Link is a marvel – even if you never touch Ableton Live. Grab some iOS gadgets, put them on the same wireless network, and you get rock-solid sync that responds dynamically to any tempo change on any device.

But, come on. Love you iPad as you may, you don’t want to play only with apps. Maybe you want a Elektron box or an AIRA TR-8 or an ElecTribe syncing along. A new app, LINK TO MIDI, does just that one thing, easily. You still get dynamic peer-to-peer sync with all your other apps. But by adding LINK TO MIDI, you can also output old-fashioned MIDI clock to your hardware. Watch:

It’s worth talking about now as the release that just came out stomps a bunch of bugs.

  1. It’s back in the store! (I pulled it on launch day)
  2. New Offset Parameter to perfectly line up external midi device.
  3. Updated messaging (v 1.0.1 was a bit unclear)
  4. Improved clock accuracy (better than hardware I’ve tested). The following graph is clock timing recording after leaving the app and going back through a CoreMIDI interface and recorded on the computer :]

Also, this bar graph looks promising:


It’s worth saying that this app isn’t a prerequisite to being able to do this. Any iOS app that works with Link and also sends MIDI Clock should be able to do the same. Then again, this means if you have an iPhone, a USB Camera Connection Kit adapter, and a MIDI interface, you can plug your phone into any gear and wirelessly sync it – very cool.

I actually spent some time telling the Ableton team behind Link that I thought hard-wired MIDI as an addition will be something people want to use.

Link to MIDI also supports MIDI ports on the device, so you could use this to sync iOS apps that don’t support Link yet. That’s something the developer actively discourages, though – it’d be much better for apps to provide native support. I think that support will spread quickly.

Now all we need is a desktop SDK for Link. I want this in DJ and production apps, too. And I imagine that’d only expand the market for Ableton Live.

Link to MIDI is a free app from our friend Alexandernaut:

For more on Link, including how it works laptop – to – laptop, here’s a nice video:

  • Fisto

    very cool thing. I really hope too that there will also be a Desktop-App so we can sync DAWS with Link.

  • Fisto

    very cool thing. I really hope too that there will also be a Desktop-App so we can sync DAWS with Link.

  • Well, better would be for desktop apps to have native support. But either way, we’re waiting on an SDK from Ableton. Technically, there’s nothing stopping them from releasing one. But for now, they’ve said they’re only making an iOS SDK available, and have made no official announcement beyond that.

    • Fisto

      thx for the info. Native support surely would be a better way, but I’m not so sure if other DAW-companies are willing to integrate a new “standard” from another competitor.
      But I’m still hopeful, maybe someone hacks somekind of a “Link-VST” or something like that so we can still use it. Or like the app mentione above, an iOS app where other DAWs can connect to in a more direct way than midi.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Link-VST would not work, because VST only allows the VST host to provide positional information to the plugin, not vice versa.

        I can assure you that if/when the desktop Link SDK appears, Ardour will have support for it relatively soon.

  • Chris Bartholomew

    Link for jamming looks great. Which, to be fair, is exactly how it’s build. I’d be worried however using it on stage… I still worry a lot about using ad-hoc wireless networks live, they’ve let me down in the past pretty badly. I’d love to see someone properly stress test it in the wild.

    I hope, for all our sakes, this can be the end of midi clock between laptops/programs.

    • lek

      Link works also with ethernet wired connection

      • Chris Bartholomew

        After some googling around, I found a lightning to ethernet cable, but i’m fairly sure it won’t work for IOS devices, which does seem at the moment what Link is aimed at

    • Andrew Wallace

      Or future bits of hardware! Ooooh.

  • Justin Reed

    my main question with link is where does this put is with regards to the computer midi jitter issues and how does it hold up with products like expert sleepers and syncgen

  • partofthepuzzle

    So, to confirm: Link can be used to sync laptops running Live?

    • Andrew Wallace

      Yup, on any machine with Ableton too OSX or Windows. And it lets link enabled iOS apps sync with Ableton and other iOS devices. No limit to the number of devices. It’s very cool.

  • Polite Society

    From my brief play with it on the weekend, this app is rock solid. Had some of the tightest sync to my elektron boxes i’ve ever had from iOS. even at extreme BPMs.