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Keep it Reel: Record, mix, and release a professional recording on your iPad

Andrea Pejrolo | Aug. 5, 2014
The iPad has become an incredible tool for musicians who wish to quickly and confidently record and produce live music on their tablet. Recently, I had the opportunity to produce and record a session for Ella Joy Meir, using just my iPad, software, and recording accessories. Last week, I covered when you might want to use an iPad and what you need to get started; now, let's talk about the actual recording and post-production process.

Restart your iPad: Make sure your device isn't using valuable processing power on background apps by restarting it right before your session.

Quit all other apps: If you're not using them to record, you don't need them active. Use your iPhone for any auxiliary apps; for all others, double-tap the Home button to open the multitasking screen and swipe up on the app screens to quit them.

Set Auto-Lock to "Never": To prevent your iPad's screen from automatically locking, go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and change your setting to "Never."

Use good pre-amplifier and microphones: Using quality pre-amplifiers and microphones will help you achieve great results. For the recording of "You'll Return," I used one API 512c, one Neve 511 and two Chameleon Labs 581s.

Location, location,location: The room in which you record has a big impact on the sound of your final result. For "You'll Return," I was fortunate to be able to record in one of the new Production Suites that Berklee College of Music recently built in Boston.

Back up your session: After each day of recording, use a program like Ecamm Network's PhoneView to back up your app's files for reduncancy.

Post-production

When it comes to post-production, mastering is a key element for any contemporary music project. While it's possible to achieve some decent results directly in Auria, I recommend using a dedicated mastering tool instead. Positive Grid offers Final Touch ($20), the first real mastering app for iPad that features all the traditional tools of a professional mastering application.

Final Touch gives you full control over your final mix via two full multi-band equalizers (one pre and one post), a reverb, a multi-band compressor, a stereo imager, and a maximizer. It comes with a good selection of presets, and enables you to save your own, too. Sonically, this mastering app is robust. It can't currently compete with more professional (and also much more expensive) computer-based mastering tools such as iZotope Ozone, but overall I find it easy to use and extremely powerful for any work I do on the iPad.

Interoperability and process

As we all well know, interoperability between apps on the iOS platform can be convoluted and complicated (ever tried to edit the same document in Pages and Word for the iPad?). When it comes to audio production though, things work reasonably well. The main audio apps (including Cubasis, Auria, and Final Touch) can send mixes and multitrack projects to some of the most popular cloud services such as Dropbox and SoundCloud, FTP servers (Final Touch), as well as via iTunes file sharing and email. AudioCopy (and SDK for moving audio files between apps) is also available as a valid alternative to cloud-based sharing for mono or stereo tracks. These options make sharing tracks and mixes among different applications really easy.

 

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