Tiny gadget cures MIDI of its cable addiction


Photo: Jim Merithew, Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew, Cult of Mac

Getting your MIDI keyboard connected to your iPad or Mac can be a frustrating experience. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right wires that connect to your output device of choice, and then you’ve got to make sure you never ever lose them.

PUC by Zivix LLC
Category: Music & MIDI
Works With: iOS, OS X
Price: $129

Hopping onstage for a gig at the local brewpub can be a frightening experience if you’ve lost that one special cord that goes from your keys to your Ableton Live setup on your Mac, and missing out on a recording session because you can’t find that special 30-pin adaptor for your iPad is just a pain in the butt.

The folks behind the excellent JamStick, Zivix, have your answer, then, with a cool-looking little round gadget called a PUC that connects any MIDI keyboard or other capable device to your iPad, your Mac, your iPhone, your PC — you name it, if it’s got Wi-Fi and can run a MIDI app, you can use the PUC to send your MIDI performance to it.

Setup is so easy that my tech-phobic mom could do it. You simply slap in two AA batteries, hit the button on the top, and then connect to the Wi-Fi network the PUC creates with your iPad or Mac. The little Wi-Fi symbol on the top of the hockey-puck shaped gadget flashes red and green, and you’re ready to make beautiful music.

The PUC has its own free universal iOS app which works on both iPad and iPhone. The PUC only provides the MIDI signal from your keyboard to your iPad, so you’ll have to run a MIDI-capable app like Garageband or IK Multimedia’s iGrand to have any sort of sound come out of your iPad.

To connect the PUC to the Mac, you’ll select the PUC’s Wi-Fi signal as your main network, and then launch the Audio MIDI Setup app on your Mac to select the PUC as your main MIDI interface. Again, you’ll need to run a music app with MIDI support to make your keyboard or MIDI drum machine bring the noise.

The one downside of having to use a WI-Fi signal for your MIDI channel is that you’re essentially offline while you’re tickling the (plastic) ivories. This can be kind of a pain when you’re used to dropping in and out of a web browser to learn lyrics or songs on YouTube and the like. Even when you want to download one of the apps mentioned in the PUC app to try it out, you’ll need to disconnect from the PUC, reconnect to your own Wi-Fi network, download the app, then reconnect to the PUC. It’s tedious.

Aside from this one issue, the PUC is fantastic. It takes all the energy out of the usual worry about cords being present, connected or even working at all out of the equation. The $129 pre-order price tag is fairly consistent with other, less adorable wireless MIDI gadgets out there, too.

If you’re looking for a device that frees you from the tyranny of wires (as the tagline on the device’s IndieGoGo page says), you’ll want to grab yourself one of these circular marvels and leave the cords at home.

pucProduct Name: PUC
The Good: Easiest connection for a MIDI interface ever; it’s adorably cute.
The Bad: Wi-Fi tech that makes wires a thing of the past keeps you from being online while using it.
The Verdict: If you’re constantly stressing over wires and MIDI devices, the PUC is your savior.
Pre-order from: MiPUC.com