Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A studio in a rucksack

It's been a bit hectic round Chateaux RNG, what with Christmas and all so I've finally got round to writing another post. Santa brought some cool toys this year, mostly centred around music and I've been having a play.

First up, he brought (or rather, I bought whilst Mrs RNG was away up the north) a YouRock guitar. If you haven't come across one of these, check out some of the demo's on YouTube, they are wicked. Essentially it is a games controller (for Rock Band and the like) that also doubles as a MIDI guitar. It has a bank of built in (cheesy, almost but not quite entirely unlike a guitar) sounds for you to practice with (with headphones plugged in or through an amp/iPad/iPhone/iPod touch/Android guitar amp sim via a jack lead like a normal guitar) or you can use it as a device to trigger MIDI enabled instruments (such as the various soft synths available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux etc including the built in instruments in GarageBand) by plugging it into the iPad camera connection kit via a USB cable (provided). Cool, I am a hopeless keyboard player, now I can play a keyboard using a guitar (an instrument on which I am also hopeless)!

A rather lame picture of the YouRock guitar

Next up was an IK Multimedia iKlip. This device allows you to attach your iPad to a microphone stand.

iPad attached to iKlip

You can see a microphone in the picture above, that's an IK Multimedia iMic, plugs into the headphone socket and has a headphone through jack for monitoring. Works with Garageband and most other recording apps (including Amplitube which has in app purchasable voice recording modules like auto tune*, remember this for later!).

RNG studios recording suite!

I had already purchased a camera connection kit (needed for MIDI) and an IK Multumedia iRig (for connection of a guitar) and have several music apps on the iPad so time to give it a go. I used GarageBand to record a quick rendition of a new song my band (Poundshoplife, check us out on YouTube, Facebook etc.) are working on. I recorded a quick drum track using the drum kit that you play with your fingers, this is great as you can record the kick, then record the snare over the top, then the hi hats and so on to build up the drum track. It's also much easier playing it with your fingers than trying to play keys on a keyboard or program the stupid things in note by note! Then I got out the YouRock in MIDI mode and used the smart bass (Liverpool is the setting) to record the bass line. Then the YouRock again with a smart guitar (roots rock) for one guitar track and in proper guitar mode (via the iRig) for the second guitar part. I used a built in sound (it's supposed to be a clean strat!) and a GarageBand clean combo (blacktop) amp setting with a bit of overdrive. Then I used the iMic to record the vocals straight into GarageBand *(wishing I had used Amplitube so I could run an auto tune over them). All this recorded into a device about half an inch thick and 10 inches wide, clamped to a mic stand in my living room!
A bit of playing around, adding in a few sections and we are finished. What is nice about GarageBand on the iPad is you can duplicate sections of your song so it cuts down the amount of copying and pasting needed (note, I haven't used Logic beyond Logic 8 so this may be a feature by now). Also, splitting audio is nice with the multi touch screen.

Anyway, here is the finished article in GarageBand:

And here is the finished article on Soundcloud

(warning: contains a rather woeful vocal performance, listen at your own risk)

*see what I mean about auto tune!

So there you have it, a recording studio in your backpack (the neck of the YouRock actually detaches so you can just fit it in a 10 litre rucksack). More importantly for education purposes, for the cost of a single copy of Logic and a couple of plug-ins, you can have an iPad and all the kit I've used (including the apps). Oh sorry, I forgot, iPads are just toys, you can't be productive on one! Now, where did I save that spreadsheet...

No real instruments where harmed in the making of this track

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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