the USB host and MIDI router.
In many cases you can already see if your MIDI device is a USB device. For instance if your MIDI device has a square USB-B port (like your printer), it is a USB device. If your MIDI instrument has a flat USB-A port (like your computer), it can act as a USB host.
A MIDI USB host can be purchased separately. It is a piece of equipment that allows you to convert USB to standard MIDI without computer. In this way you can control various MIDI instruments from your USB MIDI device via the MIDI USB host box.
In other words, you can control synths, samplers and so on, with your USB MIDI controller or USB MIDI keyboard and without the need for a computer or complicated MIDI routing system.
In fact, with as a MIDI USB host solution, your USB MIDI controller becomes much more useful and not completely dependent on your computer.
What kind of MIDI solutions for USB hosting are available?
Nowadays you can find a number of MIDI USB hosts in the market.
Be aware that for professional MIDI routing, you'll want to look at brands that really understand how to handle MIDI. Besides this, you want to ensure the best possible performance by having products made with high-quality components.
It really makes a difference.
The biggest problem with low-priced replicas is that they copy innovators and use cheap components to bring down the price. With inferior components and a lack of knowledge about MIDI, this will eventually lead to all kinds of unwanted behaviour of the equipment. Save yourself that hassle and go for premium from day 1.
That is why this blog is limited to the solutions available from CME, Kenton, and MIDI Tech. Both Kenton and MIDI Tech have made their mark in the world of MIDI. They have been delivering solid solutions for decades.
This is also a bit of a drawback. It seems that their MIDI tools are a bit outdated and not seriously updated to meet the demands of today's MIDI enthusiasts. Although there are mark 2 and 3 versions, the internal technology has stayed almost the same.
CME, on the other hand, has been a true innovator when it comes to wireless MIDI and Bluetooth. The development team has decades of experience in MIDI. That is why we believe that we can deliver the most advanced solution that beats its competitors on many levels.
Why is WIDI Uhost the most advanced solution available?
As explained, the major difference between WIDI Uhost and all its competitors is that it offers premium Bluetooth MIDI instead of traditional DIN-5 MIDI ports for wired MIDI. In addition, WIDI Uhost offers many other solutions. It's not called the 3-in-1 wireless MIDI interface for nothing. In fact, WIDI Uhost can connect to either USB hosts (1) or USB devices (2) .
Furthermore, it adds wireless MIDI to all major operating systems as a Bluetooth MIDI dongle (3). In other words, you can connect computers, controllers and synths, and any MIDI device with class-compliant USB MIDI, to communicate wirelessly with any other WIDI device (WIDI Master, WIDI Jack) or standard Bluetooth MIDI controllers (Roli, Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Akai).
Compared to the solutions from Kenton and MIDI Tech, WIDI Uhost increases your mobility with a slim and compact design. You can easily stick it on your MIDI device with the smart magnetic solution.
By using wireless MIDI you are not limited to the length of your MIDI cable. With WIDI you can enjoy the freedom of wireless MIDI over a range of 20 meters (65ft).
In addition, Bluetooth MIDI or BLE MIDI implements extremely low power consumption. You can easily power WIDI Uhost from any standard USB power bank or adapter. Furthermore, when working with a USB MIDI device that is bus-powered, WIDI Uhost offers a smart power splitting functionality that allows you to power your USB MIDI device via WIDI Uhost via one single USB power source.
With the current Bluetooth 5.0, you can take advantage of amazing 3ms latency performance and personal optimization for low latency or low jitter performance. It all depends on your usage scenario.
Today, more than 50,000 WIDI units have been sold since its launch in 2020. It is a trusted technology used by thousands of musicians, producers and industry partners around the world, delivering secure wireless connections in the studio and on stage. With WIDI's Smart Connectivity Algorithms and Bluetooth 5's Adaptive Frequency Hopping, you have the most reliable matchbox-sized wireless solution available today.
Wireless MIDI Groups
Last but not least, WIDI offers a special feature called WIDI Groups. This functionality allows you to add up to five (5) WIDI devices in a wireless connection. You can easily create 1-to-4 MIDI Thru (or Split) and 4-to-1 MIDI Merge setups that can be run wirelessly.
OMG its OTG!
Here comes a very important piece of advice that will change the way you look at WIDI Uhost and USB cables. The magic of WIDI Uhost comes to life with the so-called USB On-The-Go (USB OTG) via the USB-C port.
To be more precise, USB-C combines both the USB host and device functionality in one single connector. Within WIDI Uhost, the USB chipset can act as both the device and the host.
At the moment you use a standard USB charging cable, your WIDI Uhost will act as a device. When using the USB OTG cable, WIDI Uhost will switch to the USB host role automatically.
That is how WIDI Uhost becomes the 3-in-1 wireless solution for USB MIDI...
CME WIDI Uhost
Kenton MIDI USB Host
MIDITECH USB MIDI HOST
5-PIN DIN MIDI
5-PIN DIN MIDI
Wireless with up to 5 WIDI devices
US$ 69 // EUR € 59
US$ 140 // EUR € 124
US$ 99 // EUR € 88