When making music with iOS devices, sometimes you just need to go outside the proverbial box(or tablet…I digress). Most iOS musicians(as many of us have adopted the term) can produce complete tracks inside of the iPad without ever needing to use external synths or devices, save the occasional audio input interface. What about those who would like to perform live? The iPad has proven to be a viable live tool, at least in my experience, and as long as developers are pushing the envelope in their app designs and flexibility, will continue to prove their worth live.
I personally have used several synth apps that have been paired with a MIDI controller. I would use this rig in conjunction with my Yamaha MO8, allowing me to play multiple parts live. Eventually, with a second iPad and controller, I was able to leave my 88 key monstrosity home and just use the two smaller rigs, thanks to apps like Korg’s iM1.
So what about those who prefer to perform using sequences and hardware? With the advent and release of pocket synths such as the Korg’s Volca series and Roland’s Boutique series, hardware synths are going portable, eschewing keys and keeping things simple. They bring the musician quality sounds at a very affordable price point. What’s more, These devices are MIDI compatible, allowing the musicians to drive them via MIDI contollers or even dedicated sequences.
To me, the idea of taking portable, battery powered devices and an iPad to perform a live gig is genius, as it would take virtually no time to set up. All you need is a small mixer, and a house PA and you’re good to go.
Now, if you’re familiar with using your iPad to drive MIDI to external devices, you probably are asking, ” How can you drive more than one device from an iPad?” Well, a MIDI splitter is in order, but the most common problem faced is bus power. Bus power is needed to make most portable MIDI splitters work. The iPad is not powerful enough to run enough power out to most devices of this nature and while there are units out there that can be run on a separate power supply, it kind of takes away from the whole idea of being self contained.
Enter the MIDI Splitter from Amptone Lab.
As per a recommendation from Jakob Haq at thesoundtestroom.com, I purchased one and was really happy with this device. MIDI Splitter is a 1 in 4 out MIDI thru port that features battery power as well as wall power(adapter not included). This device allows the user to send MIDI messages out of the iPad, via CCK or Lightning to USB connector, into the MIDI Splitter, then out to up to four MIDI IN devices. The 9 Volt battery option will make up for the lack of bus power and keep things portable.
The video that follows is my unboxing of this device and in future videos, I’ll be showing how I have the device hooked up to the Korg Volca devices.
If you are living in the US, expect a three week delivery time, as these items are shipped from Poland. Believe me, they are well worth the wait.