The DIY iOS Musician: Studio Setup

So before I delve into my recording setup using an iPhone, one question I need to answer is “why”? 

Years ago I went from the exciting world of mini disc multi-tracks and terrible PC software (cakewalk)… it was awesome enough to nearly make me retire.  So… my wife convinced me that we needed to sink a crazy amount of money into a Power Mac G5 12 years ago because our PC was dying after 2 years… I sit down on a Mac for the first time and see an icon for a program called Garageband.  I open the app and everything changed…

So a decade later after taking a break (one of many “retirements”) I noticed that when I was recording guitars at high gain there was a slight hiss that no amount of noise gate or preset tinkering could take away.  It drove me crazy…  At that time we had just upgraded phones and I had picked up an iPhone 5c.  I noticed the iOS Garageband App and said “yeah right…”  The Power Mac (outmoded but working flawlessly like the day we bought it) now sits on its old desk in the basement collecting dust waiting for some one to need to use Photoshop.  Recording on iOS Garageband had won.

So I went through 2 studio variations.

Set up 1:

Not sure how things would work out I initially bought an IK Multimedia analog iRig.  Using the iRig with my phone was as simple as plugging it into the input jack and in Garagend select the mic line as an input.  The set up was not bad, using a noise gate from Amplitube FreeFullSizeRender 2 as an inter-app audio plug in to eliminate hiss in high gain playing I could use all of the presets in Garageband to write and record new songs.  What I found limiting was that my guitar cleans were always muddy and that it was a pain trying to play software synths using a small phone screen…  This set up lasted about half a year…

Set up 2: The current and evolving…

So it was clear that I could pull off a great recording using my phone.  Yes, Garageband 4 years ago was a little limited back then, but it was better than any stand alone multi-track and it had cleaner sound that my old Mac.  My biggest needs were to have better control over audio quality recorded into the phone and to be able to use a physical MIDI controller to play soft synths legitimately.  I upgraded my interface to an IK Multimedia iRig Pro and added some other things to the set up along the way 🙂

So here is the layout and an explanation will follow…IMG_0566.JPG

So, not everything is included  because I would have ran out of space (or I forgot until I was putting things away). 

Bottom left is an IK Multimedia Power Bridge, it charges my phone and powers the IK Multimedia iRig Pro Interface at the same time.  The iRig Pro acts as a hub.  My M-Audio keyboard controller is connected via a MIDI in cable, the mic and guitars are connected through a 1/4″ or xlr depending upon the application.  From there, the iRig Pro is connected to my iPhone through the Power Bridge.  My apps automatically recognize everything where drivers are non existent.  Lastly, through the headphone port of the iPhone, I run sound out to my KRK Rokit studio monitors.

So this is it, my rough set up laid out on the floor so one can visualize what is going on.  In later blogs I will be going over every piece of equipment and then some.  If you have any questions about what I have laid out please comment and let me know.  Thanks!

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