Exploring the latest music and audio production applications for iOS / iPad
With the release of iOS 5 right around the corner Apple has recently released a beta version of the operating system to app developers. This has also allowed some new information to surface about Apple’s latest OS for the iPad and iPhone. The first notable change that relates to music is Apple’s new “Music” application which combines the iTunes and iPod apps into a single music application. This update also includes a new interface with an easier playlist interface, the ability to delete songs from your library and manage hard drive space. In addition to this new music application we anticipate new capabilities in software performance, file sharing and overall workflow. You can read more about the announced changes on Apple’s website. In the meantime we will keep you posted on changes we hear about. For the latest in music applications and hardware that is available now.. read on.
One of the most exciting applications we’ve seen for iOS recently is Pulse Code’s Rhythm Studio – a virtual techno studio for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In the above video you can see a demo of the app with a re-creation of Daft Punk’s “End Titles” track from the Tron Legacy soundtrack. This ambitious application combines a virtual Roland TR-808 drum machine, TB-303 synthesizer, sample-based synthesizer, XY style control pad, and mixer with FX into a studio application that you can grab for a limited time for a mere $.99. This is a great deal because the developer promises free future upgrades: “This is just the beginning for Rhythm Studio. Future updates will include more unique synths and drum machines, along with the feature requests you want…ALL FREE! “ Other features in this app include a step sequencer, intuitive pinch, double tap navigation, obust pattern and song sequencer, 3 methods to making your songs, recreation of a classic drum machine, recreation of classic synthesizers, mixer, FX and a simple interface that the company touts as one of the top features: “Knobs turn, switches slide, and buttons press. You won’t get lost in abstract interfaces, menus, or design.” Based on reviews in the app store this thing has impressive sound. We’re excited to get our hands on it and start tweaking.
Next up in our list of innovative music apps for the iPad is VirSyn’s iSyn Poly. This electronic music creation tool for the Apple iPad features three synthesizers (two monophonic, and one 8-voice polyphonic), a drum machine, and a full featured sequencer. The sequencer contains four recording tracks laid out in a familiar piano roll style. Recordings can be cleaned up with quantization, and notes can be selected, edited, and copied. Each track also includes five lanes of automation for controlling velocity and pitch, and any parameters assigned to the mod wheel and X/Y pad. With the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit you can use a CoreMIDI compatible MIDI Keyboard to control iSyn Poly. VirSyn’s iSyn Poly costs $10 and is available now via iTunes.
New Movements in Hardware for Music Creation on the iPad
As the iPad becomes increasingly popular as both a performance and music production device, many hardware developers continue to create ways for us to integrate the device into our studio and live setup. One device that we are excited to see released is the Alesis iO Dock. Alesis explains that,“the iO Dock is a universal docking station specifically designed for the iPad and iPad 2 that gives musicians, recording engineers, and music producers the connectivity they need to create and perform with iPad.” This connectivity is impressive and comes in the form of 2 x XLR-1/4″ Balanced TRS inputs with phantom power, individual gain controls, phantom power, switchable and high-impedance switch on Input 2. Outputs include 2 x 1/4″ Balanced TRS Main, 1/4″ TRS Headphone and Individual level controls. The iO Dock also includes VIDEO OUTPUT in the way of RCA Composite outputs. (requires compatible apps). CONTROL I/O comes in the way of MIDI In (DIN), MIDI Out (DIN), USB MIDI and 1/4″ Footswitch (function assigned by apps). We’re waiting to get one of these to test out so in the meantime check out Gearwire’s in-depth review of the new iO Dock.
IK Multimedia, creators of the popular iRig guitar interface and iRig Mic audio interfaces for the iPhone and iPad, have launched another interface aimed at keyboardists and studio musicians with iRig MIDI. The interface can be purchased for about $70 and comes with a free application called iRig Midi Recorder that allows recording and playback of MIDI information. The best news about this device is that it supports CoreMIDI – a feature that had been lacking in some previous MIDI interfaces for the iPad. IK Multimedia explains the product a bit further: “iRig MIDI connects MIDI keyboards, drum machines, drum pads, pedal boards and more to an iOS device to control a world of MIDI-compatible apps. You can also use iOS apps to control external MIDI equipment such as sound modules, DAWs or lighting systems right from the mobile device.” Read more on this interface at IK Multimedia’s website.
In competition with the iRig Midi is Line 6′s updated iPad interface – the MIDI Mobilizer 2. The first version of the MIDI Mobilizer was criticized for lack of CoreMIDI but it seems the company has listened to customer demands and re-developed the device and software to work with all core MIDI devices and software. Line 6 explains further in a press release: MIDI Mobilizer II is compatible with CoreMIDI, the new standard for iOS music apps. This allows users to connect their MIDI gear to the latest crop of music apps like GarageBand for iPad and many other exciting music creation and education apps from developers all over the world. MIDI Mobilizer II is compatible with iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPhone (iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4), iPad and iPad 2, and is powered through the device – no batteries required.
Michael Walsh is the Editor of Dubspot’s Blog, a producer of audio/visual art and a journalist living in Southern California. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com