Movements in iOS: iConnect MIDI – The iOS Missing Link for iPad/iPhone Music Solutions

The iPad’s Missing Link for MIDI

The iConnectMIDI is a small, powered MIDI hub that sports two sets of your normal MIDI in/out connections in addition to three USB ports in a compact interface. It’s a product that snuck up on me over this last year, something that I couldn’t help but pay attention to after hearing so much about it. It seemed interesting at first but I didn’t see at the time why I might need one. I have the Apple Camera Connection Kit which offers a USB port for MIDI on my iPad, do I need more than that? Then I watched this product make its way into studios in a slow but steady conquest. I started seeing the iConnect MIDI on user forums, in kit lists and as recommendations from fellow musicians who found this device indispensable for spontaneous moments of MIDI connectivity in the studio.

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It’s worth noting that iConnectivity has been keeping pace with iOS music application development, as they have created a device that is built upon the latest MIDI functionality that has been developed for our iPads, iPhones, and iPods. The Calgary-based company seems dedicated to the iOS music movement, as they explain on their website, “the company is currently focused on hardware solutions for the music industry. iConnectivity is revolutionizing the music space through quality products that facilitate equipment communication integration between non-mobile and mobile devices. Enhancing creativity, expanding functionality and encouraging collaboration.”

MIDI for the Digital Age

The iConnectMIDI is an exciting device because it does something that no other MIDI interface on the market at this price range can do. As the company explains,”iConnectMIDI is an enhanced MIDI interface that enables communication between 5 pin MIDI, USB MIDI, Mac, PC and iOS devices – all at the same time.” That last part is the important part. While I’ve been able to plug my iPad into my Akai MPK Mini, or use the iPad over WiFi to control my computer, it’s usually a single connection from the iPad to another device. With the iConnectMIDI, you could have, say, a laptop, an iPad, and a few different midi controllers all sending signal to numerous pieces of hardware in your studio.While some of this workflow is possible with my existing setup, the iConnect MIDI shines with near-zero latency in a single box that can run the whole show.

The small box offers 2 sets of standard MIDI in/out ports, two sets of computer or iOS mini-USB ports, and one standard USB port that can support up to 8 controllers (USB hub not included). In total there are 12 MIDI connections available. The iConnect MIDI requires a power cable that unfortunately doesn’t charge your iOS device while it’s working, but otherwise works very well to power multiple USB MIDI Controllers.

Admittedly – a MIDI box is not a piece of gear that I usually get excited about. But iConnectMIDI has become a Swiss Army Knife of sorts in my studio, stepping in to route MIDI signal between devices that I previously could not have connected. On more than one occasion recently I found myself saying, “Oh wait, I CAN connect that,” due to the  plug-and-play nature of this device and multiple USB MIDI hubs. The iConnectMIDI has surpassed my expectations. I’ve never owned a MIDI interface that actually multiplies the possibilities of MIDI routing and this box is a fresh perspective on what we can do with current technology.

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iConnect MIDI Specs
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  • 2 miniUSB ports – iOS Devices including iPhone (3GS and up), iPod touch (3G and up) and iPad devices running at least iOS 4.2. Personal Computers – Mac OS X, Windows (XP and up) and Linux using standard MIDI compliant drivers. Each port supports 12 Mbps Full Speed USB and presents as standard USB MIDI 1.0 Device.
  • 1 USB A Host Port – Supports any USB MIDI 1.0 class compliant device. 12 Mbps Full Speed USB. Supplies up to 500 mA power. Supports standard powered USB hub (up to 8 devices).
  • 2 x 2 MIDI DIN ports – Input / output Classic MIDI DIN pairs. 31250 bps throughput. MIDI Manufacturing Association compliant.
  • MIDI Bridge - No computer required, Bridge between USB MIDI 1.0 devices and classic MIDI DIN devices. Bridge between multiple USB MIDI 1.0 devices
  • MIDI Merge – Merge two or more MIDI input ports to a single output port. Maintains small overflow buffer for each port to handle flux of events. Configurable for multiple merge routes.
  • MIDI Thru – Send a MIDI input port to one or more output port. Configurable for multiple thru routes. By default, iConnectMIDIwill pass all MIDI ports to all other MIDI ports.
  • MIDI Mute on Input – Mute unwanted events from a particular MIDI input from getting into the system.
  • MIDI Mute on Output – Mute unwanted events from being sent to specific MIDI outputs from the system.
  • MIDI Route – Intelligent MIDI data routing and management.
  • Configuration Storage – When you have iConnectMIDI configured to just how you want it, save the configuration into internal memory – settings will be used on next power up – no computer required.

Michael Walsh is a producer of audio/visual art and a journalist living in Southern California. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com

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