Getting Started With MIDI And Audio On The iPad

Create Digital Music’s Peter Kirn put together this excellent introduction to working with audio and MIDI on the iPad.

Kirn thought the iPad was bad news for musicians when it was introduced, but has revisited it in his latest blog post, offering an interesting perspective on its potential and limitations.

In his video, Kirn covers the two main options for connecting hardware MIDI and audio interfaces to the iPad:

  • The Camera Connection Kit – which lets you connect many audio interfaces and MIDI adapters; and
  • The Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer – which is a very compact iPad MIDI interface.

Wireless connectivity may be the future – but hardware MIDI is a universal language that works now, has low latency and opens the door to connecting the iPad to nearly 30 years of instruments and MIDI controllers.

This means that the iPad can be used as a cost-effective multi-touch step sequencer or a customizable MIDI controller for just about any gear you might have. You can add 36 knobs to your synth, for example, and interact with it in a new way.

One thing that may not be clear from the video is that audio and MIDI IO on the iPad is still very immature. You can’t assume that it just works. As Android develops as a tablet platform, expect it to face similar growing pains.

If you decide that you’re interested in exploring the possibilities, though, don’t miss our dozens of iPad music software posts.

via tekserve

14 thoughts on “Getting Started With MIDI And Audio On The iPad

  1. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  2. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  3. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  4. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  5. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  6. In the CDM post, I go into some detail about my sense of caveats regarding support for different MIDI APIs and incomplete MIDI implementations in applications. That post is here: http://bit.ly/gJHkqN

    I couldn't have written this particular story in January 2010, because the hardware adapters and Core MIDI framework were not part of iOS. (In fact, Core MIDI hardware support still is not supported on iPhone, only iPad.)

  7. It's a shame Core MIDI does not work on iPhone. At first I didn't believe it and ran out and bought the camera adapter to give it a go on my iPhone 4 and of course it didn't work. I thought it might since the processor is the same. Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer is working just fine through. I'm having good luck with driving multiple synths plus drums in NanoStudio via Tenori-on. Again, wish the camera adapter worked so I could use my LPK25 or Korg MicoKey on the iPhone.

  8. The introduction to this articles sounds like you join a special club when you buy/use/talk about an iOS powered device. Like a religion: Hallelujah, he's finally seen the light, and so on and so forth. But I shouldn't complain because I guess people also have their doubts when I tell them how much better off they'd be with an Apple laptop when it comes to presentations and general scientific grunt work, let alone multimedia. I'm just too old school in some ways for these new portable devices, I still use my old Palm smartphone in memory of the times when Palm PDAs with greyscale displays ruled the world and people could input text using a stylus. Gimme a non-glare tablet with a stylus, direct USB connectivity, and a full-blown operating system without restrictions and an app store.

  9. Peter – thanks for the feedback. I hope the Future Of Music presentation on the iPad with Oliver Chesler went great yesterday.

    I'm impressed by how open-minded you've been in re-evaluating the iPad as a music platform.

    Is the addition of CoreMIDI the reason – or do you think there's been progress on the platform that addresses the other concerns that you had?

    I'd also encourage readers to check out Peter's post and to look closely at an application's info in the App Store prior to buying it. If it doesn't explicitly discuss MIDI support, the Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer and the Camera Connection Kit, the app probably doesn't support them.

    Thanks again for the feedback and the great video.

  10. Mark

    You make an important point. Apple and the developers need to get this to where it just works. You're going to assume that you can just plug-in the adapter and go with it.

    It's probably a fairly safe assumption that most people that are using an iPad for music probably have an iPhone, too. They're going to want to sync MIDI apps on both platforms.

  11. Random Choice – we'll say "Halleljah" when Android-based tablets are able to give the iPad some real competition as a music platform.

    More options and competition will be a win for everybody, regardless of which platform you prefer.

    Obviously a lot of people would like to just get Windows or OS X with Multi-Touch support. This is a huge undertaking, though, and attempts to do this so far have resulted in franken-systems.

    I would not be surprised to see tablets gain power faster than traditional OS's gain multi-touch capabilities.

  12. Random Chance – one other thing.

    If the iPad or other tablet computer does what you need it to do, you may very well find yourself really "wowed" by it.

    I felt that way the first time I ran Little MIDI Machine.

    It's a free MIDI step sequencer that lets you run two independent step sequences of arbitrary length. This approach to sequencing has traditionally required multiple modular step sequencers, which would run you several thousand dollars to buy.

    Being able to get this capability as a free download makes you realize that technology is radically changing the options that musicians have available to them.

  13. Random Chance – one other thing.

    If the iPad or other tablet computer does what you need it to do, you may very well find yourself really "wowed" by it.

    I felt that way the first time I ran Little MIDI Machine.

    It's a free MIDI step sequencer that lets you run two independent step sequences of arbitrary length. This approach to sequencing has traditionally required multiple modular step sequencers, which would run you several thousand dollars to buy.

    Being able to get this capability as a free download makes you realize that technology really is radically changing the options that musicians have available to them.

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