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iPad3 ♥ MixPre-D ♥ Auria

August 31, 2012

After much deliberation, I’m finally up and running with my iPad 3 / Sound Devices MixPre-D sound recording combo!  I only got about half an hour this evening to quickly give it a test run but I’ll share the resulting recordings with you as a rough demo:

My deliberation was due to originally wanting to use the Sound Devices USBPre2 but this setup was beginning to seem rather convoluted due to the USB Battery that would have been required.  I worked out the setup in the diagram below but I’m not 100% convinced it would have actually worked:

The ‘Dr. Bott’ Buss is (as I understand from what I’ve learnt from trawling the internet) simply a device to add into the chain in order to trick the iPad into not thinking the USBPre2 is too much of a power draw (which it isn’t) and rejecting it.  The Denecke is simply for taking the strain of the phantom power away from the iPad so that it’s battery would last longer.

I tweeted this picture a while ago and, after a few ideas and thoughts from others – namely Shaun Farley – Sound Devices themselves chipped in, suggesting I simplify things by using the MixPre-D which has it’s own built-in battery power supply.  Why didn’t I think of that?!  (Don’t answer that).

So now the only addition to the chain is simply the camera connection kit which enables the MixPre-D to link up with the iPad.

Initial tests have given promising results I think; good, clean sound like I’m used to hearing through the 744T.  I’ll do a more thorough variety of recordings over the next few weeks but tonight, unfortunately, I didn’t have a good stereo pair of mics to use recording some room tones, etc. so I’ve stuck with a quick voice record using my U87 and then some exterior train and siren sounds captured using my MKH40.  See what you think.

As for the actual operation of the setup, Auria is great!  If I can get everything packed up appropriately in some kind of bag with the iPad on top then I think I’m on to a winner.  As far as I’m aware, Auria is the first app to enable 96kHz recording on the iPad, which was my original stimulus for trying to achieve this recording setup.  Large meter display; a DAW at your fingertips; export AAFs to Dropbox – it’s hard to find fault really.  However, a couple of tiny bugs that I’ve come across so far:

  1. Listening through the headphones, I had to ‘reset’ this by unplugging and replugging the headphone jack a couple of times.  Once this was when I booted up Auria but wasn’t able to monitor the input until I replugged the headphone jack and then it kicked straight in.  The other time was when I was recording and tugged on the headphone cable too much and it seemed to upset the audio output from the iPad and introduce digital glitching noises until I replugged the headphone jack at which point the glitching stopped straight away (and wasn’t on the recording).  This is another reason to make sure that whatever bag I can get hold of to hold all this setup together has to protect all the USB connections and the headphone jack from any strain or knocks.  By the way, in my view, the most vulnerable connection to protect is the camera connection kit into the iPad (though I didn’t have any problems with it this evening); the USB connection into the MixPre-D feels really solid to me.
  2. A tiny detail which may perhaps be through my own error:  I did some editing in Auria before exporting the session to Dropbox and, strangely, the crossfades I did were carried through into Pro Tools but not the rest of the fades.  Will keep an eye on this next time.
  3. As far as I can tell so far, the settings in the iPad dictate the sampling rate of the recording and the MixPre-D follows suit.  However, when I connected the two devices and opened a 96kHz session in Auria, the MixPre-D continued to say it was set at the default setting of 48 kHz which was a bit unsettling.  However, judging by the final AAF that I opened in Pro Tools, the recordings are indeed 96kHz and 24 bit so surely the MixPre-D did tow the line with the iPad otherwise the recordings would have glitched?

So, after only a quick play this evening, those are my initial impressions.  I’ll keep you posted with any discoveries or bugs that I come across over the coming weeks, and Sound Collectors’ Club members can expect to see a lot more demos coming their way  in the  form of new contributions to various themes.  For starters, I’m planning to take this setup along to record church bells with Raoul in September.  Better get a move on with finding that bag……..

From → Field Recording

  1. That’s what I’ve been looking for! Great rig.

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Let me know how you get on if you try it out too!

  2. Your next task is to find a portable carry case solution. Good test set up.

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      I know; may have to work out a temporary make-do solution for thursday’s meetup as may have to get something custom-made.

  3. dubltone permalink

    Very Intersting ! Do you think Auria is going to implement a TimeCode option through the Ipad’s headphone input ( or wireless ) like the Ambient Clockit TC or the TC Buddy Apps ? I would be a perfect recorder…

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Didn’t know about those apps; will check them out – also need to test out Auria’s import video option – could be an amazing tool for location foley recording.

  4. Great to see this setup is working out. I was thinking about going down the USBpre2 route myself but I think i’ll switch to the MixpreD based on your feedback and the good clean sound samples. Thanks for posting this up – any luck finding a good portable solution ?

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Not a definitive solution yet but got lucky with an old Peli case I had lying round. Everything except my mic fits in it for when I’m carrying it around and then I open it up and unfold my iPad cover to stand up in it with the mixpre tucked underneath. Impractical for moving around when recording but I generally tend to do fixed point recording anyway. Will post when I find a more portable solution. Having said that, I’m wary of spending too much time and money on finding a case for it as already the size and new sturdier connector of the iPad mini has maybe usurped this setup!

  5. ivan permalink

    do you think that is better and more flexible usbpre2 or mixpred?
    do you have tested if mixpred with ipad record in 24bit 96khz?

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Haven’t used USBPre2; what made me choose the MixPre-D was that it saved me the hassle of an extra battery pack that I would need to get if I used the USBPre2 with the iPad. iPad3 does record at 24 bit / 96kHz using the Auria app. I believe iPad2 can only record at 48kHz.

  6. I’m sure you’ve already thought of it but this setup with the iPad mini would be even more awesome. Although i’m not sure if they do a camera connection kit with the lightning connector, can’t see one online.
    Really cool set up.

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Yep, my thoughts exactly, Simon – I tweeted the guys who make Auria a while back to see if it also worked with the mini – they said they’d ordered one to test but haven’t heard back about any results yet.

      A quick google suggests this combo should indeed work though:

      Lightning to USB =

      Auria =
      (check 2nd comment from the bottom in this link)

      I’m definitely saving my pennies for this (not exactly pricey but havent had my ipad3 for even a year yet so feels a little bit toooo fanboy to get the mini straight away too!) because the old CCK loose connection is definitely the weak link in the chain. Plus, the size of the mini would make find a carrying solution even easier.

      If anyone out there has tested the mini or has any more info on it I’d love to hear your input!

  7. sonicskepsi permalink

    Actually – on second thoughts, forget the mini, it’s only a matter of time before I can plug my MixPre-D into my iPhone! Check out the new Rode Rec app recording at 24 bit / 96kHz! Just need to ditch the already out of date iXY mic and see if a lightning CCK will feed into an iPhone 5 (I’ve tested the 4S and it won’t – anyone able to test it on an iPhone 5?)

  8. Chris Ryan permalink

    this is an awesome how to sonicskepsi thx, I wouldn’t mind the MixPre-D now, was almost going to buy the usbpre2, because I’d be using this with Logic too, if anyone knows would it be possible to record two tracks in Logic Pro at the same time – one a mic or guitar plugged into the mixpre-d (XLR) and the other track would be a USB midi keyboard, any help really appreciated before I buy.
    I see Portabrace make a case two cases for the mix pre-d one of which is a little larger maybe enough room in its front pocket for the iPad mini.
    Sonic what did you use to mock up that picture?

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Thanks Chris, I’ll definitely check out the Portabrace you mention. I’m afraid I know absolutely nothing about Logic though so can’t help you there.

      Oh and I did the drawing using ‘Noteshelf’ on my iPad. It’s a really cool app actually; I’ve started using it in mixes for keeping all my notes in order – before that, I always seemed to end up with tonnes of scraps of paper to keep track of.

      • Chris Ryan permalink

        Thanks for getting back to me, I’ll be using this rig like you to capture some sound in the field but was hoping as a bonus because this is usb compliant I may be able to ditch my Apogee DUET and use this to plug a usb keyboard in mac + mic in this and sing and monitor both through the mixpre-d live in my DAW (protools/logic) but I kindof heard someone somewhere say this not possible to monitor another input apart from what’s coming into”d” anyway I’ve sent an email to Sound Devices.
        Just stumbled on your other sites and love some of your soundcloud stuff, liked the great chat you had to the policewoman at an estate and just stumbled on the Tonebenders podcast you’re in!
        Great work mate! cool blog,
        a sonicskepsi fan (not the stalker kind)

  9. Chris Ryan permalink

    Here’s the MixPre Portabrace bags – MX24 Mini (will hold mixpre-d only) but the MX24 (seen with the mix pre-d in photo on will hold the mix pre-d and the front panel enough room for an iPad Mini.

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Nice one, thanks Chris – will check them out. Glad to hear you’re not a stalker too – especially as I just went on google to IMDB you and a load of stuff about an ex-SAS man came up!

  10. sonicskepsi permalink

    Mind you, the side-opening flap on this AR-DR680 could work well for accessing the touchscreen maybe……

    • Chris Ryan permalink

      nice! this AR-DR680 could be perfect – I noticed the MX24 comes in black too I wonder if this does, for a smaller rig I’m thinking black maybe a little more subtle than blue.

  11. Iain permalink

    What are you doing for a bag to put this all in?

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      Making do with a Peli case at the moment but, as mentioned above, I’m going to investigate the AR-DR680 bag I think.

  12. ivan permalink

    hi,can you do a test for me?i don’t know if i have a broken mixpred.if you can, do this:
    connect headphone,set the 2 mic input gain to 0 and then up the gain of the headphone until the maximum you hear a noise like electricity(zzzzz)expecially after 0/2db?
    do you hear the same noise(always mantaining to 0 the mic gain)when you send xlr output to external recorder or devices?

  13. NZ Young Horticulturalist of the Year permalink

    Would an an iPhone work at 48khz? Don’t need 96khz.

    • sonicskepsi permalink

      As far as I’m aware, you can’t use a MixPre-D with an iPhone but… I’ve been keeping an eye on phone options and I think you can use the Apogee One with an iPhone, possibly even at 96k – but I need to investigate this more thoroughly.

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