Monday, 22 November 2010

Initial experiments with iOS4.2 and MIDI/Audio

Getting late but a few people have asked for an update.

First, compatibility with the Novation Remote (25 and 49 tested) and the Behringer UMA25S plugged into my iPad via CCK:

* Behringer: Powered from batteries the iPad recognises and uses the MIDI input from the keyboard perfectly but doesn't enable audio from the UMA25S (says it uses too much power). Powered from PSU the iPad recognises and uses BOTH the MIDI and audio in/out. Fantastic!

* Novation: The iPad always fails to enable the MIDI, complaining about power usage, regardless of whether I use batteries, PSU, USB or any combination. Same goes for both my Remote 25 and 49. Gutted as the keyboards on these are both excellent.

So concentrating on the UMA25S then, I did some app testing.

* MIDI in was perfect on the apps that supported MIDI. Hope for lots of updates soon!
* These guitar apps worked fantastically (such a great sound quality and low noise compared to my iRig): Stompbox (the best IMHO), Ampkit, RiotFX, Amps & Cabs, EffectorLite.
* These guitar apps failed to recognise there was USB audio in: AmpliTube, iShred Live.
* These apps used the USB audio-in perfectly: Filtatron, Improvox
* These apps required me to plug headphones into the iPad but did recognise the USB audio in: Voiceband (which takes on a whole new meaning when used with a guitar and a low noise input!)

That's it for now. Will update as and when I get around to it.

Finally, iOS4.2 is out

Man that was a long wait.

Time to head off home and join the hoards of people updating to iOS 4.2

I already know the camera connection kit is a bit picky about which midi devices and sound devices it works with and seems to cry about a lack of power at every possible turn. Perhaps the final release will be more forgiving?

I assume the iPhone isn't getting CCK compatibility but I'll know for sure in a few hours.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tickling the plastics

Still waiting for iOS4.2 and rumoured deadlines come and go with all the build-up and let down that comes with it. However a recent ebay session of loft clearing gave me the funds to get a 25 key keyboard as mentioned in my previous post. After intense deliberation and a few failed bids I narrowed my choice right down. I was intent on getting a battery controlled solution, not just for iPad fun but also with an eye on Rock Band 3 with its Pro mode supporting MIDI keyboards. I also decided expression pedal input was a requirement for what I do.

With the Novation X-station running just outside my budget I was looking at the Novation Remote 25, Remote 25SL and the Behringer UMA25S. I had some concerns over the rather fancy nature of the 25SL as it looks heavily dependent on computer-side software for configuration. I already know about the Remote 25 because I have (and love) a Remote 49 as my main keyboard - loads of controls, great keyboard and full MIDI in/out/thru.

The Behringer is an interesting little option - light, easy on batteries and has a built-in USB audio interface. Reviews say its keyboard is quirky, due to half-height action, but are generally
favourable. It only has 8 knobs too, versus a whole host of controls on the Remote 25 & 25SL. An additional fun element, especially with Rock Band 3 in mind, is the guitar lugs and included strap, bringing it rather close to the official RB3 "keytar" controller.

Anyway, I ended up buying BOTH the UMA25S and the Remote 25 and am expecting them to arrive this week. I don't intend to keep both, as that's a bit over my budget, so I shall try them both for a short while before deciding which one to keep. I don't know how useful the Behringer's audio interface will be with the iPad but it would (I think) allow me to mix the iPad's audio with the audio from my iPhone using its line in and direct monitoring. It may offer me a more satisfactory way to get my guitar into the iPad too, as I have to say I haven't been hugely impressed with the iRig hardware thus far - too much noise and feedback despite taking the suggested precautions.

Once I've had a good play I will post my thoughts.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

iOS 4.2 and USB Midi

Finally after months of waiting iOS 4.2 for iPad is due to arrive sometime this month. Speculation went nuts after some news stories mistook Apple's suggestion that the DST alarm problem (which affected me too) would go away after November 7th to be a launch date for 4.2 rather than just being the date that the US changes its clocks!

Ever since hearing that Core MIDI would be in iOS 4.2 I've been waiting to see whether or not that would mean MIDI over USB via the Camera Connection Kit. I have a few MIDI controllers and some USB MIDI controllers too, so MIDI is a big part of what I like to mess around with. Hooking these up to the iPad would be fantastic.

Whilst NDAs seem to block anyone from saying anything, MooCow music put out a video on YouTube that got me all excited. Not only does it show MIDI happily going over USB but that video is an X Station 25. Why is that important? Well the X Station is not class-compliant, and also it has a built in USB audio interface. So that bodes well for compatibility of other devices. I would be keen to know from MooCow if the iPad in the video had its audio in/out taken over by the X Station.

So now (for me) the hunt is on for a 25 key controller keyboard. Mine are all 49 key and not portable in any way. It'll have to be compatible with the iPad and ideally battery powered, to avoid having to use a USB splitter cable and some form of external power source such as the Duracell PPS2.

There's a fair few to choose from, but nothing yet stands out as "perfect" to me, and of course compatibility cannot be guaranteed. I'd welcome any comments from anyone who has tried and succeeded with any of these mentioned (or any other 25 key controllers). So far I'm looking at:

Novation Xiosynth
M-audio Axiom
Novation SL25 MK1
M-audio oxygen
Akai MPK25
Alesis Photon X25
Novation Nocturn 25
Novation x-station
Novation SL25 Compact
Novation SL25 Mk 2

Of these, the only battery powered ones are the Novation Xiosynth, X Station, SL 25 MK1 and the Alesis Photon X25. Any other suggestions?

Looking forward to some awesome times over Xmas. The list of fantastic iOS music apps just keeps on growing, and MIDI support will be mind blowing.