Monday, August 22, 2011

Music Creation On The iPad

So I’ve had my iPad for maybe five months now, and it’s been a little bit eye-opening. I bought an iPad 1 from someone who had to rush out on Day 1 and get an iPad 2. I got a pretty good deal because I got a much better model than I would have as well as a lot of accessories, and he got a pretty good deal because I financed a large portion of his new one. Win-win.

It’s amusing to still even today read articles about how it’s nothing new and why should anyone bother getting one, but for me it’s been a game changer. I almost never use my laptop at home anymore for my “normal” computing activities, and in fact since I got the iPad my laptop’s not left the house. I go out of town maybe two weekends a month and a year ago could not have imagined not taking a computer with me for a weekend. Now my backpack’s 8 pounds lighter and I hardly have to worry about batteries for the whole weekend.

But this was supposed to be about music. Almost forgot.

My first thoughts were that the iPad would be a cool toy. I loves me some gadgets, personally, so I was really looking forward to playing with one. In fact, I had actually bought a few music apps before I even had one, thinking that if I had a reason to get an iPad beforehand I could more easily justify it. And I’ve gotten all sorts of cool music toy apps, and some more “serious” apps as well, and have had great fun with them. But there were two things that made me change my thinking about the “pro-ness” of the iPad. One was the iRig MIDI interface (still with the slightest whiff of vaporware about it) and the other was the Sunrizer synth app.

The iRig MIDI device, from IK Multimedia, is a large-matchbook sized device that lets you connect your iPad to your MIDI gear with full MIDI in/out connections. It also lets you connect power to your iPad at the same time, something that other devices I’m aware of don’t do at the moment. For me that’s pretty much a requirement. The last thing I’d want is to have my iPad run out of juice while waiting for the drummer to finish setting up. I said before that it’s a little vaporish because they’re only on pre-order at the moment.

But what really changed my mind about making music on the iPad is the Sunrizer app from BeepStreet. I was really bummed a few weeks ago because I powered up my Access Virus Indigo 2 and the backlight was dead, but one listen to the Sunrizer made me forget all about the Virus. OK, slight exaggeration, but still. The thing sounds amazing. I’ve played with other synth apps on the iPad/iPhone and the Sunrizer just blows them away for sheer sonic goodness. Will it replace my Indigo 2? No. But it comes darn close, and I’m hoping a future version 2 will bridge the gap between them. And besides, you can’t throw your Indigo 2 in a backpack, even if it *is* a small synth. And while the Virus definitely is more flexible and more full-featured, the Sunrizer can certainly give it a run for its money. It just sounds that good.

So I’ve had the iPad for a while now, but all of a sudden I can see myself using it live as a synth module. All I need is two more of them and I can go totally portable, and I’m only half joking about that. Think about it for a moment. When the iPad 3 comes out you’ll probably be able to pick up an iPad 1 for under $100 if you get a low end model.

I’ll write a more in-depth post about the Sunrizer synth soon as I truly want to cover it well and do it justice, but until then let me leave off by saying I find I just can’t seem to stop playing it lately.