For the last few weeks I have be in the midst of remodeling my mixing studio leaving me with no place work on electronic music. Soon I’ll have my studio back, but whilst I’m waiting for the flooring to arrive I decided to take the opportunity to explore using the iPad exclusively (with various apps and the QuNexus) to produce and perform tracks.
I’ve been looking at a long list of apps, but for this video I chose to narrow things down to AudioBus, Samplr, Sunrizer, and Propellerheads Figure (not shown in the video). The process started in Figure where I created a drum pattern, pizzicato bass line, and synth melody. I then used Sonoma AudioCopy/Paste to get the parts into Samplr on separate tracks. Next I recorded an arpeggio from Sunrizer into Samplr that I used in two of the slots, but setup quite differently from each other. Finally I recorded a bit of vocal straight in via the internal mic to use as a effect. During the performance I used the touchscreen to manipulate the layers and adjust the processing in Samplr, then I used the QuNexus connected via the iPad Camera Kit to play a mono synth patch in Sunrizer.
For me this experiment serves as a proof of concept. The audio quality coming out of the iPad is not great, but it’s not bad either and can be improved by adding an audio interface. Any latency was hardly noticeable with the 4th generation iPad that I’m using. In another experiment I even had two controllers connected to the Camera Kit with a USB hub. Both running on bus power. Unfortunately this did cause the “connected USB device uses too much power” error to come up occasionally, but a powered USB hub will solve that.
So what’s the prognosis? In my view the iPad is approaching the professionalism of some laptop setups. If you need an ultraportable system there’s going to be some subset of apps and hardware out there that will serve most purposes. More interesting than that is the range of applications and the innovation that comes along many of them as a result of the multitouch interface. Samplr, for example, is really a pleasure to use and features seven different play modes that allow you to interact with the audio in unique and addicting ways. Beyond being just a scratch pad setups like these are a way to change one’s perspective and try a new approach to music making.
Is anyone else discovering intriguing new ways to produce using mobile devices? Whether it’s the iPad, OP-1, Android Tablet, or harmonica I would love to hear about what you’re learning and hear what you’re producing with these sorts of techniques.