I have been really inspired by ios music apps. They give you amazing new tools. Things like Samplr lets you chop up samples using multi touch to make you feel like your hands can truly get dirty.
If you are an ableton user, which most of you are, the first thing you might wonder if how could you use this in a live set? How is it a better tool? Is it worth the money? Here is a little rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of using an iPad in the studio.
The DAW – Home Sweet Home
To first understand this lets go back to the basics of what a DAW is. A DAW is an acronym for “Digital Audio Workstation.” A DAW is a software program used to record and modify digital audio and MIDI recordings. This program allows you to record, edit, and mix audio all within one single program.
Ableton is a DAW that lets you manage your mic inputs, route your MIDI, loop samples, play live instruments, and more. Ableton is one of the best DAW’s I know for organizing your samples, and helping you create new tracks.
Ableton, and every DAW I have scene, isn;t designed with a single use in mind. If you are a guitarist and you just want an digital amp to run through Ableton can do it, but it might be overkill. There are all sorts of features in there for recording and editing. You can always get Guitar Rig by NI or other programs, but this is where the iPad and lightweight apps really shine.
Apps are the New Modular
Any ios device, like the iPhone and iPad, can run a variety of apps. Most of these apps fix a simple problem. You can download a delay unit to run sounds through, guitar pedal emulator, vocal processor, synths, and more. Most of these apps are super easy to use and do really well at that one thing. If you are a singer songwriter that just needs an effect while performing than ios music apps will treat you really well.
The disadvantage is when you start needing a bunch of apps to get what you want. Having more than 4 open really starts to add up and slow down the system. A DAW is much better at being a massive workstation for complex effects and routing.
When Worlds Collide
Just as Philip Wylie predicted there is a way to navigate through the collision of these two worlds. DAW’s like Ableton Live give you a lot of tools in the studio that you just don’t want to give up. Luckily you can use an iPad to supplement live and add a whole new layer of options and controls.
There are lots of ways you can use ios apps. Here are 3 ways I like to use it with Ableton Live.
1. Wireless Control of Ableton Live
This is one of my favorite. You can use apps like Conductr or Lemur to control Ableton Live’s settings. This can be perfect for a live set, or in the studio.
2. External Sound Generator
You can patch your iPad into your soundcard that Ableton Live Uses. This way you can use the iPad to control synths, and different instruments but still route it back into live. Because of the tactile nature of the iPad I find there are a lot of apps that work great for sound design or added texture to Ableton Live.
3. External MIDI Controller
There are lots of apps out there like TC Data that lets you use the iPad as a midi controller. This can be useful to add modulation and control settings in ableton live.
The advantage of using Ableton Live as your hub is stability. Live is a workhorse and is my go to for editing audio. Then adding the effects of the iPad I find I can get the best of both worlds.
If you are interested in reading more about ios apps, or joining the community discussion, then go to the new facebook group iPad Music App Guru.
I you have a favorite app or way of using Live with an ipad, comment below and lets share some awesome techniques.