I’ve been using the Focusrite iTrack Dock ($199) since Nov 9 of last year and I was excited about getting it for two reasons:
1. It appeared to be the most professional way to interface my iPad for recording music.
2. Focusrite is a highly respected company for audio gear.
All was great for the first few times I used the dock with my iPad 4 running iOS7.1.2. I was needing several inputs for the special way I have been wanting to use the iPad as an effects unit for my Electric Trombone and also be able to plug and play my MIDI keyboard at the same time. (most simple I/O only allow 1 in and 1 out) I already have a sophisticated electric trombone setup using my laptop, Ableton Live and MIDI foot pedals but I’ve been wanting to create a smaller simpler rig for random gigs and sitting in with other artists (2 min setup vs. 30 min).
1. JamUp Pro XT – for effects on my trombone sound
2. GarageBand – for good organ and rhodes keyboard sounds
3. Burn – for a very funky play along of live instruments
4. AudioBus – utility for running several audio apps simultaneously on an iPad
Problem is that aside from my few initial fun and successful sessions using the iTrack Dock, it has continually let me down in both practice and performance situations. I’m not sure of the exact culprit or combination of apps but just last week during an educational clinic in Aspen, the audio from the iPad cutout 5x during a performance. Moreover, the iTrack often disconnects from the iPad audio, resulting in that oh-so-enjoyable high squeal feedback. Luckily, the iPad is already disconnected from the dock – and speakers and/or headphones – before it feeds back which has fortunately saved my hearing. Nonetheless, I have experimented with many different apps and scenarios to hopefully discover the unique destructive problem but to no avail. It just seems to be the unit itself, and that is what the support team at Focusrite has concluded.
Yes, that is the bright side of the story – Focusrite support has been responsive, but not especially speedy. I sent my first inquiry to them on Feb 16. Today it’s March 9 and I’m still waiting for RA number to return it to be serviced (since my 30 days have passed since purchasing from Guitar Center). Focusrite has troubleshooted many aspects of this piece of gear and has assured me that iOS7, an iPad 4, and AudioBus are not the issue. Therefore, I am hopefully sending it to them for repair this week (shipping at my cost one way). However, now that I have another educational clinic at Colo State University on Thurs I’ve had to find a midterm solution for using my iPad as an effects unit for my trombone. So, I’m looking forward to receiving an Apogee Jam 96K Lightning Guitar Input ($129) in the mail tomorrow. Please know that I’ll do a follow up blog about this issue once a solution is discovered. Wish me luck!