Working within iOS’ constraints can be a bit frustrating at times. Sometimes you just want to bounce that piece of audio you’ve got going on your iPhone or iPad straight to a big DAW, such as Logic Pro or Ableton Live on your Mac. There are numerous ways of getting your audio to your bigger studio setup. Software-wise there are iOS apps that provide the ability to export your audio to cloud solutions like Dropbox or allow you to find your audio back in iTunes. Hardware-wise, more and more professional dock-enabled interfaces are released that can provide a proper way of getting high-quality audio into your DAW. And if your options are sparse, there’s always the headphone out that you can cable up to your PC or Mac. In this tutorial we’ll show you a way of recording your audio into your Mac DAW wirelessly with the help of a pair of handy software apps.
What You’ll Need
For this tutorial you’ll need a Mac, an iPhone or iPad and two pieces of software.
AirServer is an AirPlay receiver for Mac/PC. It allows you to receive AirPlay feeds, similar to an Apple TV, so you can stream content or Mirror your display from your iOS devices or Mountain Lion. It is as though you have an Apple TV connected to your computer. By fully utilizing this software you can stream Full HD video to your PC or Mac monitor, but we’ll keep it at just audio for this tutorial.
You can try the full version of AirServer for free for 7 days by downloading it on http://www.airserverapp.com
After that the full version will set you back $14.99
Soundflower is a MacOS system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications. Soundflower is easy to use, it simply presents itself as an audio device, allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed. By routing your audio correctly you can record every sound your Mac makes into your DAW.
SoundFlower is a free download from http://code.google.com/p/soundflower/
How to Set Everything Up
Once you’ve installed both AirServer and Soundflower on your Mac, it’s time to set everything up. We’ll have the iOS Device airplay its audio to the AirServer app of which the outputs are routed through Soundflower into your DAW. Sounds confusing? Once you get going you’ll understand this whole audio chain better.
When you have AirServer installed (recognized by the ‘Airplay’ icon) go to the apps’ preferences and find the Audio section. You can leave the Audio Buffer Size at the default setting, but change the output to Soundflower (2ch).
By having ‘AirPlay controls device volume’ ticked, your Mac’s volume buttons control the iDevice’s volume.
Under the ‘General’ preferences button you can setup a computer name through which you can recognize your Mac later when you set up AirPlay on your iPhone / iPad.
SoundFlower shows up as a general audio in/output in your System Preferences on Mac and you can set it up to have all your system audio be routed through its channels. Since we’ve already routed our AirServer’s audio output to the Soundflower app, we can go to the Soundflower app to monitor the incoming audio.
Open the Soundflowerbed app and under the ‘2ch’ section make sure you have your audio interface or built-in output (if you don’t run an interface) option selected. This will allow you to monitor your iDevice’s audio through Soundflower.
I’ve selected ‘ONE’ as my output, a great audio interface by the way.
iPhone / iPad
The only thing left to do now before you’re going to record your audio into your DAW is to configure AirPlay on your iDevice.
Double-tap your home-button.
Swipe all the way to the left until you see transport controls and an AirPlay icon at the bottom of your screen.
Tap on the AirPlay icon and select the audio to go to your AirPlay device.
Recording Your iOS Audio
Now when you play back any audio from your iPad or iPhone you should hear your Mac produce the sound this time. You might notice a slight delay in playback. Unfortunately this delay generally prevents you live performing and capturing your audio, but it’s perfectly suitable to record ready-made sequences directly to an audio track in your DAW.
There are many DAW’s and audio recorders available on Mac that can carry the task of recording the audio from your iDevice/Soundflower combination onto an audio track. I’m shortly going to demonstrate how you can set up such a track in Logic Pro.
In Logic’s Audio Preferences select Soundflower (2ch) as your main input device.
Create a new audio track and select your default in- and outputs, choose ‘Record enable’ when you’re ready to record.
Now when you’re auditioning your audio from your iPad / iPhone you might hear 2 audio streams slightly delayed from one another playing at the same time. Simply click the mute button on your audio track in logic to hear only one audio source playing. Oh, and when you’ve also set up your system audio to go through Soundflower, it’s a good idea to disable the metronome as Logic will then also record the clicktrack to your audio track.
Now press record.
Here’s my sweet Drumjam + DM1 loop recorded into Logic.
When you think the portable DAW’s on your iPhone and iPad are not yet up to the task of quickly arranging your sequences into a full song, this method might prove effective to capture your ideas straight into your professional Mac DAW when you haven’t got cables or an iOS interface lying around. Who knows, maybe we’ll all laugh about this when technologies such as Audiobus help our mobile devices mature into full-fledged studio workhorses in the near future.
If you have anything to say or ask about this method, or if you have found a better way of bouncing iOS audio to your DAW, please let us know in the comments.