Alesis were really ahead of the game in getting the iO DOCK out on the market whilst most other manufacturers were still relying on connecting to the iPad via the audio facilities of Apple’s Camera adapter.
Considering it’s low cost and the availability of GarageBand for iPad, the Alesis i/O DOCK seemed a very good proposition for capturing new song ideas with a level of audio performance certainly good enough for serious demo use.
So how has it panned out in practice?
I purchased the Alesis iO DOCK pretty well on the same day as my iPAD2 arrived from Apple UK about 2 weeks after the iPAD2 was launched. Alesis had to contend with the major inconvenience that the iO DOCK had been designed for the original thicker bodied iPAD and a filler ‘insert’ had to be designed and got out to dealers. Thankfully my iO DOCK arrived with the insert which was simple to install and you quickly forget it’s there.
Despite is visually plastic construction, I’ve found the iO DOCK to be robust and it’s easy to slide my iPAD into the sleeve. I absolutely love the fact that once ‘mated’, the iPAD and iO DOCK form a physically solid single interface; no additional flimsy cables and the wedge shape of the iO DOCK makes both operating the iPAD touch screen and connecting audio and MIDI cables really easy.
The iO DOCK comes with a mains adapter and critically charges the iPAD when installed. It does have a power switch and thoughtfully designed cable retention device to avoid the dc power cable from being accidentally pulled out. Whoever headed up the design of the iO DOCK has really done a good job.
Let’s briefly run through the facilities;
Two channel inputs each with a combo socket so you can connect either mic or line level sources. Switchable +48V phantom powering, and input 2 can also be switched for a high impedance instrument input.
You get balanced line level main analogue outputs suitable for connecting to a loudspeaker monitoring system; with level control, and a separate stereo headphone output with it’s own level control.
When recording you have the option of direct zero latency monitoring of whatever you’re feeding into the unit.
MIDI is fully catered for with both USB and ‘traditional’ 5-pin DIN MIDI connectors and there’s a footswitch which I guess is designed to allow hands free start-stop recording but this is not catered for in Apple’s Garageband (but may be in other recording apps.
Then my only small grip. I was really excited to see a composite video output on the rear of the unit. So I rushed off and connected this to my large screen TV expecting to see GarageBand in all its glory! But I didn’t. I could call up my photo album and anything else which doesn’t rely on the mirror function in the iPad, so for now that’s an unresolved issue for me.