Behringer Gets Knocked Off By CME, Who Says They Have ‘No Component Shortage’

Can a knockoff of a knockoff be so derivative that it actually becomes something new?

That’s the question raised by CME today, with their introduction of the SWIDI – a wireless MIDI keyboard controller that they say is “inspired by Behringer”.

When Behringer introduced the SWING, it closely copied the Arturia Keystep.

Last year, Behringer notoriously introduced the SWING, a MIDI keyboard controller that was such a close copy of the Arturia Keystep that Behringer had to defend it on their site.

In their statement, Behringer said that copying other company’s products as closely as legally possible is the core of their ‘market follower’ business strategy, arguing that this type of competition is good for the industry.

Content Alert: This is where some readers’ heads may explode.

Now, the CME SWIDI is being introduced as ‘inspired by’ the Behringer SWING. If you look closely, you may see some similarities between the two products:

So you might think that the SWIDI is a knockoff of the SWING, itself a knockoff of the Keystep. In other words, Behringer is getting ‘a taste of their own medicine’.

Is a knockoff of a knockoff itself just another copy of the original?

Or you might think that the SWIDI can’t be a knockoff of the SWING, because a copy of a copy is actually, itself, a copy of the original. In other words, CME’s copy validates Behringer’s perspective that copying is good for competition.

But here’s where things start to get interesting….

The Interesting Part

What makes the CME SWIDI interesting is that it’s not just a copy of a copy. It does things that neither the Behringer Swing or the Arturia Keystep can do.

CME are known for their wireless MIDI products and inexpensive expressive MIDI controllers. With the SWIDI, CME is riffing on the SWING, reimagining the wired mini keyboard controller & sequencer as a completely wireless device.

Unlike its predecessors, the CME SWIDI supports low-latency Bluetooth MIDI connectivity. The SWIDI is designed to control your hardware and software MIDI devices, but without the need for MIDI cables or power cords.

Key Features:

  • 64-step sequencer, with support for 8-note polyphony.
  • Connects wirelessly to up to four peripherals. For legacy MIDI hardware, CME also offers a MIDI-powered Bluetooth adapter.
  • 3ms latency between WIDI equipped devices
  • 65ft / 20m plain sight range between WIDI equipped devices
  • Add up to five (5) Bluetooth MIDI devices with group auto-learn
  • You can optimize for latency or jitter performance via WIDI App (iOS/Android)
  • Wireless charging. You can power & play the SWIDI on its charging station for eight hours of wireless use.

CME says that there’s “no component shortage” to delay production of the SWIDI, and that it will be priced 20% less than the Behringer SWING.

Pricing and Availability

The CME SWIDI will be available May 2, 2022, priced at $€ 79.

96 thoughts on “Behringer Gets Knocked Off By CME, Who Says They Have ‘No Component Shortage’

    1. Just clicked on the CME link and saw this text:

      More details will follow exactly on April’s Fools Day 2022!

      What to make of it?

  1. Is this thing a hoax? Note the picture you have of the Swing is the prototype, the version that came to market looks different — in fact it looks exactly like the SWIDI, except the name and logo. And in fact the SWIDI photo looks so identical to the Swing photo from the Behringer site I have to believe it’s a photoshop job. Note the identical “reflection” at the bottom of both photos. Also note the two protrusions on the back panel visible from above, corresponding I think to the power jack and foot switch jack on the Swing. But the SWIDI has no such jacks, as can be seen in another SWIDI photo at the CME site of the back panel. … It’s more than a week early for April Fool’s, though, and I get the sense from CME’s web page copy they’re being serious (aside from swipes at Behringer). So I dunno.

    1. Rich – the Keystep/SWING comparison is from our coverage of the SWING introduction, so it reflects how they compared when Behringer made the SWING introduction.

      For clarity, we added a SWING/SWIDI comparison, which highlights how similar these two are.

      We have seen no suggestion that this is a ‘hoax’ – CME is an established manufacturer of wireless MIDI products, and they appear to be riffing on the SWING.

    2. No this is a legit product made by a legit company, cme has an announcement on their site, and i use their products, they are high quality.

  2. yes – i figured it was something to do with certain asian parts factories rather than others… interesting to have it confirmed by another company as they clone behringer cloning someone else

    its quite meta

    1. behringer essentially owns a town in china where all of their manufacturing is done so all of their parts are sourced locally there.

      1. Thats what Behringer wants you to believe but they like everyone else in this industry buys a lot from oem manufacturers.

      2. Music Tribe doesn’t manufacture chips and electronic components. As Tabusco says, they rely heavily on third party manufacturers.

    1. Nope – the back panels are completely different since this is a wireless device.

      It’s just a very close copy!

      1. The back panel itself appears different, because it’s been photoshopped. But look at the knobs on top in that picture, the screws on the bottom, the “reflection” at the bottom of the picture, and so on — they’re identical down to the exact positions of the knob pointers.

    1. Companies have to design things that you can manufacture now, with the parts you can get.

      Idle factory time is capacity lost forever, money that you’ll never make.

      1. Elwin, it’s brutally difficult to get *any* decent microcontrollers right now. They’re simply unavailable on the open market, and even established manufacturers are on allocation getting deliveries when the manufacturer has stock, not when they’re needed.

        Combine that with government mandated factory closures in Shenzhen and Dongguan and it’s challenging to get cases, packaging and accessories made on schedule. And let’s not even talk about shipping container availability or pricing.

    1. And given there are no links in this article and no pictures or any mention of this on the CME page, I’ll add synthopia seems interested in starting some shit. Just wonder why.

  3. SWIDI? Seriously?
    Such a lost marketing opportunity.I mean…I dunno…I’m no marketing dude AT ALL, but if even they named it SHAWING or SHWING, they would have clearly gotten their ‘copy/copy’ communication across.

  4. In the internet there seem to be pictures of the back of the unit. From the top view it looks like it has same ports in the back as Behringer unit, but from the rear you can see in the pictures, that there are no ports anywhere to be found. Which means that this picture of theirs is actually photoshopped from Behringer unit. That is very weird!

    Otherwise I think it’s good for the competition, as Behringer has said. Modern musical instruments are becoming more similar with traditional ones. Violin is a violin and Minimoog is a Minimoog or bread is bread.

      1. Look, all I’m telling is that CME unit has 2 bumps seen from top vew on the right. But it has no ports there. They use Behringer picture which is photoshopped by a lazy person.

      2. Yes, I have looked at those photos, and EVERY ONE is clearly a crop or a photoshop of a “photo” (or, as someone points out, a render) from the Behringer page. Only things different are logo and name, and they erased the ports on the back panel.

    1. “Violin is a violin and Minimoog is a Minimoog or bread is bread.”

      Umm. No. A Minimoog is a specific kind of synthesizer. One doesn’t accidentally copy *everything* about it.

  5. This thing adds bluetooth but removes DIN MIDI, cv/gate and sync. It’s a great way to sell CME’s WIDI dongles.

    1. I’m tempted to just slap one of their wireless MIDI adapters on my modular and not have to dick around with wires. You could play your modular from any where in your studio or anywhere in your house!

        1. “Kinda funny that you don’t want to mess with wires but you have a modular. ?”

          The point of modular gear is to let you create connections between your modules.

          The point of cords on your controller are to power it and carry the MIDI signal, both of which can be done wirelessly now.

          I like the idea of being able to work from anywhere in my studio or to take my controller downstairs and use it at the table with my computer or iPad and never have to dink with wires.

          We don’t need wires with our phones, tablets or computers anymore, so it just make sense to use a wireless controller when at the end of the day most people are recording to a computer or tablet.

    1. They could start with making some synths that support wireless MIDI.

      The fact that you can’t wirelessly update synths or connect to them wirelessly makes me think that manufacturers think this Internet thing is a fad.

      1. Mmm, wireless MIDI on a hardware synth would be a nice complement to wireless MIDI on the controller.

        I typically use CME’s controllers with the iPad, which supports bluetooth MIDI and has some great synth apps, including some that support polyphonic aftertouch.

        I also have a bluetooth MIDI dongle that plugs into hardware synths, turning them into bluetooth-MIDI-enabled synths!

        It would be nice to have this built in, but of course the dongle works with my vintage 5-pin MIDI synths which are never going to support bluetooth.

      2. Certifying devices to FCC/CE standards is hard enough when the device is an unintentional radiator. Add a radio to it and it becomes an intentional radiator that requires a whole bunch of really expensive additional tests that are easy to fail. Most synths only sell a few thousand or few tens of thousands of units, so adding wifi or bluetooth is a risky proposition.

        1. Thanks for that point, I hadn’t thought of that.

          It makes sense that tech products are all wireless these days, but they’re also made in huge volumes.

          Maybe CME’s approach – using adapters – is the best possible solution.

  6. I hope this is a precursor of things to come!

    I’d love to see companies knockoff Behringer’s synths, but with slightly less crap build quality. Behringer always has to go all the way to the bottom.

    1. “Always”, you say. Is that true? I can assure you that their Odyssey puts the Korg reissues to shame, to take one example. Perhaps some of their cheapest units are badly made — I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried them — but once you move up the food-chain, quality is often quite good.

      1. They are both not the best quality but I tested them side by side, everything is better on the Korg, the knobs, buttons and connectors. Korg use the original case material from the original manufacture so maybe you mistaken case material to “quality”? some think just because something is made of metal it is better but its just a cheap trick manufactures do. Its clear beringer aiming for the lowest cost possible, this is what they are all about.

        1. Are you referring to the Korg ARP Odyssey Mini (which was hundreds more $$ than the full size Behringer Odyssey)? The Odyssey Mini is small and does not have better build quality than the Behringer Odyssey (it also has less features than the Behringer Odyssey). My Korg MS-20 mini sounds great but has cheap build quality and keys. The Korg Odyssey Mini also has the cheap feel and uses the exact same cheap mini keys bed. If you are referring to the limited issue full-size Korg Odyssey FS, that may be a different story. The Korg Odyssey FS costs how much? Is available where?

      2. Not one of their synths compares to the build quality of a Yamaha.

        When the apocalypse comes and the only thing left alive is mutant cockroaches, they’ll be playing DX7s, because those things are indestructible.

  7. Who cares dude. This is a win for customers who can’t afford the ones you can afford like brand names and boutique

    1. A genuine Arturia Keystep costs about half the price of a CME keyboard + 4 wireless bluetooth dongles. And the Arturia lets you connect by USB, DIN MIDI and cv/gate.

  8. I don’t like the knockoff term applied to electronics and instruments; I’d prefer to call it an inexpensive, unlicensed clone or copy.

    That being said, using the CME Xkey really drove home to me what a great feature polyphonic aftertouch is!

    1. Something is not smelling right. The page on CME says “inspired by Behringer”
      Why would they use the brand name? They didn’t even put disclaimer.
      Why the swing? It’s not even a good seller, the only thing unique about it is its a copy of another available product, maybe its the least “economically problematic” product to copy from beringer but the most controversial? Why not copy the BCR2000/BCF2000 or the FCB1010? They will be perfect for wireless midi and will give a real competition…

      Maybe it’s coordinated to give an excuse that “everybody copy others” and just another publicity stunt?
      Anyway, seems like a win-win situation for beringer

      1. I’d assume it’s all part of the troll, honestly. “Inspired by Behringer” because every post about new Behringer synths explicitly detail which synth they’re “inspired by.” I think it also helps any potential case to be made in court by saying “hey, we aren’t hiding our inspiration. It’s not like we put this product out and pretended it wasn’t a re-imagining of a previous product. It’s right there on the page. We gave credit where it was due.” That’s not bullet-proof by any stretch, but it does improve the argument, even if only slightly.

        Also, part of me thinks it’s an attempt to goad them into legal action to prove Behringer’s hypocrisy, but it’s also a product where legal action would probably not be financially feasible because it isn’t a big seller.

        But I don’t know. I don’t work for CME so just my initial thoughts really.

    1. A swidi knockoff would probably be better if it includes physical connections and bluetooth. just bluetooth is really limiting on something like this and I would prefer physical connections over only bluetooth since, you know none of my synths have a bluetooth connection – meaning I would either need an adapter or just to use it in a DAW situation.

  9. This is 100% a hoax/joke from CME.

    The Keystep/Swing both have a metal bottom plate, which makes the supposed wireless charging impossible.
    There is also not a single connection socket in sight, which is one of the main selling points for the Keystep.

    Selling another copy of the Keystep would only hurt Arturia more, not Behringer.
    So this is only funny as long as it isn’t real.

    1. “This is 100% a hoax/joke from CME.”

      A lot of people say things like this, based on absolutely nothing.

      The ONLY example I can think of an established music manufacturer introducing a hoax/joke product other than on April Fools is when Behringer was using Facebook to harass journalist Peter Kirn. They introduced several fake products to harass him, like the ‘Corksniffer’.

      There is 0% chance this is a hoax/joke. They’re not going to risk getting sued by Behringer for a joke.

      1. “based on absolutely nothing.”

        You mean based on the fact that this simply can’t work.
        Like I said, there is a metal bottom plate in the original design.
        So wireless charging is off the table.

        Not even talking about the miracle wireless charging station included in the lower price.

        There is no USB port for charging or updates.

        There is not even a power switch on this battery powered device.

  10. This is 100% a hoax/joke by CME.

    The Keystep/Swing both have a metal bottom plate, that makes the supposed wireless charging impossible.
    There is also not a single connection socket in sight, which is one of the main selling points of the Keystep.

    Another copy of the Keystep would only hurt Arturia more, not Behringer.
    This is only funny as long as it isn’t real.

  11. And it’s all coming from the same chinese factory with low-wage workers.

    Wonder if the bashing would have been the same as for Behringer, if this one would have popped up first…..

  12. This thing appears to have no USB port and the CME ad copy says, “Enjoy freedom on stage and in the studio with its unique wireless charging pad.”

    It’s either fake or the most useless keyboard product on the market, requiring WIDI adapters/bluetooth to communicate with *anything.* And heaven help you if you need a firmware update (hmm… the Arturia Keystep has an app to allow you to configure it – how do the Behringer and CME devices compare?)

      1. Most modern ARM microcontrollers have one or two USB ports. Adding USB connectivity costs a few cents, including a USB-C jack, a few discretes and ESD protection diodes. It makes absolutely no sense to exclude it.

  13. Weird marketing stunt from CME, but I gotta say their Bluetooth MIDI stuff is absolutely rock solid. I’ve had their Bluetooth MIDI dongle and the Xkey for many years, and never had even one single connection issue of any kind. Always connects without pairing issues, no dropouts or lag. As reliable as cables. Xkey is also a very nice keyboard, even if the keybed is a bit computer keyboard-like.

  14. This looks like CME might have licensed the design from Behringer. Which would be bananas given that Behringer copied it from Arturia.

    1. 0% chance that this is licensed from Behringer.

      Behringer has established ripping off competitor’s designs as the new normal. CME and other companies have to adapt and be just as ruthlessly competitive.

      1. If anything Behringer adapted to Chinese companies, who have been championing the game of copying ideas and designs for three decades. Behringer are not transforming the industry. They just make cheap stuff and sell it to people who like cheap stuff. Nothing magical about it,

  15. The website says: “Fully charge your SWIDI in two (2) hours and enjoy eight (8) hours of pure freedom.”

    I wonder if they will release the 8 hours of pure freedom separately. I would totally buy that.

  16. Here’s my guess: It’s in part an April Fool’s joke, but not a complete hoax. It’s a publicity stunt in support of an actual product. They’ll release a new keyboard on May 2, it’ll have the stated specs, and it’ll cost $79 (or at least that’s the plan), but “inspired by Behringer” and its backtracking on the Swing design, it won’t look like the Swing. And it’ll get tons of coverage.

    I’ll bet a whole dollar.

    1. That suggestion is as dumb as when people pretended that Behringer ‘licensed’ the Keystep design from Arturia.

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