Just a quick post today to show you guys a new workflow improvement I’ve started implementing.
I’ve always fantasized (yes) of having an external spectrum analyzer and/or a loudness meter as part of my studio setup when mixing. I recently bought an iPad Air and started wondering if I could use it for that purpose. Sure enough!
There are plenty of dedicated spectrum analyzer apps available for the iPad. But using those would require for me to buy a dedicated audio interface like this one to use with the iPad (in order to get the audio in to the iPad from my main audio interface).
I’m sure this would be a great solution, and having a good audio/MIDI interface for the iPad would also serve other purposes like routing iPad synths back into the computer. But I couldn’t justify spending money for that right now since I only really wanted to run a spectrum analyzer on the iPad. So I started thinking about other ways to do it.
Fortunately, I discovered there are at least a couple of alternative solutions!
Solution 1: Air Display
I bumped into this app by Avatron called Air Display (priced 9,99$). It allows you to use your iPad as an external computer screen. Just like any other screen, you can mirror your computer screen or you can use it as a second display. So in no time at all I had my iPad set up as a second screen and had my Pro Tools session set up to run a spectrum analyzer on it. It was very easy to set up. Banging.
Air Display 2 works on Mac (10.7 and above) and PC (Windows 7 and 8).
Air Display: Possible Issues
I want to be clear that while Air Display extends my screen space, it’s not the same as having a real computer screen (on my system at least – I am running a MacBook Pro 2010 with i7 & 8GB RAM).
The iPad screen with Air Display 2 is a little slow to update on my system when there’s more stuff running on it. If I am running a spectrum analyzer or a loudness meter alone it’s fine. But when I try to run both on the same screen it starts to freeze.
It’s also possible to run it as a touch interface but I don’t find it very practical – it feel slow and clunky.
I don’t know why this is, but it works well enough for my purpose in any case when running just one spectrum analyzer plugin on the screen. However you might want to do some research and make sure it works for you if you are considering buying it for something more intensive.
Solution 2: V-Control Pro
Please note: This is something I haven’t bought and tested myself yet. But I’m going to bring it up as someone is probably going to mention it anyway.
Neyrinck V-Control Pro (priced 44,99$) is a full featured DAW control surface application. V-Control Pro has a feature called V-Window which allows you to bring up any open window (like a spectrum analyzer plugin) on the iPad while retaining transport controls at the bottom of the screen.
I don’t really have the need for an iPad DAW control surface for now since I prefer to use the iPad to run as a dedicated spectrum analyzer. And that I can do with Air Display for much cheaper.
If you are looking for a control surface app that can run plugins in their own windows and do a whole lot more though, you should look into V-Control. It seems like a solid solution and works with a range of DAWs on both Mac and PC.
How Do You Use Your iPad When Making Music?
I’m really enjoying this new feature in my setup – the spectrum analyzer is always there in an instant when I need it.
There are loads of cool things you can do with an iPad. Do you have a workflow or an idea you would like to share? Let us know in the comments.