Apple iOS: A Revolution in Music Production and Performance


When Steve Jobs made his now-famous announcement of the iPhone, in 2007, it is doubtful anyone could have predicted the impact the iOS operating system (and namely the iPad) would eventually have on music production and recording. These now-ubiquitous communication devices have found their way into recording, beat making, DJ’ing, live sound, and live performance rigs the world over, long since proving they are not merely “toys,” but full-fledged computing devices.

Since the launch of the App Store, there are countless music and recording-oriented apps available, ranging from fun games to serious DAWs and synthesizers from companies like Steinberg and Moog. Apple’s own flagship DAW, Logic, even has a remote app for the iPad that gives you hands-on control over a wealth of mixing and track-creation options. While a touch-screen interface is ideal for some aspects of creation, many prefer the tactile feel of a keyboard or controller. IK Multimedia ranks as one of the first companies to focus on peripherals for iOS. Its iRig product gives you traditional keys and pads, such as the iRig KEYS MIDI controller and iRig Pads pad controller. If your workflow includes both programming and clip launching, Novation’s Launchkey Mini gives you 25 keys and 16 pads in a compact form factor that will complement the iPad. Taking advantage of the unique design of the iPad, IK Multimedia’s iRing Motion Controller utilizes the front-facing camera to create X, Y, and Z axes to control up to six effects parameters.

As more and more DJs work entirely in the digital domain, iOS integration has become natural, ranging from DJ mixers with iPod docks to more sophisticated integration. Native Instruments’ TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 MK2 not only supports the TRAKTOR PRO app on your laptop, but the company’s TRAKTOR DJ iOS app, giving you the variety of options a KONTROL deck offers without needing to lug your laptop to a gig. Numark’s iDJ Live II Controller provides slightly streamlined DJ controls, and even features an integrated dock for your iPad, working with Algoriddim’s djay app.

One area of audio that has effectively been forever changed by the iPad is live sound. Many new digital mixers integrate iOS control over at least some aspect of its functionality. Options like Behringer’s X18 and Mackie’s DL1608 dock with your iPad and incorporate its touchscreen to provide faders for mixing. The PreSonus StudioLive lineup does not rely on your iPad’s processing to process any audio, but gives you the option of wireless control with it, allowing you to walk around the venue and mix from different spots, helping you achieve a balanced live mix.

The iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch have all come into their own as recording devices, as well. Since the built-in microphone leaves much to be desired (at least in terms of pro recording), it is only fitting there is a wide selection of audio interfaces, ranging from the simple to the complex available with iOS compatibility. Interface options are seemingly as broad as the applications for which you might use them. If you’re an aspiring YouTube performer, Focusrite’s iTrack Pocket gives you portability and a high-quality stereo microphone for capturing higher-quality audio on your iPhone videos. For those with a more traditional studio setup, Apogee’s Quartet provides four channels of their legendary conversion in a desktop interface that can connect directly to your device, giving you up to 192 kHz/24-bit audio.

The portability of the iPhone and iPod touch makes them natural tools for ENG and field reporters, and not shockingly, there is no shortage of options to cater to getting high-quality audio in those applications. Whether you need a lavalier kit for interviews or require stereo recording to capture ambience, there are plenty of solutions that take full advantage of the format.

The possibilities the iPad and other iOS devices provide for the recording community are intriguing. They have already proven themselves to be indispensible to many aspects of production, recording, and news gathering, and are likely to continue to influence those fields as new models and new peripherals become available. While some purists might not like it, the iPad has found a way into the studio, and seems here to stay. In addition to providing numerous hardware peripherals and accessories for music production with Apple's iOS products, B&H also carries the complete line of iPads and other iOS devices