Wait, maybe Godspeed You! Black Emporer was wrong, and your country is just PUC'ed.

Wait, maybe Godspeed You! Black Emporer was wrong, and your country is just PUC’ed.

There are still many situations in which cables have some advantages for control, as we saw in this week’s tutorial on iPad connections. But two separate crowd-funded projects are working on high-performance wireless solutions for music controllers. That could open up the chance for performers to move around, take advantage of tilt sensors and other location tools inside controllers, and work with gear in studio situations more flexibly.

Keith McMillen already has a track record using crowd funding to support projects – and they’ve been getting better at it. After the “3D” grid-and-ribbon QuNeo suffered production delays, the keyboard-style QuNexus shipped quickly to backers – and the QuNeo continued to mature as a product. Now, the QuNeo is getting an accessory called the Rogue (not to be confused with the Moog synth of the same name), an add-on that adds extended battery life and wireless connections.

The whole thing attaches via velcro, lasts 12 hours, and uses the 2.45GHz wireless band (not the crowded WiFi spectrum) to make connections. US$315-400 gets you the Rogue, with a QuNeo added in if you don’t already own one for $405-500.

KMI tells us they’ve just gotten a production prototype back:

Funding is on IndieGogo:
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/quneo-rogue-wireless-midi-controller-accessory

For a more general-purpose accessory, there’s the PUC, scene in the video above. In lab tests, at least, they’ve gotten stunningly-low latencies between hardware, as illustrated in a video:

The PUC is US$129 – a reasonable price for a wireless adapter, especially given what iOS accessories cost. What’s nice about the design is that it allows easy connections between iPad and traditional MIDI gear, without all the combinations of dongles. The hardware runs with USB power or via a couple of AA batteries. The project is the work of a Minneapolis-based team of mobile developers. (They work on Android, too, but it appears initially PUC is iOS-only. It’d be especially nice to see Mac/Windows/Linux support.)

In a refreshing departure for crowd funding projects, the team are giving early backers a steep discount on pricing – rather than charging them full freight and making them wait. That lowers the price to as little as US$79, with delivery due in December.

I’m surprised the project hasn’t been more successful, I think owing to the low profile of the developers. The campaign runs through the 9th of October on IndieGogo (which also seems to be generating less money than Kickstarter, perhaps also because of a lower profile).

PUC: Free your MIDI from the tyranny of wires! The only solution for MIDI & iOS

Looks promising, though with any of these projects, there’s a risk on the hardware until you have it in-hand.

The KMI gear seems a safe bet – modest goals, unique wireless band, and a track record. But the PUC’s broader utility makes it just as interesting, too. We’ll be watching.

Any of you who have worked on similar projects, we’d love to hear from you – and to hear about what challenges these projects may face, or what opportunities they have.

  • http://fzero.ca/ Fabio Neves

    The PUC works natively with MIDI over Wi-Fi on OS X too, as shown in the video. I would suspect that it can also work with Windows if there’s a Wi-Fi midi app for it.

  • Cillian Warfield

    First off, great title for the article, Peter!
    One issue I see straight off with the PUC is that many of the small keyboards out there that might benefit from being wireless, don’t actually have a din out midi socket. The bigger midi keyboards do but then I can’t see much advantage to having a big heavy keyboard that outputs wireless midi.

    • Samuele Cornell

      yes i think you’re right , small keyboards usually have usb connection only but i think there are already some usb wireless adapters out there you can use with ( not sure if there is a battery powered one though )

  • Dom Wilms

    Yo Peter! Where did you get this info about the frequency bands? 2.45 is EXACTLY the crowded wifi spectrum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels And even worse, it is the standard microwave leakage frequency. http://industrielle-mikrowelle.de/Eng_s11.htm This is why wifi channels 8&9 should be avoided in general when setting up access points and why this frequency is not regulated by the governments – this frequency is just to noisy. On the other hand this might be the reason why they have chosen it: no radio frequency regulations they have to care for.

  • Dr. X

    personally, I am going to wait for the next generation of controllers that will be shown at NAMM that have built in wireless, wifi, bluetooth etc.

    • Paul

      Yes I think you are right

  • Keith McMillen

    Hi – I designed the Rogue with my good friend Harvey Starr who has been doing wireless MIDI for years. We came up with a bidirectional system built on his robust wireless stack called AirPower which is super robust. You can see his version just announced here: http://www.starrlabs.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=72&product_id=79
    Together, we made customizations, optimized for the heavy two traffic that QuNeo demands and increased range. This is in addition to the remote battery and power management system that keeps the QuNeo going for many hours of performance.

    - Keith

  • Christopher Anderson

    But… but… but, I like wires!

  • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

    I am sure that one that audio wireless is faster than through a wire as well. Technique, gotta love it.

  • Ivan

    Else, the documentary “I dream of wires” is out for a few weeks !!

    http://www.idreamofwires.org/

  • Jason Duerr

    conclusion: if you use a real computer, wires are still better, if you use an ipad, you will have a few less problems

  • EclecticMayhem

    I was interested in the PUC but their funding model is actually working against them. Isays they keep all money raised even if they don’t reach their funding goal. My guess is not a lot of people are going to potentially throw away $80.

  • sonarfreq

    A completely wire free device like the Rogue I can understand, but the point of the PUC I am afraid is completely lost on me. It still requires a MIDI cable from the instrument into the PUC itself anyway, so what’s the problem with that cable simply being plugged directly into the iPad instead just as normal and forget the extra expense of the PUC and reliance on a dodgy WIFI connection in a crowded part of the spectrum? It just seems so pointless.. the video says “replacing ALL those cables”, but you would only be using ONE of those cables in the first place, and who is THAT far away when recording MIDI data into an iPad?

    You need to see the damn thing so It’s usually right in front of you, right?

    Naa..forget it…

    • DOG

      The case you make works for running a controller into the iPad, but for the other way around (midi out) it’s a big benefit. Say you’re using a sequencer/controller on the iPad and have a rack full of midi gear – being able to move around on stage freely without worrying about the iPad coming unplugged is great. This video isn’t of the same hardware/software but the benefit is the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3GermFZ9_g

      I used the Missing Link (essentially the same thing as the PUC) to edit synths on the other side of my studio, it was great and freeing being able to sit back and tweak via the iPad instead of menu diving on a ton of gear. The alternative would have been running a 12 foot cable from the ipad to a midi interface.

    • sonarfreq

      Hi Dog I hear you, but sadly none of the promotional videos (either latency tests or performance) actually demonstrate that the device is in/out switchable, hence my impression it was a one way device. However you’re right, over on the Techcrunch site they do quote that the PUC is indeed MIDI in/out switchable.

      http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/09/the-zivix-puc-connects-any-midi-device-to-your-ios-device/

      But even on the Indiegogo fund raising site, there is only ONE of the graphics that indicates in any way that the device is switchable, so blink and it;s easy to miss.

      My word to the developers would be to make more of the use of the device in the scenarios you yourself have recommended, as I agree when used in the OUT mode to control distant midi gear remotely from your computer or iPad then it has far more potential.

      But when being used this way, is it actually “multi MIDI channel” capable (at least the basic 16 channels), in order to be of real use in controlling a whole bank of gear as you say? Again, reading through all of the present promotional material, there is no mention or clarification of this ability at all.

      My doubts are raised simply because in each of the video situations, it is clearly only shown transmitting one MIDI channel from one device at a time, be it a keyboard, drum pads, guitar pedal or the DJ scenario.

      Also, thanks very much for the heads up on the “The Missing Link” device, that was one I wasn’t aware of previously!

  • DOG

    Between this post and the iOS midi post I’m surprised to see no mention of the Jabrudian Industries Missing Link (www.wifimidi.com)… I was using Lemur and TB Midi Stuff with it for several years up until recently to control some Elektron gear, an MKS-50, etc. The learning curve is a bit tricky with Lemur, and the OSC formatting doesn’t work with all apps, but it’s dead simple to use with Midi Stuff since support is built in and it’s treated like any midi device. Great price, build quality is solid, performance was reliable, and latency was never noticeable issue in any situation I had used it.

    It looks like PUC makes up for the only real failing point of the Missing Link – CoreMIDI support instead of hacking around with OSC with limited support (eg, no multi objects on Lemur). I can’t say I’m happy about the lack of dedicated midi in and out for merging, since it can throw a wrench in things if you’re in a live situation, though there are plenty of ways to work around it in the studio.

    I’d probably grab one if they do make it to market.