Monday, September 6, 2010

iPad Live - The Power of Ziploc

Cheap Thrills
The Situation

Last weekend I had to fly to Minneapolis and play a show with one of my bands. I fly to a show about once a month and it seems every time I do, I lose a piece of gear to damage courtesy of the FAA. Usually it is a keyboard. I lost a bunch of knobs off my brand new Korg R3 last time and the same thing has happened to an Alesis Micron and a MicroKorg. The R3 was kind of expensive, so this time I decided to leave my keyboards at home and use my iPad as my keyboard.

The Software

I debated for days about what app to use live and after experimenting with Bebot, MorphWiz , Seline HD, miniSynth PRO, NanoStudio and even Xenon I decided Nanostudio was going to do the job the best.It allowed me to change synth patches quickly, trigger samples and has a double keyboard option that provides enough real estate to play all of our songs.

The Ziploc

iPad, Nanostudio, Ziploc
I packed up my iPad, a Roland SPD-6, an Electroharmonix Iron Lung vocoder pedal and my Roland D2 into a carryon and flew up to Minneapolis without having to check any bags. A huge advantage to my keyboardless setup. I also have a 2 in -1 out Rolls DB25b DI box with a volume knob that allowed control over the iPad volume without using the volume rocker. The final key piece of equipment was a ziplock double zip, gallon-size storage bag that the iPad fit in perfectly. It kept the blood, sweat and beer off the pad while we played. I had originally bought one of the TrendyDigital WaterGuard waterproof iPad cases from Amazon, but at $19.99, the $0.15 baggie did a better job for a LOT less. And yes, for those of you wondering, those cases are just really fancy ziploc bags with some snaps and a neck strap (?).

The Show
Things actually worked really well until Mallman, the singer of the band came over to play a solo in my keyboard and was met with nanostudio. He kind of freaked out for a second as there were no keys. He seemed to figure it out quick enough and the solo went fine. Other than that things went smooth. The Rolls DI or other volume control is a must as trying to control volume with the rocker inside a ziploc would have been a nightmare. Fotunately, no beer was spilled on the iPad during this performance, but the plastic bag did keep the sweat off and probably saved some trouble. The bag didn't really disrupt performance, but I did practice quite a bit with it. All-in-all, I would say this was a success.

The Wrap-up

For out of town shows where I have to fly in and opening slots where we need to get on and off stage quickly this will be my new setup. I will probably still bring a keyboard out on the road for tour just so Mallman can really play a solo and I have something to throw around since they are all broken anyway. Once developers start adding midi-in via the Line 6 midi-mobilizer functionality to their apps I will be able to remove the D2 from my setup and will just use the SPD-6, Iron Lung and iPad. I actually feel like nanostudio will be my performance app as well as my favorite iPad recording app thanks to its fluid set up, double keyboard and ability to trigger samples. I am pretty excited about where this is going. Hopefully someday I will just show up with my iPad as my entire rig. That will sure freak Mallman out...

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