I’ve been a long-time user of djay for iPad by Algoriddim (app store link: here ) and one of its best features is the capability for split audio output. This lets the user play the music on the deck faded to (selected) while listening to/cueing/checking the other deck. The importance of this is great, as it allows for dynamic song selection and cue point placement for an audience or recording.
Because of the limitations inherent in any audio device with only a single analog audio output, a bit of clever thinking let a user either buy an adapter, or create one from separate parts, to output in this manner. The effect is impressive, and having used an analog setup on many occasions, I’m sold. However, there’s a huge drawback: cue and output are split mono, not stereo.
While cueing in mono isn’t a big issue, mono main output for a close, discerning audience and for recording from the main output is a poor experience.
iOS6 included an important change to how the operating system could handle audio, allowing for digital and analog output. This capability meant that on an iPad, for example, a device could output discreet streams of audio to more than one destination.
In the case of the setup I have, the cue output is via the analog jack. The real fun starts, however, at the Dock Connector, which means that this method is specific for the 1-3rd generation iPad and iPhone 4/4s. Any newer devices with the Lightning connector will need to purchase the Lightning-to-USB adapter.
Apple’s Camera Connection Kit was one of the early accessories for iPad, allowing users to copy from SD or USB for photo and video import. Users soon found out, however, that the USB interface also allowed access for other devices such as keyboards, microphones, and USB sound cards. It’s this latter capability we’re going to exploit.
I found a seller on eBay, offering new, genuine Apple CCK units for under $10 with free shipping. This, combined with a very inexpensive USB sound card obtained from Amazon, gives us the stacking of interfaces we need.
Making sure djay was closed, I plugged in my headphones, connected the CCK USB adapter with USB sound card and earbuds attached, the started up the software. Entering into the Settings gear icon, I was now given options I’d not seen before, and another tap let me choose which of the outputs would be assigned to each role.
The effectiveness is clear, and even with a message popup that the accessory is not supported, the audio played, faded, and cued as it should, now in stereo.
There’s a slight risk that a USB sound card will not work, and mine, a Syba SD-CM-UAUD does have limitations such as mono input, but its C-Media chipset seems compatible with iOS. (Amazon Link)
Finally, here’s a Vine video of it working:
Recently I’ve also become a big fan of Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ for iPad. Its use is very similar to djay, but it uses some interesting and more performance-oriented tweaks to do the job. The interface eschews the virtual decks for pure waveform manipulation, to great effect. It’s fantastic, a tool any real music fan should have, and it’s available from iTunes here. Split output with the CCK and USB audio works just as well, and with a few differences I’d argue it’s better. The cue feed, like on any two-channel mixer, is adjustable between cue and output, with an additional headphones icon, per track, to toggle. Very cool indeed.
Finally, you may find, as I have, that the power output from the USB audio is much higher than the iPad. This can be a very good thing.