The iPad (and iPhone) are starting to look like the ultimate jamming devices – mobile, connected, and ready to play. And it’s doing what laptops can, in a less awkward form factor. Back-to-back updates from Novation are bringing their apps closer to that reality, today. Now, Novation are rubbing shoulders with Ableton in some wireless jam sessions set up at Barcelona’s SONAR Festival today. But what we’re talking about opens up possibilities for both use cases – laptops playing with iPads, and iPads replacing laptops.
Movement is here – and it’s a little scary. The folks at Output have some weird way of dialing directly into the zeitgeist of what we want from production these days, and delivering it in an easy form. They did that with reversed samples (REV), with vocals (EXHALE), and now they’re doing it in an atypically musical multi-effect with loads of rhythmic and side-chaining features. This isn’t just another delay or something like that. It’s an entire effects toolbox built around rhythm and modulation, in a way that’s unusually accessible.
Ableton’s Link, a collaborative jamming platform that lets you sync without wires, without “masters” or “slaves”, and without a whole lot of pain, continues to grow. It’s just shown up in Native Instruments’ iMaschine, as well as Novation’s Blocs Wave. Blocs Wave is notable because it’s pretty new, but seeing Ableton Link in an NI product is itself a breakthrough. NI could have just declared this “not invented here,” but they didn’t. And now the message from users to Ableton is clear: bring this platform to the desktop, so we can use it with everything.
If you think computers aren’t advancing for audio, you haven’t been paying attention to connectivity. The latest generation of OSes, computer architectures, and audio interfaces can combine to give you lower latency and easier connectivity. They can even connect over long distances and networks. MOTU and RME this month unveiled cross-platform Thunderbolt support that works on Windows – and MOTU have been focused on connectivity in a series of updates.
For many, many DJs, Pioneer simply owns the DJ booth. The ability to work with Recordbox on the computer, drop a USB stick in a bag, and then just plug into the ubiquitous CDJ is a level of convenience no one else can match. (Seriously, what other gig can you play with something you can fit in your pocket, unless you’re a harmonica player or beat poet?) But that raises the question – what can Pioneer do beyond their enormously successful mixers and digital players? The answer: they may now be set to extend that dominance.
The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.” But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.
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 …
Technology has done a strange thing to musicians: it’s turned us all into, well, loners. It didn’t used to be this way. Musicians on instruments ranging from folk ensembles to symphony orchestras are able to join up and keep time with one another. So why not do the same with tech? Ableton’s new Link technology promises to allow musicians to jam easily. But it isn’t just for Ableton Live. Today, iOS support is officially launching, allowing you to jam with supported apps even without a desktop/laptop computer involved.
Tablets and laptops, cars and trucks, iPads and MacBooks and Surface and things that have “Pro” at the end of them and don’t… enough. Let’s ask a simpler question. What would be a music app that would make you want an iPad Pro? Well, the first potential answer is djay Pro. It’s a new version of a disruptive DJ app, for starters – that will be of interest to anyone with an iPad. But it also includes a design that’s tailored to the new powers Apple has added to the iPad Pro. And whether you want either Apple’s tablet or …
You’re probably so used to sync being broken that the first time you see Link, you might not believe what’s happening. Link began its life as a research project and has turned into a full-fledged product from Ableton. But unlike Push or Live, Link itself isn’t something you buy. Instead, it’ll be built into software you use, and unlock seemingly magical wireless (or wired) sync. The upshot: the electronic jam session is about to get a whole lot easier. And with a beta out today, that’s not some unknown future. It’s right now.