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Entries in Studio (8)

Is the iRig BlueBoard the One We've Been Waiting For?

After being announced back in January at NAMM by IK Multimedia, the iRig BlueBoard was released a few weeks ago and we think this is probably the solution guitarists have been waiting for.   

For a long time we have been extolling the iOS Amp Simulation apps as a viable, more portable, alternative for gigging/recording musicians and we think iRig's BlueBoard takes a big leap closer to that reality (and it also works with your Mac!).

Switching it up (and down)

One of the most essential requirements of any guitarist's pedal board is the ability to switch effects on-the-fly and, to be honest, this was the least practical element of using a touch device in a live situation.  

Changing effects just before a solo in a darkened room was a hit-and-miss affair at best, especially when trying to quickly switch from a rhythm to a solo sound.

We haven't been able to try it ourselves yet, but we are hopeful that the BlueBoard, as seen in the video above, will enable us to do this with any MIDI compatible iPad app, including GarageBand, AmpKit, JamUp as well as all of IK's own apps.  

Likes and dislikes

We like the small and portable sizing that makes it likely to slip into a cables bag. The adjustable backlit pedals are going to be really useful in a live situation and we are fond of the blue too.

If we were being picky, the pedals themselves look a bit small, especially if you tend to wear clodhopper boots on stage.  We would have liked twice as many footswitches really (e.g. one row to switch Banks and another row for the effects switching) but the BlueBoard may have been less portable with 8.  

As it is, with some forethought into the patch setup and ordering of the Banks plus the use of one or two external expression pedals, e.g. a Wah, this will suit most guitarists.

Bluetooth 4.0 is supposed to be more efficient but we are not sure how long a set of 4 AAAs are going to last, although they should see you through at least a few gigs if not several more.

What do you think?

Are you a guitarist or other musician looking to use Amp Sims or iPad Instrument apps live?  Would you use the iRig BlueBoard in your live or studio performances?  Let us know in the comments what you think.

iPad at NAMM 2013 - Behringer

Continuing our quick look at some of the iPad related announcements at this year's Winter NAMM we have a couple of products from Behringer to mention.

iStudio iS202

This seems very much like Behringer's version of the already available iO Dock by Alesis, with a lower price tag.  Comparing the two, they have very similar specs and input/output options.  Have a look at the images below for a visual comparison.

The other connections for the iO Dock are on the sides as shown below:

Current prices for the Alesis iO Dock seem to be around £139+, with prices for Behringer's iS202 not generally available, but B&H have them listed at the moment for $149.99 (about £95).  If the Behringer is generally available for under £100, we think it has a good chance of success.

Check out the specs for the iStudio (iS202) at Behringer's site and the video below for a brief preview.

iX16 Digital Mixer

The iX16 digital mixer has been specifically designed to integrate with your iPad as the controller.  The iX16 has 16 audio inputs (hence its name we guess).  The controller app can control the sound mix over WiFi, so you can stroll around the venue with your iPad and stand exactly where you need to be to get the perfect mix, while the iX16 sits on the sound desk responding to your input.

It's all a bit clever really and not our area of expertise to be honest, but we have done our fair share of show and concert setups between us.  The iX16 and accompanying software is definitely on our wishlist.

For the full details check out the iX16 page and be sure to take a look at the video below for a brief look at the iX16 and the iStudio iS202 from musicianews.com (if you are watching this on your iPad, the video stops at around 3:32 but will carry on playing with a blank screen until 8:09).

iKlip Studio Solves A Problem

If you have already invested in IK Multimedia's iRig device and you've had the same problem we have managing devices and cables dangling off your iPad, you may be interested to hear about the new iKlip Studio.

The recently announced iKlip Studio

Announced at this year's Winter NAMM and priced at a very reasonable $29.99, this adjustable iPad stand also folds flat for storage and importantly incorporates a little holder for your iRig, which then clips onto the back of the iKlip Studio.

Rear view of iKlip Studio with iRig mount

We haven't seen it in the flesh yet but it looks fairly sturdy and we think it's a great idea that will potentially solve one of our main annoyances about using the iRig with our iPad.

Here's a little taster video from IK Multimedia about the iKlip Studio's general features - let us know what you think in the comments:

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.

iPad StudioDock Looks Promising

Imagine your iPad being the centre of your studio recording or live performance experience, with all the audio and video connectors you need, including XLR, MIDI, USB MIDI, 1/4" in and out, Guitar-direct input straight out of your amp or effects unit and even Composite video out!

Enter the StudioDock from Alesis which is sat waiting for Apple approval, announced yesterday at NAMM. Here are a few product shots to whet your appetite showing the iPad docked and in place, with views of the multitude of interfaces included.

 

The StudioDock includes a power supply so it will charge your iPad whilst it is docked which is useful, but it is the shear range of connection options within the dock that impresses us and our brains are now spinning with all the things we could do with this thing including stuff we hadn't considered before with the video out. 

There has been no announcement at the time of publishing this post about pricing though, we have scoured the Internet looking for any resellers offering pre-orders but we haven't found anything yet.

We are guessing it is going to be fairly pricey as it is aimed at the professional level but we would love to get our hands on one and run it through its paces. 

You can read a detailed explanation of the StudioDock over at Alesis' website - the key features are listed below:
  • The world’s first pro audio dock for iPad
  • Connect microphones and instruments including guitar, studio monitors, PA speakers, headphones, and MIDI controllers
  • Universal device works with virtually every audio and MIDI app in the App Store; Core MIDI compliant
  • Perform, craft, create and play back music in virtually any conceivable manner or location
  • Video output for connection to TVs and projectors
  • Inputs: two combo XLR-1/4" for use with audio gear, instruments, and computer audio
  • Input channel gain controls and switchable phantom power for use with condenser microphones
  • Guitar-direct switch for use with amplifier- and effects-modeling app
  • Outputs: pair 1/4" and 1/4" headphone with separate volume controls
  • Control: MIDI In, MIDI Out, USB MIDI, and assignable 1/4-inch footswitch input

Video Find: iPad as a Music Studio

Can an iPad replace a laptop as a Music Studio? Here is someone who thinks you can.

In this video, recorded on an iPhone, Andrew Turner (deepliferecords on YouTube) discusses replacing his failed two year old HP Tablet with an iPad and a bunch of apps plus hardware add-ons, as a music creation device.

Andrew demos IK Multimedia's Amplitube for iPad and the iRig hardware interface along with NLogSynth PRO and a Korg nanoKEY midi controller plugged in via Apple's Camera Connection Kit. He is certainly impressed and at the end of the video he says:

"Overall, I'm very happy with the iPad as a replacement for my laptop... there's nothing that I can't do so far with the iPad that I could do with the Windows Notebook or a Windows Computer." 

We tend to agree with Andrew, but what do you think? Can an iPad replace a laptop for music creation? Let us know in the comments. 

SpinArt Studio - save the mess and 60% for a limited time

To celebrate the second anniversary of the original iPhone version of SpinArt by Brian Smith (7twenty7), you can save 60% off the iPad version, SpinArt Studio, for a 'very limited time'. This makes the price of the iPad app just $1.99 (£1.19). The iPhone version is on sale too with 50% off at $0.99 (59p).

This app is great fun and such a fantastic way to keep the kids entertained on a rainy Autumn weekend (we think a few of those are on the way).

You can even share your wonderful creations (once your head has stopped spinning) in the SpinArt Flickr group or on the SpinArt Facebook page and browse other users' creations there too.

If you get this app let us know what you think of it in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, here is a rundown of the app's features from the iTunes description, and don't forget to check out the review of the app in the video above:

• Full 1024x768 HD resolution
• 15 canvas shapes!
• 54 colors!
• 3 brush types and 5 brush sizes.
• Multitouch painting with up to four fingers at once.
• Improved glitter from the iPhone version.
• Use in any device orientation.
• Ability to offset the canvas to create even more amazing designs!
• Save to your Photo Library or email directly to a friend.
• Undo

iPad on Set - Creative uses for the iPad

This short video from Vincent Laforet shows how the iPad can help Creatives do their job by simply offering a place for collecting all those bits of paper, resources and Internet connectivity in one, fairly lightweight device with a big enough screen to make documents, photographs and illustrations useable, whilst remaining mobile.

As Vincent says in the video, these things carried separately in their 'analogue' form are easy to lose or misplace, but with the iPad, it is always there (or downloadable) when he needs it.  Although we have just discovered it on Vimeo, this video is from a few months ago so there are probably any number of apps that Vincent now uses to assist his workflow, and the pace of new app development is picking up fast as more and more people get their iPads, providing good future prospects for the device.

Over to you

What about you?  Have you seen or heard any good examples of how Creatives are using their iPads to help them in their activities?  We would love to hear from you in the comments.