Walk through: BeatMaker 2 controlling other synth apps with Virtual MIDI

Check out this Core MIDI Clock Sync + Virtual MIDI video walk through!

Virtual MIDI in BeatMaker 2 is a little bit more confusing than in other apps, so I thought I’d make a walk through to clear up any confusion. Virtual MIDI has opened up iOS music making to several interesting and useful possibilities. You can record synths that don’t have MIDI sequencers, experiment with new synths for your track using a sequencing app like BM2, or make an entire song using sounds from several different apps at once by controlling them all with Genome MIDI Sequencer. This tutorial should contain everything you need to know to get BeatMaker 2 controlling other Virtual MIDI apps.

Set up and settings

First, open up BeatMaker 2 and another Virtual MIDI app of your choosing. In BM2 you’ll want to create a blank keyboard sampler track. To do this, click the add instrument button, and select keyboard sampler (or drum machine). The app will prompt you to load an instrument, click the X in the upper left corner and the track will be created with no sounds loaded. This is exactly what you want because you’ll be using the sounds from other apps. Make as many tracks as synth apps you’ll be using, and assign each a MIDI channel…

Tap MIDI…

Assign a MIDI channel for this specific track to send MIDI through:

Here I have no MIDI channel going into the track but have it sending MIDI out on channel 2.

From this menu, you can also set up a CC to control stuff like volume or pan or save/load a MIDI configuration if you want to load it to a different track/project.

Next we need to tell BM2 to actually send out the MIDI to other apps.

Go to the main menu and tap on the ‘i‘ in the upper right corner:

Hit MIDI setup,

and plug in these settings:

This page is the command center for MIDI coming in and out of BM2. If you wanted to control BM2 with another app – say, Slide Control, which doesn’t generate any sound on it’s own – you’d need to turn it on in the inputs column. If you want the MIDI being played in BM2 to control another synth app, you’d need to turn on said synth in the outputs column. Here I’m recording Cassini Synth for iPhone (using Cassini’s built in audio recorder) with the MIDI being played in BM2. Using sequencing apps with Virtual MIDI ports like BeatMaker 2 or Genome is a great way to get that perfect recording in synth apps that don’t have a sequencer.

After you’ve set that up, go back to the synth(s) you want to send the MIDI to and make sure audio background is turned on in it’s settings. This will tell the application to continue generating sound after you leave the app (press the home button or double tap the home button and switch apps).

Background audio in Cassini synth for iPhone:

Background audio in SunrizerXS synth for iPhone:

MIDI Channels

There are 16 MIDI channels. Channels are used to send MIDI data to certain destination (in our case, a synth app) so that you don’t end up sending the notes generated in one place to two places by accident. If you want to trigger multiple apps at the same time, set each track in BeatMaker to a different MIDI channel.

Troubleshooting: OMNI mode sends all of the MIDI notes generated on any channel (1-16), to every channel. If OMNI mode is on in BeatMaker or some random synth app, you might run into sound issues (this has happened to me before with Sunrizer, but not Cassini), if something doesn’t sound right try turning off OMNI mode and setting up a specific channel.

If you’re looking for more apps with Virtual MIDI, check out my regularly updated list!

BeatMaker 2 - INTUA

SunrizerXS synth for iPhone on the SunrizerXS synth - BeepStreet

Sunrizer synth for iPad on the Sunrizer synth - BeepStreet

Cassini for iPhone CASSINI Synth for iPad - iceGear Cassini for iPad CASSINI Synth for iPad - iceGear

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32 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great app, one of my favorites, but i can’t figure out how to turn it off, it’s always on in the background. In the top bar of the ipad i see the info: BeatMaker 2 (Recording). Do you know how to quit the program, this also happens in other app’s?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

    • peter says:

      Thanks for this tutorial. Would you be able to follow up with how to get the audio from, say, Sunrizer or Animoog into the Beatmaker sequencer. Thanks,

      Peter

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • iOSMusician says:

        i’ll tweet to the developers now…

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        • peter says:

          What I figured out so far, is you have to record the audio in sunrizer, while you are sequencing the midi in BM2. Then you have to copy/paste the audio from sunrizer into an audio track in BM2. Does this make sense? Haven’t figured out how to sync the bpm for an arp yet.

          Thanks,
          Peter

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          • iOSMusician says:

            you don’t need to turn audio background off (that red bar at the top of the scree) to do this though

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  2. David Wilson-Okamura says:

    I tried this successfully with Sunrizer and Magellan. Is there a way to make it work with Animoog?

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    • iOSMusician says:

      Animoog requires a IAP (in app purchase) for MIDI now which probably includes virtual MIDI, so i’d assume so, anybody know for sure?

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    • peter says:

      Yes, it works, though I get a lot crackling in the animoog audio. Follow the instructions that you see here. Then, in Animoog, make sure background audio is on, and select BM2 in the midi inputs and make sure you are on the same midi channel you selected in BM2. Usually works, though this new update s buggy.

      Peter

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  3. Matthias says:

    Hi, i tryed this tutorial now for 3 hours and it doesen’t work. I made exactly the setup you show. I go crazy please help! Greets Matthias

    Why you take output midi chanel 2 and not 1?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Alan Beadle says:

    Excellent tutorial! I managed to get Beatmaker 2 to send midi to Magellan.

    A question….I went back into Magellan and changed the patch, but when I go back to Beatmaker, the original patch plays.

    Do I have to go through the set up again to change which sound Magellan plays?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was also wondering how to turn off the red bar on the top of my ipad, Beatmaker 2 (Recording), while im not using the program

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • iOSMusician says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s not possible

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Sam says:

        Yeah I’ve spent a reeeeeeally long time going through all the menus to try and figure this one out, I also thought that maybe disarming all the record lights on the tracks might do it but no joy with that either!

        It does seem like the only way to get rid of the red recording bar is to actually close Beatmaker 2 in the app tray. :-/

        Hopefully this will be fixed in an update… Just a record arm / disarm button somewhere would be perfect.

        Great tutorial btw :-)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Alan Beadle says:

      I had to look this up to.

      When you are on the iPad desktop screen, double-click the Home button. You should then see a list of icons for apps running in the background or in suspended mode. Press and hold any icon until a minus bar appears on the top left corner of each icon. They will also wiggle. Tap the minus bar for Beatmaker to close it.

      You may have other music apps open as well. Closing them when not in use should free up resources and may save power.

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    • Neil says:

      I’m getting the same problem. Have you found a solution yet? The only way I got rid of it was by shutting down the iPad. Hold down off button for a few seconds then restart. Not difficult but annoying….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. therefore says:

    Slightly askew from this topic but related. I’ve gotten most of this working but what I’d really like to to is sync to beat clock from a network MIDI connection from Pro Tools, so PT is the master. any way to do this? Possible? Any apps able to do it? If you could get one to do it then it could trigger others via Wist, etc.

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    • Sean says:

      why would you want to do that though? couldn’t you just export the project to a wav file and import to pro tools?

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      • therefore says:

        Because I want to lock up ios apps to PT so I can create sounds & rhythms on the fly to tracks already recorded in PT, just the way I do with other outboard hardware (synths, pedals, etc). I can’t find (yet) anywhere where someone has done this but it’s an obvious need. I’ve seen posts where it’s talked about going the other way (locking a DAW to the ios app acting as master clock).

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  7. Timbres says:

    I want to record a new solo piano project and bought Genome thinking it would allow real-time playing/recording of my performance but it’s mainly a step sequencer. Would BeatMaker 2 allow me to do this? Here’s my signal flow:

    StudioLogic SL-880 > iRig Midi > iPad 3 > BeatMaker(?) > iGrand Piano or SampleTank.

    Sequence is recorded and available for editing (note, velocity, sustain etc.), then audio is recorded into Nuendo DAW for final tweaking and processing.

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  8. Michael Darby says:

    Sean,

    Are you able to use this technique controlling Sampletank? I can get the MIDI notes flowing but Sampletank plays with awful distortion and crackling. If I record a performance from BM2 in Sampletank, then close BM2, Sampletank plays back OK but not before shutting down BM2.

    Do you have the same issue, assuming you have Sampletank?

    Best,
    Michael

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Alan Beadle says:

    One thing you could try is to go into Sampletank -> Settings and change the Dock Compatibility Mode from A to B (or B to A). This fixed a similar problem I had.

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  10. Sebastian says:

    Thanks as always for a great tutorial…couple questions:

    -Will this method word to control the midi i/o from the 3rd party synths themselves (rather than using the keyboard interface in BM2)?

    -You note in the introduction “…Or sequence several apps by using Genome Sequencer…” etc.

    Im confused, isnt the method with beatmaker doing that already? Why the necessity for Genome? Just fuzzy on why i would need that if youve detailed how to divvy up midi channel i/o with BM2 above. (to tell you the truth i dont like beatmaker but the workflow in Genome has been a total drag so i was looking for an alternative to sequence a bunch of apps at once, therefore i came here to check bm2 as a ‘lesser of two evils’ kind of solution)

    hope that makes sense lol, and thanks again!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Asaf says:

    HI,
    I’m trying to connect my Roland SPD 20 drum pads so I can play them and use beat maker sounds, but I just can’t seem to make the connection right with the Beat Maker 2. I followed your directions, but something is wrong- what am I missing?
    Thanks for the wonderful tutor :)

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