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Pro audio on Surface tablets

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  • User profile image
    dentaku

    I was going to post something about Windows 8 tablets and good audio latency and maybe class compliant MIDI controllers but Peter Kirn already said everything I was wondering about here (and he's much better a writing than me)
    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/06/microsoft-unveils-two-surface-tablets-but-questions-abound-will-they-hold-a-tune/

    I don't have much hope that ARM based tablets will be useful for music apps but there's no reason why the Intel based ones running full Windows 8 CAN'T work just fine for pro audio apps with very little latency PLUS since they're basically just keyboardless ultrabooks they should work with external USB audio interfaces and their ASIO drivers.
    If more software was written to take advantage of WASAPI we wouldn't even need to bother with ASIO anymore.
    I certainly hope they have no annoying DPC latency too.

  • User profile image
    itsnotabug

    I think there will be a lot of latency introduced just on the "touch" layer, unless they roll this tech into Win8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOvQCPLkPt4

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Assuming latency isn't a problem (I don't think it will be on the pro in any event) I hope some third party comes up with a music oriented cover (ie piano style keyboard and lots of function keys  / pads for mapping to midi.  That could also be interesting.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    A couple of problems I see:

    Audio software specifically designed for small Metro tablets might make for a decent experience but if you try to use DAW software made for (multiple) large desktop screens you're gonna have a bad time.

    It only has one USB port so with an audio interface there's nowhere to plug in an external hard drive if you need the space or to offload audio streaming from the system drive (and hooking your AI and HD to a hub ain't going to cut it either).

     

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    I SO want to run Usine Pro on an Intel Surface.
    http://www.sensomusic.com/usine/
    OR even Gesturespark
    http://gesturespark.com/

    It's the screens that interest me more than the actual performance of the hardware. Being able to build custom interfaces for the touch screen and sending that data over network MIDI to a "real" powerful PC is so much fun but now that you mention it I can see third parties building specialized covers for controlling music software. A 25 key synth sized keyboard with pads, buttons and sliders on top would be great. They could have LED strips embedded in them like the touch strips on the Tempest drum machine or the new Akai Pro MAX 49 controller.

    But, like I always say, Windows developers don't seem to care much about audio and rarely have a clue as to what MIDI is.

    , Ian2 wrote

    Assuming latency isn't a problem (I don't think it will be on the pro in any event) I hope some third party comes up with a music oriented cover (ie piano style keyboard and lots of function keys  / pads for mapping to midi.  That could also be interesting.

  • User profile image
    contextfree`

    Yeah, although most people think of Metro style = touch and desktop = mouse and keyboard, audio and music are an interesting possible sweet spot for touch based desktop apps. Metro style apps wouldn't be able to import VSTs for example.

  • User profile image
    Heywood_J

    , DCMonkey wrote

    A couple of problems I see:

    Audio software specifically designed for small Metro tablets might make for a decent experience but if you try to use DAW software made for (multiple) large desktop screens you're gonna have a bad time.

    It only has one USB port so with an audio interface there's nowhere to plug in an external hard drive if you need the space or to offload audio streaming from the system drive (and hooking your AI and HD to a hub ain't going to cut it either).

    The new Surface tablets look very interesting.  I can think of several things it would be good for.  But Pro Audio is not one of them. You have to use the right tool for the job.  

    I have a desktop computer (6 core CPU, 16GB RAM, 27 inch monitor) for my audio work.  Why would I want to use a tablet?  That just silly.

    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    , Heywood_J wrote

    *snip*

    The new Surface tablets look very interesting.  I can think of several things it would be good for.  But Pro Audio is not one of them. You have to use the right tool for the job.  

    I have a desktop computer (6 core CPU, 16GB RAM, 27 inch monitor) for my audio work.  Why would I want to use a tablet?  That just silly.

    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    Well, either device could still be useful for lightweight or mobile recording, say a band practice or even hooked up to the mixer at a live show (assuming the storage is adequate). But it would definitely need apps designed for the form factor to be anything more than "because you can".

  • User profile image
    androidi

    @Heywood_J:

    I recall one relatively famous band having a live concert tour where there were just 4 guys standing behind laptops staring at them and not playing anything. (of course the music was going but for all you knew they were playing it from cd)

     

  • User profile image
    itsnotabug

    @Heywood_J: I feel what you're saying, but the form factor and convenience of being able to compose songs while leaning back on your couch is very nice, not to mention the portability. I made a few tunes on the beach a few months ago just sampling the environment.

    You can always bounce it back to your serious TDM system with uber DSP plugins later. If you spend a few days with NanoStudio on an iPad, you'll see that it's very powerful (not quite a DAW replacement though). I've heard some world-class tunes composed, mixed and "mastered" 100% in NanoStudio.

    My dream though, would be to run Ableton Live on the Intel Surface with full multi-touch. It's going to be a very good time to be making music in the coming years.

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    , itsnotabug wrote

    My dream though, would be to run Ableton Live on the Intel Surface with full multi-touch. It's going to be a very good time to be making music in the coming years.

    Running Ableton Live on an Intel based Surface would probably work fine because people have run it on Ultrabooks already. Live's interface isn't designed for a 10.6" multitouch display though.
    It will be interesting to see how well it works with ASIO4ALL for people who want to avoid using an external audio interface just to use decent buffer sizes.

    Another thing people seem to not realise is that most of the time, with electronic music, computers aren't used to "record" audio. They're used to "create" audio with virtual instruments controlled by MIDI. I've only used the inputs on my audo interface once and I don't own a microphone.

    There are almost too many very well made music programs for iOS so there's no reason why it wouldn't be possible on a tablet that runs a full version of Windows 8. Anything that works in Win7 64bit should work fine.

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