By Holland Davis
This year’s NAMM show was of particular interest to me. I feel like we’re on the edge of a major revolution in technologies for worship and this year’s event proved that to be true. One of my personal missions is to look for ways to incorporate iPhones and iPads in the worship environment. The advent of the iPad is quickly changing the way we produce, listen to and perform music.
There are several new product lines that I found particularly interesting this year.
As a novice artist, Sampletank was my first exposure to any kind of computer based sound module. However, IK Multimedia has taken the concept of Sampletank and expanded it to reach a new generation of musotechs. Those are technically savvy musicians. I was so impressed with their new lines of products that we will devote the next few columns to their product lines.
Their flagship product is the iRig. iRig allows you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a virtual amp and pedal board using Amplitube. I got it for Christmas from my kids and immediately fell in love with it. It sounds great in your headphones, but a little lack lustre when you run it through your amp. The solution: iRig Stomp. iRig Stomp is the first guitar interface that integrates iPhone, iPod touch and iPads with Amplitube. This is definitely a step in the right direction in making this product more user friendly for churches.
Another IK Multimedia product that I’m absolutely excited about is SampleTank powered by the iRig MIDI Interface. I’ve been experimenting with this application in a live worship environment with great success. Only limiting factor is the sound library which you can expand by purchasing the entire SampleTank Sound Packs bundle for $ 40.00 which is a deal considering I paid way more than that for my original SampleTank sound library.
If you haven’t heard about Pivitec go to pivitec.com. This company is going to revolutionize the personal monitoring system industry. Imagine being able to mix your own monitor mix wirelessly using your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Imagine being able to control headphones, monitor speakers or In-Ear monitors from one audio interface. Imagine a 32 channel mixer the size of an iPhone. Now imagine an entire monitoring system that can handle 32 Audio Channels and 12 Unique Monitor Mixes that fits in seven rack spaces and integrates with any kind of digital or analog mixer on the market.
For Portable Churches Pivitec presents the best solution that I have ever seen for personal monitoring systems. Only thing I saw missing was a microphone to allow for ambient room noise. When I asked, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it’s already in development. This is a definite addition to my need to have list.
Probably the most revolutionary new product release is the Line 6 StageScape visual mixer. This is going to revolutionize how sound is mixed in a live environment. Faders, knobs, channel strips and equalizers are replaced with the X-Y tweak pad.
The Tweak Pad allows you to simply paint your sound with your finger. Individual channel strips are replaced with icons with fully editable performance presets. Set up is streamlined by the mixer’s auto-sensing mic inputs and outputs that automatically detect when a mic connection is made. Not only does it sense mic connections, but speaker connections as well. Let’s say you use a speaker that can double as a monitor. When it’s upright, the StageScape miser reads it as a 3 way full ranged speaker. If you lay it sideways, the software automatically reads the speaker as a monitor and changes the speaker configuration. One other feature that I thought took this over the top was the ability for the Line 6 SoundScape to record your mixes. It’s genius!!! Look for more info in the future from Line 6.
Jammit takes the most accurate transcriptions of popular songs and breaks them down into four tracks that you can practice to on your iPad. Tabulature notation makes it easy for you to know what fingers to use to play individual notes. You can loop sections of a song, slow it down to rehearse and record and email your performance. Currently it does not have any Christian music formatted for use, but that is changing in the near future.
iConnectivity is one of the most innovative creators of USA connected controllers on the market. Some of the items that caught my eye were the iConnectMIDI interface. It enables communication between MIDI, USB, Mac, Pac and other iOS devices all at the same time. The other thing that caught my eye was the iConnectMUSE that allows you to capture up to six stereo inputs into your iPad making your iPad a viable portable recording studio. The booth setup was centered around an iPad that was sporting the Geo Synthesizer app. You can check out a youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8gffhbeUhs to get a feel for what you can do with this app. It’s totally off the hook.
Reactable is an award winning synthesizer that is now available in a mobile app. It’s trippy. Not sure how to bring it into mainstream worship, but I think someone needs to do it. I’m thinking a viable replacement to droning U2 guitar sounds. The sound is generated based on the placement of different icons on the control surface of the iPad. Tones are adjusted based on the position of the icons and the direction the icon is facing.
The coolest percussion instrument I saw was the Korg WaveDrum. Imagine a totally self contained unit with a programmable conga head on a stand that is anchored into a small amp. I was impressed by it’s simplicity and portability.
Universal Audio has a long tradition of quality sound processing equipment and this tradition of uncompromised quality continues with their Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite. The Satellite adds a layer of computing power to any laptop situation so that anyone can have the legendary sounds of UAD components at their fingertip. It’s compact and easy to use. I can see this particular product line becoming an industry standard.
That pretty much sums up the items that caught my attention at this year’s NAMM show. Based on my conversations with manufacturers, this year is going to be an unparalleled year for innovation that involves iPads, iPhones and iPod touches. Keep your eyes open and let’s share what we see and learn.
Holland Davis is a veteran worship leader, popular conference speaker, composer of the award winning song Let It Rise and the author of a new book on worship entitled “Let It Rise: A Manual For Worship.” He is the Senior Pastor of Worship Life Calvary Chapel in San Clemente and the host of Worship Life Radio on iTunes. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at Holland@hollanddavis.com or follow me on twitter @hollanddavis