Anyone who has spent some time running multiple MIDI-based music apps until iOS will know that (a) there is a huge amount of fun and creative potential to be experienced and (b) still some workflow issues to be resolved in order to fully capitalise on that potential.
One of the key issues is just how well MIDI is handled by these various apps. The solution, of course, is for Apple and every app developer to really get to grips with Core MIDI and to ensure these wonderful music apps we have available to us are speaking the same (MIDI) language when we need them to communicate. While this sounds like it ought to be a simple enough task (after all, a similar process has proceeded at some speed for audio), we still seem to be some distance from seeing this happen…. and check out the article posted on the site a few months ago that looks at this issue in more detail.
Nic Grant from developer Audeonic helped me with that piece and, a well as being part of the team that put together the excellent Music IO app, Audeonic produce two other apps – MidiBridge and MidiBus – that can offer a little help with these MIDI related issues under iOS.
MidiBus is, on the surface, a rather unglamorous MIDI utility app that offers one (OK, perhaps two) basic functions. First, it can function as a MIDI clock sync master device. And, so you can judge something about the quality of that MIDI clock sync, the second function is to provide monitoring of the MIDI data; you can see how the clock varies over time.
Anyway, the app has received an update today as v.1.5 appeared on the App Store. There are the usual round of fixes and tweaks but the key new features are the ability to add MIDI controlled Tap tempo (done via the MIDI Learn options) and the option to adjust tempo on the fly while the MIDI Clock is running. I gave this a quick try out with Diode-108 this morning. Diode-108 was set up to receive MIDI Clock sync and I was able to get Diode to adjust its playback tempo pretty much in realtime as I used MidiBus’ Tap Tempo function to change the MIDI Clock tempo being transmitted from Midibus to Diode-108; I have to say I was suitably impressed :-)
There are some other minor fixes and the underlying MidiBus library (which other developers can add to their apps to provide solid MIDI support) has been updated to v.1.35. However, perhaps the most intriguing item in the update blurb is ‘support for forthcoming companion app’. No, I’ve no idea what that might be either but here’s hoping Nic let’s us all in on the secret soon :-)
At UK£2.29, MidiBus is unlikely to break anyone’s bank and, if you use independent MIDI apps such as drum machines or synths with step sequencer features as part of your music making, then MidiBus might be right up your street. As a means of locking those sorts of apps together – providing their MIDI implementation is up to it of course – MidiBus is a simple and effective tool. It might not be the most glamorous or exciting of apps to look at but, as one of those very useful utility apps that can help everything else run smoothly, like MidiBridge, MidiBus is well worth having to hand.