Rack ‘Em Up, Part 3: Speed Gains

iPads may be on the downward trend, but iPad-controlled mixers are coming out in droves. We round up everything currently out on the market for one giant rack mixer review.


3 June 2015

We don’t live in a dial-up age anymore; waiting isn’t really our thing. I’ve experienced the delight and frustration of running a mix via a touchscreen many times over the last couple of years. And while you can get around most other issues, when things lag, it’s a real drag. If an app requires a moment to catch its breath between screen redraws, patience turns into steaming fury. A single touch quickly devolves into multiple impatient prods, which in turn, confuses the app and makes it more prone to shart itself. One thing that becomes plainly obvious as you wait is how many times you have to flip pages/banks/screens to execute a modern digital mix. App speed is the critical difference between able to focus on the mix as opposed to the control device.

None of the apps were so slow as to get frustrating, and many of them cache tabs once you’ve browsed to them. I tested them with both an iPad 2, and iPad 4, and all the native apps sped up with the faster processor.


How fast each tablet app booted up and synchronised with the hardware on an iPad 2 vs the iPad 4. Expect even better results on iPad Airs.

Behringer’s X Air app had a little trouble loading pages when you first launched it, but would get its act together once you got away from the main ‘channel strip’ page. Navigating from the ‘channel strip’ to the more in-depth controls routinely takes one second, even on the iPad 4; a bit too long. And tabbing around in the routing section could get laborious. Likewise, it took 13 seconds to load a snapshot on my iPad 2. Completely useless if you’re jumping between songs.

You can toggle through three main views on Mackie’s Master Fader app; an All Meters view, Multiple Fader view, which displays eight faders at a time alongside a master, and a Single Fader view, which zeroes in on the last selected channel and shows its strip alongside the processing window. You can jump to specific channels by touching them in the All Meters view. It’s a great way to get around. Where Master Fader makes up a bit of ground is its processing strip break up. There are only four pages of processing to scroll through, compared to Behringer’s eight, keeping everything very accessible. While there were small lags on the iPad 2, the iPad 4 was fast. The app is optimised for the A8 processor in the Air 2, so expect lightning fast response with newer devices.

Probably the slowest parts of Presonus’ UC Surface app are the non-critical Settings and Presets pages. It would take a second to switch between either of those pages and the main fader view, long enough to make you doubt you’d actually hit the close button correctly. The best navigation feature is the meter bank at the base of the app. By sliding your finger over the meters, you move the window over any eight faders at a time, letting you whip through the 32 channel faders.


Of the native apps, Allen & Heath’s Qu-Pad was probably the snappiest across both devices. But the surprising revelation was the HTML5 Soundcraft app. I would have expected the best performance to come from an app that spoke the native Apple language, but overall, Soundcraft’s app was the fastest on any device. The big test, loading snapshots, took no time at all. While all the native apps generally had a little lag somewhere, the Soundcraft had virtually none. 



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