TL:DR – this will be a journal, and perhaps the basis for some how-to’s later on using iOS guitar apps in a real world setting
Apologies in advance that this will often go into tangents as my writing always does, hopefully there really will be a TL:DR later on for those who may be wanting to try this yourself and get some simple, easy steps to avoid all of my mistakes, but for now, the random stream of semi-consciousness will follow.
For aspiring iOS guitarists reading this: consider exactly what you are planning to do with this setup
For developers reading this: please please consider what your target market will be doing with this stuff (I realize that many or most will probably just be playing at home thru headphones, but that won’t be everyone) and even if they aren’t your target, please consider what performing guitar players at actual venues will need. Some of you guys made some awesome software that will definitely be very appealing outside the home headphone market, and it behooves you to consider their actual end goal and use case needs! I am more than happy to speak with you about this, and I hope my track record in the VST and DAW world hopefully speaks for itself.
For the first time in a very very long time, I’m actually joining a band. Technology has moved forward by leaps and bounds in most industries since the last time I seriously entertained the idea of entertaining. I considered if I would do the old giant rack/pedalboard and 412 combo with all of its associated wiring and real estate or if I would use the VSTs I use every day in recording, somehow combine it with a MIDI pedalboard and of course my experience and gear with REAPER Live, and decided to at least give the tablet/phone avenue a try.
Why? The idea of being mostly wireless, and the fact that I already knew that what had once taken racks and racks of gear could easily be run on a computer, I figured the phones and portable devices wouldn’t be all that different. Add in the wireless MIDI pedalboards that had come into the market and it seemed at least a fun avenue to explore. I figured I’d have to consider a few things for this:
- The amp I would be using to monitor myself (I live in a place where soundmen point 57’s at the floor by lazily looping them thru a handle of a guitar cab, sending more of the sound of your feet through the PA than your amplifier, so no way was I going to hope that they’d be giving me my signal to monitor)
- The mobile device itself, whether phone or tablet, which OS, which model etc…
- The interface to get from the guitar to the mobile device and then the signal back to the amplifier (and boy oh boy is this last bit of the signal path the source of some serious siliness! More on that later)
- The MIDI controller for all the myriad of magical tones
- And of course, the software itself that I will be using to get my tones from
#4 seemed to me to be a no brainer. During the development and launch of REAPER, I had an excellent and very rewarding relationship with IK Multimedia. They made sure that all of our users’ questions were answered in a timely manner and spent a lot of time on our forums helping out. If you know me, you’ve probably seen me many times praising IK for having the balls to make a real harmonizer in VST, something that so many coders I approached would hem and haw about Eventide having a patent for and couldn’t be done in realtime anyway. IK ground that claim into the dirt and just did it.