Apple iPad – killer music production tool?


So, Apple has announced the long awaited and expected big touch screen-thingie. A lot of people was hoping and thinking it would be a computer but from the looks of it it’s a huge iPod Touch. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

First of all, it’s not a computer. This means you don’t have a lot of USB or FireWire ports, probably not a very powerful processor or tons of RAM, and you won’t be able to install your Pro Tools HD system on it. This is not good because you won’t be able to take advantage of your favorite DAW and plug-ins, at least not directly.

On the other hand, we’re likely to see that it’s fast and quick to work with. I just can’t imagine the same loading and startup times as computers got considering that this is an iPhone/iPod Touch-like device.

But how can we benefit from it? Actually, there are quite a few cool apps out there already. On my iPhone I have a modular synth for instance. Imagine it being scaled to the size of the iPad! Or how about running something like the ProRemote app with it?

We’ve already seen quite a few plug-in developers making apps for the iPhone – latest in line is Spectrasonics – if the iPad is a big success we could see an explosion of cool apps that work standalone or integrates with our DAW’s. Again, imagine ProRemote expanded. It could end up being like using a Lemur without the price tag that comes with it – iPad is only $500. Or what about something like Novations Automap feature? (well, one that actually works as advertised)

Multi-touch is still a relatively unexplored area when it comes to music production and mixing, often narrowed down to soft keys. I’ve said this so many times I’m getting tired of typing it. We don’t need to get rid of our beloved faders and knobs, I want them too, but a multi-touch screen could be a great compliment.

There are already rants about the iPad being a closed product. I kind of agree with them, but using Apple products has always been a compromise. You get a closed world, but it’s a world that works – kinda. At least that’s my personal love-hate relationship with Apple.

Personally I don’t care that much about apps being locked to Appstore for instance – a lot of small developers are already there – but the lack of connection ports is a bigger deal.

What’s cool?

  • It’s not a computer. I won’t have to boot bloody OS X, launch Pro Tools, do this and that before I’m going. I expect it to be fast and instant.
  • The touch screen. If it’s anything like my iPhone, the quality of the touch screen is good.
  • The price. $500 isn’t bad in my opinion, especially not considering it’s an Apple product.
  • Tons of apps are already available and there are more coming every day.

What’s not?

  • It’s not a computer. Hoping for lots of connections? For apps as powerful as those on your MacPro? Don’t count on it.
  • Closed architecture.

Finally I’d like to say that I see great potential here, but it’s all up to the app developers. I recently did an interview with Jordan Rudess who, besides his work with Dream Theater, is an avid iPhone and multi-touch endorser. He sees a very bright future for music when it comes to multi-touch and it’s very hard not to feel that passion.

Oh, yeah. The iPad will no doubt replace my MacBook as a blogging computer too.

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