How do you integrate iOS apps with pedals and an amp?

I love my iPad for effects, for recording, for ToneStack and BIAS FX, and I also love my mostly analog pedal board and tube amp. The thing is, I struggle to integrate them.

Currently I have a true-bypass looper on the pedalboard to let me loop in an iOS audio interface--either a Sonic Port or a Mackie BlackJack. It works, but I feel I spend most of the time balancing the volume of the iPad output to match the analog signal when I switch.

I'd also like a way to blend the effected signal with the analog dry signal.

In other words, my setup works ok, but it's a bit unwieldy. I wonder if anyone has anything better?

Comments

  • edited March 2017

    I run my amp(tube pre with transistor power) out of fx loop(so that i only get preamp signal with tubes and that i can turn main volume off from amp completely and just adjust volume from gain knob of the preamp and audio interface/racks) to rack compressor/noisegate(in which i usually just use the noise gate because my amp isnt the most noise free one) to rack eq to audio interface connected to ipad(both guitar and often minibrute as well). Then to bias fx with preamp and speaker simulation turned off(and clean to just slight crunch power amp loaded) and fiddlicator loaded to biases fx chain via IAA and host impulse responses there for speaker simulation.

    I dont really need any extra overdrive or distortion with my amp and reverbs and that sort of modulation effects come from ipad. If i were to use pedals, i would basically put everything that normally goes before amp, before amp and what normally goes to fx loop between amp and audio interface.

    If you want to blend in dry signal, get a splitter between guitar and amp and run one signal though amp/pedals and one straight to interface.

    Basically distortion sounds much better from analog gear than digital emulation, but reverbs and such doesent matter much, unless you want to turn physical knobs(and can be often better done digitally on ipad, at least if the analog gear adds even a bit noise or isnt very high quality otherwise).

  • None of my amps has an effects loop or I would definitely use that trick.

  • I have found that the "in-between" state betwixt a fully analog setup and a fully digital setup caused me more headaches than it was worth. I respect the folks who can make it work!

  • edited March 2017

    @mistercharlie said:
    None of my amps has an effects loop or I would definitely use that trick.

    You could get an attenuator/load box and run the signal from your amps speaker out to interface and just use fiddlicator for cab sim(and maybe some fx apps).

  • @lukesleepwalker said:
    I have found that the "in-between" state betwixt a fully analog setup and a fully digital setup caused me more headaches than it was worth. I respect the folks who can make it work!

    Good point. When I go full digital, or just plug straight into the amp, is when things work best.

  • I use the iRig HD2, I plug my pedal chain into the iRig, then from the iRig to the amp. Of course there is no reason you couldn't have it somewhere in the middle of the chain.

  • I got an irig pedal, the one that hooks up to the ipad with the 3.5mm headphone/mic cable. It works, but I don't use it because it makes the guitar sound like shit.

  • I solved it myself, with gear I already have. Now it runs like this:

    Guitar>pedalboard>Mackie BlackJack>amp

    The BlackJack audio interface is hooked up to an iPad.

    The missing ingredient was the BlackJack's analog monitor, which passes the input signal direct to the monitor output jacks. I knew about this already, but it never seemed to work. That's because (as far as I can tell), this "To Mon" feature only works with the monitor output jacks on the back, and I was previously using the headphone out.

    This means that my dry signal goes through the BlackJack to the amp, and using the same knob I can blend in the amount of effected signal. It's pretty rad. I make sure to set any effects at 100% wet, especially the modulation effects.

    One neat thing is that the signal is passed even when no music apps are running on the iPad. The BlackJack needs to be powered up, or course, but no apps are needed to route that analog signal.

    The other bonus is that I can use the BlackJack as a preamp.

  • Could you “dumb this down a little”... the stompbox is connected to the blackjack input. The iPad is connected to the blackjack via usb. And the amp is connected to the blackjack via and output? And somehow, automatically, the iPad can process the guitar signal with its apps? Right?
    Thanks.

    @mistercharlie said:
    I solved it myself, with gear I already have. Now it runs like this:

    Guitar>pedalboard>Mackie BlackJack>amp

    The BlackJack audio interface is hooked up to an iPad.

    The missing ingredient was the BlackJack's analog monitor, which passes the input signal direct to the monitor output jacks. I knew about this already, but it never seemed to work. That's because (as far as I can tell), this "To Mon" feature only works with the monitor output jacks on the back, and I was previously using the headphone out.

    This means that my dry signal goes through the BlackJack to the amp, and using the same knob I can blend in the amount of effected signal. It's pretty rad. I make sure to set any effects at 100% wet, especially the modulation effects.

    One neat thing is that the signal is passed even when no music apps are running on the iPad. The BlackJack needs to be powered up, or course, but no apps are needed to route that analog signal.

    The other bonus is that I can use the BlackJack as a preamp.

  • That’s correct! And by turning the “To Mon” knob clockwise, you can mix in more of the direct, dry guitar signal. 100% anticlockwise is iPad-only. 100% clockwise is iPad+dry.

  • edited June 23

    thanks. That should work with just about any interface with monitoring right?

  • Yes, it should. I have done it with a Zoom R8 too.

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