Device connectivity has become a bit of a hot development topic over the last couple of months. With the introduction of apps such as Midimux, Audiomux, Music IO, the ability to link your iOS devices and your desktop hardware (admittedly mostly for OSX at present) via a USB cable is a very useful and cost-effective means of integrating your music production tools.
Of course, we have had – and still have – wireless and/or Bluetooth-based connectivity, whether between multiple iOS devices or iOS and desktop, for some time (Secret Base Design’s various Apollo apps and MIDI LE for example). At the start of February, a further option appeared on this front – Audreio – that provides a way of streaming audio between iOS devices… I didn’t get around to looking at the app when it was first launched but, as I’ll outline in a minute, Audreio (the development team) have a new piece of their particular jigsaw about to launch… so it seemed a good time for me to play catch-up and take a look at the app.
Floating on air
Audreio is essentially a tool for streaming audio live between two iOS devices. Providing you have a reasonable local area network (and, hopefully, it’s not too busy shovelling other people’s data around it at the same time), the app promises to deliver both high-quality audio (uncompressed) and low latency performance. Interestingly, the audio handling within Audreio is based upon IAA (actually, the IAA support built into any Audiobus 2 compatible app I think) so it ought to function with a large number of popular iOS music apps.
In terms of setup, both iOS devices need to have Audreio installed (the app is universal) and running and both need to be connected to the same wireless LAN. In my own experiments, I also found that I got much better performance when working close to my actual wireless router. Close to one of the various wireless extenders that I have scattered around my house didn’t seem to work anywhere near as well. I’m not sure if my experience would be typical but it is worth noting.
The app requires iOS7 or later, is a 3MB download and currently comes with a price of UK£3.99.
The most likely way I might use Audreio is to send audio from an app running on my iPhone (or older generation iPad) to my main iPad Air system, essentially to offload some of the workload from the Air if I was working on a busy project. Of course, you could just run a cable from the audio out of the one device to the audio in of the other but that’s not always convenient or, if your docking port and headphone sockets are already occupied, even possible. Wireless audio streaming provides a useful alternative.
Proving the two devices are getting suitable wireless access to the network, setting up the link between the two instances of Aureio is fairly straightforward. For example, I set my iPhone as my audio ‘source’ (and I tried a number of IAA apps in this context such as Funkbox and Figure).
Having started Audreio on the iPhone, tapping the ‘+’ icon on the left edge of the main screen allowed me to see a list of all the compatible apps currently installed (for example, Figure, as shown in the screenshot). As with Audiobus, you simply select the app you want and the icon then appears within the Audreio interface and, in the background, the app is opened for use. If you tap on the app icon in Audreio you are then flipped to the app itself. Incidentally, if you swipe up on the icon you get the option to delete the app from Audreio so you can load an alternative app to work with.
With your ‘source’ app/device combination set, you then need to turn to the device you want to ‘receive’ the audio on. There are actually a number of options here in terms of configuration but, as Audreio is IAA friendly, it can be opened within an IAA host. I did this within Cubasis… opening Audreio as I would any other IAA audio source via the Cubasis Track Inspector routing panel.
If you then flip to Audreio from your host and tap on the ‘+’ icon, as well as seeing all your usual IAA apps listed in Audreio’s input options, you should also see a ‘Remote’ option to allow you to select your other iOS device as the input source. Once selected, this Audreio source becomes the audio source for the Cubasis track.
So, in my example, I had Figure running within Audreio on my iPhone and then Audreio running via IAA on a Cubasis audio track on my iPad… and then selected the iPhone Audreio as the ‘input’ to Audreio running within Cubasis on the iPad. As if by magic, Figure’s audio output was streamed wirelessly into Cubasis and could easily be recorded.
Working close to my WiFi router, this all seemed to be very responsive (Jorge at Audreio suggests that you could get a latency of around 30ms under good conditions) and I could easily imagine this would be ‘playable’ if you were recording a performance using a combination of two iOS devices (unless, of course, you are one of those folks who is super-sensitive to latency; I’m not).
The audio quality also seemed very good and I couldn’t detect any obvious issues with the audio I recorded during testing. I tried a couple of other apps as my source and the results were equally good. Depending upon the IAA spec of the particular source app, you also might see an ‘Audreio go to’ icon within the app (as shown here for Funkbox) much as you do for quick switching between IAA apps and your IAA host. This is a neat system and would be great for those occasions when a wireless connection is the best option whatever the reason might be.
So far, so good… wireless audio streaming between two iOS devices in a pretty straightforward fashion and, at just UK£3.99, a useful utility to have around. However, there is more on the way. Audreio (the development team) also have a desktop plugin version of Audreio very close to release (I’m hoping I might get a pre-release version to try out in a day or two).
While this is Audio Units (AU) format only at present – and so will only be of interest to OSX users – this will allow you to connect your iOS and OSX desktop music production system together. This will allow for both wireless and wired connections. And, for those that happen to use multiple desktop computers in their music production, rather interestingly, it will also allow you to stream audio between them via the plugin.
Anyway, I’ll add some details here when the plugin version becomes available but this is another product that is obviously aimed as system integration and, like both Audiomux and Music IO, gives the OSX/iOS user some very useful audio routing options.
We obviously have a number of competing products that now offer the ability to transmit either audio or MIDI or both between iOS and OSX using a low latency wired connection… and if you are happy with a wireless connection, then there are plenty of options for Windows users also.
These various products do, however, all adopt slightly different approaches and different combinations of features. It is, therefore, difficult as yet to pick a personal favourite amongst the various options. This is pretty new technology though… and things are moving fast as each developer brings new updates to the market.
Whatever the near future may hold for this kind of ‘system integration’ technology, right now, Audreio under iOS is a very neat solution for wireless streaming of audio between your iOS devices. If this is a feature you need then, providing you are happy with whatever latency your WiFi network might impose upon that data transfer, at UK£3.99, the Audreio is well worth checking out.