How to Use Your iPad as a Wireless MIDI Controller

How to send MIDI over Wi-Fi from an iPad to Windows or a Mac

What to Know

  • Open Launchpad. Type Audio MIDI setup in the search field. Click the app's icon when it appears.
  • Choose Window > Show MIDI Studio. Select the Network box. Create a session by choosing the + button under My Sessions.
  • Select the check box next to the new session. Select the iPad in the Directory section and choose Connect.

This article explains how to set up your iPad as a MIDI controller using a Mac. This information applies to iOS version 4.2 and later and Macs running OS X 10.4 or higher. The article also includes information on configuring MIDI over Wi-Fi using Windows PCs running Windows 7 through 10.

How to Use the iPad as a MIDI Controller on a Mac

Apps for musicians can turn your iPad into an advanced controller and a great music-maker, but you still have to get those signals to your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). You may be surprised to hear that iOS has supported wireless MIDI connections since version 4.2, and Macs running OS X 10.4 or higher support MIDI Wi-Fi. While Windows doesn't support wireless MIDI out of the box, there's a simple way to get it working on the PC as well.

The Mac makes it relatively easy to set up a connection with an iPad, but you need to dig into your MIDI settings and know just where to go to make the connection.

  1. Launch Audio MIDI Setup on the Mac. The quickest way to do this is to open the Launchpad in the Dock, type Audio MIDI setup, and click the app's icon when it appears.

  2. After it loads, click Window in the menu bar and choose Show MIDI Studio.

    The Show MIDI Setup command
  3. Click the Network box to open network settings.

    The Network button (it's the globe)
  4. Create a session by clicking the plus (+) button under My Sessions.

    Selecting the plus sign.
  5. When the session appears, click the check box next to it to enable the session.

    Selecting the session.
  6. Connect the iPad. It should be listed in the Directory section below the sessions. If it isn't, make sure the iPad is both connected to the Wi-Fi network and connected to the same network as the Mac. Click the iPad to highlight it and then click the Connect button.

    The MIDI network setup screen on the Mac

This creates a network connection your DAW can use to communicate with the iPad.

A photo of the Livid

How to Configure MIDI Over Wi-Fi on a Windows PC

Windows can support wireless MIDI through the Bonjour service. This service is installed with iTunes, so before you set up Wi-Fi MIDI on your PC, make sure you have the most recent update of iTunes. If you don't have iTunes, you can install it from the web. Otherwise, launch iTunes. If there is a more recent version, you are prompted to install it.

  1. Download the rtpMIDI driver. This driver was created by Tobias Erichsen and is free to use.

  2. After you download the driver, install it on your PC. After it is installed, you can run the program to configure your network.

  3. This part of the process is identical to the Mac. First, create a new session by clicking the plus (+) button below My Sessions.

    Selecting the plus sign.
  4. Next, click your iPad's name under Directory and click the Connect button.

    Selecting connect.

This creates the connection on your Windows-based PC.

Try These Apps for Your New MIDI Controller

Now that you have the iPad set up to talk to your PC, you need some apps to send MIDI to it. The iPad can be great as a virtual instrument or just to add a few extra controls to your setup.

  • TouchOSC: A great way to add some knobs and controls via your iPad's touch screen. Compatible with iOS 5.1.1 or later.
  • Knob Lab: An alternative to TouchOSC, Knob Lab is free to download and check out. Compatible with iOS 9.0 or later.
  • Geo Synthesizer (9.0 or later) and GeoShred: (9.3 or later): Two sides of the same coin, these apps use a fourths-based layout to turn your iPad surface into a virtual instrument. GeoShred comes with a modeled guitar, while Geo Synthesizer has synth-based sounds.
  • Lemur: This app is a multi-touch instrument that allows you to design colorful multi-shape widgets and place them on canvas for your control. Compatible with iOS 8.0 or later.
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