Music IO: MIDI Over USB – the second such app all in the same weekend!

Music IO: MIDI Over USB by Secret Base Design is the second app released this weekend that allows for MIDI to be sent over the charging cable of your iPad when connected to your Mac! Such an amazing new possibility! Actually , this is how things should have worked from the start!

The exciting part is that the Music IO app is only $2.99! The midimux app that was announced just yesterday is $9.99! Here is where I wrote about Midimux – Midimux Released

In fact there is even more news about this app that you need to know…. Soon the Music IO app will be updated to allow for sending audio over the same USB connection! In fact, the audio sending feature is actually working in their prototypes. It works bi-directional even! The only question how soon will the interface for that feature going to be finished, soon they say. The first update may only feature audio in one direction – from your iOS device to your Mac but bi-directional will be released after that. The update will be free to users too!

Let’s compare prices of Music IO to Midimux: which will soon have a sister app to allow for audio over USB…

  • Music IO – $2.99 (for now) – Includes MIDI over USB now and soon will also include Audio over USB
  • Midimux – $9.99 – Includes MIDI over USB. When the other app to do Audio over USB is released there will be a bundle price of $14.99

You do the math. This is a hot race!

Music IO DEVELOPERS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR AWHILE
The developers of this app are not new to the iOS music scene. The app was a combination of efforts from three developers…. Secret Base Design, MIDI Designer and Audeonic Apps.

Here is some more information…..

FEATURES

  • Send & Receive MIDI between any CoreMIDI apps over USB (Lightning or 30 pin) with no perceptible latency nor jitter
  • Large sysex messages (eg. bulk dumps) handled seamlessly
  • Choose “send to” ports (OSX and iOS)
  • Choose “receive from” (OSX): route MIDI from anywhere to your iOS device
  • BridgeClock, a ground-breaking inter-device MIDI-clock-synchronization technology, provides jitter-free sync between platforms
  • Runs on iOS 6 or better

UPDATE:

The developing team for this app are very active members on the iPad Musicians Facebook Group. It is interesting to note that through the release of the companion mac app there is a bug that has risen. Something about the way the Mac app store sandboxes  – sand in your boxers is never nice and this bug isn’t either! BUT we live in the 21st century and we have been having live updates from the developers all day long about what is going on and how to fix it – all through Facebook, from all over the world! These are exciting times we live in! Anyways… within hours the team had a fix up on their website. That should tell you something about their dedication to musicians using iOS to make music!

midimux – Let Your iPad Talk MIDI to Your Computer Through USB!

midimux_appOh man! This is big!

Awesome news of the day coming straight out of Berlin, Germany!

Zerodebug are pleased to announce the launch and immediate availability of their new midi-over-usb app, midimux smallmidimux.

HERE IS WHAT THIS MEANS:
I love wireless BUT the problem with relying on wireless is you are relying on wireless! You are always at the mercy of your network and the traffic, firewalls and number of devices connected. Why is this a problem? Because when you are dealing with a musical performance, you want totally reliable connections! You can NOT be playing on your iPad that is sending MIDI to your Laptop DAW through wireless MIDI and all of a sudden there is a hiccup! Notes are going to get stuck, notes are going to disappear, you will get a drop followed by a waterfall of regurgitated notes that hits you like a ocean wave! Things will fall out of sync and all sorts of bad things that will bring your performance to a crashing and embarrassing halt!

Soooooo…. even though I HATE cables – when I am in a live performance I tend to fall back on hardwiring devices together! With the release of midimux my electronic performances just got simpler and all through the use of the same cable that I use to charge my iPad. As soon as I buy this (soon) I will put it through the paces with my own projects as well as at the school in our all electronic music ensemble – Melodic Fusion. I will let you know more! If you have midimux please leave a comment below sharing your experience!

midmux screen1

Here is the press release….. (If you go visit their website you will see that they are working on another exciting app called audiomux that has not been released yet. That app looks just as promising!)

PRESS RELEASE FROM midimux.com

“midimux talks MIDI to your Mac – using the standard usb to lightning or 30 pin cable.
Finally.

With midimux, you are no longer forced to rely on wifi-packets or external hardware to communicate MIDI data between a Mac and an iOS Device.
It seamlessly integrates your iPad/iPhone into your studio. worry-free, reliable and at an ultra low-latency.
And it works with all apps and controllers that speak MIDI.
midimux lets you..

– control iOS apps with hardware controllers that are connected to your Mac.
– sequence and play iOS apps using a DAW running on your Mac.
– control Mac applications or hardware connected to it, using Lemur, TouchOSC or any other app that uses MIDI.
– use iOS apps to play and sequence hardware instruments that are connected to your Mac.
– create virtual MIDI ports on the iPad/iPhone that can be mirrored to the Mac or other iDevices.
– connect more than one iOS device to the Mac – and send MIDI data between them.

all this wired – via the simple usb to lightning/30 pin cable.”

Photophore on sale – Let’s Make Some MUSIC! (It is the weekend you know!)

PhotophoreI am always looking for ways to use my iPad to actually MAKE music not just organize myself and take care of paperwork! That means that when a music making app comes up for sale I am always interested because those are the times to GRAB those apps!

Photophore ($4.99 – on sale for 30% off) is one of those newly released apps (just a few months old) plus it is one of those apps that takes a bit of a different spin on design and sound. Speaking of sound… this is very interesting…. the sound is generated from “flocks” of up to 100 sound generators that produce some great sounds ranging from choirs to angry bee swarms! Now THERE’S a useful sound for your next concert! The sound is mimicking animal behaviors! Listen to this….

Photophore Screen1The flocks are controlled by “special behavioral algorithm and physics simulation that keeps the oscillators in tune with each other, but allows for a certain amount of natural drifting and detuning. This creates rich timbres that are perfect for crafting massive bass sounds, complex pads and searing leads.

You can interact with the oscillator flocks by controlling their behavioral characteristics – how much they try to flock together, how much they avoid each other, their speed, and how much turbulence is in their environment. Oscillators will flee from your touch, so you can create extreme pitch modulation and more chaotic effects by simply swiping across the screen.”

Now if THAT doesn’t make for some interesting cross curricular planning with the science department I don’t know what else would qualify. Of course THAT isn’t the reason to grab the app – the real reason is to have some fun playing some great sounds!

The developer has already released an important update for the app allowing us to set the incoming MIDI channel and also use the mod wheel on an external synth to control different parameters in the synth. The fact that there has already been on update holds promise that this is a developer who is serious about standing behind his app and continuing to make improvements based on user suggestions – (I LOVE iOS DEVELOPERS – because they listen, now if I could only get my middle schoolers to listen that well….)

MIDImorphosis for Mac is HERE!

MIDImorphosis

MIDImorphosis is an app that takes the audio input from an instrument, such as a guitar, and turns it into MDI messages! The app has been available for iOS for awhile now. It works well! In fact it is really, really fast in translating the messages from what is being played on your guitar and turning it into to MIDI.

Now Secret Base Design has released the Mac version of MIDImorphosis mac smal iconMIDImorphosis as well! Currently it is on an introductory sale for $4.99 so grab it up now if you are a guitar player!!!!!!!

Using this app opens all sort of possibilities for guitar players – now they can control synths, Logic, Abelton, GarageBand and many other outputs! The app works best with monophonic but it does do some polyphonic translation as well!

Talking about cutting wires – The app can send MIDI to CoreMIDI, Virtual MIDI, and DSMIDI Wifi, so you can use it with apps like GarageBand, or external MIDI equipment and desktop computers. It works well along side their other app, Apollo Remote RecorderApollo — to send MIDI notes over low latency Bluetooth connections to other iOS devices, or to Macs! Just make sure to read the requirements for Apollo as you have to make sure your devices are capable of the newer bluetooth technology.

NOW – Let’s talk mobile music making/learning/teaching with MIDImorphosis…..

Of course we teachers are always working with our students to make sure they can read music, I hope you are anyways! On an iPad (or the computer) you could use MIDImorphosisMIDImorphosis for iPad/ and an music notation/Guitar Tablature app like Progression small iconProgression, from Notion Music, you can now play on your guitar and have what you are playing get transcribed into actual TAB or normal music notation! All without ever touching a pencil or paper! Check this video out…. (WAIT…. go start downloading the app first because after you see the video you are going to want to do this!)

Apollo Transmit for Mac is Free for a few days – get it now!

sbd-banner-sm_0Apollo Sound TransmitSecret Base Design has done some outstanding work on iOS and Mac OS X in getting us to a point where we don’t rely on actual cable as much any more!

Their Apollo Transmit for the Mac is free for a few days – This app is part of a suite of applications that allow us to integrate iOS and Mac desktop DAW’s. What happens is you use Apollo Transmit to stream audio over wi-fi or ethernet to the free Apollo Injector Small IconApollo Sound Injector app on either an iOS device or if you are a PC user then it is available as a VST.

Sit and think for a minute…… Wireless…. No cables….. yup…. there ya go! Now you are smiling right?

For instance, I am constantly using a pair of headphones at my house – along with my laptop, iPad and iPhone. I jump back and forth between the 3 for various reasons and it is a hassle to have to keep switching the headphone cable back and forth – oh yeah, not anymore!

The Secret Base Design developers have done a ton of work to help make sure that latency issues stemming from wireless network are as minimal as possible. There is even a “tighten up” button – gotta love that!

They do suggest that you use SoundFlower on the mac to help route audio to the correct spots!

So – In order to get this working you will need three apps….. 2 for your mac and one for your iOS device….

MAC – Apollo Transmit and SoundFlower

iOS – Apollo Sound Injector

Session Band Apps – Amazing iPad Apps for Building Pro-Quality Tracks! (On sale currently too!)

Session Band1

This weekend, because of the fact that we have had 3 extra days of school off thanks to it being too cold here, I have discovered the Session Band Apps! I have no idea how I have not checked out this set of apps so far!

This post is just going to be an overview of what the Session Band Apps are all about – I think I will do a more detailed post soon!

Look at all the different versions of the Session Band Apps! – remember, these are currently on sale but not for long. If you EVER need to create accompaniment tracks to sing with, play with or just to practice with…. then do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of these! At this price it’s a total bargain! I’ve grabbed two of the packs and plan on getting a few of the others when I’ve got more money (hope the sale lasts longer!)

Session_Band_Original Original Version

Session_Band_PianoPiano Session Band

Session_Band_AcousticAcoustic Guitar Session Band

SB_BluesBlues Session Band

SB_Country Country Session Band

SB_EDM Electronic Dance Music Session Band

SB_Rock_Volume_1Rock Session Band

 Session_Band_JazzJazz Vol 1 Session Band

 SB_Jazz_Volume_2Jazz Vol 2 Session Band

  SB_Jazz_Volume_3Jazz Vol 3 Session Band

Here is the deal – These apps are collections of loops created by real musicians, playing on real instruments that allow you to create pro-quality accompaniment tracks in minutes by typing in chords! Now, I’ve used Band-In-A-Box before and iRealBook but the sound from Session Band Apps is head and tales above those apps! I’ve enjoyed those other apps for years but have not ever really used them for creating any tracks that I would use for performance – lots and lots of use for rehearsal purposes though. I’ve just never thought that the sound was that much above what I could create myself, I guess. After watching someone else messing around on YouTube and then finding out that the tracks were from Session Band, I started exploring and am glad I did!

Here is the situation – I need to produce a bunch of backing tracks for my son to perform with coming up during the annual Irish Festival in town. I really want some of those tracks to include acoustic guitar – which I do NOT play! I also want to be able to pump these babies out pretty easy and quick as I know what my wife is going to say if I do all the work myself!

The first Session Band app I bought was the Acoustic Guitar version – I figured, what the heck – it’s on sale! I’m very impressed with the output and choices built into the app!

Then I ended up Original Session Band App as well as it has a bit of everything in it. I was pretty disappointed though that I did not read the description in the app store well enough though – I ended up paying extra because a bunch of the loops in this app were only available through In-App-Purchase! Come on people! Just charge me up front! Not that the entire purchase was much more than the other versions but I just detest that approach! MY FAULT THOUGH – I should have read the warning put up there by APPLE!

The way the app works is that you basically type in chords, pick a style and there ya go – magic! It does pay to read through the help features in this app as I did not find everything clear cut to figure out. After reading about how to add, change length and edit the chords though it really is super fast and easy to build up an entire piece.

Session Band2There is even a nice live record feature in the app which allows you to hit the play button, then mute/solo and change the level of all the instruments playing while looping the song a few times. This allows you to come up with a longer arrangement that doesn’t have all the instruments playing the entire time.

I ended up taking the output of Session Band, through using Audio Copy, dumping it into GarageBand on my iPad, then opening that into Logic on my laptop to add other parts to it. I even took a track from the Acoustic Guitar app, along with a track from the Original SB app and mixed the two. Had a bit of a hiccup doing this though as the tempos did not quite lock into sync. That’s OK – this allowed me a wonderful reason to figure out the Flex-Time tool in Logic – ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING I MIGHT SAY! Easy as pie to lock the two tracks together after watching a nice gentleman explain Flex-Time on YouTube! (can you say “flipped classroom” on my day off from school?)

Anyways – here is one track that shows you the awesomeness of the guitar app – a bit rough in the melody yet because that’s the part my son gets to play so I wasn’t too worried about it!

Recording your Musical Ensembles – What Tech Is Good Enough To Use?

What do I use to record my musical ensembles?

What do I use to record my musical ensembles?

What recorder do I buy? Do I need external microphones? Is there an app for that? Is my iPhone good enough? But it’s just an iPad mic! Don’t I have to use professional equipment? How about a soundboard? Won’t people make fun of me?

All questions I get asked when people want to record their musical ensemble (well… maybe not the last question! :)  )

Seriously though, we have all this technology available and it does get very overwhelming when music directors want to record their ensemble. In fact, some just don’t even get started because they are at a loss for where and how to start!

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR SOME EXAMPLES!

What you really need to know is that the best recorder you can use is the one that you have with you at any given time! Now, I know…. my iPhone is NOT going to make as nice of a recording as having professional quality microphones running into preamps, which is all getting recorded by a high quality recorder. BUT if we don’t have time or the equipment to get all of that stuff up and running then can our iPads/Phone’s make do? The short answer is a resounding YES! In fact, there are several free apps out there that are amazing to work with and allow you to edit your recording later. But I get sidetracked… that’s the next post!

For this post I want to share with you 5 different versions of the same ensemble recorded and edited 5 different ways. Then you can listen and make some of your own judgements.

At Band Festival this past weekend I used three different devices to record our performances, just because I’m that kind of guy. I’m curious, I’m interested in listening to what the final product sounds like in comparison to each other. Here’s what I used….

  1. A Zoom H4N hooked up to high quality external microphones which were on a mic stand allowing the mics to be elevated about 10 feet in the air and 15 feet in front of the ensemble.
  2. A Marantz PMD620 recorder using the built in stereo microphones but this recorder was sitting on the front edge of the stage, on the floor. (basically at the base of the microphone stand mentioned above.)
  3. My iPad Air, using the built in microphone and Cubasis. I could have used any app but I was very interested in trying out the new FX packs Steinberg had just released this past week. In that FX Pack 1 there is a stereo width FX that I hoped would enhance the mono recording that the iPad mic gives us.

In the end, after editing the recordings so that I could use just one track to do these comparisons with, I ended up with 5 different versions of Belgian Paratroopers. Here are the differences…

  1. The first version is the iPad Air recording – no FX at all, just straight off the mic. This is of course a Mono recording.
  2. The 2nd version is that same recording but with the Stereo Width FX turned on giving us recording that has more width to it in the stereo field.
  3. In the 3rd version I took recording No1 (straight from the iPad Air mic) and processed it through an app called Audio Mastering Small IconAudio Mastering. I’ve used this app frequently to enhance my recordings in the past. Because the original file was a mono recording though, I do not feel as if Audio Mastering did anything at all to enhance the effect of spreading out the stereo width of the recording. Audio Mastering did enhance the recording though by adding a bit of reverb, EQ, and Dynamics to it.
  4. The 4th version is straight from the Marantz – When recording this version I had the Marantz set to manual level control and I had to monitor the recording level to make sure there was not clipping on the final recording. While editing this recording I simply went in and used the Normalize feature to bump up the final audio level so it wasn’t so soft.
  5. The final version is from the Zoom H4N and the high quality stereo mics. This recording had the Zoom set to Auto Level Controls because of the way we run our recording at our festival. This ALC setting helps eliminate user error that leads to that clipping of the final recording (which means an unusable recording). The ALC also means that some of the ensembles actual dynamics are skewed. I think you will notice that the recording starts out a bit louder and then it gets turned down because the band playing was so much louder than the announcer talking.

Listen and compare for yourself. Is the quality of just the iPad mic good enough for you? You probably already own an iPad or iPhone and this isn’t going to cost you any extra. (unless you really like what the Cubasis small iconCubasis Stereo Width FX Pack gives you or what Audio Mastering Small IconAudio Mastering can do)

Is the quality of a handheld recorder what you are looking for? The Zoom H4n is about $200 and does have built in mics that are pretty decent by themselves. The Marantz PDM 620 MKII recorder is about $400.

Do you want the even better quality of the external stereo mics? Those are going to run you $200 and up.

I think one final part of the decision here is the event that you are recording. If we are talking about recording your rehearsals for a quick listen to – or is it an important event like our Band Festival?

CONCLUSION:

Being able to record these days is an extremely easy endeavor that anyone of you can figure out with little work. Finding the money for the equipment should not be that difficult. Our District bought four recorders and the stereo microphones for less then what we used to get charged by the recording company that would come to record. Since that initial expense we have then saved money every year and our recordings are every bit the same quality as before!

THE RECORDINGS TO LISTEN TO:

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