Audio interfaces for the new iPads


#1

Now that the iPad no longer comes equipped with a headphone/mic jack, our choices for audio interfaces have become more important. Using the lightning connector and a CCK for a MIDI device and the jack for audio is no longer possible. I’m curious about which devices people are using. It seems a powered hub is going to be almost a necessity. The new pro has a USB-C connector which should be a good thing in general, but if you use the headphone adaptor you have no power to the iPad and it has no mic connector as far as I can tell. I have a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 connected to my Mac which works fine with the iPad and has a good selection of inputs and outputs, but it might be a bit of an overkill. What do you use or plan to use?


#2

Yeah totally - curious what other people are into. I haven’t found a USB hub I’ve used that doesn’t feel/act cheap. Would honestly love a kind of case that has USB built into it (yes, I DO think that the iPad could be better if it was just thicker and had USB inputs!!)


#3

The new pro has a USB-C rather than a lightning connector. That means a powered hub will power the iPad as well as anything else plugged into it. No more CCK!


#4

oooh nice!


#5

…And also mildly infuriating as that means that my current iPad peripherals will all go away if I decide to upgrade any time soon.


#6

hah yeah true - or dongle time!


#7

Apple has a USB-C to lightning adaptor cable


#8

I am hearing the double dongle dance song in my head.

At a very reasonable $30 a piece I am sure :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

Frederico Viticci has a little bit on using USB hubs with the new iPad Pro about halfway through this article: https://www.macstories.net/ipad-diaries/ipad-diaries-the-many-setups-of-the-2018-ipad-pro/


#10

Interesting article


#11

I am faced with this question as I have quite a collection of iPads as I develop iPad software.

I have three or so of the standard sized iPads and three differently sized iPad Pro’s including one of the latest 12.9"

So I was wondering about creating a little iPad orchestra connected to a sequencer like the new Novation SL mk3 or my Arturia Keystep

But I am really confused about the connectivity required to do this.

What I envisage is, lets say using 4 iPads

Sequencer midi out USB -> USB hub
USB->hub to oldschool iPad then somehow map the right midi channel on each iPad app running
iPad audio out into a mixer

mixer into effects train -> amp

Each of the oldschool iPads could use the powered lightning to USB connector then audio out would be from the mini jack into the mixer.

For the new iPad Pro it doesn’t currently look as if there is a solution. I tried the powered USB to lightning adapter using a lighting to USB-C converting plug to attach to the Pro but it didn’t work. The solutions in the article linked above do not seem to have an option that works either, but I guess its just a question of hunting for a powered USB hub that has an audio out and trying them to see if one works.

Any gross mistakes in my cunning plan anyone can see?


#12

Will all of these old iPads run Ableton Link? Because that would seem to make your life easier. If some are too old for that, then what you’re suggesting is probably the way to go unless someone else has a better idea?


#13

I don’t know about that, I’ll have to look into it.

I’ve found a few hubs on Amazon that might work in theory, I guess its a case of suck it and see for the iPad Pro, at the very least I want to use it as a standalone midi instrument.


#14

From my testing, it appears that the iPad using the CCK and a hub is able to support a single audio interface and multiple MIDI devices. I have successfully connected a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 and a Korg NanoPad 2 to my iPad Air 2. For the newest iPad Pro which features a USB-C connector you will need an external audio interface since there is no longer a headphone jack. In order to connect an external audio and MIDI interface, I would think that a powered USB-C Hub would be the answer.
Something like this:


You would then need a suitable USB Audio interface. I’ve had good luck with Focusrite. The 6i6 has two mic/intrument preamps, two line in, four line out, a stereo SPDIF in and out, and two separate headphone jacks. They make smaller and larger models depending on your needs.


#15

I was thinking that it might be necessary to connect the audio out over USB as you suggest. I have a couple of other USB audio interfaces kicking around, I’ll try them later as they should work with a straightforward USB-C Hub which I already have.


#16

Ableton Link is a mechanism for keeping music apps in sync but doesn’t provide any audio transport. Support for Link must be built into the app. I’m hoping that Audulus will support it in a future release, it would certainly make staying in sync in this scenario much easier. If Audulus supported Link, you could start one iPad and as you added the others they would automatically align with the first one.


#17

Yeah I thought the question was more about how to keep everything in time - you could use AUv3s with a DAW that has Ableton Link support. But now that I read it closer I see @paul wants one device to be the MIDI brain sent out on several channels to other iPads…so yeah, it might be easiest/cheapest to get one powerful multichannel mixer that collects the headphone outputs of the other iOS devices into one mixer.


#18

Because the iPad isn’t capable of providing a lot of juice, you will probably need a powered hub if your interface is bus powered. It will keep the iPad charged as well. As long as the MIDI and USB interfaces are class compliant, they should work fine with the iPad. At this point iOS only supports a single audio device, but multiple channels are fine. Audulus supports up to 16 channels of I/O when running standalone and a single stereo pair when connected via IAA or Audiobus.The keyboard node can be configured for omni (all channels) or MIDI channels 1-16, however the knob and trigger nodes are hardwired to omni at this point. Since you would be sending to the keyboard node in this case, you should be okay.


#19

Personally, I think the move to a USB-C connector rather than lightning is a good move on Apple’s part. In the long run it will make connecting the iPad to external devices much simpler. I’m not so keen on the removal of the headphone jack. Apple seems to be slowly moving away from built in high quality audio support. My old iMac has an optical audio out, as did my MacBook Pro. My new iMac still has a headphone jack, but they remove the optical output. I guess they figure that if you’re serious about audio, you will use some type of external DAC/ADC.


#20

RME Fireface is class compliant. Seems like a rock solid interface, but pricey of course.