Audio interfaces for the new iPads


Thanks for the insight into the use of an interface instead of a mixer, I did some more research and it became obvious that an interface was the way to go. I got the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 so that I could mix multiple midi devices together.


I have a 6i6 myself and I’ve been very happy with it. My UltraNova has a SPDIF output which I run into the SPDIF input on the 6i6, I run my audio system into 3 and 4 and use 1 and 2 for guitar, mic, piano etc. I typically have it connected to my Mac, but it also works very well with the iPad. BTW if you’re looking for a low cost audio input for the iPad or iPhone, you can get an iTrack pocket for about $25. This has a built-in stereo mic and a mono instrument connector (no XLR). It was originally about $100, but with the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone, it became much less attractive. I use mine with a standard micro-usb cable and a CCK so that I can still power the iPad. Makes a good instrument input for Audulus.


This may be interesting, I just backed the kickstarter as I’ve not so far found a hub with a working audio out for may iPad Pro


Interesting. Your link went to the Kickstarter login page, but I was able to find it at:

This would give you two output channels and one input at mic level. Not as flexible as a dedicated audio interface, but certainly compact and versatile for other uses as well.


What about Ableton Link?

For the mixing, you could use a desktop mixer (Berhinger or whatever). But there are other interesting options. Do you have a modular rack? What about an ES-8? Sometimes things that seem expensive end up solving other issues down the line – like having ADAT for multi-tracking. Keeping in mind that you have a brand new ipad pro and some other ipads + a MacBook and iphone and you are investing in this dongle hub.


Ok, what about this one which is already available?

See also:


Thanks, that’s also interesting as Satechi are also a good brand, so long as they are claiming iPad pro compatibility it should be OK.


Sorry, I now see that Ableton Link was discussed; but I am not so sure it has been properly considered. From the outset, I want to say that Ableton Link has sometimes been unfairly judged. I think that it gets misperceived because it is called “Ableton Link.” If you have a host app that supports Link (many do), you can then send clock/gate/trigs to Audulus as an Inter-Audio plugin. So you don’t need Ableton to do this. You need AUM or BM3 or something.

Wiring up 4 iPads, a computer, iphone, keyboards, etc., can get crazy with cabling. Also, in my experience, Link seemed to provide the best syncing in many situations where software midi clocking was completely unreliable. And I mean clocks shifting out of time within a few bars and never returning.

from the site:

What kind of data is sent via Link?

Link currently provides tempo sync and a grid to which apps can align. In Live 9, there are no Song Position or Start/Stop messages sent via Link, nor can any other MIDI data be sent. In Live 10 the feature “Start Stop Sync” additionally shares Transport Start and Stop Commands.

In case you wish to send MIDI note or Control change messages to another computer you can use a virtual MIDI network instead. If you wish to send MIDI note or Control change messages to another application on the same computer, you can use a virtual MIDI bus.

So my point here is that getting a good sync can be problematic and a harry mess of cables and dongles might be avoided.

The question about the ES-8, ADAT, etc., was that summing everything into the same stereo fields with that many voices can be limited because of EQ issues. While desktop mixers do have some EQ options, not all are created equal. When you start try to get solid EQ going, then the price goes up, in which case it might be worth considering an interface with ADAT so that you could have all of the useful options that that brings. Stereo is two channels – 3 iPads is 6 channels to input.

I have used a Berhinger desktop mixer as @stschoen suggested and I think it is a great fussy free way to get a bunch of instruments down to a stereo 2 channel result. But, again, do you then have to send that to an ADC to record (another audio interface)? As I started to evolve my setup I quickly realized I would actually save more money by future proofing what I was doing.

As I am doing the dishes I am thinking, “but why create an iPad orchestra?” The reason being, in an orchestra the conductor just keeps time and arranges, but does not control the playing of instruments. Each player has their own ‘piano roll’. So I guess I don’t understand why you would want to send midi messages, other than to sync.

“As of Version 3, Link allows peers to share information on the user’s intent to start or stop transport with other peers that have the feature enabled… Ableton Link 3.0 is backwards compatible with earlier versions and is already available in Audiobus 3, and Audiobus compatible apps get Start Stop Sync support ‘for free’.”

So I suppose the reason you want to send midi to all the ipads is you want to control them with the novation. In that case I would try making one of them a host with AUM (or something) and see if there is truly any latency issues with midi over bluetooth to the other ipads. There very well may be no issue.


Yes, thanks for those thoughts. The main idea was to create a kind of video wall either with instruments that already exist or with instruments that I create as apps with a visual appearance, thats the main benefit of the iPads, at a purely practical level my laptop is probably more than capable enough if it was a purely musical/audio thing. I should try your suggestions with them, but I’m a long way from this and TBH just fiddling with ideas at this point as my day job and life responsibilities are a bit overwhelming at the moment. I have a project to build a virtual instrument and it might be possible with Audulus, but I also have some PureData code to work from and it might end up that I’d use that which can be embedded in a custom app.

I will definitely try what you suggest as I agree about the cabling issue and the ‘wall of screens’ concept would be far better to make wireless.

On a side note I got the Satechi USB-C dock for the iPad Pro today and its brilliant in terms of opening up the device. I have the audio out and can put midi in and charge simultaneously.


Just a quick note on the Satechi unit, its very loose on the iPad. I have an order in for the Hyperdrive one, I think it should be better. Also bought a shelf for my keyboard so I can have somewhere to put my iPads … and the Rackbrute I’m currently only just resisting…