Retronyms Intros Wej – A Hub For iOS Music Making

retronyms-wej

Retronyms – developer of iMPC Pro, iMini, iProphet and other iOS apps – has announced their first venture into music hardware,Retronyms.

Wej is a non-skid performance platform that lets you connect your USB MIDI controllers to your iOS music apps, wirelessly, over the new Apple Bluetooth LE MIDI protocol. It’s designed to be a connectivity hub for iOS music making. 

Here’s the official intro video for Wej:

Other Features

Retronyms Wej also features an interactive RGB LED array, which can be used for ambience or as a portable light show.

Wej is also hackable. The core of Wej is an Arduino application processor. This means it’s possible to hack the Wej hardware to do anything that you can program on an Arduino.

wej-outline

The Arduino sketch can be modified to change how the device’s LED array works, to remap or modulate MIDI or to create custom USB MIDI controllers.

Retronyms is funding the production of Wej through pre-orders through Nov 7th, 2014. During this time, they are offering the Wej for $99, 20% off the standard price to users that preorder. They expect to ship the Wej in the first half of 2015. See the Retronyms site for details.

44 thoughts on “Retronyms Intros Wej – A Hub For iOS Music Making

  1. 1:40 into the video. Is that why they replaced velocity and aftertouch in iProphet with accelerometer?
    We don’t want to tilt the ipad while playing. Gives us a Wedgie ..i mean Wej

      1. Also – I get the impression with the apps that Retronyms does for Arturia and Akai that too many people have to sign off on making changes.

        The iMPC MIDI gap seems like something that should have been fixed in a couple of weeks after so many people raised the issue. I’m not buying it until it delivers on being a ‘pro’ app and offers professional MIDI support.

        The iProphet MIDI gaps seem similar, like it should be a minor fix. But it seems like these bugs end up hanging around for a long time.

  2. that’s a great idea – i can reduce clutter on my desk by adding another device. and i can connect wirelessly by plugging cables into this device. come on, guys, do you even read what you’re advertising?

    1. It reduces the cables going to the iPad specifically. You free up your lightning port for charging, audio, or just one less cable. I don’t know about you, but I hate having an iPad with multiple cables coming out of it. There’s one less cable in general because you don’t have something going to the iPad…

      and to be fair, I didn’t say you reduced desk clutter, just “cable clutter” 🙂
      /JP

  3. The problem I see is that iOS or Mac OS devices already can act as BT LE hubs for MIDI (if using Yosemite and iOS 8). So what does this hub actually do that can’t be done connecting a midi controller to the iPad using the camera connection kit? That works wonders, actually. The only practical situation I see is the case you already have your CCK occupied by, say, another midi controller or and audio interface for iPad but even then you can also use a standard powered USB hub, so… no.

  4. Looks useful to me – Bluetooth Midi seems like it’s going to be a big deal.

    For the previous commenters – what would you like to see Retronyms change to make this better? My first thought was to make it thinner, but it looks like the height might be good for usability. I guess my suggestion would be to lose the lights & make it a little cheaper.

    1. What we need: something to seamlessly integrate iOS music apps in our desktop DAWs, both MIDI and audio. Solve that problem.

        1. Should be nice to do it wirelessly. At first I thought that was what Retronyms was doing, but it’s not the case. Glorified BT-synced LED lights though.

      1. No, keep bloody desktop on the desktop- that’s what it’s for.

        iOS is meant to be standalone. Let it be alone:)

        Someone make one app that don’t need another app to assist it or a bloody fancy third party midi gizmo!

    2. Something that eliminates more than one (1) cable for $100 and also maybe allows me to interconnect other PC and iOS devices. If they start making BT LE controllers some day then I have to buy nothing. Today I use the CCK or if I need to hub several controllers then the iConnect comes into play. At that point I can add more iOS or PC/Mac devices if I want.

      iConnectivity seems to get it with their approach. And if I’m on the level of hacking the configuration of the hub then I’m going to go the way iConnectivity has laid out which I already have and loving it.

      This is a giant powered USB hub to BT MIDI adapter. It has flashy lights too. I bet that’s going to stay interesting for about 10 minutes.

    3. I think the iConnectivity interfaces are the ones to beat right now, though they don’t do wireless.

      The Wej would be more interesting to me at $50, no lights and with 4 USB ports. At the $100 price, It should do more, like support DIN MIDI.

      Wireless audio doesn’t make sense to me yet. It’s going to have significant latency, because you’re moving a ton of data around, rather than just MIDI.

    1. The thing is that you don’t even need adapters. If you have an iOS device and a camera connection kit you already can connect your MIDI gear to OS X (Yosemite) via BT LE.

      1. FWIW – Bluetooth LE is only available with fairly recent Macs, I think it’s 2012 or later for the Macbook Pro and iMac lines. Sadly, none of my computers support it! 🙁

  5. There are several things that Wej does beyond untethering your iPad. 1) It lets you plug your iPad into power while you’re using it with MIDI controllers. It would suck to have your iPad battery die right in the middle of a show. Wej solves this. 2) It lets you use power hungry controllers that the iPad can’t power on its own. 3) It gives you a really nice base to put your iPad on while you perform. 4) The lights!

    By the way, Wej uses Apple’s Bluetooth LE support at the OS level. It works with lots of apps, not just Tabletop.

    1. A run-off-the-mill $5 powered hub can do both 1 and 2 and since you need to power the Wej anyway you gain nothing really.
      3 can be performed with almost any decent iPad cover.
      4 My christmas tree has better lights.

      1. Functionally, iConnectMIDI4+ already does that and more. BT connectivity is not needed are desired in this case. It has some cool lights too that provide “information”.

        Aesthetically, if you care about bases your going to buy something else and if you care about dance lights these lights will make you laugh. If you care about looks and want to look cute and have a wad of your parents cash to throw away then this is for you.

  6. The stark reality, given personal experience an the reports of others is that Retronyms haven’t the faintest idea about the realities of making music in the 21st Century.

    It’s like a fairly reasonable graphic designer who hasn’t much of a clue about the technicalities of implementing good audio or midi code got hold of some buggy open source audio stuff and thought they could flip it and make a lot of money. I’m not gambling man, but I’d probably wager this isn’t far from the truth.

    Don’t fall for their bullshit.

    To be fair, the Arturia part of the developments, the TAE engine that’s in iSEM and iProphet is superb!! They are great sounding emulations and they’re worth the entry price, even with Retronyms ‘standard implementation of midi’ 🙂

  7. There is a market for wireless since I also hate midi and usb cords, but I think Quicco hit the mark with mi.1 wireless bluetooth midi device for $35.

  8. Ah, I really like Retronyms… This not so much. I wish they would expand and refine Tabletop first. I don’t want Wej taking another spot on the Tabletop platform.

  9. i dont like the fake crowdsourcing sale premise. it isn’t a kickstarter, it is a plea on their own site for pre-orders supposedly on-sale with a second undisclosed amount that you get charged later for “S&H”…

    1. It used to stand for “Midi” when Roger Linn was the HHIC. After they lost their best programmers like JJ, they changed it to “Music”.

  10. I wish they would restore the MPC Software export capability back to the iMPC product. It was in the original but missing in the ‘Pro’ version. Retronyms claims that although it was listed as a feature during the build-up they didn’t have time to implement it. Here we are nearly 4 months later and their MPC product still is not file compatible with the desktop MPC software and retronyms is busy working on a gimmicky product that can be easily implemented using an old iphone or ipod touch using Secretbasedesign’s Apollo Bluetooth Over MIDI app. Heck, I used it last night with a small passive hub and I was able to wirelessly control Ipad apps using an MPC Element simultaneously with a Qunexus. Retronyms had the nerve to send me an email this morning touting the Wej as something that would greatly enhance iMPC Pro. Really? How about adding some useful features such as timestretching and kit/project export then we can talk about your little hardware experiments!

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