Tour -Ettes syndrome
I suppose I just like to be busy, and when touring always need to accomplish something other than just turning up for the show each day. I knew I had over a years touring to do and wanted writing/producing solution that was easy to carry and didn’t require a flight case.
iPad was the obvious solution as I carry it most places anyhow but it seems that digital audio workstation (DAW) and MIDI software was a bit thin on the ground individually never mind as a package. Garage Band seemed the obvious solution. It’s very powerful and free! But the big requirement, to me, of having a portable recording solution is the ability to export your midi and audio into a bigger studio once home or at work. Garage band doesn’t do this at all. You can export a .wav or .aiff file but not midi. A nice chap called Lars Kobbe has written an applet GB2MIDI. In order to do this Scott Troyer‘s work around is lumpy but workable. You will have had to export the .aif file from your iPad to a Laptop/Desktop.
As an established Pro Tools user I didn’t want to go down the Cubase/Logic route. The research that I did suggested two possible apps NanoStudio
NanoStudio is very good and integrates both audio and midi. As the web site says “NanoStudio is a recording studio for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It has virtual analogue synths, sample trigger pads, a comprehensive sequencer, a sample editor, a mixer and multiple effects all integrated into a single application.” It’s easy to use and the synths, drum machine and mixer work well and for £5 its a bargain. There is an in-app purchase £3.99 to make it 16 tracks and this is also worth it. Once again the exporting is the issue. MIDI exports from the computer version but seemingly not the iPad. You can mix down on the iPad or export to the laptop version of NanoStudio and you can share with SoundCloud.
Auria I liked from the off but vs1 didn’t support MIDI, there was a work around involving Audiobus and Nanostudio but none of this worked fully until Apple released iOS 9 in Late 2015. With this came the release of Auria Pro and this now had MIDI integrated.
Now we could write and export via Auria’s .aaf export option directly into Pro Tools either via Dropbox or iTunes when connected to the laptop. Auria Pro is £34.99
The next nut to crack was a portable mic preamp. I’ve a couple of USB/firewire interfaces but neither of the are portable. Speaking with my chums at Mediaspec UK they unanimously suggested IK Multimedia’s iRig Pro. This little device is pocket size and very good.
It integrates with Auria very well and is easy to use. You can plug either a jack or xld into it and 48V phantom power is supplied via a 9v battery (not included). It evens works as a MIDI interface. I’ve done a few sax/flute solos for dance tracks with it already. Here’s one for Phil Bonna .
I have found the iPad a little fiddly to play so as a little Christmas gift to myself I bought iRig Keys a 37 note key board. Although it doesn’t fit in the man bag it is quite portable.
There you have it it, a mobile recording/writing system all in one man bag. The only addition that I have now made is Pro Control for Pro tools 12.
Here’s the first track written and recorded on this system – Agent Tea Bag