The iPad offers a variety of different music Apps which in turn offer a powerful on the go music studio. But many musicians want that bit more control and input function, cue the Alesis IO Dock.
A lot of what the Alesis IO Dock offers is already on the market in individual devices but this wraps nearly everything a true musician will need into a small package. Also this allows every function to be used all at once in theory, something you can’t do with specific accessories.
The actual product is very light to take on the go but weighty enough to stay on a surface. You can use either an iPad 1 or 2 by unclipping a plastic filler which sits inside. This is there because the iPad 2 has a slimmer design. The iPad will plug into a 30 pin dock connector and this is how the the information is sent from the dock to you’re iPad.
The crazy array of inputs will definitely be welcomed by musicians with MIDI In and Out (5-pin connectors), USB MIDI (with stereo main outputs for speakers, amps, mixer boards ect), audio jack, two guitar XLR inputs, foot switch input and composite video out. The dock has to be plugged into the mains for it to work and this allows the iPad to charge and for you to run music accessories that require power. I would really like to see a future version that incorporates a battery.
Now i’m not a musician and I don’t have a mountain full of music related Apps on my iPad but I have used a few functions of what it has to offer. One being the microphone inputs with Garageband mainly but a dabbled into a few voice recording Apps too which supported MIDI. It works and it works well. The next thing I tested out was the guitar input, something I’m sure a lot of people would be very excited about. This was quite cool to use and as your iPad is effectively the amp you have a huge variety of choices to make on what you’d like your guitar to sound as and Garageband is very customisable here so you can tweak until your hearts content. The only thing I wanted to try out but didn’t get a chance to was the MIDI keyboard input. I also believe this works with Garageband too.
It quickly dawned on me that the limitations of the iPad being a music studio is simply the power an App can give. The Alesis IO Dock is more than capable to offer so much functionality but if no Apps supports that functionality whats the point, right? I think Garageband will be at the forefront of the music creation revolution on the iPad and will maintain new features to support these kind of things updates.
Overall I would have liked to use more functions of the dock but I don’t have the equipment to test it out with. From what I have seen this is a very solid product and I am sure many musicians will find a purposeful buy for an iPad so they have a mobile studio.