There are countless apps, add-ons, plugs, adapters; etc promising to turn your iPad into a cost-effective, radio ready home recording studio, but which one is actually the best? I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time or patience to conduct countless trial and error sessions to figure it out, but when Focusrite launches a product I’m all in.
Focusrite’s iTrack Solo,announced several weeks ago, is a dual-input audio interface designed for recording instruments and vocals. It is the perfect companion for anyone wanting to take their demo to the next level. With Focusrite’s versatile no –compromise sound quality it can be used in the final mix. I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.
Out the box, the iTrack Solo is very lightweight, unassuming and looks great next to your iPad. There is a supplied cable to connect the iTrack Solo to the iPad and it is powered by the included USB cable enabling the right amount of power needed to run the iTrack’s high-specification components. Don’t be fooled by it’s stature the aluminum unibody chassis ensures your iTrack Solo will survive the hustle and bustle of life on the road. Despite it’s “Come Play With Me” appearance the iTrack Solo is not a game.
Ease of Use
If you’re familiar with any of Focusrite’s other products such as Focusrite’s flagship Liquid Saffire 56 interface or the Scarlett 2i2 USB interface – you will find the quality of sound and interface very familiar. You don’t need to be a member of the Geek Squad or tech savvy to figure out how to use the iTrack Solo. They have countless videos and easy to follow instructions to get you started. Basically, once you connect your iTrack Solo to a power supply and you’re all set!
The front panel has inputs for a microphone and for an instrument (such as an electric guitar, bass guitar or the output of an electro-acoustic guitar). This makes the iTrack Solo perfect for capturing the output of a microphone, or using an electric guitar with one of the many guitar amp applications on iPad.
Although the packaging is labeled “Made for iPad”, the iTrack Solo is fully compatible with all major DAWs (digital audio workstations) on Mac and PC. As a Mac owner I am partial to Garageband which is a perfect complement to the iTrack Solo, but if you’re a PC don’t fret the iTrack Solo comes with free music making software such as Ableton Live Lite and Focusrite Scarlett Plug-in Suite, just to name a few. Scarlett plug-in suite provides EQ, Compression, Gate and Reverb – essential tools for polishing your mix.
Bells & Whistles
Another cool feature is the signal halo.The signal halos let you know when you’ve got a good audio level for recording. Green means you’re good to go and red means that your audio is too loud, and that you may want to rethink your sound control levels.
•Ableton Live Lite 8 – professional music making software to use your iTrack Solo with a Mac or PC.
•Focusrite Scarlett plug-in suite – collection of software plug-ins bringing effects to your music software (like Ableton Live for example).
•Novation Bass Station – legendary Novation synthesizer modelled in software as a soft-synth plug-in instrument.
•Loopmasters content – 1 Gigabyte of royalty free samples
It’s also important to note that the iTrack Solo is compatible with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Windows 7 & 8 as well as iPad, iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation) with iOS 5 or iOS 6.
I’ve tried this on both my Mac and my iPad and I must say I’m in love. The sound quality and ease of use is unparalleled, exactly what you expect from Focusrite. I was able to spend my time focusing on my creative process and not on adjusting, leveling and double checking everything is set up correctly. So far I’ve enjoyed testing out the iTrack Solo and almost completed a song. I am purchasing this for my personal use. The MSRP is $199.99 and available at dealers for a discount of $159.99- this is definitely worth every penny and then some.
Still need convincing? Check out this video of the iTrack Solo in action: