iPad Air “Approaching Laptop Performance Levels’

ipad-airWhen Apple introduced the iPad Air, they claimed it has ‘desktop class’ architecture, offering ‘up to two times faster CPU and graphics performance than its predecessor’.

But does it really deliver the bang for musicians?

Yes, according to iOS developer Don Fletcher (Symphonix Evolution – an orchestral notation app).

“We’ve now had a chance to play with the new iPad Air and were very impressed with the new form factor and processing power,” notes Fletcher. “The iPad is now approaching laptop performance levels.”

He adds that, on the iPad Air, you can now run the Virtual Synth in Symphonix Evolution with 256 voices of polyphony, with Reverb On, Chorus On & Full Instrument Mode On. By comparison, the iPad 4 could only handle 128 voices of polyphony.

“As a result of the increased polyphony,” says Fletcher, “the app’s internal synth was able to handle any MIDI files we could throw at it, including some rather intense orchestral pieces, without dropping any notes or stuttering. This is the first time that we’ve been able to do this on the iPad.”

He adds, “Astonishingly, the average CPU load during our tests was about 30%.”

Fletcher notes that the main limitation for music developers with the iPads is RAM – the iPad Air still only has 1GB of memory to work in.

If you’ve used the iPad Air, let us know what you think of the performance it offers with music apps!

via vinclaro

49 thoughts on “iPad Air “Approaching Laptop Performance Levels’

  1. Totally agree with Don. CPU power is not everything and Apple has missed a boat by not increasing RAM.
    Returned my Air after a week of testing and sticking to my iPad 4 until Air Pro is released with at least 2GB of RAM.

    1. I think Apple has missed another boat by not allowing any kind of file access. Apps should be able to share files. You want that 4g sample library to be available to both Beatmaker and Nanostudio? You want that pdf to be available to Acrobat and Comic Reader? No you can’t on IOS.

      1. Man, as far as music any other platform missed the boat. All the dope apps synths, music apps are for ios. I love Ipad as synth dont really use it as DAW. Tablets stil dont have enough power to feed heavy processing. Dont tell me IPad 4 is better than Air

        1. Nobody is suggesting that iPad 4 is better than Air. There is just not enough compelling reason to make a switch.
          If you own iPad 3 or below, that’s the different story.

            1. I think Apple also missed a boat by not doing any kind of host for VST and AU plugins and by not allowing anyone else to make such kind of host.

              I use VST plugins all the time with my Windows tablet and it works great (except they rarely work with multitouch), there’s no reasons why it wouldn’t be as great on an ipad, except Apple does not want any kind of plugin for their mobile platform (with the exception of Auria, but even then every VST has to be approved by them).

        2. In the same comment, you say all the dope apps synths and apps are for ios, and that tablets still dont have enough power. This just show how limited your understanding is about all this.

          IOS does have great apps and synths and I enjoy them, but the real power still is on computers and people still make dope apps and synth for them (much more than you seem to be aware of).

            1. “just wait one year or two. then we’ll see if this is still true”

              If I’d had a penny every time I heard this since IOS1 😀

              You seem to forget processing power increases in the next year will not only happen on tablets. I’m pretty sure in 3 years big computers will still be more powerful than mobile computers.

              Also why wait a year or two where there is already hardware that does this?

          1. Man I wrote the same as you. Real power is in computers. I have 2 UAD dsp cards and one powercore. IN the large cubase project I would use even more power. So see even my quad I7 is not enough. Whose understanding is limited???

      2. Apps are sandboxed on iOS for security reasons. This is one of the reasons why Android devices have 96% of the mobile malware and iOS has less than 1%.

        There are ways to share files between apps already. f the demand is there, developers will address this.

        1. OSX does allow total file access, are you saying its insecure for that reason? Its the opposite, OSX is not full of malware. “Security” is not the main reason why apps are sandboxed.

          1. The security record of iOS validates their OS design decisions – including sandboxing and the app store approval process.

            These are two things power users bitched about – but they’ve been proven soundly wrong.

            1. The security record of IOS? Do you mean the one where every version of IOS has been hacked and jailbroken even with all the efforts Apple makes to block it?

              Its not only power users, many normal users complain about simple pdf documents not being available to all apps at once.

              1. No one

                I’m surprised you don’t distinguish between intentionally hacking your own system and unintentionally getting your system hacked.

                Android is the home of mobile malware, because the OS was not designed to be secure.

                Back to performance – I’d like to see any other tablet run 256 voices of polyphony and run for 10 hours!

                1. “I’m surprised you don’t distinguish between intentionally hacking your own system and unintentionally getting your system hacked.”

                  I’m not surprised you don’t understand how in the end the system was hacked into, it doesn’t matter if its intentional or not, it has been done both ways. Remember when all it took to jailbreak an iphone was to visit a webpage? Do you know why the president of the US is not allowed to use an IOS phone? Because it can be hacked into.

                  “Android is the home of mobile malware, because the OS was not designed to be secure.”

                  Yeah sure… except you forgot Android is based on Linux, which is not designed to be secure you say? What about BSD? Do you know what other product is based on those software?

                  I guess you’re not aware it takes a 10 second search on google to find plenty of articles about IOS malware, even though you probably prefer to believe it does not exists.

                  “I’d like to see any other tablet run 256 voices of polyphony and run for 10 hours!”

                  Actually pretty much any pre-ipad old Windows tablet does that. My almost 10 years old Motion Computing tablet is great for mobile multi-track recording, except the 10 hours battery part, but who works for 10 hours at a time on a project? And who records for hours on batteries?

                    1. “So why should it be less secure than Android or BSD Unix or Linux?”

                      That is exactly what I was saying to the guy who believes Android is not an OS that was designed to be secure.

                    1. Fortunately for me you are wrong, the facts do back me up, just look it up, unless you are simply too lazy and not intelligent enough to understand what you will read? … and you are the one calling me annoying?

                      Do you know what BSD is before calling me incoherent?

              2. hackers catching up with every new version of a software it’s how it normally works, it’s surely not an ios uniqueness. just have a look at the so called CVEs and you’ll be amazed. ios bugs and jailbreaks are just more popular given the kind of platform and company. anyway… this attitude of “hardening” the ios every release seems to be one of the big reasons why software houses that try to earn money from their work prefer to program for ios instead of others mobile platforms.

      3. People have been saying that Apple is missing the boat for years – meanwhile, they’ve got the top desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, MP3 player and streaming media player.

        Pretty good record for ‘missing the boat’!

        1. Apple has always been a profitable company, but they still only ~7% market shares on desktop and laptops, and currently IOS is about 15% of the entire mobile OS usage.

          1. Look at the music or design makers market, not the windows as a whole. Windows use is mainly for office. Folks making documents, excel tables and accounting. Also great for warez and gamez.

            1. Yeah sure, look only at one segment of the market and simply ignore all the other market segments to understand how Windows is only used for office stuff??..

              I guess its the reason why so little companies makes music and design software for Windows, because people only uses Windows for office stuff right?… I guess its the reason why Native Instruments, Adobe, Autodesk, Propellerheads and all those guys stopped making software for Windows many years ago right?… yeah that is funny 😀

      4. Hmmm, you can easilly share pdfs within IOS. Just hold your finger on the fille, choose “open in” and then choose the app you want to send it to. No, it’s not an intuitive process when you are used to a desktop paradigm, but it’s fast and effective once you spend a couple of minutes looking up how the OS works. In fact, It would probably take you less time to learn that than to post your comment.

        1. And how is this better than if IOS had some kind of “my documents” folder shared accross apps?

          Where do you simply get to the pdf file and hold your finger on it to choose “open in”? I don`t have that option on my ipad. I also tried apps like Filebrowser and FileExplorer, but to no success those apps cannot see the pdfs inside apps.

          Now what about my sample library? Should I simply hold all the samples and choose “open in”?

          1. If you have a text or email with an attached pdf, you can hold your finger on the attachment and it will give you multiple options for saving or opening that file. If you have the pdf already saved to your dropbox, you can just browse to the dropbox file folder that has the pdf and view it, on the top right you will find the same options. And if you add any file (pdfs, aiffs, wavs, etc) to your favorites in dropbox (tap the star symbol) it will be downloaded to your ipad for offline access when wifi isn’t available. Also, I would recomend the PDF Expert app by Readdle if you work with pdfs much.

      5. Apple is counting on all of us to catch up with the idea that the cloud is where to store all your generic cross-app data. Seriously, you are going to be continually let down if you think any company will make you a mobile device that can carry around terabytes of data.

    2. Consign! I can’t say they missed the boat because they are going to sell tons to the majority that are not power users like (us) Synthtopia readers. The CPU power is there but the RAM is not. Typical Apple Style since the iPad 1 and its 256mb of RAM. So like you I’m holding on to my iPad 4. After Iearning about the 1GB RAM all thoughts of upgrading was out the window. Till next time Apple.

    3. Well it looks like you are looking at RAM consumption in mobile devices with traditional PC mentality, a common misconception.

      First, the most important reason for not stuff lots of RAM in a mobile device is battery life. The more RAM you have to keep powered the less battery life, it’s that simple. Either you increase battery and thus device size (like most android devices do, hence bigger sizes and displays offset with even higher battery capacities) also increasing battery charging times (remember iPad 3) or you simply cope with less-than-a-day capacities, wich most users will simply not accept.

      Luckily, Apple found a pretty good solution to this problem: realtime memory compression. They even use it now in OS X on Mavericks. Basically they almost double RAM capacity by compressing data in memory rather than accessing the disk back and forth by paging, which is much slower even for nowdays speedy SSD disks.

      It’s actually a solution that makes Apple look bad specs-wise compared to Android devices but overall I find it’s a better balance. This is not to say this is the optimal solution to RAM in mobile but while there are not major breakthoughs in battery technologies we have to live with compromises.

  2. An increase in processing power of course is never a bad thing, but so far the biggest limitations of the iPad are its operating system and the way it is conceived. Not that it is stopping anybody to use it as a musical device, but it makes things a bit cumbersome and unpractical at times.

  3. iPad Air “Approaching Laptop Performance Levels’
    so why not just use a laptop ??
    500- 800$ you can get a decent laptop that will run live or FLstudio
    with more ram and more hard drive real ports and expansion options

    1. This is a silly argument. As if the millions of people who have bought tablets did it because they didn’t realize you could buy a laptop.

  4. Not only does tapping on glass suck compared to playing an actual musical instrument of ANY kind, all the iProducts are now saddled with that tacky, cheesy iOS 7…way to take an elegant piece of technology and make it look like a kiddie toy, Apple!

    1. Compared to ‘tapping out’ music on a laptop computer, the iPad kicks ass, because the user interface is the control surface – no hassle, no mapping.

      And, if you prefer using a MIDI controller, you can still do that, too.

    2. Touchscreen can make pretty interesting ways of aftertouch, great for making controler with different scales like prism. Gyro can be used for movement to control midi. I have keys, conntrolers so I use what i want.

  5. I don’t understand why some people have to be so against the iPad. It offers so many possibilities, not just as an instrument, but also as a controller. Expensive? Remember the lemur controllers? Those would trade hands for more than $1000. The iPad is portable, and internet n shit. Don’t like tapping glass surfaces? Fine. Stop telling other people what to like. I’m bored. Of to make some music with my old fashioned mouse.

  6. Oh my god! did this thread have to be a whine about apple versus windows or apple versus android? We’ve heard it all before!

    The iPad air is great, I’m holding it right now.

    The reason we haven’t seen huge performance differences yet is because we haven’t seen 64bit used I. Developing new music software for ios yet.

    This iPad is more powerful than the last PC I owned. Meaning that everything I did on the old PC is now possible on this device. Thus means we may start seeing VST, and all kinds of other improvements which have not been possible so far. As for shared files, it’s a great idea, there’s still time to develop that. It’s not like we are at the end of the rope. This is only the beginning.

    There are indeed limitations with ios, it has always been built more like a phone OS than a PC one. That has advantages in ease of use. If you want more flexibility im sure there’ll be a jailbreak in time. Or a competitor in the tablet market will slowly catch up. But there is a lot of catching up to do in latency, breadth if music apps developed and quality APIs for music development.

    In the end it’s a tablet. A powerful one. This means I can now record live on 8 tracks or more with out much effort, I have a host of filters at the ready, and I have my beloved chip tunes trackers until someone makes a hardware device I prefer. It’s also great for making music film clips, nice camera, nice software with iMovie.

    It doesn’t replace anything in my arsenal, it’s an addition, one which is completely portable, light and powerful.

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