The SWIDI clone of the Behringer SWING clone of the Arturia Keystep was an April Fool tease. However, it was so popular that CME has decided to do it for real.
What CME thought might be a jolly jape of an April Fool gag turned out to cause quite a stir. The announcement looked real enough, professionally done with good images and just enough sass to make you believe they were for real. Of course, everyone loved the idea that Behringer was getting a taste of their own cloning medicine and so the whole thing blew up.
CME has just announced that they will make the SWIDI become a reality if they get enough community support. It’s going to be a crowd-driven project with the goal to create the most perfect Bluetooth MIDI keyboard they can for the target price of $79. What’s immediately striking is that they’ve changed the look and moved away from the idea of simply cloning the Behringer SWING or Arturia Keystep to offer something that’s a bit more individual. I think that’s a very smart and welcome development.
So what is the SWIDI controller all about? Well, primarily this is designed as a Bluetooth controller device because that’s what CME does. CME has already developed the “Advanced Wireless MIDI” technology to run MIDI over Bluetooth 5 at a latency of under 3ms, over a distance of 20 meters, pairing with macOS, Windows, iOS and Android. You also have the ability to configure wireless MIDI groups with up to four devices over 16 MIDI channels. CME also has plenty of controller experience with the Xkey series of keyboards.
However, CME wants to know what you’d like to see in the SWIDI. Do you want CV/Gate or USB ports? Do you want Polyphonic Aftertouch? Would you prefer an internal wirelessly rechargeable battery or is a bunch of double A’s sufficient? If CME can get 3,000 active registrants to contribute their thoughts then it will make SWIDI into a real thing.
That’s all very exciting! For me when comparing the original idea to the SWING and Keystep the thing I missed the most was the CV/Gate outputs. On the other hand, I was quite taken by the idea of it being completely wire-free. Maybe it would be more interesting for CME to develop a little WIDI-CV box like the WIDI Jack or even a Eurorack module with WIDI built-in and a selection of configurable CV outputs. That would be cool, in fact, I should register my interest and tell CME.