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The MIDI Association and Bluetooth MIDI at 2016 SXSW

For the past few days we have been at the SXSW Music Expo.  It turns out that Austin now only has a vibrant synth scene, but there are a lot of Austin based startups doing some pretty cool things with MIDI. Also at the show we got to meet with some companies from around the globe and from all over the US doing cool things with Bluetooth MIDI. It seems that BTLE MIDI has inspired a number of companies to create unique new ways to control MIDI wireless and MIDI gestural control really seems to trending in 2016. 

So here is a quick report on MIDI at the 2016 SXSW Music Expo. 

Austin Based Futuresonus shows off the Parva Poly Analog Synth

We got to interview Designer Brad Ferguson to talk about his new synth, the Futuresonus Parva, a polyphonic analog synthesizer.  Just as refresher here are the Parva’s key features:

  • Eight voice polyphonic synthesizer with flexible voice assignment
  • Three oscillators per voice
  • Flexible dual filters
  • 4 LFOs
  • 100% analog signal path
  • Digital patch management and control
  • USB master port so you can connect USB MIDI controllers directly to it
  • Aluminum case and knobs

Brad talks about the Parva and how MIDI is used for control. ​

The Parva has some unique MIDI features including a USB Host port so you can connect your USB controller directly to the Parva module,  the use of 14 bit RPNs to get double bit precision for control of most of the analog parameters . FYI, RPNs (Registered Parameters)  and NRPNs (Non-Registered Parameters) have been a part of the MIDI spec form the very beginning).   Also (although not mentioned in the video) Futuresonus is workingto make Parva the first hardware synth that uses the new Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) standard the MIDI Manufacturers Association is working on.  

Here is Brad’s take on what MIDI means. 

Zivix show off Jam Stik 2 and new Air Jamz

The Jamstik made it easy to learn to play guitar, Jamstik 2 added more features and there is more content and apps.

Air Jamz goes ‘playing” guitar even simpler and is just plain fun. Check out this Engadget article. 


AirJamz is a wristband that turns air guitar into wear guitar

The tagline reads: “AirJamz is the wearable Air Guitar that you have to see to believe.” To be fair, you probably can believe it, especially if you’re familiar…

OWOW – the Omnipresent World Of Whizkids

OWOW was showing off their truly unique Bluetooth controllers called midis and named Wiggle, Scan, Drum and Wob. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video must be worth even more so check them out. The OWOW team has some very intriguing designs that are both simple and elegant ways to do interesting and creative things with MIDI. 

Here is Dirtcaps showing how to use the midis in the studio. 

The ReMIDI T8 MIDI Glove

There have been MIDI gloves around for awhile, like Imogen Heap’s which we have featured on the site before, but ReMIDI is the first attempt to deliver a product that can be manufactured in quantity and also the first to use Bluetooth MIDI.  We were able to catch up with Andrea Baldereschi, CEO and Marco Casolati, Product Specialist at ReMIDI to talk about where the T8 project is at and their thoughts on the future of MIDI gestural control. 

Here is a video of the ReMIDI T8 in action. Andrea told us they have fully functioning prototypes and on track to start production around September. 

Zoom also had a booth at SXSW and were showing off their ARQ™ BTLE wireless MIDI controller and Yamaha had their UD-BT01 and UM-BT01 BTLE adapters so it was pretty clear that the Bluetooth MIDI is going mainstream in 2016.