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Is iOS Ready for Professional AV?

Mar 14, 2012 3:26 PM, By Steve Oppenheimer, PreSonus Audio Electronics

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The Apple iPad already has a proven track record as a secure wireless remote controller for professional AV. Professionals have demanded iPad control, and multiple manufacturers have delivered it.

PreSonus’ journey to iOS began in 2009 with the creation of Virtual StudioLive (VSL) mixer-control and editor/librarian software for Mac and Windows. (Virtual StudioLive essentially duplicates the functions of the PreSonus StudioLive mixer in software with an interface that replicates the desk.) PreSonus VP of Sales Rick Naqvi and several PreSonus beta testers soon experimented with controlling VSL from an iPhone via a wireless network, using third-party iTeleport VPN software. This was functional but crude; the iPhone lacks the screen real estate to conveniently control an entire console, and VSL interface was designed for mouse control, not for a touchscreen.

Then Apple released the iPad. Within six weeks, PreSonus engineers began researching whether iPad’s multi-touch interface and larger screen could support a truly useful wireless control app. The result was StudioLive Remote, a free app that allows an iPad to wirelessly control Virtual StudioLive, in turn controlling the StudioLive mixer.

The obvious advantage of iPad control is that you are no longer chained to a physical mixing station (or a laptop) and can control a sound system while mobile.

With PreSonus systems, one iPad running StudioLive Remote can control any StudioLive mixer (with a FireWire-attached computer) on the Wi-Fi network. So if you install multiple mixers and laptops in a venue, the client can walk around with one iPad and control each mixer in turn. You can have up to 10 iOS devices on the same network simultaneously, including iPads running StudioLive Remote and iPhones/iPod Touches running PreSonus QMix, which provides wireless control over StudioLive aux mixes. Each musician with an iOS device can control his or her own monitor mix, taking the burden off of the sound person. (StudioLive Remote and QMix are currently the only iOS mixer-control apps that support control of and by multiple devices.) Furthermore, you can use iOS control for much more than musicians and bands; you can feed multiple installed systems from a mixer’s aux sends, controlling these systems from an iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch.

In multiple-device applications, the ability for the contractor or client to set permissions is crucial. You don’t want anyone with an iOS device to be able to control the sound system. And if your client is using multiple iOS devices to manage a band’s monitor mixes, for instance, it’s important to prevent the musicians from adjusting the wrong monitors.

PreSonus handles that by letting you set permissions in its Virtual StudioLive mixer-control software for Mac and Windows, so that a given iPad can control the entire StudioLive mixer, just the aux sends, or nothing; and a given iPhone/iPod Touch can only control the assigned aux send—or nothing. Combined with a password-protected network, this provides more than enough security for most professional uses. While PreSonus has been a pioneer in this area, it is by no means the only company that is developing iPad apps for professional use. For example, those who wish to create custom iPad control solutions might want to explore Liine’s Lemur for iOS, which enables iPad control of a variety of products, including audio software and stage lighting. Clearly, iPads are indeed ready for professional AV and AV pros.

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