« on: April 18, 2015, 12:39:40 PM »
I've been using iPad instruments to make ambient music for many years now (beginning with an iPad1) and I'll pop into this thread to discuss some of my personal favourite instruments later, but I thought I'd have to start by addressing Horizon's concerns.
"I feel that ambient made with these gadgets turns anything into disposable music."
OK, that's just a nice inflammatory/warm-blanket opener along the traditional lines of: "A synthesiser isn't a real instrument." or "You can't make real music with a computer" or "This Rock and Roll/Rap garbage will never last". Well done! I'm guessing you've never actually used one to try to make ambient music.
"1. No warmth, no nostalgia from old soundbanks (Why Steve Roach still utilizes the Emu, Oberheim, Nord Lead, Wavestation?) and not an ipad?"
No one is coming to take away your old nostagic instruments or stopping anyone from using them along with an iPad. In fact they go very well together. I'll also bet that Steve, who maintains an inquisitive mind about new technologies, might be interested in adding an iPad or two to his setup after exposure to some appropriate iPad instruments/techniques.
"2. Hardware is made as a whole, including the DAC character, I doubt anything software for ipad will survive 30 + years, back to 1. (repeat often)."
This is very true. Apple's continual updating of their operating system is creating very real problems for instrument designers, who have to try to update their instruments regularly so they work under a new OS. I'm currently keeping my iPad OS at iOS7 because it works well - though iOS8 is the current version. Apple has recently screwed up my future usage of Alchemy, my main laptop VST by buying the company and withdrawing support this summer. They did the same to me when they bought Logic and stopped supporting the PC version. In the hardware world, the issue is availability of parts as the decades pass. I've been able to replace old pots myself on my Modular Moog from time to time, but other instruments are not as simple and various ICs are no longer made. Readout screens are another tricky thing to replace. I'm lucky that many of my instruments are by Roland, who, so far, have been good at keeping old parts and I was able to replace the fading screen on my SuperJupiter about a decade ago.
The quality of the D/A from the headphone jack is, of course, far from perfect but is surprisingly good and useful. I imagine you don't use the headphone jack on your computer. There are excellent DAC interfaces which work well with iPads from Apogee, RME and many others. I love being able to work on sound-design, drum grooves and sequences in my living room, yard, on the bus or anywhere I go and then use it in live performances or into my main DAW later. I use iPads as instruments and not as DAWs so far but I understand that the quality can be very good in Auria or Cubasis. Depending on the app, the word can be 16 bit or 24 bit. I just bought an iConnectAudio4+ which will transfer MIDI and audio at 24 bit back and forth between my iPad and computer without any D/A or A/D conversion. (There are many excellent iPad F/X apps too.) It's just out of the box, so I haven't implemented it yet.
"3. Larger screen is 15 inches up, anything smaller for any kind of production is counterproductive."
I look forward to the rumoured larger iPad supposed to arrive this fall - but the current size is great for portability and is quite playable - depending on the instrument design. (People do amazing things on even an iPhone screen. Thumjam is brilliant as it also includes the use of the gyroscope for pitch-bending, vibrato or tonal shifts through wrist motion.) I like to use external hardware controllers to supplement the screen, just as I do for my laptop.
The new interface possibilities and the portabilty make them powerful new tools. They can be used as compact sequencers or control surfaces for old and new synths too.