Using Launchpad with External Hardware

MIDI Sync Series: Part 1

Introduction

There is a rare sense of satisfaction to be found in connecting lots of music making bits of gear together, and jamming away for hours. I for one, can attest to losing valuable portions of my life to such occasions. As iPad apps are now becoming more and more important to our music making lives, keeping all these bits of music gear in sync, can be a challenge.

Connecting your External Gear

There are a few approaches to hooking up a hardware piece of gear to an iPad. For this example, we’ll use novations newly created ‘Circuit’ groovebox. This fun little box lets you easily create drums lines, and melodic parts. That, combined with it’s built in speaker makes it a clear candidate for jamming with an iPad.

Start Simple

You’ll need a Novation Circuit, and USB cable, a USB to Lightning adapter, and an iPad with the Latest version of Launchpad for iOS installed. The image below helps to visualise this:

launchpad blog012MIDI Sync

Within Launchpad for iPad, select the new ‘MIDI Sync’ tab, and choose Novation Circuit as the slave destination. It should be noted that Launchpad for iOS always needs to be a master. You’ll now be able to get access to a new play button to the left of the main pad grid. This allows you to start and stop sync to Circuit at any time.

launchpad blog012MIDI Sync

In this set-up instance, you will hear everything back through the built-in speakers of the iPad and Circuit. This is pretty cool and convenient, however you won’t be able to perform a gig like this.

A More Advanced Set-up

Now if you wanna go big, here is another way to set-up a more sophisticated rig. You’ll need: An iPad with Launchpad app installed, a Focusrite iTrack Dock (for example), a Novation Circuit and some cables.

launchpad blog012MIDI Sync

The advantage of a set-up like this is that you can feed the audio out of Circuit, into the iTrack Dock and mix this with the output of the Launchpad app. The USB cable connects the iTrack Dock to the Circuit, and this is how the sync signal is sent from Launchpad to Circuit.

Then simply connect your speakers and headphones to iTrack Dock, and you’re good to go.

Recording the Output of both Launchpad and Circuit

One issue you may run into is that the record button in Launchpad will not capture the Circuit audio, and mix it into the saved recording.

There is a solution to this, and it requires an app called ‘AudioBus’. Once installed, you can add a live input like Circuit and combine it with the output of Launchpad app, and then feed this into yet another app, such as ‘AudioShare’ to record the combined mix. You’ll then end up with a file that you can post to somewhere like SoundCloud.

Next up, we’ll look at using MIDI Sync Output to connect Launchpad for iPad with other apps.