The iPad as a controller is at its best when it plays to its strengths, letting you use that continuous finger control do something useful. So that makes MidiPads worth a look. It’s a strikingly-versatile drum pad controller with all of the kinds of features you might want, and with a major version 1.5 release this week, looks even more useful as a control addition to your studio.

First off, it’s got all of the I/O you could want:

  • USB MIDI (so, use the Camera Connection Kit and a class-compliant interface, or dedicated interfaces like iRig MIDI and MIDI Mobilizer II)
  • Wireless MIDI over a WiFi connection
  • Virtual MIDI, for connecting to other apps (we need to do a round-up of these soon, so give a shout if you have a moment, devs)

Once connected, MidiPads sets itself apart with flexible control on each of those pads. Just tapping rectangles isn’t much fun on the iPad, of course – you lack tactile feedback and pressure sensitivity found on a physical pad. So, instead, MidiPads provides other modulation to exploit the touchable surface for continuous control. In fact, thinking of it as a “drum pad” is almost a bit unfair. New in this release:

  • Presets, which you can share with other users – which could in turn make a nice little community of users here
  • “Bouncing mode” for touch pads and sliders
  • Send multiple messages with each axis and knob
  • Individual up/down messages for each touch pad and slider, if you so wish
  • Enhanced views, settings reset, and MIDI connection settings
  • Resize pads and pad area (essential for either fat fingers or getting more controls!)

What I like best of all is the integration of X/Y controllers on pads, so you can send continuous messages as you trigger a pad. In the video at top, you can see that in action with Traktor Pro. (Yep: you can use this for DJing, not just drum sounds.)

To solve the lack of velocity response, you can choose from a few options, including tapping with two fingers or setting velocity from the vertical position of your tap on the pad. Those ranges are scalable, and you can even set some randomization.

You get 64 resizable pads, and everything can be customized, both in terms of the MIDI message and appearance. You can also send MIDI to those pads for bi-directional feedback. With that, I’m just waiting for someone to come up with some awesome preset for Renoise or a drum synth or Ableton or what have you. Let us know.

Other features:

  • CC messages, custom MIDI channels, definable ranges
  • Faders that snap, fade, and bounce
  • Incoming values can display on pads
  • Pitch bend or modulation, via sliders or the touch pads or the drum pads
  • Accelerometer control
  • MIDI learn on the controller (which is something of a novel idea)
  • Blink pads with MIDI sync
  • Integrated help

Here’s how that MIDI learn notion works:

In fact, MidiPads is the only controller I’ve seen with robust-enough bi-directional control to put it in the same category as Lemur for iOS. It lacks Lemur’s extensive library of controllers, and there’s really nothing stopping you from scripting something similar with Lemur. But if pads are really what you care about, this could be an excellent shortcut at a fraction of a price. And put together, these two apps could really justify the use of the iPad as a powerful control surface. (More on Lemur next week – lots of developments there, and finally, a video I shot with the Liine guys.)

Congrats to independent developer Stefan Goehler of Germany for the great work! (I’m finding what y’all are drinking now that I live in this country, because it’s … working. I’m downing the Club-Mate, but my coding hasn’t improved yet.)

€4 / US$5.

You can grab (and review) MidiPads via the exclusive, multi-platform CDM Apps collection, as one of our highlighted apps:
MidiPads @ CDM Apps
Or try the free edition: MidiPads Lite

Developer site: Crossfire Designs