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Griffin StudioConnect review

Kat Orphanides
15 Aug 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

This dock turns an iPad into a fun tool for sketching out musical ideas and even recording simple demos

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We've reviewed a number of MIDI and analogue audio interfaces designed for use with computers, but the Griffin StudioConnect is the first we've seen for the iPad; it can interface with MIDI instruments as well as record from analogue sources. While a tablet wouldn't be our instinctive first choice for music production and recording, there's a certain logic at work here. The iPad has been widely adopted by creative types of all sorts and there are already plenty of apps for musicians available, such as Apple's own GarageBand software. There are also whole websites devoted to making the most of the iPad as a MIDI device.

While most people use USB to connect their MIDI devices these days, Griffin has taken a different approach with the StudioConnect. Rather than a USB input, it has the older 5-pin DIN MIDI in and out ports. These might be unfamiliar to anyone who's started using MIDI control surfaces in recent years, but most MIDI keyboards, drum pads and other controllers still have 5-pin MIDI in and out ports as well as USB. You'll need to buy two midi cables separately, and because MIDI, unlike USB, doesn’t provide power, your control surfaces will need to be powered separately.

Griffin StudioConnect

All this meant that setting up our MIDI keyboard involved a bit more effort than our usual approach of just plugging it into the nearest USB port. Once we'd got all the right cables together, though, everything worked quite well. The dock comes with its own power supply and has a standard Apple dock connector for your iPad. iOS automatically recognised the dock as a MIDI interface device and we were immediately able to use it with MIDI-compatible audio apps.

You'll also need to connect the dock to a set of speakers, as it takes over from the iPad's built-in speaker and doesn't have an integrated set of its own. There's a pair of phono outputs on the back, so - with the right converter cables - we were able to connect the dock to everything from the analogue input on our radio to a pair of professional-grade studio monitors.

Griffin StudioConnect

The back of the StudioConnect also has a 1/4in mono TRS input of the sort used with electric guitars. We were pleased to find that our recordings sounded great, whether we were using a clean or effected guitar sound. We also used the port to make recordings from a microphone, but we had to use a conversion lead with our dynamic mic's XLR input, as the StudioConnect lacks an XLR input of its own. This is something of an oversight, given that XLR mics are a popular and common piece of studio kit.

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