Wildly customizable keyboard unleashes iPad creativity

By

The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
Photo: Sensel

The Sensel Morph is a different kind of “keyboard” for the iPad or Mac. It’s a pressure-sensitive panel onto which you can slap various silicone overlays, turning it from a QWERTY keyboard into a piano, a movie-editing controller or many other specialized interfaces.

It’s a customizable, wildly imaginative input device designed for musicians, video editors, illustrators, writers and other creative types.

iOS’ most essential music-making app gets a massive update

By

AUM should be on every musician’s iPad.
AUM should be on every musician’s iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you’re an iOS-using musician, then AUM is an utterly essential app. It’s an audio mixer, but that description hides its power. AUM does let you mix the audio from various apps, but it also hosts audio units (like plugins), routes audio between them, records those channels, and more.

This week, AUM got a huge update, adding a whole bunch of great new features.

How to make music with an iPad and a ‘classic’ Swedish synth

By

These two will make beautiful music together.
A perfect music-making combo.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

At first glance, the decade-old OP-1 synthesizer from Swedish musical instrument makers Teenage Engineering looks about as standalone as it gets.

The tiny device couples a short, piano-style keyboard with a screen. And it contains a drum machine, several synthesizers, a sampler, a handful of sequencers, a virtual four-track tape recorder and even an FM radio. You can create entire tracks on it with no other gear, or you can hook it up to electric guitars and microphones and bring the outside world in.

But it also pairs surprisingly well with an iPad. You can record audio back and forth, but things go much deeper than that. You also can use the OP-1’s hardware keyboard to play instruments on the iPad, and use iPad MIDI apps to control the synthesizers on the OP-1.

Making music with an iPad and a synth

If you own both pieces of gear already, hopefully this how-to will give you some new ideas about making music with an iPad. But if you only own an iPad, this in-depth article will provide tips for using your tablet with other music gear.

And if you know nothing about the OP-1, or about Teenage Engineering’s work in general, you’ll learn why the company is kind of the Apple of the synth world. Teenage Engineering is known for its incredible interface design — and for having a quirky personality similar to 1984-era Apple, when the brand-new Mac was making waves.

Atom Piano Roll is an iOS MIDI-lover’s dream

By

Atom piano roll
Atom is a like a player-piano for your iPad
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

 

Atom is a “piano roll” sequencer for making music on iOS. A piano roll is named for the software used to run olde worlde player pianos. It’s a roll of paper with holes punched in it. As the roll moves through the piano, the holes are read by a “tracker bar,” and the corresponding notes are played.

Imagine such a sheet of paper in the digital realm. That’s a modern piano-roll sequencer, and it’s a commonplace way to control software instruments. Atom brings some amazing tricks to the piano roll. It’s also an Audio Unit (AU) app, which means it can work as a plug-in inside your favorite iOS Music apps, like Cubasis and GarageBand.

How to record digital audio from your iPhone to your Mac with iDAM

By

Audio and USB, together again.
Audio and USB, together again.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know that you can send the audio from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via the Lightning cable? That audio stays in pristine digital ones and zeros, and can be recorded (or otherwise used) anywhere you can edit audio on your Mac.

For musicians, this turns your iPad and all its music apps into a plugin for your Mac. And for anyone else, it could just be a neat way to route audio into your Mac’s speakers. The feature is called iDAM, and it’s built into your Apple devices. Oh, and it works with MIDI too.

MidiWrist lets you control musical instruments from your Apple Watch

By

Chill out with the Apple Watch Breathe app.
What’s the time? It’s time to get ill.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

For Apple Watch-owning musicians, the MidiWrist app is pretty wild. It lets you control almost any music hardware or software just by tapping the Apple Watch. The possibilities are almost literally endless — and you can even map the smartwatch’s Digital Crown as a custom controller.

Creative Block: Roli’s expressive MIDI keyboard goes portable [Review]

By

Roll seaboard block review
That's the Seaboard sat on a 12-inch iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Imagine a piano keyboard that is also a multitouch surface, like the screen on an iPad. Now imagine that this is a tactile silicone surface with bumps and dips so you can feel the keys, just like a piano. Hold that image in your mind — you are currently imagining the Roli Seaboard Block, backpack-sized Bluetooth MIDI keyboard that will change the way you play music.

Want USB on your iPhone? There’s an adapter for that

By

You can now use this to connect USB peripherals to your iPhone.
You can now use this to connect USB peripherals to your iPhone.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s Lightning to USB connector has ostensibly been about connecting your iPad to a camera to import images directly to your tablet.

Now, with iOS 9.2, it looks like the same adapter can be used on your iPhone to get photos onto your smaller-screened device.

There’s even some evidence that the Lightning to USB adapter works to connect other USB peripherals, like MIDI keyboards or USB-powered microphones. If you’re a musician on the road without access to your iPad, this might be your new best solution.

Make your technology a force for musical expression with this digital guitar [Deals]

By

The Jamstik is a versatile and super portable MIDI controller that plays just like a normal guitar.
The Jamstik is a versatile and super portable MIDI controller that plays just like a normal guitar.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Computers, tablets, even iPhones have grown into powerful tools for music making, but for many who play guitar the bridge from analog instrument to digital devices can be an intimidating one. The Jamstik Wireless Smart Guitar is a great way to cross the digital divide, a MIDI controlling guitar with frets and strings that feel familiar to any guitarist’s fingers. It’s also cheaper than most keyboard controllers (and certainly guitars), available right now for just $149.99.

When it comes to music, it’s one iRing to rule them all

By

iring
Photo: IK Multimedia

This probably isn’t the “iRing” you’ve been waiting for — assuming you’ve been waiting for the mythical (One) Ring, forged by the skilled elves of Logbar, that wants to control, well, pretty much everything in your life.

No, this particular ring — IK Multmedia’s iRing — won’t control your TV, your phone or your wallet. But it is imbued with the power to create music on your iDevice.