6 Essential MIDI Tips for Unlocking the Power of Your iPad

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For on-the-go music creators, the iPad has become an indispensable tool for MIDI composition and mobile production. But simply owning an iPad doesn’t unlock its immense potential.

To transform your iPad into a versatile MIDI production studio, you need the right combination of optimized software, compatible hardware controllers, essential accessories, and workflow tips.

This guide will walk you through the essentials for building a professional-grade MIDI environment on your iPad.

From the top MIDI controller apps to reducing latency and integrating with studio gear, follow these tips to maximize your iPad for limitless music creativity.

What Are The Best MIDI Controller Apps For iPad Music Production?

An iPad displaying a selection of MIDI controller apps for music production

The software options for turning your iPad into a customized MIDI controller are virtually endless. Here are some of the top apps for intuitive MIDI control from your iPad’s touch screen.

TouchOSC, Lemur, and MIDI Designer Pro

TouchOSC is an extremely flexible and configurable MIDI control surface app. You can easily create bespoke layouts containing faders, knobs, buttons, XY pads and other controls.

Everything is customizable in terms of range, sensitivity, color coding, and more. TouchOSC has predefined templates for popular MIDI hardware and software.

The app supports wireless connectivity via WiFi and Bluetooth MIDI interfaces. Advanced features include MIDI scripting for complex control behaviors and OSC support for networking.

Lemur by Liine is one of the most advanced professional-grade MIDI controller apps available. It provides deep integration options with MIDI hardware and DAWs, allowing for remote control of virtually any parameter.

Lemur offers modular interface building, customizable physics controls with advanced multi-touch and gesture support, MIDI scripting, and wireless control via WiFi, Bluetooth LE or MIDI network connections. The app is extremely expandable and customizable.

MIDI Designer Pro developed by Confusion Studios takes a blank canvas approach to building MIDI interfaces.

You can freely draw buttons, faders, XY pads, and other controls with your finger, then assign detailed MIDI messages to each element.

Everything is fully customizable in terms of color, size, shape, sensitivity, and response curve. Templates are available for major DAWs. The app is powerful yet easy to use with drag and drop workflow.

Unique MIDI Control Apps

MIDI Touch by MIDI Labs focuses on an XY touchpad interface optimized for expressive musical performances.

It’s designed for playing software synthesizers using the iPad’s touchscreen as a highly responsive control surface.

Advanced physics algorithms translate finger movement into nuanced MIDI modulation messages in real time. XY pads can send notes, continuous controllers, pitch bend, aftertouch, program change, and more.

midiBeam by Alexander Randon turns the iPad’s camera into a hand-tracking MIDI controller using computer vision technology.

Hand movements are translated into MIDI messages, allowing you to control music software by waving your hands over the camera preview.

Parameters like notes, CCs, channel pressure, pitch bend, and more can be mapped to hand position, speed, and shape gestures. The app helps unlock the iPad’s potential for new ways of creating music.

This covers just a small selection of the diverse MIDI control apps available. From simple MIDI faders to advanced customizable interfaces, the iPad app ecosystem provides endless options for MIDI control setups.

Which MIDI Keyboard Controllers Work Best With iPad?

A MIDI keyboard controller connected to an iPad in a music production setup

For musicians accustomed to the tactile feel of playing keys, using a dedicated MIDI keyboard with your iPad provides physical input.

iPad-compatible MIDI keyboards come in various forms – from portable mini keyboards to full-size performance controllers. Here are some recommended options.

Ultra-Portable MIDI Keyboards

The Korg MicroKey Air 25 is an ultra-portable 25-key USB MIDI keyboard that connects wirelessly to the iPad via Bluetooth LE. Despite its small footprint, it contains velocity-sensitive, touch-responsive keys for expressive playing.

Backlit buttons provide convenient controls for an octave shift, sustain, arpeggiator, and more. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours for prolonged wireless use with the iPad.

Arturia iSpark is a unique iPad dock with built-in touch and pressure-sensitive drum pads, encoders, and navigation buttons designed for tactile music creation using iPad apps.

The dock has a form-fitting tray to securely mount your iPad on stage or desktop. The high-quality pads and buttons interface directly with music apps over USB or Bluetooth.

iSpark helps bring tactile expressiveness to the iPad.

Larger MIDI Keyboard Controllers

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 is a portable 37 slim key MIDI keyboard controller for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC.

Beyond controlling external MIDI devices, it has over 150 instrument sounds and synth effects engines for self-contained music creation.

The iRig Keys 2 has audio and MIDI interfacing built-in for direct plug-and-play connection to the iPad’s dock port. The responsive, touch-sensitive keys are ideal for playing virtual instruments.

For full-size piano-style playing, the Yamaha PSR-EW410 offers 76 touch-sensitive keys suitable for performing and learning keyboard techniques.

It has over 500 high-quality instrument voices with various accompaniment options for creative playing.

A dedicated iPad connection kit allows bi-directional MIDI integration with music apps. The PSR-EW410 combines portable versatility with essential piano practice and learning features.

Ultra-Portable 25-Key Option

For maximum compact portability paired with MIDI controller functionality, the CME Xkey Air 25 provides 25 slim, velocity-sensitive keys in a thin form factor that easily fits into a backpack or computer bag.

It has 30 assignable MIDI control knobs and buttons, making it highly versatile for controlling synths, FX, and DAW parameters.

Bluetooth LE connectivity provides cable-free pairing with iPad. At under 2 pounds, it’s an ultra-portable MIDI keyboard solution.

While nothing quite compares to the real piano playing experience, these iPad-friendly MIDI keyboards aim to capture some of that expressiveness in a portable form factor tailor-made for mobile music production workflows.

How Can I Reduce Latency For MIDI Music Apps On iPad?

A musician using an iPad for MIDI music apps with a focus on reducing latency

Latency is the delay between playing a note or moving a control, and hearing the sound response. High latency makes playing virtual instruments unresponsive and out of time.

Luckily there are ways to optimize your iPad MIDI setup for the lowest possible latency.

Wired Connections vs Wireless

For starters, using a wired MIDI connection whenever possible will provide lower latency than wireless Bluetooth or WiFi.

The physical cable has no interference or network disruptions, giving you a more realtime response.

Close Background Apps and Optimize Settings

Turning off any background apps and disabling notifications reduces processor strain on your iPad. This frees up resources for your MIDI apps, keeping timing more consistent.

Always remember to close any other apps not in use that could be running in the background.

Optimize Audio Buffer Size

Audio buffer size has a major impact on latency. This is the amount of audio data processed before playback.

Lower buffer size reduces latency but increases the chance of pops/clicks. Set the buffer as low as possible without audio artifacts. Some apps like AUM provide 64-sample latency.

Quality Audio Interfaces

Using a powered USB audio interface with the iPad Camera Connection Kit provides lower latency MIDI and audio compared to the built-in interface.

Interfaces like the iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO4+ have direct digital connections for pristine signal transfer with your iPad.

MIDI itself has extremely low latency, but audio buffering is often the limiting factor. Using Class-Compliant MIDI interfaces optimized for iOS, and configuring audio buffer size correctly will enable pro-level latency that makes virtual instruments feel responsive.

How To Control External Synths With Your iPad MIDI Controller?

An iPad controlling an external synth with MIDI cables in a music studio

The touchscreen interface and wireless connectivity of the iPad lend themselves perfectly to controlling external MIDI hardware like classic synth keyboards and sound modules.

Here’s how to set up your iPad as a MIDI controller.

Connect MIDI In and Out

First, connect the MIDI from your iPad to the MIDI in on your hardware synth. The most reliable connection is via a standard 5-pin MIDI cable.

There are also wireless Bluetooth MIDI interfaces like the Yamaha MD-BT01 that transmit MIDI without wires.

Map Controls to MIDI Messages

On your iPad, load up a MIDI controller app like TouchOSC, lemur, or MIDI Designer Pro. Create a template or assign controls like pads, faders, and knobs to trigger MIDI messages.

Map each control to send the desired MIDI message type such as notes, continuous controller (CC) values, program change, pitch bend, and more. The MIDI modulation options are extremely flexible.

Match MIDI Channels

Make sure to set the MIDI channel on your iPad app to match the channel on your external hardware synth. This allows the MIDI messages to communicate to the correct destination.

Use MIDI Routing Apps

Some MIDI routing apps like MIDI Flow and Midimittr can forward MIDI from one iOS app to another internally on the iPad, allowing you to drive both external and internal instruments.

The iPad’s instant startup time compared to hardware synths, paired with smart MIDI control mapping makes your external synths more accessible. iPad MIDI controllers breathe new life into classic hardware.

How To Sync iPad MIDI Wirelessly With Desktop DAW And Instruments?

An iPad controlling an external synth with MIDI cables in a music studio.

For studio integration, you’ll want to sync the MIDI timing of your iPad apps with an external DAW running on a Mac or PC computer.

This allows wireless control of plugin instruments from the iPad alongside your main Daw workflow.

Connect Devices to the Same WiFi Network

Start by connecting both the computer running your DAW and the iPad to the same local WiFi router network. Commercial routers provide more reliable wireless connections than mobile hotspots.

Setup Network MIDI in DAW

In your DAW, set up a MIDI network session that transmits MIDI over the network between applications. Popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio support network MIDI.

Use Wireless MIDI Networking Apps on iPad

On your iPad, use wireless MIDI networking apps like rtpMIDI by Tobias Erichsen which will connect to your computer’s network session. This bridges the MIDI between platforms.

Match MIDI Channels

You’ll need to set the MIDI in and out channels to match on both ends. For instance, configure the iPad MIDI out to send on Ch. 1, and DAW MIDI in to receive on Ch. 1.

Optimize Latency

Reducing latency is crucial for tight timing over WiFi. Optimize your DAW’s audio buffer size and use a stable, high-speed internet router connection for best results.

Properly configured, network MIDI combined with iPad controllers gives you wireless creative freedom and mobile music production capabilities united with your main DAW setup.

What Accessories Maximize An iPad For Music Production And MIDI?

An iPad surrounded by essential music production and MIDI accessories

To pull together an optimized iPad MIDI production rig, there are some handy accessories that enhance workflow. These extras expand the connectivity options and flexibility of your iPad music setup.

Camera Connection Kit for Connectivity

The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is essential for connecting USB MIDI keyboards, controllers and audio interfaces. It also allows simultaneously charging your iPad from the Lightning port while using USB devices.

Audio Interfaces for Low Latency

Dedicated iPad audio interfaces like the iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO4+ provide enhanced low-latency audio and MIDI connectivity. The direct digital connections offer tighter timing than the built-in interface.

High-Quality Microphones

For professional quality field recordings, the Shure MV88 iOS microphone has 5 DSP modes to capture everything from vocals to acoustic instruments. It connects directly to the siPad with Lightning for pristine mobile recordings.

MIDI Cables and Wireless Adapters

Standard 5-pin MIDI cables enable the connection of hardware synth keyboards as controllers. Adapters like the iRig MIDI 2 convert the 5-pin to a Lightning connection for your iPad.

Mounts for Positioning

Mounting brackets such as the K&M iPad Tablet Mount 19550 allow you to securely attach your iPad to a mic stand or desk mount for optimal positioning in your studio setup.

This covers just a few of the many accessories that can enhance your iPad for serious MIDI music production and performing. The right extras help you build a pro-level setup.

The key is choosing the right apps and hardware to create a seamless MIDI workflow utilizing the strengths of the iPad.

With the proper MIDI controller apps, keyboards, and connectivity accessories, you can unlock the iPad’s immense potential for controlling instruments and integrating with studio gear.

Follow these tips to take your iPad MIDI integration to the next level.

Conclusion

The iPad has truly revolutionized music production by putting immense creative potential right at your fingertips.

With the right MIDI apps, keyboards, accessories, and optimization techniques, you can transform your iPad into a versatile MIDI production studio and instrument controller.

From intuitive touchscreen interfaces to wireless connectivity and seamless DAW integration, the iPad unlocks new workflows and inspires musical creativity on the go.

By following the recommendations outlined in this guide, you can build a powerful iPad MIDI rig tailored to your unique music production needs and take your mobile music-making to the next level.

The possibilities are endless when you unlock the full potential of MIDI on your iPad.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.