by Thomas Brady

So the front room at the house we’ve just moved into is going to be a reading room/music parlor/recording room. I was planning on powering that recording bit with an old MSI Wind netbook running Ubuntu Studio, connected to a condenser mic (via USB to XLR + phantom power) and an M-Audio Keystation 49e.

First of all, I wasn’t all that excited about trying to navigate open-source UIs on a tiny netbook screen with a tiny netbook keyboard and tiny netbook trackpad. I knew this would be a once-in-a-while thing, but I also knew that the sort of frustrations bred by that kind of setup are precisely the kind that ravage creativity.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking, “You know, that iPad would be a WAY better workstation, if you could only connect mics and keyboards to it.”

Holy crap, can you connect mics and keyboards to it. Soon, with this tasty little piece of kit (just announced at CES and awaiting Apple certification, a release date, and pricing):

Akai Synthstation

In the meantime, though, if you have a Camera Connection Kit you can use it to connect USB microphones (like the setup I mentioned above that connectes my condenser mic) and MIDI keyboards (like the one I mentioned above). 

Andy Ihnatko has had some great experiences so far with using this setup for recording with his condenser mic (check out his uke demos). And the video above shows the MIDI stuff working. I’m waiting for that software to actually be released (version 1.7, currently in the App Store, doesn’t support this feature, yet, but Moo Cow Music tells me 1.8, which does will be submitted to the store for review in the next day or two).

You can also use the camera connection kit to connect USB typing keyboards, and headsets that include both microphones and headphones. I assume this means you could also connect to USB speakers of most kinds, like the old HK Sound Sticks that used to ship with PowerMacs.

Also, if you have a three-tipped 1/8” audio cable, you can plug an input and an output into the iPad’s “headphone jack.” You can buy such a cable for use with iRig for about $40, or you could follow this guy’s lead and do it with a cable you can probably find at Radio Shack for $10. I happen to have one of these lying around because they were useful for connecting iPods to televisions back in the “old days.” This and a - free - copy of iShred Live will get you into a virtual amp setup.

And then there’s Everyday Looper, an incredible piece of software that gives you the most intuitive four-track looping setup I’ve ever seen.

I’ll say it again. We live in the future. I can’t believe I’m going to have such an incredible setup in my living room for so little investment. iPad hacking commense!