I get a lot less exercise in the studio these days, and I like it that way. Don’t get me wrong. Burning a few calories here and there isn’t a bad thing. But when I am in the studio, I want to focus on the creative flow, not the cardio you get while running from the control room to the isolation booth over and over.
As the lines between studio engineer and artist continue to blur, more musicians find themselves pressing “record” and running for the isolation booth. This can be time consuming if you are a normal musician who does not achieve perfection on the first take. This multitasking dash will also yank your brain out of its creative space faster than an off-beat tambourine solo.
If you are thinking there has to be something better than the studio dash, you are right. Let’s look at a number of great ways to control your studio while liberating your butt from the mix chair.
There’s an app for that
If you have been living in contact with the human race lately, you can probably guess that there are a handful of smartphone and tablet apps that will give you wireless control from anywhere in the studio. Is there an app for that? Yes, probably two or three at the least. Let’s look at a few of them.
Although LP touch is optimized for Logic Pro, it is a universal DAW control app. This app uses Open Sound Protocol, so there is no need to install extra applications on your Mac. Keep in mind that this is for Mac users only.
With LP Touch, you get control of:
- DAW transport
- Channel mixing
- Insert plugins
- Virtual instrument editing
If you are in need of a bit more range in the compatibility department, check out DAW Control. This app is compatible with MAC or PC and comes with presets for:
- Logic Pro
- Ableton Live
- FL Studio
Since DAW Control works via the Mackie Control protocol, this reasonably priced app will also work with:
- Pro Tools
- MOTU Digital Performer
- Cakewalk Sonar
- Propellerhead Reason
- Sony Vegas/Acid Pro
- Fruityloops Studio
- Presonus Studio One
- Adobe Audition
- Mackie Tracktion
- Final Cut Pro
There are two main layouts to use: Control surface and transport. Although some users mention that there is not much by way of customization, these control apps already contain all the features you need to efficiently run your studio from anywhere in the building.
If you are using Logic Pro, MainStage or GarageBand, how about going with a free app that is made by Apple?
Connect your iPhone or iPad to your DAW computer using an ad-hoc (computer to computer) wifi connection or use your Lightning to USB cable to run your device wired.
The list of things you can control with Logic Remote is long and impressive. Aside from basic transport and mixing controls, you can play virtual instruments, change patches, adjust EQ settings, edit plugins and even take advantage of customizable buttons.
Keep in mind that the iPad version of this app has more features than the iPhone version. Since the price is right (free), that doesn’t matter much, does it?
For those of us who use Cubase, there is a tailor made app that allows project, mix and transport control on an iPod or iPad.
Aside from the standard transport and mixing capabilities, Steinberg allows for a bit of customization in this app. You can rename, recolor, reassign or delete buttons to get the functionality and look you need.
Included in the mix environment is the ability to create 4 independent monitor mixes. Any musician who has a supported device can dial in his own mix with no extra equipment needed. With this app and a few compatible devices, you can forget about installing thousands of dollars in dedicated mix stations throughout the studio.
If you buy the iPhone version, you can download the iPad version for free.
Keep in mind that you will need the Steinberg SKI Remote extension installed on your computer for Cubase IC to work. You can get it here.
Other hardware and software options
If you would like to get into something a bit more substantial than an application for remote control, there are some good options to consider. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Think of this one as an extension of the Presonus Studio One DAW. This is much more than a simple remote control. It’s more like a full featured expansion of your main studio monitor.
The Studio One Remote only works with the Studio One DAW, but the added functionality allows remote studio control on your iPad or Windows tablet, screen expansion from your main monitor and multi-user collaboration where everyone uses their device to collaborate on the same project at the same time.
This is not merely a remote control that offers key studio control features. It’s an expansion of your Studio One 3 DAW.
If you are using a wireless keyboard and mouse...
If your DAW of choice will not allow you to use a simple app as a remote control, using a wireless keyboard may be the only reasonable option. In that case, let’s work with it.
Using a wireless keyboard and mouse in the studio rooms gets a lot easier when you can see the mix/edit window on your DAW. Since VGA and HDMI cables do not come in great lengths for good reason (they don’t work well), you will need another solution to install a remote screen in your studio.
While the initial cash outlay for a professional system like this is higher than a simple app, the addition of a large screen in your studio room is a top-notch feature that your clients will appreciate.
There’s no need to stay in the mix chair
Whether you choose a standalone app or a software/hardware combination, one thing is clear: You can easily run your studio from any room you choose. While some studios encourage clients to install control and monitoring apps on their personal devices, others will buy a few tablets so everything is already included.
I’ll leave you with a handy tip that will save you quite a bit of frustration: Get yourself a mic stand holder for the smart device you plan on using in the studio. For example, these iPad stand mounts from K&M Stands will keep your device secure and safe while freeing up your hands to play drums, strum the guitar or shoot rock n roll hand gestures to the groupies sitting in the control room. Happy tracking!