Manufacturers have attempted to make USB connections for audio and MIDI more transparent before. We’ve seen mics with USB cords instead of XLR, and USB cables with little humps in the middle with built-in circuitry for MIDI connections. But new cables announced this week by Chinese manufacturer CME go further: a USB/MIDI cable that’s as thin as a standard USB connection, a USB mic interface with integrated +48V phantom power, and a guitar/bass/keyboard USB interface.

The U2MIDI is a USB 2.0 (not the usual 1.1) MIDI interface, with plug-and-play driver-less connection to Windows, Linux, and Mac. You can even use multiple cables on the same setup. This could be a perfect complement to the MIDI-only Faderfox control hardware beloved by Traktor and Ableton users.

The U2GKB plugs guitars, keyboards, and bass into a USB 2.0 connection, with a minijack for plugging in headphones for monitoring. The U2MIC does the same for microphones, but surprisingly with +48V phantom power (according to CME, the “first” such device to do so). Conveniently enough, both include a dedicated mute switch and pre-amp on/off buttons.

The big question for me on the audio devices is quality. CME promises “high-quality” A/D converters and pre-amps, but since I’ve never seen a press release that promises “low-grade, cheap electronics”, there’s no saying for sure until this ships. Keep your fingers crossed. I’m certainly excited about the MIDI cables. With most of my gear having gone USB, this could be just the thing for the last holdovers when I want to reduce cables and gear — and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Availability: Spring 2007
Pricing: US$34.95 and up

CME Products Site

  • Mickey Jello

    Sounds like a good fix for the lack of MIDI-port support in Vista. This should do the trick nicely I imagine.

  • J

    wow.

    i could really use one of these…i'm a little skeptical about the quality, though, if it starts at $35.

    does that mean there'll be a midi-only version for $35, and more if you want the audio connections?

  • J

    oops, never mind my questions – i actually read the post the whole way through this time (and looked at the website)

  • bliss

    LOL @ "I’ve never seen a press release that promises “low-grade, cheap electronics”, there’s no saying for sure until this ships." ;-)

  • GaryG

    just read the blurb on the guitar/instrument interface, sounds ok till they advise you use the asio4all driver… nothing against this, works fine for me on my laptop but it does indicate proper 'pro' drivers won't be available.

    .g

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks, Gary! They neglected to put that in the press release. No drivers … kind of annoying. At least the MIDI interface is driver-less, which is a good thing.

  • http://lumma.org Carl Lumma

    Gotta be careful – when CME says "USB 2", then have (in the past, at least) meant "USB 2 Lo Speed" which is USB 1. I didn't check in this case. But I'll bet you a spinach salad with pear champagne vinegar vinaigrette…

    -Carl

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Weird, Carl! They did specifically say higher-performance USB 2.0. If that means USB 2 lo-speed == USB 1.1, then I'll be very mad at them.

    You hear me, CME? :)

  • http://www.mustech.net Joseph Pisano

    Wow,

    Thanks for posting about this midi device. I have not seen it before and it's just what I was looking for. I just found your createdigitalmusic site and really like your content. Thanks for a great read.

    Joe Pisano
    http://www.mustech.net

  • Mark

    I just received a U2MIDI cable. It doesn't come with any device drivers. It simply interfaces with Windows.

    I've had any number of difficulties with this product ranging from Windows simply not acknowledging it to it completely acknowledging it and showing it in the Sound, Video and game controllers section of Devise Manager as a "USB Audio Device," to warning messages that there’s been a power serge in the USP port. The results are temperamental and can vary from each time I connect the device. Regardless of these difficulties, I can't get it to communicate with any external MIDI devices.

    Has anyone had experience with this product? I can't find any assistance from their web site.

    Thanks in advance.

    Mark

  • Jason

    The CME U2MIDI does not work with the new iMac. Apple said that there is nothing they can do, and to find a different way to hook it up to my piano.