So once I had mastered remote control of my music collection (stored on my main PC) via iPAD’s ‘Remote’ app, I began to look for a way to control my Sonar DAW software via my iPAD. A quick search through the Apple App Store found me at the front door of an app by Saitara Software call AC-7 Core. It was so inexpensive that minutes later I had purchase the app and was busy getting it working.
First I had to install a free utility called rtpMIDI on my PC (not required if using AC-& Core with a Mac). This provides a virtual wireless capable MIDI port between the iPAD and your PC.
Then I opened an existing Sonar session and created of Mackie Control – 1 which is hardware controller that AC-7 emulates for Sonar.
I opened the app on my iPad, hit the reset button and expected faders to start whizzing around …but nothing happened and I had a brief panic that either I’d bought a pup or I was missing the blindingly obvious! Then I thought to read the helpful guidance on the Saitara website and a reset of my iPad and restarting the App caused wonderful things happen.
There I was staring at eight virtual faders with the correct track names. I clicked Play and became even more excited when audio stated emitting from my monitor loudspeakers and the fact that I was controlling Sonar from an iPAD sitting inches away from my PC really didn’t matter at all!
There was even a choice of two colour schemes (choose the dark one, it is very cool!)
The hard part was figured out how to do more than make the faders go up and down. Never having actually owned a Mackie Control didn’t exactly help but some time later I had most of the main functions figured out.So what can this little App actually control? Well pretty well everything a Mackie Control can, and that’s quite a lot.
Obviously fader levels, channel balance plus most of the other channel settings including input source, output routing, phase, mono/stereo, input monitoring on/off, aux send levels ; yes it’s really that comprehensive! You get dedicated buttons for REC, SOLO and MUTE plus a rather strange rotary control (normally for pan) which is mostly hiding and kind of half pops up when you touch it to adjust. Luckily there’s a fader flip function which allows you to bring the pan pot down to the main faders.
The main five transport controls are there and on either side ‘single’ and ‘by 8’ channel bank buttons so its each to move to the channels you want to control.
Controls for groups and mains are similar to the extent that they exist in Sonar and there’s a dedicated master level fader.
Coming to displays, all of the pushbuttons have simulated LEDs to show on/off status; there’s a very clear time position clock which can be switched between ‘real’ time and SMPTE and there are level meters on all of the channel strip displays. They are not exactly response nippy but I was amazed that they managed to keep up with the actual audio level at all considering they are being updated via the WiFi network.
Working in Sonar it was also possible to allocate control of the EQ and Compressor functions to AC-7’s control screen but I found this a bit fussy to control mostly because of the rather daft design of the previously mentioned rotary pots.
Yes you can even get into plug-in control but I began to feel a certain loss of reality coming on, so I decided to call a halt before the lure of the included Jog wheel took hold (yes you can do audio scrubbing!)
So has it any practical use?
One of the things I like to do is to review mixes in a different environment, as I find working from my (excellent) PMC nearfields a bit tiring after a long session. I am lucky enough to have a fibre connection from my little home studio cum development office into my lounge hi-fi system, so getting a high quality digital audio feed into the lounge is easy.What hasn’t been possible before is sitting on my favourite settee, listening to a Sonar mix with full control of tape transport, levels and whatever else is needed. No I wouldn’t attempt to mix from my iPad (yet) but doing a mix review with solo, cut and level functions is a great use for this really great little App.
Best features : Quick and easy to set up. Major functions work well.
Weakest points : Assignable pots too fiddly.
Rating : 8/10