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Entries in Griffin (4)

Is Griffin Making a Move on Alesis with StudioConnect?

As you probably know already, Griffin Technology have announced a range of products at CES, many of them aimed at iOS devices. The iPad gets some special attention in the form of the StudioConnect.

What is it?

The StudioConnect basically incorporates Griffin's MIDI connect (coming soon) and Guitar Connect Pro, both available as separate input devices, into a charging dock with some audio outputs.

StudioConnect Front Sml

StudioConnect compared to the iO Dock

Initially it looks like the StudioConnect is moving in on the iO Dock's territory, and it is, a little bit. But if anything, the StudioConnect is a cut down version and seems aimed more at the consumer level audience rather than Alesis' Pro-musician aspirations with their iO Dock.

Although it doesn't offer the outer case protection of the iO Dock, or quite the same range of in/outs that the Alesis' device does, Griffin's StudioConnect is nearly $50 cheaper on the RRP. The street price will be the key thing of course, because we have seen the iO Dock for only $159.99 on Amazon.

The differences

What's missing on the StudioConnect may be the clincher for the more ambitious musician: XLR inputs, extra unbalanced and balanced ¼" inputs, phantom mic power and USB.

In addition, the iO Dock has video out (although we are not sure how much that is being used) and another ¼" input for a footswitch or controller.

StudioConnect Back Sml

How good the StudioConnect sounds remains to be seen and we will be closely watching the reviews when they come out later this year, but for the more casual musician, or those who don't need all the extra inputs, the StudioConnect's lower price tag could attract a lot of attention.

The StudioConnect is scheduled for release in 'Spring' this year, but until then, here's the specs from Griffin's press release. We have included the iO Dock's specs below so you can make a comparison:

Audio In and Out 

  • Audio In – Complete with its own gain control. Plug in your instrument through a mono 1/4" jack or plug a mixer into StudioConnect’s stereo 3.5mm jack.
  • Audio Out – Left and right line-­‐level RCA plugs. Also a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with its own volume knob helps monitor what's going in and out.

MIDI in and out is equally straightforward: 

  • MIDI In – Connect your MIDI controller through a standard 5-­‐pin DIN MIDI-­‐in port.
  • MIDI Out – A second 5-­‐pin DIN connector accepts a sequencer, sound module or other MIDI gear, allowing your iPad and favorite MIDI apps to act as a MIDI controller.

Alesis iO Dock Specs:

AUDIO INPUTS

  • 2 x XLR-1/4" Balanced TRS
  • Individual gain controls
  • Phantom power, switchable
  • Guitar (high-impedance) switch on Input 2 

INPUT SENSITIVITY

  • Balanced XLR Mic
    • Max -45 dBV
    • Min -3 dBV
  • Balanced 1/4“ TRS Mic/Line
    • Max -27 dBV
    • Min +16 dBV
  • Un-Balanced 1/4” TS Mic/Lin
    • Max -27 dBV
    • Min +16 dBV
  • Un-Balanced 1/4” TS Guitar
    • Max -38 dBV
    • Min +4.5 dBV

AUDIO OUTPUTS

  • 2 x 1/4" Balanced TRS Main
  • 1/4" TRS Headphone
  • Individual level controls

VIDEO OUTPUT

  • RCA Composite (requires compatible apps)

CONTROL I/O

  • MIDI In (DIN)
  • MIDI Out (DIN)
  • USB MIDI
  • 1/4" Footswitch (function assigned by apps)

What do you think? Does Griffin's StudioConnect tempt you? Or are you willing to spend a bit more for Alesis' iO Dock? Let us know in the comments.

A Real Stompbox for your iPad - Griffin innovate again



As much as we really love the guitar fx apps that have been launched for the iPad so far there is nothing like the massive adrenaline rush from physically stomping on a distortion pedal and letting rip on a scorching guitar solo (well, we can imagine).

Griffin Technology to the rescue. The above pictured StompBox peripheral for iPad has recently been announced at CES and has got us wanting it, now! Unfortunately we will have to wait for a couple of months until it is released, but if it performs as well as promised we think this will kick up a storm in the guitar playing iPad world.

What we are not clear about is whether the guitar (or any 1/4" jack) input plugs directly in to the StompBox, we think probably not, because they include a GuitarConnect cable. This cable plugs into the headphone socket like iRig and AmpKit Link do, so there are still the crosstalk issues.

If the 1/4" jack on the StompBox is for the guitar itself then this is a direct connection via the dock connector for under $100. Look out GuitarJack!

But as we said this probably not the case, it looks like the 1/4" jack is intended for external pedals like your Wah.

We will cover the StompBox and its partnership with iShred Live (great sounds from this app) in more detail when it is actually released, but for now, here is the rundown of the StompBox's key features, start saving now:

  • Studio-quality 4-channel effects pedalboard for use with guitar, bass, and other musical instruments
  • 1/4" jack accommodates plugs from variable inputs like volume, expression, or wah-wah pedals
  • Brings true pedalboard experience to iPad; interfaces with the iShred LIVE app to switch between effects, start and stop practice tracks or metronome, and more
  • Heavy-duty dock connector cable links StompBox to iPad or other compatible iOS device
  • Included GuitarConnect cable plugs into your musical instrument
  • Developed for use with Frontier Design's iShred LIVE app (available separately)
  • Controls StompBox-enabled apps for iPad, allowing user input through its foot switches

Do you fancy one of these for your iPad? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Creative Kids? Griffin Has Your iPad Covered

Kids are naturally curious and the iPad is a big attraction for them as we know from first-hand experience. However, it is a bit scary for the iPad owning adult to hand their beloved (and expensive) iPad over to sticky little hands.

Griffin want to help you out with this quandary whilst providing something fun and engaging for creative kids with their LightBoard iPad Case. This case is part protective cover, part art stand, and is a unique approach to involving younger iPad users in educational and creative activities using the device.

The LightBoard uses appealing colours in its 'shatter-resistant polycarbonate shell', which includes a cover to protect the iPad screen and a specially designed pocket into which you can slide a piece of paper for kids to draw on.

Griffin have also developed an iPad app to go with this case called LightBoard Trace, a free download in the app store. When you place a piece of paper into the pocket on top of the case, the LightBoard Trace app will display line drawings which can be seen through the paper.

Kids can then trace the drawings using the provided washable felt-tip marker. There are also games and animations using words and letters that teach the child to write their own name and phone number.

We think this is a brilliant and inventive way to involve children in using the iPad creatively with a nice educational slant and this idea really impressed us. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Could This Be The iPad's Future?

Over the weekend there have been quite a few posts around the web about Griffin's 'not actually announced but confirmed by the FCC' product PartyDock, so we won't tell you about it again, but check out thisthis and Griffin's confirmation/product page for a start. 

What we will say though is how stupidly excited the potential of this device has made us, even if it is not officially Apple sanctioned and in production yet.

Why has this device announcement got our creative cogs turning?...

The Obvious

Just being able to take the fairly small PartyDock around to someone's house or on holiday to set up and entertain the kids between pool-time and dinnertime (and the adults when the kids have gone to bed) is a huge advantage.

We have been known to take a Playstation, Wii and separate DVD player on holiday with us. Imagine if the games are such that the iPad (or even iPhone) and PartyDock is all you need to take with you to connect up to the hotel, chalet, caravan TV when you get there.

You would be bringing your iPad anyway right? Just make sure it is loaded up with all the movies, games and blogging apps you need before leaving and everything is right there in a 1.5 pound device.

Developers Wanted

With the launch titles being mini-games and one full game, all developed by Griffin, we know the PartyDock will not have Sony and Nintendo quaking in their boots, or even noticing that it exists to be honest.

Checking the RSVP (sign up) page though, you will notice that it asks if you are just a normal interested punter, or you can select, "I'm a developer and I'd like to learn about developing for PartyDock".

This is what got us excited!  There are many creative and innovative Developers out there. Who knows what kind of application they cam think up for this software/hardware? 

If Apple approve this device and if the right Developers get involved and if Griffin make it worth their while, there is massive potential here for a whole new eco-system developed around seeing your content on the big screen.

A lot of Ifs, yes, the biggest being if Apple want to let Griffin open up additional functionality.

Sony have had a big hit with the social, family and friends quiz game series Buzz, that uses a similar four player interface, wired on Playstation 2 but wireless on Playstation 3.

This is the obvious application for the PartyDock with the PR shots showing a 'Battle of the Sexes' game being played on a large-screen TV.

Multi Media and Potential Uses

As well as the games aspect, the PartyDock will allow the docked device to show photos, videos and slideshows, as well as play your music/audio collection from the iPad/iPhone. This can already be done via the Apple sold Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but it could easily replace this Apple add-on in a lot of homes and useage scenarios.

Imagine how easy it will be to sling your iPad into the waiting dock and get going, rather than trying to find the connector cable and then having it hanging off your iPad whilst trying to prop it up somehow.

But what if this dock could be used for web browsing, typing up a blog post or editing Pages documents? We have no idea if it is possible but what if Developers could make the PartyDock work with eight or even sixteen or more controllers and it was permanently connected to a projector in a classroom as a 'quiz master' device?

Educators could design a custom set of questions for the quizzes making revision and learning a lot more fun and interactive, using fastest finger type of quizzes but also poll and multiple choice questions with onscreen charts showing the summary results.  

Now that some schools are issuing iPads to new students on enrolment this September, or setting up iPad labs (recommended reading), this is a definite real-life scenario that could be developed.

Pie-in-the-sky scenario 

What about editing a video on the iPad with an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad type of device (not currently compatible - no mouse pointer) and your 40" TV acting as the external display?

The iPad, especially future more powerful versions, suddenly becomes a computer replacement!

Ok, we may have just wandered off into fantasy land for a second there, but even if it is not the PartyDock's purpose to enable a 'computer replacement' scenario, if Apple approve this device the potential is there for some sort of dock for the iPad (and even future versions of the iPhone) that can provide this kind of functionality.

We have already said that the Mac's days are numbered, read more about that here. Maybe one day we will look back at these kind of dock interfaces and say "that's where it all started"?

Over to you

What do you think? Have we lost it? Can you think of any other uses or potential developments for these dock devices? Would you even use the PartyDock if it is approved?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.