Posted by admin on 2010 Jul 12

iPad: The MIDI & OSC controller killer?

Ipad Music
I have read a few articles about how the iPad is going to be the next MIDI controller killer..
It goes like this.. one iPad is going to eventually replace many if not all of the following dedicated MIDI / OSC Controllers:

Novation Launch Pad, Korg Kaossilator Pro, Yamaha Tenori on, Akai MPC-1000, Monome 256, Jazzmutant Lemur, Buchla 222e, etc, etc

Apple fanboys point out that the iPad is cheaper and can do a lot more than a lot of the controllers listed above. The truth is not that simple. Eventually, multi-touch, programmable controllers (like the very expensive Jazzmutant Lemur, which was created way before the iPad ever existed) will replace most hardware controllers, because the GUI can be customized to the user’s needs; something no hardware controller can do. In a way, the success of the monome and its variants (Novation launchpad, etc) is due because they are semi-programmable controllers, with arrays of generic buttons that can be programmed to do all sorts of tasks.

If anyone wants the iPad to be a dominant player in the MIDI / OSC controller market, the following needs to happen:

1-Develop a framework to create programmable OSC / MIDI controller interfaces, something like the software Jazz Mutant developed for its Lemur multitouch controller. Actually, the folks at Jazz Mutant should be seriously considering porting their apps to the iPad, because, let’s face it, if a competing application were to be developed in the iPad, they will never be able to compete, price-wise with the Apple tablet.

Some companies have already started working on this..

The first is Midipad, according to its website the “midipad is an exciting new app for the iPad/iPhone for music creation and live-performance.“… “This multitouch-capable midi-controller-application communicates with your Apple Mac your Windows-based PC and even standalone hardware-synths via Wifi.


also, there is already a control interface software that runs on the iPhone / iPod Touch called TouchOSC that utilizes Open Sound Control.

You can watch TouchOSC in action, courtesy of well-known reaktor user Theologiae controlling a hybrid Reaktor Carbon / Gaugear ensemble with his iPhone:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Other competing software includes Jasuto,, Intua

2-Create a hardware interface to physically connect the iPad to a music host computer. Wi-fi is not fast or reliable enough to carry enough MIDI / OSC / audio data to compete with a few dedicated hardware controller. This is, right now, the main limitation of the iPad.

3- Once the framework and the hardware is in place, the software functionality hardware such as the monome will have to be ported using some kind of emulation, which is not very hard to do.

Eventually, larger-sized multi-touch monitors and laptops will become common place and the multitouch capabilities of future OS releases (already present in Windows 7) and programmable controllers will be everywhere, not just in places like the iPad or the Jazzmutant Lemur.

The future for multi-touch controllers looks very bright indeed.

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One Response to “iPad: The MIDI & OSC controller killer?”

  1. nebula says:

    I stumbled on your site when searching for info about the Matrix-1000 I just picked up. You have some great articles here!

    I’m curious about how you feel about the iPad as a control surface now that a couple of years has passed. I don’t own one personally, but I see people doing some pretty cool stuff with them.

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