Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software – Part Two

A while back I wrote an article titled Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software. It got a lot of hits. It also caused a few people to send me emails, one of which called me a traitor to Free Software.

The problem that everyone ignores, is that if you are a musician, you haven’t really got a lot of choice. Apple’s products are the best available for musicians. Sure, there’s some software available for the Windows platform, but really it’s not all that good. There’s some software available for Linux too, but it’s limited.

Hardware wise, Apple is a mile ahead. Almost all Macs have Firewire ports, which are a must for recording. IPhones, IPods, and IPads have a wide range of add-ons that are just incredible.

Sunday is a bad day for shopping, but the closest music store was open, so we visited them. They didn’t have any guitars that I liked, but on the way out my wife spotted an IRig, a neat little device that you can plug into an IPod Touch, an IPhone, or an IPad, which claims it’s the ‘ultimate mobile effects system’. Well, I own an IPad (I mostly use it for note taking, writing, and demoing my wife’s recorded music), and the price was right, so we bought it. When we got home, I installed the app on my IPad.

IRig with IPhone (from website)

Monday we got lucky and found the right guitar (long story – short version is I’m left handed – ask your guitar store how many lefties they stock). I tested it in the store, using the IPad/IRig combination with my $300.00 monitor headphones (yes Virginia, my professional headphones cost $300.00, and they are cheap ones), and the sound was incredible – it had that mean nasty note I was looking for (Parker P42 if you are interested, also tried a PM10, a PM20, and a P44, all of which were more expensive, but the P42 had the sound I wanted).

So what has this got to do with Apple? Simple. I was able to try twenty guitars, using the exact same rig, since with the IPad/IRig combination, I could fit everything into a laptop bag. I also recorded the various guitars, so I wouldn’t forget what the ones I’d tried earlier sounded like.

Normally when you test a guitar, you have to rely on the store’s amplifiers, and the odds to two stores having the same amplifiers, set the same, are damned close to zero. Add a third store, and it is zero. I didn’t have that problem.

Apple owns musicians. They have us by the balls, because no one else makes the kit that they do, and no one else has the third part support that they do. I can plug my IPad/IRig into my amp, or if I want to have real fun into several amps, and blow my neighbors windows out. I can record anywhere, anytime (my entire recording studio fits into a three foot high chest on wheels, that is light enough that even in my current lousy physical shape (I live on Oxycontin) I can still get loaded into the car. And everything in the chest that isn’t Apple (Sony Monitor Headphones, Pro-Audio Firewire interface, Apex tube driven vocal Microphone, etc.) all works perfectly with Apple products. It doesn’t work properly with standard Windows/PC or Linux/PC hardware. Yes, you can buy pieces to make it work, and software, but by the time you’ve done that, the Microsoft/PC solution is way more expensive than the Apple solution, and while the Linux solution is less expensive, it just doesn’t have the capabilities.


That’s one reason I’m bitching, moaning, and complaining. Because Linux people are proud. You tell them that something doesn’t work right, and they’ll come up with a solution. Like possibly a way to hook an IRig into a Samsung Galaxy, and building an Amplitude clone.

It damned well better be Free Software wants to get into the music industry. And quite frankly we want you. Apple is slowing down up Garage Band updates. Now’s your chance to catch up.

Come on guys! Come up with something. I’ll happily help you to test it.


Wayne Borean

Wednesday November 24, 2010


4 thoughts on “Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software – Part Two

  1. Seen this.

    Don’t worry devices like this will come in smaller sizes as meego phones ship. ultimate mobile effects system I think not my old N9 is. All the Linux Jackaudio effects and extras inside my N9.

    The big question I have is what circuit is inside that irig. I have not seen where anyone has disassembled one. Because I want to know where the preamp for the guitar and if its in that little box how is it powered. I suspect is a gitar with audio out on one plug to iphone without power. Depending on the amp in the iphone to preamp. Not that I personally like risking my phone having its output killed as a good option.

    Behringer UCG102 Works with kinda everything. Windows Linux Mac. Best part is if guitar is a dud in a bad way the UCG102 dies not the machine/device its connected to.

    Behringer UCG102 is also stereo headphones with proper sized jack for stage items. Allowing you to be playing and recording with proper backing track.

    Nokia N9 that have a unlocked Linux on them I have been using Behringer UCG102 with for ages(external usb power for the Behringer UCG102). I am not the person playing the music. But the audio guy who sets the venues up. Fair simple to go to the guitar plug the Behringer UCG102 in check its output . Nothing worse than going through all the wiring and the issue is the guitar or other item has died.

    Biggest advantage of the Behringer UCG102 I can use it on Windows Linux or Mac. Does not work with the iphone o well.

    Apple people have a lot of times they think are cool. Lot are defective and not upto the job irig is most likely another one that is defective and not upto the job. Also what worries me is I have never seen amplitube devices in my work. Benringer I have used standard mix tables and so on from them. Benringer are known for making great working devices.

    Firewire is not that important any more. esata/sata kicks its but to harddrive storage. USB 2 is good enough for most things. Networking 1g lan is also good enough most of the time.

  2. I’ve been quite happy with the iRig. It get’s used almost every day. The Ipad is the preamp, the IRig is just a connector. It works with both passive and active pickups, and the software effects are a hoot.

    The MeeGo tablet looks interesting. The one major issue with the IPad is the lack of storage, when you are recording 64GB isn’t a lot of storage. On the other hand, if you are playing live, it works fine.

    Right now I’m using GarageBand on a Mac for recording mixing, partly because it’s the least expensive solution that works. I’ve worked with Audacity and Rosegarden, and they just didn’t have all of the features I needed (or didn’t at the time).

    For an interface I have an MAudio ProFire 2626. Nice unit. So far the only Berhringer kit I’ve got is instrument mics. They work well. My main vocal mic is a tube powered Apex, and I have a bunch of other mics floating around. You can never have too many mics 🙂

    1. Most people are not aware that most android devices usb port is duel directional like the N9 from nokia. USB OTG cable requirement also means providing own power not using the phones internal battery. Lot of ways this is a good thing. Nothing worse than flat batteries halfway threw.

      Biggest reasons is not that I cannot connect Behringer UCG102 to them is android and its lack of multimedia software. has taken what you can make an android device or my N9 do to into the insane. That bottom picture on that link is as warped as it seams.
      1 the android device is being powered from the docking station.
      2 the android device is controlling everything else connected to the docking station.
      Basically what has been done here to a Nexus One phone. Will be doable to future Linux ones. Difference being Meego has a broader range of software as options. Including a more complete kernel that you don’t have to go threw massive hacking as you do with android to make devices work.

      Of course I hope some of the 2011 Meego devices have USB 3 on them. Then USB 3 to firewire converter will basically allow me to hook anything up to them. Also USB 3 will be fast enough to plug in and used external storage and record threw a single port as long as I don’t push things. Video displays out and the like can be asking for trouble.

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