Wireless MIDI Between iPad & Mac

This video via MusicAppBlog’s John Walden, takes a look at how to setup a wireless MIDI connection between your iPad and Mac desktop computer, allowing you to send MIDI data in both directions.

If you’re a Windows user, see this video tutorial on how to set up wireless MIDI between an iPad and a Windows PC.


3 thoughts on “Wireless MIDI Between iPad & Mac

  1. I’d be curious to know what the typical latency is for this setup. And, what kinds of factors contribute to the latency (i.e., how to minimize said latency).

    On a similar line of questioning, is it possible to connect the iPad to the computer with the USB cord and enjoy less latency with the same functionality?

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  2. In my experience, there’s somewhere between 3 and 10ms of latency (at least according to the Audio MIDI Setup app on the Mac), with occasional spikes to 50ms (probably packets getting lost, and a retransmission). If you look closely at the video, you can see a red bar around 3ms when he’s showing the Audio MIDI Setup dialog. The jitter is a major pain. In the video, John sets up a computer-to-computer network; I usually go through a router (the iPad uses WiFi, but the mac is connected to the router over wired ethernet). If you’ve got a lot of WiFi traffic, you’ll definitely get worse performance, so don’t bit torrent while recording.

    Note that the 3-to-10ms is on top of whatever latency there is on the iPad (touch detection is something like 5-10ms), the delay of the delivery of the MIDI message to the desktop app (close to zero), and the delay of the audio system on the desktop to creating sound from the MIDI (256-sample buffers at 44khz is something like 5.6ms).

    Going with a wired MIDI connection gets lower latency, and you can feel the difference. When I’m doing more than just goofing around, I use a pair of generic USB-to-MIDI cables (about $5 each, online), and a CCK adapter on the iPad. Plus, a pair of female-to-female MIDI DIN adapters, because the USB cables come with male connectors. Insert here a rant about parts not conforming to spec — according to the MIDI standard, DINs attached to physical devices should be female, and all MIDI cables should be male on both ends. Grrrr.

    The iConnectivity iConnectMIDI devices look really good to me. Less cobbled-together than my back-to-back MIDI cables, and they handle audio too. I suspect that I’ll be owning one of those things in the not-too-distant future.

    Semi-related topic — some wireless devices are going with Bluetooth low energy, and sidestep a lot of the WiFi latency. The Fishman TriplePlay uses this; there’s a USB gadget that attaches to the desktop/iPad, which sends and receives data from the pickup attached to the guitar. I’m very impressed with how fast that connection is. I’d like to get high performance, while staying wireless. If there were a pair of the USB gadgets that talked MIDI, and you could pair them — that would be awesome (anyone from Fishman listening? Take my money, please!).

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