Capturing Audio And MIDI On The Cheap
Capturing Only MIDI
Fig. 4. Line 6 MIDI Memo
If you’ve bought the MIDI Mobilizer II or iRig MIDI interfaces, you can download and use the company’s proprietary apps, MIDI Memo or iRig MIDI, to capture MIDI in real time. The apps are very similar in function, and you must use the app from the company that made your MIDI interface, as they act as dongles. The great news is that these apps are free! The MIDI input can be of any kind, including real-time performance and SysEx data. Both are universal iOS apps, so they run on both the iPhone and iPad. (Fig. 4)
As far as exporting files is concerned, iRig MIDI allows files to be exported by email, iTunes sharing, and Wi-Fi, while MIDI Memo only allows files to be emailed.
One cool use for these MIDI-capture apps is to capture MIDI performances from electronic drums. While listening to the metronome and sounds from the drum module, play a beat and record the MIDI into one of these programs. If you put the performance tempo into the name of the file, it’s easy to sync up and edit in a full-featured sequencing program. Use this method to capture beats and become a little loop factory.
iOS In DAW-land
You might have guessed by now that I’m a big fan of Apple’s iOS devices – since I first had my hands on the Apple Newton 100 in 1993. Since then I’ve been searching and not so patiently waiting for the perfect handheld device. This device would perform any task I asked of it, including music. I’m not just talking about having it play back music for listening purposes; I’m talking about having it help me create music. Well, my wait is over. There is now a digital audio workstation that fits in the palm of your hand. Is it perfect? No, but it’s pretty darn cool.
Two ofthe best multitrack iOS DAWs out there are the Meteor Multitrack Recorder from 4 Pockets and Apple’s GarageBand. Each have different strengths and capabilities that set them apart from the other DAW apps.
Meteor Multitrack Recorder
Fig. 5. 4 Pockets’ Meteor Multitrack Recorder Track View window
This 12-track iOS DAW for the iPad (not available for the iPhone) closely mimics the features and functionality of its computer-based brethren. Being limited to 12 tracks, which can be any combination of audio or MIDI tracks, isn’t that much of a concern, especially when you remind yourself that it’s running on iPad. The bonus is that each of the audio tracks can be either mono or stereo, in effect doubling your audio track count. (Fig. 5)
Fig. 6. 4 Pockets’ Meteor Multitrack Recorder Audio Editing window
A surprising number of tools for editing audio files come standard with Meteor. Included are ones you would expect, like fade in, fade out, and normalization. Surprisingly, more advanced tools like time stretch, pitch shift, and even beat detection are included in this sub-$20 app. (Fig. 6)
Stereo delay, stereo reverb, and tone boost effects come standard. They can be routed just as they would be in the physical world: to a master bus, aux send, and insert bus, as well as be applied to audio as it is being recorded. Did I mention it’s less than 20 bucks?
Fig. 7. 4 Pockets’ Meteor Multitrack Recorder MIDI editing window
MIDI editing is done through a standard-looking piano-roll layout. This $7.99 in-app purchase is well worth the money. It functions just like a computer-based system. (Fig. 7)
Although it is possible to export MIDI Tracks, from what I can tell Meteor mixes down all the MIDI tracks into one file. So, if you want to export a single MIDI track it should be the only MIDI track in the project file. MIDI-file export is handled by local network FTP. Open any computer Web browser, enter the supplied server and port information, and a list of files and folders will appear. MIDI files are found in the Export folder.
Individual audio files for each track can also be exported and shared using FTP, just like MIDI files. Audio can also be exported as a finished mix in most of the common file formats. Overall, this is a very powerful app, and I can’t wait to explore it further.