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StudioMini XL 2.

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! ! ! ! ! User Manual
Copyright Fantastocrats © 2010. All rights reserved.

Under the copyright laws, this manual may not be copied, in whole or
in part, without the written consent of Fantastocrats.

This manual can also be found in the Guide


section of our website, where you can download
and add it to iBooks:

http://www.studiomini.me

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Contents
Introduction to Multitrack Recording! 4
StudioMini XL Main Interface! 6
Main Controls! 6

Faders! 7

Record Enable, Mute, Solo & Loops Buttons! 8

Meters! 10

Track Delete! 11

Song Title & Time Display! 11

Tab Bar! 12

Recording Techniques! 19
Built-in Microphone! 19

Audio Input Through Headphone Jack! 20

Audio Input through Camera Connection Kit! 21

Recording Example! 22
Equipment! 23

Connecting Everything! 24

Recording Sessions! 25

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Introduction to Multitrack Recording

Multitrack recording refers to an audio recording method that is the


standard for recording music and producing professional quality
results. The process was invented in the 1950s and quickly became
the technique by which nearly all music has been recorded and
produced since.

In the pre-digital era music was recorded on tape. Areas of tape were
designated as “tracks”, which were separate channels where audio
was recorded. These tracks could be recorded onto at the same time,
or recorded separately.

For example, if the tape is separated into 4 tracks there could be a


microphone picking up a singer being recorded on track 1. Another
microphone could pick up the drummer on track 2, another could pick
up the bass player on track 3 and another mic could pick up the
guitar on track 4. If the band is playing at the same time the recording
could happen simultaneously on all 4 separate tracks. This is the way
live albums are recorded.

Alternately, the drummer could be recorded first on track 2. Then,


while listening back to the drum track the bass player could be
recorded on track 3. The guitar player could go next and while
listening to bass and drums on tracks 3 & 2 he could “lay down” his
guitar part on track 4. Finally the singer could go into a vocal isolation
booth and while listening back to the rhythm section on tracks 2, 3 &

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4 record the vocal performance on track 1, creating the complete
song. This is the preferred method for recording studio albums,
allowing the producers, musicians, and engineers to focus their
attention on one performance at a time.

Finally when all the recording and production is finished, these


multiple tracks are mixed down to 2 tracks with a mixer, producing the
final Stereo sound recording. A mixer unitʼs basic function is to adjust
each trackʼs output level in order to blend everything together.

In the digital era weʼre no longer recording on tape, but the basic
concepts are the same. We record audio on separate tracks and
finish by mixing them all down to a single stereo file. What only a
couple of decades ago required a professional studio full of audio
gear costing thousands of dollars you can now do with StudioMini XL
on your iPad! And StudioMini XL does a lot more, keep reading to find
out all the cool things you can do with it.

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StudioMini XL Main Interface

StudioMini XL is an 8 track recording studio that runs on your iPad.


Considering that almost all of their albums were recorded using 4
track machines, imagine what the Beatles would have thought of
StudioMini XL running on an iPad!

Main Controls

From right to left, we have the Record button, Stop button, Play/

Pause button, Timeline slider and Repeat button.

The Record button begins recording on that track. Only one track at a
time can be recorded onto at a time. The iPad has a single mono
input, either through the built-in Microphone or through the input
accessed by the headphone jack.

The Stop button stops playback or recording and returns the song to
the beginning.

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The Play button begins playback. During playback it lights up and
becomes a Pause button, allowing you to pause playback in order to
continue playing from that exact point.

The Timeline slider moves as the song progresses during playback.


You can move it to shift to any point in the song.

The Repeat button repeats the current song indefinitely.

Faders

There are 9 Faders. The first 8 correspond to the 8 audio tracks you
can record onto. The 9th track is for Loops. Moving the Faders

adjusts their corresponding track volumes, balancing the various


tracks to get the ideal mix.

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Record Enable, Mute, Solo & Loops Buttons

Record Enable buttons, marked by an R, are how you set up a track


for recording. You press the R on the track you want to record onto,
and then youʼre able to press the Record button to begin recording on
the track.

Mute buttons mute audio output on their corresponding tracks.

Solo buttons mute all un-soloed tracks.

To avoid confusion Mute and Solo buttons cannot be used at the


same time.

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The Loops button lets you access the bundled audio loops. This is
how you select a Loop to play along with. There is a Metronome,
along with 78 drum grooves in various styles to choose from.

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When Record Enable, Mute, Solo and Loops buttons are not
accessible they appear darker. Buttons become disabled like this at
times to maintain proper operation.

Meters

Meters are calibrated to dynamically display each tracksʼ volume


output level. They also display the input volume level of a track during
recording, which will help you make adjustments to capture the
perfect sound.

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Track Delete

Swipe vertically directly where the meter for the track you want to
delete is located.

Song Title & Time Display

This is where the song title is displayed. Touching here brings up the
keyboard letting you title the current song. On the right side is a time
display.

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Tab Bar

There are 8 buttons in the Tab Bar. Letʼs look at them from left to
right:

1. New
Press this to create a new song. It will save the current song and
load a brand new one.

2. Copy
This will create a copy of the current song, while keeping a saved
version of the original.

3. Sync
This button will bring up the Sync window, which is where you go
to download your songs to your computer, upload audio files
from your computer into StudioMini XL, and to create and share
final mixes of your song.

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i. Download Audio Files
a) Wi-Fi Sync: Make sure you’re connected to the same
Wi-Fi router as your computer. On your PC or Mac start
any web browser and type in the http address from the
screen. Then select audio files to download to your
desktop.

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b) iTunes File Sharing: Connect your device with your
computer through USB and start iTunes. Select your
device from the left pane and then select “Apps” on the
top tab. Scroll down and you will see StudioMini XL
under File Sharing. Select the Songs folder and “Save
to...”

ii.Mixdown
You can choose “mix” to create a mixed audio file in
either WAV or AAC format. This file is then available for
iTunes File Sharing or Wi-Fi Sync.
Choose “email” to create a mixed audio file and attach it
to an email to send out right from your device.

AAC is a compressed format similar to mp3. It can be


opened with Quicktime on either a Mac or a Windows PC.
In order to import it into iTunes or Garageband choose
“Save As” from within Quicktime and select iPhone as
the destination format.

WAV is a larger file since it is uncompressed high quality


audio. WAV is easier to work with because it is a
universal format read by virtually every OS and audio
program out there.

iii.IMPORT AUDIO FILES


Follow the instructions for iTunes File Sharing from
above. This time select “Add...” and then upload your
files. Audio files must be in the WAV format. Then on the

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previous Sync screen choose “Import” and a list of your
files will appear. Select one, hit next and then choose
which track you want the file placed on.

4. Notes
Brings up the Notes window, where you can type out lyrics,
notes, chord progressions etc. You can access this window
during playback and during recording, so you can enter notes
while you listen back, or read out lyrics and chord progressions
while you record.

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5. Songs
Takes you to a window with a scrollable list of your songs. You
can load a different song or delete a song by swiping across itʼs
title.

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6. Tuner
The Tuner window has 12 buttons that produce all 12 chromatic
pitches. There is also a picker wheel for referencing different
tunings.

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7. Input

This is where you enable Stereo Recording. Turning the switch


on enables the feature, but only when available. Why only then?
Because the iPadʼs built in mic and the audio input through the
headphone jack are mono. However if you have a stereo USB
audio interface (like a Griffin iMic) plugged into the iPad through
the Camera Connection Kit, then StudioMini XL will detect and
use it (if the switch is on). This is useful if youʼre connecting
external gear to record, like drum machines, samplers, synths
etc. Most instrument and vocal tracking (recording) is done in
mono though, so if youʼre using a single mic, e.g. for vocals or
guitar, then leave the switch off and StudioMini XL will ignore the
available stereo input and record in mono.

8. Help

The Help window has a Quick Start guide, the StudioMini XL


User Manual, a direct email link, and an info button.

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Recording Techniques
Make sure to check out our websitesʼ Guide section for a series
of videos going over various recording setups.

http://www.studiomini.me

Built-in Microphone

Fundamentally important to recording with the built-in mic is that


you use headphones. There needs to be a clear separation
between what the mic is picking up and what you are listening to.
Letʼs look at an example: Youʼve written a great new song and
you want to record it. Youʼve picked a Loop that has the perfect
drum groove for your song, and will use that to keep you in time.
You plan to record yourself playing guitar on track 1, then record
yourself singing a lead vocal melody on track 2, and finally add a
backup vocal part on track 3. Without headphones that drum
groove would be played by the speaker, and then be picked up
by the microphone while you recorded your guitar part on track 1.
You donʼt want a blend of guitar and drums, You want a clean
guitar performance on track 1. The way to do this is to use
headphones while recording.

Also very important are your position relative to the microphone,


and your performance volume. iOS devices donʼt allow access to
the input level, so if you need more or less volume on the input
signal you need to adjust your position relative to the mic, and/or

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adjust the volume of your instrument/voice. Take a look at the
chart below showing you where the microphone is located.

Continuing the above example, now you have a great guitar part
recorded and you want to get your lead vocal down. You can
hold the device in your hand and do a couple of test runs to get
the positioning right for a good signal level. You donʼt want a
level that is too “hot” because that will produce distortion. If
youʼre singing loudly and put the mic up to your mouth this will
most likely be the case. You also donʼt want a faint signal, where
you have the device on the other side of the room and youʼre
singing softly. It takes some trial and error experimentation, but
the results are well worth the effort.

Audio Input Through Headphone Jack

There is also an audio input accessed from the headphone jack.


The headphone jack is not an ordinary one, which you can tell by
looking at the plug on the cable from an Apple iPhone headset.
Youʼll notice that there are 3 lines on the plug, where usually
headphones only have 2. This in known as a TRRS connector.
These 3 distinct parts are separated as: 1 for audio input, and 2
for stereo audio output. Having direct access to the devicesʼ
audio input like this is a huge advantage because it means you
can record with any microphone, as long as you connect to the
audio input correctly.

There are some complexities and things that need to be done


right to get good results with this technique. There are different

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types of microphones out there, with different connectors and
different requirements. Connecting a microphone directly to your
device wonʼt work for a few different reasons. Most mics donʼt
have 1/8” plugs, and even if you found one that does (or you
bought an adaptor) you wouldnʼt have access to the audio output
then. Also any decent quality mic will require pre-amplification
from somewhere, and the level of this pre-amplification needs to
be adjustable so you can get just the right input level.

The obvious choice here is to use a hardware mixer to help out.


A small hardware mixer alongside your iPad can give you a
complete pro recording setup:
a) Mic preamp (microphone preamplifier) for your mic, or other
audio device you want to connect to the mixer. In addition,
professional condenser mics need phantom power, which
you can also get from a mixer. This gives you studio quality
sound and precise control over the input level.
b) Monitoring: by blending the audio output from your iOS
device with the mic input within the mixer you can get the
right headphone monitor balance between the tracks
youʼre listening back to and your performance.

Audio Input through Camera Connection Kit

The final method for getting audio in and out of the iPad is by using
Appleʼs Camera Connection Kit along with a USB audio interface.
Keep in mind that this is not an official method for connecting gear,
and some future iOS update may not allow it any longer. The Camera
Connection Kit gives you a USB input into the iPad, and there are a

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select number of audio interfaces that work well with the iPad. We
have gotten great results from the Griffin iMic and the Shure x2u, but
of course you can do your own research and experiment with other
interfaces. They are not guaranteed to work however, and if they
donʼt it does not mean that itʼs StudioMini XLʼs fault, since these
connections have to do with how devices interact with the operating
system. The recording audio quality using this method is far better
than using the headphone jack input.

Recording Example
How would you connect all this and record a song? Letʼs take a
look at a recording scenario and how you could apply these
techniques:

Youʼve just finished writing a song youʼre very excited about and
want to record it with StudioMini XL, mix it, and email it to a
record label rep you recently met; all from your iPad. Youʼve
picked out a Loop that feels right for your song, and you have a
bass player and trumpet player that will play on your song. Your
plan is to:

1) record a guitar part with your Les Paul, played through a


Fender Princeton Reverb amp
2) record a bass line
3) record your lead vocal
4) record a trumpet solo for the final part of the song

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Equipment

What you will need:

1. Mixer - There are plenty of mixers out there to choose from,


many inexpensive and portable. Features it must have:
• at least one mic preamp (ideally with phantom power)
• AUX Send (FX Send)

2. Microphone - There are 2 types of microphones to consider,


Dynamic and Condenser.
Dynamic mics are cheaper, more rugged, and are less
susceptible to feedback. This is the type of mic most often used
for live performances. In the studio they are used on electric
guitar amps, bass amps, drums and horns. You can use a good
dynamic mic on anything. Audio engineering is a whole art and
science with many choices coming down to the desired results
and personal preference.

Condenser mics can be fairly expensive. The are very sensitive


and relatively delicate. They usually need extra power from the
mixer, phantom power. Condenser mics are the most often used
mics in pro studios, especially on vocals, acoustic guitars and
generally anything nuanced.

3. Camera Connection Kit & iMic - You can use other USB audio
interfaces, but research and trial and error experimentation
may be needed to find which ones work with the iPad.

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4. 1/8” male to 1/4” male cable - You could instead use an 1/8” to
1/8” male to male cable and then use a 1/4” female to male
adapter on one end.

5. Headphones - You can use any headphones, for example


your Apple headphones. There are better pro headphone
options out there and we suggest studio headphones that fit
over the ears.

Connecting Everything

1) Plug the mic into a mixer channel. Go with channel 1 or 2,


since they will most likely have a preamp. If itʼs a condenser mic
make sure to turn your mixerʼs phantom power on.

2) Plug the Camera Connection Kit adapter into the iPad and
then plug the iMic into that.

3) Plug the 1/8” plug into the iMicʼs input jack and the 1/4” plug
into your mixerʼs AUX Send.

4) Plug your headphones into the iMicʼs output jack.

Thatʼs it! That wasnʼt too bad, right?

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Recording Sessions

Now for the actual recording sessions.

Track 1 - Electric guitar


First get your sound together. Play around for a bit and make
sure everything sounds good to you. Then take your microphone
and place it near your amp. If itʼs a dynamic mic place it right up
to the amp, if itʼs a condenser mic place it a few feet away. Then
do a couple of test recordings to help you adjust all the levels on
the mixer. The channel you have your mic plugged into has a
preamp with a mic gain and a fader for the overall channel level.
Also your mixer channel has a knob for how much volume from
the channel you want to send to the AUX Send, which in turn is
going into your iPad. You need to find the right balance between
mic gain, channel volume and how much signal youʼre sending
from that channel to the AUX Send. Itʼs important to do a few test
recordings. While you record note StudioMini XLʼs meter for the
track being recorded onto. You want a signal that is strong
enough to hit green, but not so strong that itʼs constantly hitting
red. Listen back also to make sure everything sounds good.
Once youʼve found the perfect balance youʼre ready to record!

Track 2 - Bass
You have a friend that is an awesome bass player and sheʼs
going to play bass on your song. Plug her bass directly into the
mixer and follow the same steps as above. Electric bass (unlike
electric guitar) can sound great plugged in directly like this.

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Track 3 - Vocals

Follow similar steps to what you did for recording guitar.

Track 4 - Trumpet

Now letʼs say that you know a great jazz trumpet player and
youʼve talked him into playing a solo on your song. But he
doesnʼt have a lot of time and the only chance to record him is at
his practice room. You donʼt want to deal with mics and the
mixer, and you want to record him with your iPad. Trumpet can
get pretty loud, and remember that the iPad doesnʼt have a
preamp control like a mixer. The only way to make sure the
signal isnʼt loud too “hot” and distort is to adjust the position of
the iPad mic. You will need headphones with a long enough
cable, or an extension cord for them. You need the trumpet
player to be able to hear what heʼs playing over, and at the same
time you need to be free to move the iPad around to get the
perfect sound.

Once youʼre done recording itʼs time to mix. Adjust all the faders
in StudioMini XL to get the perfect balance, then choose Sync-
Email and your finished song is off to that record label rep you
want to impress!

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