What fun is life without gear? The ios musician is going to need a few basic pieces of kit, and I wanted to include a few pieces of gear I haven’t personally tested, but look forward to trying out soon. So, here is the basic list, though I reserve the right to add or edit…
1.A case and screen cover. That iPad or iPhone won’t do you any good if it is broken or all scratched up – learned this lesson the hard way with my two week old Android phone. Bought a cheap slide-in neoprene case, the lock switch kept catching. Just upgraded to the Apple iPad case, and really like it. Feels well-built, and can sorta double as a stand.
2.For iPad users only – for now, hopefully this will work with iPhone/iPod soon* – the Apple Camera Connection Kit. Use that USB dongle, and the world of Midi and USB audio awaits.
3.Inline Mic or headset/earbuds with Mic. I have a cheapo MonsterCable inline Mic that I like alright…the quality is OK, usually good enough, and has a jack so you can use whatever headphones you like. Some sort of outboard Mic is essential for quickly capturing sounds and ideas.
4.Great Headphones. Great Earbuds. Great Speakers. Great Amp. Enough Said.
5.Guitar Interface. Either homebrew from an old AV cable, or something like iRig. Super handy, iRig and other store bought dongles at least eliminate the crazy tangle of wires from the homebrew version, and are less noisy. I have only tried the iRig, and like it just fine.
6.A nice collection of cables and adapters, but you probably have this stuff laying around anyway.
7.A midi interface. To me, the Line6 looks like the way to go, the versatility being the key benefit. But, there is something to be said for the simplicity of the Synthstation25, even though the SynthStation App is clunky and miserable in actual use. I have a cheapo USB Midi Cable adapter thingy, I think I bought it at Radioshack a couple years ago. It works with a few Apps through the Camera Adapter on the iPad now that I am running ios4.2, I just wish it would work with more Apps. Also, a side note, ignore those “Device Not Supported” messages the first couple of times you see them. I had the same trouble with a USB keyboard for typing with, and after a couple times the messages go away and you are good to go. However, if the device draws too much Bus Power, the messages might actually be accurate. Sorry.
8.Toss up here. USB Mic like one of those Samson things, or one of the Snowball Mics – these are on sale this week at CompUSA for $45 or so, everything from Snowflake to Snowball reduced! – or possibly a USB sound card. I have yet to try these out, because I am cheap and lazy, and also I tend to go direct in. I usually just use a shitty headphone Mic, but I am not big on vocals….if I were, USB Mic or sound card with a fancy Mic.
9.Gig Bag & Stand/Rack – carry that gear in style, stay organized, and feel like a million bucks. Swagger is a necessary evil in a musician, so look like a Pro and feel like one. I bought a Louis Vitton shopping bag at a thrift store for $1, and use it for laundry. Filthy lucre = Rock Star! Also, great conversation starter for that hot A&R rep…and remember, all A&R reps are hot – at least make them feel like they are. Don’t be too easy though, we all want what we can’t have. If the A&R rep is gay, you are Bi. If they are single, you are separated. If they are married, they won’t be for long, so make them feel sexy. This also applies to lawyers, promoters, your boss, teachers, cops, and judges.