I’ve been looking into MIDI controllers lately for controlling lights and video. I didn’t really want to purchase one though before I really was sure it would do what I want it to do and that it’s worth the money. I searched for some apps for my iPad that offers MIDI control and I found a really cool one called TouchOSC. It’s only $5 and so far does everything I want it to do.
I put together a short video showing how to set it up and control ProVideoPlayer as an example. My goal is to get it to control the Green Hippo media servers. Once I get that working I’ll post another video. Enjoy!
The Yamaha LS9 is a great little console for the money. For lots of venues this is a good entry level digital console that won’t break the bank. If you’re familiar with the Yamaha M7CL and then go to an LS9 you will quickly notice some things that are missing though, mainly the touchscreen. The StageMix iPad app for the LS9 goes a long way towards filling those gaps and making the console easier and quicker to use.
I’m not gonna go into too much detail on connecting the console to the iPad, Yamaha has good info on that. I will say that it’s not very hard, you just need a wireless router then connect both the iPad and LS9 to the router. Getting an N router or faster will help sync faster when you connect to the console. We have multiple LS9’s and M7’s in different venues. To help organize things we name the wireless network after each venue and then turn off the broadcast SSID feature just to help keep people off of the network.
Ok, enough of that stuff, ha ha. Once you have the app talking to the console you’ll be able to remote control all kinds of stuff. For the most part you can just dive right in and start playing around. The app is very well designed, easy to use, and you can’t really hurt anything.
Since the LS9 only has a small screen and it’s not touchscreen I find myself using the iPad app for almost all EQ tweaking. I find it a lot quicker and easier than using the controls on the console. Then on the console’s screen I’ll typically tweak the dynamics settings. Now between both screens I have just about everything I want to tweak for a given channel at my fingertips.
To make things even quicker to work with there’s a little setting that I turn on. In the settings for the app are a couple of options for selecting channels. I turn on the StageMix follows console mode. Now when I have the EQ on the iPad and select a channel on the console that channel’s EQ pops up on the iPad. Sounds simple but it’s a huge time saver and makes this console 10 times better to work with in my opinion.
Another thing that’s nice is loading and saving scenes through the app. Typing on the LS9 is well, terrible, ha ha. No touchscreen so that means using the arrow keys to select each letter one at a time, it’s really slow. When you use the iPad app you get the iPad’s keyboard and wallah, way easier typing. You might even take the time to actually add a comment, ha ha. Not something you would bother doing through the LS9 controls unless you really had to. Naming and color coding channels is also best done through the app.
I wanted to point out those features since that’s what I use the most. During rehearsals I’ll walk the room and dial in the mix from outside the sound booth. In the rooms that have stage wedges then the app is great for tweaking things from stage at the performer’s location. We’ve done shows where there’s a FOH guy at the console and a monitor guy hanging out on stage with the app. It works really well for that, you just have to be careful that you don’t foil each other.
I guess if the app had a flaw it’s that you can’t set it to a monitor mix only mode or something like that. If you give someone else control from the app you just need to trust them and make sure that they don’t mess with your EQ or preamp gain. The only other thing I can think of is that you can’t connect more than one iPad at a time. If you could connect several iPad’s and assign each one to have just fader control of a monitor mix you would essentially have a complete personal monitoring system built into the console. That’s not something they’re working towards though, at least not the last time I talked to Yamaha. Oh well, can’t have everything!
Best part, the app is free! There’s even a demo mode if you just want to play around and see the features without connecting to the console, check it out!
After posting about the Roland M-480 console and M-48 personal mixers I got to thinking about other personal mixing options. Mackie recently announced a pretty cool little mixer that could easily be a personal mixing system.
The Mackie DL1608 is a small, 16 input, 8 output (stereo main and 6 aux’s), digital mixer. The control surface is actually an iPad running their software. If you want to check the FOH mix from other parts of the room you simply take the iPad out of the mixer and you can wirelessly tweak levels, dynamics, and EQ.
Now at a glance you might think, yeah, but iPads are expensive! Granted they start at $500 and you’ll need one for each person that is running a mix. But an Aviom mixer is about $450 street price and it’s only a mixer. The iPad at $500 is reasonably priced and now you can use it for other stuff throughout the week. For those on stage once your mix is dialed in close the Mackie app and use the Planning Center app or ProPresenter app to control or keep track of other things.
You can connect up to 10 iPads to the console using a standard wireless router. So you could mix FOH with on iPad and assign 1 aux to each band member, give them each an iPad, and let them control everything themselves. I could see this being perfect for a traveling band or a church that needs to set up and break down every week in a rented venue. Get a split into the console, hand out some iPads, send the mixer outputs to wired or wireless in-ears, and you’re set up without a lot of work.
Lastly the Mackie DL1608 is pretty reasonably priced, $999 at Sweetwater, maybe less through your local Mackie dealer. While I have not heard it myself, traditionally Mackie digital console work well and sound pretty good. We have had both the digital 8 bus and digital x bus consoles in the past and both sounded good. Granted the DXBus had build issues but those have surely been addresses in the DL1608.
At $999, and with the ability to return it if you had a problem or didn’t like it, there’s not a lot of risk here.