July 12, 2024

Yes, the iPad is out. Yes, it is amazing. No, it is not simply a bigger iTouch or an iPhone without the phone part. If you haven’t been able to try one, then go to a store and try it. You will be hooked. There are a few music apps out, like Magic Piano which is neat-o to show your friends, but really has no practical use in my opinion.

However, there are a few functional apps in the store, and one that I’m growing fond of is the AC-7 Pro Control Surface for the iPad ($9.99). It turns your iPad into a virtual fader board and DAW controller for Logic, Digital Performer, and Pro Tools. It does this “magic” by utilizing your WiFi network to connect to your Mac using an open source program called DSMI to connect to the app and translate its messages to midi. You then go and configure your DAW to receive the midi stream from DSMI as a Mackie Control. And it works….mostly.

I say mostly because, well, there are issues. First off, using your general wifi network (ie the network that your mac, iphone, ipad, internet connection is on) it seems to work most of the time, but it will lose connection every now and then. Usually when you really need it. General consensus seems to be that on an busy network, if there is a packet that gets dropped, DSMI and the app don’t retransmit it. Or something to that effect, resulting in programs like Pro Tools complaining about the HUD connection or worse, messing up the position of the fades, which could be bad.

If you have a Mac that has built in WiFi, you can create a private wifi network, and put the iPad on it, and then the App works flawlessly (at least for me). But if you have a MacPro that doesn’t have its own wifi transmitter, well, you are going to have to suffer for a while. To get dynamic track names, you also need to use a freeware program called midipipe.

So, it is a start. I think really what needs to be done is a custom app on the Mac side that connects properly with the iPad app and won’t drop packets and drops the need for midipipe. If you can get through the setup, it is a very slick app. The Pro Tools support is basic, but the support for Digital Performer and Logic is pretty darn complete. And it can only get better with updates which will hopefully add more Pro Tools support. It’s bleeding edge, but workable. It is really nice now to not have to be tied to the computer to control Pro Tools. If you have an iPad, or an iPhone/iTouch (there is a smaller version for iPhone/iTouch), and work with DAWs a lot, check this app out.

8/10 (2 points deducted because there is no unified mac app for it…..you have to run 2 programs, and the configuration is not totally apparent).

Some guys demo of it.

Why this guy is wearing a Microcrap shirt I don’t know……(Update: He works for Microcrap….I can hear the chairs being thrown by Steve Ballmer now….)

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