Logic Pro and iPad: Using your iPad as an External Instrument
Updated: Jun 2
One of the amazing things I love about making music is the number of infinite possibilities and creative ways to create sounds.
Every time we explore a new synth, browse through a pool of samples and/or add new, interesting tools to our workflow, we drastically increase our creativity, and inspiration seems to generate new ideas on the clock.
One of the most underrated tool that adds a new world of possibilities to your production projects is the iPad, and the amazing apps you can find within the App Store to make music, such as synths, effects, amp simulators, and even fully capable DAWs!
With the release of the current software updates (Catalina, at the time of writing), Apple users can easily connect their iPad (or iPhones) to their Mac and use them as audio interfaces, with the additional shared MIDI features, which make the interaction between the devices really straightforward.
But how can you actually integrate your iPad into your setup?
You are going to need a Mac OS computer, an iPad (or iPhone) and its standard cable to connect them.
Please, note: this article was made using the following setup. If your current setup doesn't allow the connection between your devices, it might be that you are using an old software (either on your Mac or iPad/iPhone), so you might need to upgrade to the newest version.
MacOS: Catalina - 10.15.3
iOS: iPad mini 2 - 12.4.5
Logic Pro X: 10.4.8
1 - Connect your iPad to your computer
First we need to connect our iPad to our computer using its cable.
2 - Enable it as audio interface (you can combine multiple interfaces)
Let's now set the iPad as the audio interface our computer will use. This will basically let the sounds coming out of the iPad go directly to our DAW, digitally (no quality loss) and with ultra low latency.
We can enable it via the Audio Midi Setup app: Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup (or from the "Go" drop-down menu on finder, selecting "Utilities", then "Audio MIDI Setup"). When you open the app, make sure you are on the Audio Devices window, selecting "Window > Show Audio Devices".
On the left column within the Audio MIDI Setup window, we need to Enable our iPad as an Audio interface, as shown in the picture below.
EXTRA: we can combine our audio interfaces to add our iPad to our usual setup (usual audio interface + iPad).
Make sure to take a note on which channels will be your iPad's: we are going to need it very soon.
3 - Make sure the iPad is set as your audio interface on your DAW.
Within Logic Pro, let's set our audio interface to the iPad (or the combined interface), clicking on Preferences > Audio > Selecting iPad within the drop-down menu. Make sure to click on "Apply Changes" before closing this window.
It is important to set it only as an Input Device, otherwise any sound coming out of our DAW will be directed to the iPad.
4 - In Logic Pro:
There are a couple of things to setup in our DAW before opening any app on our iPad. We will need to create two different tracks, one for sending MIDI over to the iPad, and the other to record the audio fired out from it.
a - Sending MIDI to the iPad
This is automatically activated when the iPad is enabled as an audio device. To actually send any MIDI data to it, we need to create a Software Instrument track, setting it as an External Instrument when selecting our virtual instrument (Utilities > External Instrument)
In the plugin window, let's select the iPad as the destination of our MIDI.
We can also choose to direct the audio from the iPad back to the plugin, selecting the audio channels as our input source. However, we won't be able to record audio in this specific track; plus, in order to avoid a duplicate of the audio signal when setting up our next step, let's leave this blank. We can also activate the "Auto-Compensate Latency" option to let Logic Pro adjust the delay timing and latency between devices automatically.
b - New audio track: iPad inputs
Now let's create a new audio track and set its inputs as the iPad inputs (previously noted, if combining multiple interfaces; otherwise it should be just 1 -2).
5 - Arm the track
Let's arm the track for recording and input monitoring, selecting the buttons "R" and "I" as shown in the picture below.
6 - On your iPad:
Lastly, we will need to open the app we want to use within the iPad, and double check that it is enabled to receive MIDI from our computer.
a - Make sure we are using an app which allows us to use external MIDI
For this example we are using the Moog Minimoog Model D app.
Let's open our app and find the setting options (usually a little gear symbol), browsing for any MIDI related options (in the Model D it's the MIDI menu).
b - Set your Midi Input to IDAM MIDI Host
In the MIDI setting menu, let's set the connection to IDAM MIDI Host. For our purposes we won't need any MIDI OUT, as we just want the iPad to receive MIDI data and not to send it out. Before pressing any key or note, please, make sure to turn down any volume knob on your iPad App, to avoid any damage to your ears. You can then slowly increase the volume adjusting it to your needs.
6 - That's it!
With your tracks enabled in Logic Pro, you should now be able to record and send your midi out to your iPad, and record back the audio generated by it through the audio track previously created!
Note: If it doesn't work the first time you set it up, try and reboot your iPad app. If it still doesn't work, you can set the input channel(s) on the External Instrument Plugin to the relative iPad channels. If this works, you can re-set it to blank and record the audio directly from the previously created audio track.