With the appearance and proliferation of iOS devices on the music scene, quality, portability and affordability are now a happy reality for the recording musician on the go. With their StudioConnect, Griffin aggressively asserts itself into that market with a stylish, solid all-in-one interface at an extremely competitive price.
Mount a Charge
The iPad sits securely and comfortably in the StudioConnect's rubber'"lined dock, where the 30'"pin dock connector can be attached. All audio and MIDI data from iPad to the interface and back are handled via this connection, as well as the charging of the iPad. Units with a Lightening connector for later model iPads are also available from Griffin. I found the angle that my iPad rests in the dock very convenient for playing and viewing the iPad's screen.
Connect and Create
Griffin has combined their expertise as manufacturer of both their GuitarConnect Pro and MIDIConnect into the versatility and ease of use of the StudioConnect. Modern digital musicians have everything they need here. On the unit's rear panel are standard 5 '" pin DIN MIDI in and out, 1/4" mono and 1/8" stereo inputs, Stereo RCA line-level outs, and a power input jack for the supplied adapter. A USB port would have been a nice addition, but MIDI to USB cables are very inexpensive and widely available.
In the front of the unit is the stylish, large volume control, illuminated by an encircling purple LED. This independently controls the volume of the 1/8" headphone out. Its size and location allows the user convenient and efficient control of output. And, neatly tucked away on the right side is the input gain control for the rear panel inputs. At 24-bit, 48 kHz sound, the Studio Connect provides excellent sound quality for the price.
An Enjoyable User Experience
Griffin shipped me a unit to test out that came very neatly and efficiently packaged. Unboxing and connecting the unit was very simple, and I found myself using the interface with my iPad in no time. The small yet sturdy frame of the device gave me the confidence to put it right on the front of my MacBook Pro; it's rubberized base providing sure-footed traction. All input/output ports felt solid and secure. I tried several apps while testing the StudioConnect; GarageBand, Animoog, MIDI Synth, Audiobus, MIDI Touch, and several others, using them to output audio and send and receive MIDI. Everything worked well and sounded good. I experienced no noticeable latency. I was able to send audio from an external source into the rear panel inputs and record that into GarageBand. Audiobus recognized StudioConnect both as input and output sources. The unit's headphone and RCA stereo outs sounded clean and provided plenty of power.
As some of you may know from reading my other articles here, I teach music to Special Needs students. I travel from class to class every day, thereby making portability and a quick setup essential. The StudioConnect has proven to be a perfect addition to my gear. My students love the modern look, and how the iPad, when mounted on the StudioConnect, can sit on their desks for easy playability. Their line of sight is much higher than when I just put the iPad on the surface of their desks, so they can see me much more easily. I love how we're ready to go in just one or two connections. Many of my students were able to make the connections themselves with very little assistance.
So, the same carefully thought out features that make this great for today's digital musicians also meet my needs as a music educator. All in all, Griffin's StudioConnect is a real winner, with a price point that makes it a nice fit for anybody's budget.