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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.

Because of some of the limitations of iOS, it is vital that you plan your sessions meticulously. For my sessions I usually do all the MIDI pre-production in Cubasis. This is where I lay down my MIDI tracks (both final and/or temporary). Cubasis offers great MIDI features and some decent audio tools. Once my MIDI tracks are ready I render them as audio and export them as audio stems via DropBox. The next step consists of opening Auria, creating a new session, then importing all the tracks previously exported from Cubasis from my Dropbox account.

In the case of "You'll Return," Ella sent me the pre-production temporary audio tracks via Dropbox, so all I had to do was import them from my Dropbox account into Auria. With the temp tracks (drums, piano, bass, and guitar) in Auria, I started tracking and replacing drums and bass in the same session. I highly recommend tracking them together in order to get a more solid groove (the drums was placed in an isolation booth for better separation). I then proceeded to record the guitars (electric and acoustic), then the background vocals, and finally, the lead vocal. All the editing and mixing was done in Auria and the final mastering in Final Touch. From Final Touch, it was a breeze to send the final mastered mix to SoundCloud.

After each day of recording I make sure to back up the session using Ecamm Network's $30 PhoneView, a small Mac utility that allows you to see, manage, and copy the content of the packages of the apps installed on your iOS devices. As the recorded sessions are stored in the Documents folder inside the Auria package, to back them up I need only drag the Session folder to my Mac's har drive.

Looking forward

While using the iPad for recording a band might not be for everyone just yet, I am always surprised by the quantity and quality of the work I manage to do on this little device. I also think that, to a certain extent, having boundaries and limitations can make us more focused and our creativity more inspired. Overall I am extremely confident about the future of this platform for professional music production, particularly considering that this a tool that is still in its "toddler" stage. In fact, I am finishing designing a new course called "Music Writing and Production with the iPad" for Berklee College of Music. An online version of the course is scheduled to be released in Janury 2015.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the future of creativity in music production, and this toddler is fast racing toward adulthood.


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