I posted a full review of AppBC’s Audiomux iOS music app when it was first released. Audiomux allowed you to stream audio between your iOS device and OSX desktop computer using nothing more than the standard USB charging cable that is supplied with your iPad or iPhone. It also complemented AppBC’s Midimux app that does the same sort of data transfer for MIDI data.
Both apps seems to work very well from the off and, used together, they make integrating your iOS music making technology and your desktop music making technology a much simpler affair; no unpredictable wireless connections, no other hardware required… just the apps, the associated ‘server’ apps for your Mac (free from the Audiomux website) and a cable Apple have already supplied for you. An update soon after the initial release introduced multi-channel audio support allowing you to stream up to 16 channels of audio at the same time.
I also covered v.2.0 of Audiomux which bought some big changes. First, Windows support became ‘official’ and, second, the app moved to an approach based around a VST and AU plugin for easy integration with the host desktop DAW. This is, of course, the same approach adopted by Music IO although, if you prefer the ‘aggregate device’ approach of the original Audiomux release, this is still available (at least, it is still working under OSX and, for recording – as opposed to just monitoring – audio from your iOS hardware, it does offer a somewhat easier configuration).
When v.2.1.0 arrived, this bought a further significant change; the functionality of Audiomux and Midimux was merged into a single new app; Studiomux… although Midimux is still available if you just want MIDI connectivity. I was impressed with the flexibility the app offered and, while there are a few hoops to jump through in order to get it configured with your desktop DAW of choice, it is a remarkably cost-effective means of getting b–directional multitrack audio and MIDI between your iOS hardware and your desktop system.
The last couple of weeks have actually seen three further updates to the app, the most recent of which arrived on the App Store yesterday, and it now stands at v.2.5. There have been some significant ‘behind the scenes’ tweaks within these various updates and, while these include some fixes (for example, for those running iOS7 or iOS8), there are also some general refinements and new features on offer.
The desktop-end VST and AU plugins have been completely reworked and the server app (that has to be installed on your desktop system) has also been refined for better overall performance and reliability. I’d actually found the system pretty solid but, if that solid performance has been improved further , then that’s good news.
The most significant new feature, however, is support for IAA sync and, for those brave enough to try (!) you can now try to sync the playback of apps running on your iPad (for example) to your desktop DAW (and vice-versa if you want the iPad to control playback). Having given this a go using Cubase Pro 8.5 as my DAW/sequencer running under OSX, I had some success and, for example, got patterning to lock very nicely with playback and tempo set by Cubase. This was impressive to see…. You are, of course, still dependent a little on how well your favourite iOS music apps play ball with sync in general.
The one element of the whole process of using Studiomux (or the similar Music IO app) is that there is some configuration required. Thankfully, AppBC have now developed s pretty detailed PDF manual that’s available on their website and this should be considered an essential read before you give the app a spin. This does include some instructions specific to a number of the leading desktop DAWs which are very useful indeed. While I’m sure these will be refined as Studiomux develops, I certainly found this documentation helpful when getting Cubase set up correctly with the app.
There are still some operational difference between Music IO and Studiomux and differences in the details of the feature set and/or workflow. I still think it is difficult to pick an obvious ‘winner’. Both have obvious potential and both have demonstrated the proof on concept. It will be interesting to see which way their various their development pathways now go and who can do the most to convince users that they are offering the best performance and smoothest workflow.
For users, however, neither are particularly expensive technologies… and if you have to buy both until that particular bit of competition sorts itself out, then so it it; it will not break too many banks. I think the competition is a good thing though. It is bound to drive the development forward at a somewhat faster pace than would otherwise be the case….
Anyway, if you are interested in integration of your iOS music software with your desktop music production system, Studiomux, at just UK£7.99, is well worth checking out – alongside the obvious competition – whether you are using OSX or Windows as your desktop platform.