Music for Tablets
We look at an upgrade for one way of connecting your iPad MIDI and audio to your computer via USB, and another new program for doing the same.
by Warren Burt, Nov. 2015
More iOS to Computer USB Interfaces
Last time, I reviewed Midimux and Audiomux from Zerodebug. Almost as soon as our last issue hit the Internet, they announced a major upgrade to the program. Midimux remains the same. But Audiomux morphed into Studiomux, which now can handle MIDI, audio and OSC (all bi-directional) communications between the computer and the iOS device (http://midimux.com/ $9.99 in the App Store). And since then, they have upgraded their Windows and Mac Servers, improving the performance of the program as well. Previously, Audiomux worked on my big laptop very well, but communication with my tiny ASUS Netbook was problematic. Since the advent of Studiomux and the recent upgrades, I’m happy to report that Studiomux now works seamlessly with both my normal computer and the tiny netbook with no problems. Here’s the interface of Studiomux, with channel 1 sending the Pixelwave soundmaking app, and the GliderVerb app, acting as an effect on channel 2. At the lower right of the screen, the blue circle with a waveform on it shows that the Audio page has been selected.
The MIDI page in Studiomux looks just like the MIDI page in MIDImux, except for the selection tools on the right edge of the interface. The blue circle with the continuous line on the lower right shows that the MIDI page is selected.
Here’s a patch in AudioMulch in which the full resources of Studiomux are being used. At the bottom of the screen you can see the icon for ArtWonk, a MIDI generating program. It’s sending MIDI out to the LoopBe internal MIDI interface. This is selected as a source in image above. In Audiomulch, the audiomux_generator module is receiving sounds from the PixelWave app, which is receiving MIDI from ArtWonk, via the LoopBe internal MIDI and Studiomux’s MIDI page.
The output of PixelWave is then processed, in the computer, within AudioMulch, using the Melda MMultiband Delay. The output of the delay is then placed into the audiomux_effect module, which sends audio from the computer back into the iPad, where it is processed by the GliderVerb app on Channel 2. The output from the GliderVerb is then sent back to the computer, and then out to the speakers. This all happens seamlessly, without glitches or breakups. Studiomux is now becoming a mature and fully functioning program.
MusicIO – Another USB Interface
Just when I was relaxing, I received notice that MusicIO, which has been available for the Mac for some time now, was now making drivers for the PC available (http://musicioapp.com/ $9.99 in the App Store). So of course, I had to download them, and install them on my PCs. Once again, both MIDI and audio stream along the USB cable flawlessly. You do have to launch the MusicIO VST plugin inside your app (and connect the USB cable from your iPad to your computer, of course) to get communication happening, but once the VST plugin is launched, MusicIO’s interface will turn green, indicating it’s ready for action. Swipe left to move to the pages where MIDI, audio and effects can be selected.
Once loaded, in the programs on your computer that will take MIDI, a new driver appears “MusicIO MIDI.” You select this to both send and receive MIDI from MusicIO. Note that the MIDI generator (or receiver) that you’re using does not have to be connected to the DAW environment that the MusicIO VST plugin is installed in. You just have to have the plugin functioning for MusicIO MIDI to be happening all over your computer. In the screenshot below from AudioMulch the output of MusicIO is the app Thumbjam, which is being controlled externally by the MIDI generator program ArtWonk. Once the output of Thumbjam is in AudioMulch, I’m then processing the sound with AudioMulch’s own DL Granulator. The image immediately after that shows the “Sound From” page of MusicIO, where you select what instruments you send to the computer. Note the Thumbjam icon on channel 1, which shows that Thumbjam is the app that is producing the sound.
Similarly you can send audio from your computer to your iPad through MusicIO, where an app on the iPad can be used to process the sound. The first image below shows the “Effects” page of MusicIO. Note that the Crystalline effect app has been selected. Then in the following image, you can see the environment in AudioMulch. The MIDI Input 1 module is receiving MIDI on the “MusicIO MIDI” channel from the Analog Midi Sequencer App. This is driving the Modartt Pianoteq 5 piano module, which is sending its sounds to the MusicIO interface. Notice in the MusicIO interface that the “FX Loop On” is now selected. As shown in the top image, the Crystalline effect is being used, and the output of that goes to the Sound Out.
So there you have it – there are now two professional programs for interfacing your iPad via USB to your computer. Which one do I prefer? It’s much of a muchness – they both work and do what they say they will, very well. My hunch is that Studiomux might handle labyrinthine patches with multiple goings between the iPad and the computer a little bit better, but the “all in one page” interface of MusicIO is also pretty elegant. Studiomux will interface with Audiobus, while MusicIO seems to be self-contained. Since both environments are $9.99 each, you could easily have both, and experiment to see which one suits your working style the best.