IPad 2 and MIDI

Posted on July 10, 2011

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Since getting my iPad 2 I have been amazed and dismayed by some of the music apps that I am particularly interested in, namely synthesisers, drum machines and recording.

GarageBand was the first purchase, and for all it’s limitations, it is clearly a highly crafted product over some of the other products. Not surprising as Apple will know exactly how to get the best out of the iPad.

After that I have Korg iElectribe and Korg I-ms 20 both which we great in the beginning – but a lack of user manual and tutorials have left them gathering dust. Then I got the Horizon synth for it’s great sound and awesome arpegiator – at which point I realised something was missing. I also have FunkBox which is by far my favourite drum machine – simple and great sounding. I got the DM-1 this week but that is still in it’s early days and need quiet a bit of work.

MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface

MIDI is a marvellous and simple standard for communication between various electronic musical instruments and allows, for example, a drum machine and a synthesiser arpegiator to run in time with each other. Or for you to sync key strokes on one synth with another allowing you to layer them up into massive sounds. In fact MIDI allows for so much more, but in the new iOS apps it’s implementation is sketchy.

Firstly, not all music apps have midi implemented. For example the horizon synth has a great arpegiator let down by the craziest ‘hold’ function I have ever used and no midi clock in/out. So I cannot synchronise the timing with a drum machine. And that is basically it. You want to, at the very least, be able to have the timing synced, then next you need start/stop events.

But what is more frustrating, is that my iPad has a few of the apps and I cannot run them concurrently and have them sync with some form of multitasking. I could set up a repeating drum pattern on a drum machine and then run the arpegiator on a synth and have them synced, in theory, but the multitasking of this isn’t happening. My only option is to wait until the developers and apple decide on a way forward and get some agreement on how to approach this.

Korg have a system called WIST which allows for wireless midi between the Koorg products and this is a great start, but with the power of the A5 chip in the iPad 2 and future iPads, running multiple apps concurrently should be a goal worth persuing. We can’t all afford more than one iPad.

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Posted in: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPad, Music