Thanks to the iPad , we can have a portable recording studio by connecting an audio interface to it.
This is achieved thanks to the adapters that Apple offers us, to connect external equipment, but we also have solutions with connection Lightning .
Apple computers are extraordinary devices for creating content, but we also need external hardware to achieve a sound with better quality.
Creativity comes at any time, inspiration has no schedule, so having a portable studio can be very beneficial for many users.
iPad Audio Interface, what is it for?
There are several solutions for connecting instruments or microphones to our iPad. Today we’re going to focus on audio interfaces for connecting an XLR microphone, for example, for Podcast production.
There are USB microphones that we can connect to our iPad, but this would be a totally different issue, which we will deal with later. The beauty of an audio interface is that we can connect microphones with XLR connection, instruments and also improve the audio quality.
The audio interface that we can connect to our iPad, transmits the analog signal to convert it to digital , improving the audio quality. To get the most out of it, we could opt for a preamp (signal amplifier), but there we would already go up a level (and again, it would be for another more specific post).
In short, an audio interface allows us to connect an XLR microphone to our iPad. With that configuration, I recommend you to buy a microphone of good features of about 70 or 100 euros. It’s no use having a 400 euro microphone if you don’t connect a preamp to process the signal from it.
iPad Audio Interface
Although there are quite a few on the market, I will focus on two, namely Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning and Yamaha AG-0306 . The former is an audio interface, while the latter is a small mixing console with a built-in audio interface.
The Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning, has the peculiarity that it connects directly to our iPad through a USB to Lightning cable (the same one that we use to charge our iPad or connect to our Mac).
This interface is specially designed for iPad and Mac . It allows us to have a good sound quality at 24 bit96 kHz, incorporates 2 audio inputs (microphone and instrument), 2 analog outputs and a preamplifier with 48V phantom power, headphone output, 2 RCA analog outputs and a direct monitoring switch (the latter is important).
Well, so that we all understand each other, this device has a built-in 48 V preamplifier that allows to feed the condenser microphones that need electric current to work, a good sound quality and allows to listen to us through the headphones in real time without latency.
The monitor switch allows us to hear our own voice while we are singing or producing a podcast. If we do it by software, we will surely have a significant latency, that is, the reproduction of our voice through the headphones would be slower and it would be difficult to maintain a constant dialogue.
The Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning allows us to connect a microphone to our iPad without offering more options, it is for what it is and it works really well for a reduced price and a very light weight .
iPad mixing table with audio interface
Unlike the Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning, with the Yamaha AG-0306 , we have the option of having an audio interface and a small mixing desk in one very compact device.
This allows us to perform some audio effect and to control the audio volumes, as well as to connect other devices, for example an iPod or an iPhone.
This Yamaha is interesting because it includes the function LOOPBACK . This means that we can transmit all the audio from our iPad and our microphone on a single audio track. The right thing would be to have everything separately, but if we want to simplify it as much as possible, it’s an option to take into account.
The white noise is quite low and the latency is practically imperceptible. It doesn’t have a Lightning connection, but we can connect it with an Apple adapter . Necessary to power it with a portable battery, just like the Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning).
The Yamaha has 3 channels for AG-03 and 6 for AG-06 . It offers us more options for configuration and audio regulation, as well as software independence if we want to make volume movements.
Apple Lightning Adapter
This adapter can be found on the Apple website, there are third party ones, but I do not recommend it as they are not MFI and we could have some problems. It is designed to transfer photos from our camera to our iPad without the need for a MacBook. It has a price of about 35 euros on the Apple website.
Thanks to this adapter, we can connect our Yamaha AG03 or AG06 to our iPad. Remember that in the case of the Focusrite, it already includes its own connection Lightning , so it would not be necessary to use this adapter.
Both interfaces must be connected to an external battery in order to power them (if we don’t have a nearby plug). If we don’t, the iPad will offer us a message saying that the connected devices need too much power to use them without a power supply.
There is also an adapter that includes a USB A input and a Lightning input. Thanks to this adapter, we have the opportunity to power the audio interface directly from our iPad . As long as the iPad is connected to a power source. The price is about 45 euros.
Simple, basic and cheap
With this equipment, we will have everything we need to be able to connect an instrument or an XLR microphone and start producing our contents from anywhere. Now we only need to use our favorite application to be able to save and process the audio, for example, in iOS, we find GarageBand or even natively, Voice Notes.
Of course, there are more complex solutions, but I wanted to show you the simplest and easiest options for connecting an XLR microphone or an instrument directly to our iPad with a relatively inexpensive audio interface .
Would you like to produce your own music tracks or podcasts from an iPad? Do you often use the iPad to create such content?