April 24, 2011
Music creation with the iPad (and now, iPad 2) has been a lauded feature from day one, and there's an absolutely overflowing repository of instrument-aping programs in the App Store. Before iOS' GarageBand stole the spotlight, some smaller (and almost equally-impressive) apps were making significant ripples. Besides obvious entries from Smule, apps like ThumbJam, Pro Keys, and Mugician were proving popular among the more musically-inclined. And though all these choices are great to have, "real musicians" often prefer "real instruments." I'd be the first to argue in favor of Apple's iOS products helping to mold their users into better creative songwriters, but facts are facts: The platform is a long way off from replacing any instrumentalist's hardware of choice. But augmenting that hardware? You betcha! One of the features Apple rolled out last year with November's iOS 4.2 update was fully-operational Core MIDI, matching OS X's hardware compatibility. About the only licensed 30-pin solution to date, however, has been this device from amp-maker Line 6. But no more. With its new (still unreleased) i-MX1 30-pin plug-in, Yamaha -- a world leader in the hardware of digital music creation -- has finally crossed the iOS threshold, hopefully bringing every major player with it. Basically, this means that any MIDI hookup working with your Mac will also work with your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Naturally, much of what you can accomplish is relegated to your apps' in-built abilities, but this is as close to perfect MIDI portability as an iDevice will (probably) ever get. The Yamaha i-MX1 is roughly the size of a dongle out of the iPad's Camera Connection Kit, and MacRumors has links to some photos and video of the thing in action. Pricing and availability are TBA.