I have been digging around looking for an audio interface to use with my iPad and iPhone. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you are looking for something to help you record audio into your iPad you really need to ask yourself several important questions! I have also decided that I might need more than one interface!
Here are the questions you need to ask:
1)What instrument/mixers/audio are you going to be recording into your iPad?
MY ANSWER – Many people wish to simply record a guitar into GarageBand – Easy solution as there are many great interfaces that allow you to do this! In my case I want to record my keyboards, which means I want to be able to record a stereo signal (2 inputs). That bumped me up a level from guitar players! If you want to record microphones then that takes you up to the next level because now we are talking about XLR inputs and preamps! (Unless you simply buy a microphone designed for iOS use, like the iRig mic or a USB mic like the Samson Q2u.)
2)How many of the things in answer 1 would you like to be able to record at a time?
MY ANSWER – I actually am always trying to purchase items wisely – I want them to serve two purposes! Like I mentioned above, I want to record my keyboards. I also want to be able to take a signal from my mixer main output and record that (which still simply means a stereo signal) BUT I would also like to be able to push the envelope on iOS MultiTrack Digital Audio Workstation Recording. I would like to be able to record 8 or more inputs at a time as well. That would allow me to record my small ensembles with multiple mics and go back later and tweak each mic individually, and actually change levels or EQ.
3)How many cords are you willing to deal with?
MY ANSWER – I hate cords. I don’t want to deal with a power cord and a USB hub and all that if I don’t have to! I mean, come on! Less cords is so much better!
I have come to the conclusion first of all that no one makes a simple stereo interface for keyboard players that is bus powered that is small and compact like the guitar players get! EXCEPT LINE 6!
I also decided that for now I am not going to make a move on buying any of the interfaces that allow for 8 or more inputs. Too expensive ($500 and up)
The Good Stuff – So What Is The Line 6 Sonic Port All About
Plug into iOS Creativity
Sonic Port makes it easy to connect your guitar or bass to your iOS device and start making music. Simply plug your instrument into the 1/4″ guitar input, launch GarageBand, the free Line 6 Mobile POD app, or another CoreAudio app, and start playing. Pro specs—up to 24-bit/48kHz audio quality throughout, and 110dB dynamic range on the guitar input—translate to full, powerful guitar tones.
Sonic Port also transforms your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad into a complete mobile studio. Track keyboards, mixers, CD players and other iOS devices using the 1/8” stereo line input. Plug in your favorite headphones and hear your audio in stunning clarity. You can even connect powered studio monitors via the 1/4” mono/stereo guitar/line-level output.
So I simply take a cable that has an 1/8″ stereo plug on one end (you know, looks like a headphone plug) and then y’s out to 2 1/4″ mono jacks – that will plug into my keyboard or the main outs on my mixer. The other end of the Sonic Port has a cable that plugs straight into my iPad/iPhone. Two cables plus headphones or speakers.
Compare that to this picture…. Here you see my iPad hooked up to a powered USB hub through the Camera Connection Kit, then into a Griffin iMic (that is the audio interface I am currently using because I have like 5 of them around from SmartMusic) then my keyboard plugs into that. Plus the power strip (which I know I still need because of the keyboard)
Using the Line 6 Sonic Port is going to be very easy! Plus afterwards I can take that little tiny interface and toss it in my backpack and hardly know that it is there! The next interface for a stereo signal also will handle microphones but is significantly larger! Although there are several that handle XLR inputs (these are combination jacks – XLR and 1/4″) that are bus powered, now you are talking around $200. Here is a picture of one…. (This is not going in my backpack without being noticed!)
So for $100 Sonic Port is small, handles an 1/8″ stereo input (or 1/4″ mono), plus is bus powered! Yea!
The audio quality coming out of these small interfaces like these is outstanding! I can not hardly tell the difference between using even my imix and using the StudioLive Mixer board plugged into my MacBookPro using Logic! Here is a sample of the audio coming out of my Roland X8 into the iMic and being recorded with MultiTrackDAW. It is a bit raw and the drums need fixed but hey – this isn’t for an album/Instead listen to the QUALITY!