10 Jun 2020
New Audient iD14? Lucky you! Here’s a plan to sound-check it on an iPad and a Windows PC.
The iD14 is a USB-based audio interface (a.k.a. an audio-to-digital-converter or ADC) with 2 built-in microphone preamps attached to its XLR input ports.
It’s “class compliant,” which means that iOS devices like iPhones and iPads automatically recognize it as a source of sound.
Disclaimer: I am writing this whole post based on my experiences plugging a totally different USB audio interface into iPads and PCs. Hopefully it holds true for the iD14. I’ll find out soon enough, and update this post, when a friend tries to follow these steps and tells me how they go.
🔌 Plug the male cord of the white Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter, which I’ll hereafter refer to by its nickname, the “CCK” (after its former product name of “Camera Connection Kit”), into the iPad’s charging port.
🔌 Using the USB cable packaged with the iD14, plug the iD14 into the large female USB port of the CCK.
🔌 Using the white lightning/USB power cable that came with your iPad, plug powered-on Anker-style battery pack into the small female lightning port of the CCK.
This will give the iPad, and through it the iD14, 5V power, which is plenty for making the iD14’s ADC and monitoring functions work.
🚫 Don’t bother plugging the iD14 into the wall for this test. That’s for giving it 12V power, which it only needs when you’re using its preamp. Leave that for a later test.
🔌 Plug a pair of headphones into the monitor port of the iD14.
🔌 Using an appropriate cable, plug a soundmaker into the Audient that does not need amplification.
🚫 Make sure that the “+48V” toggle for both “input 1” & “input 2” is off (looks like that means flipped to the left).
- Use a soundmaker whose sound won’t “bleed” into the range of the iPad’s built-in microphone, so that you can be sure your iPad is picking the sound up through the Audient and not the iPad’s own microphone.
- Use something that you can “see” make sound by putting it in front of the iPad’s camera, for the purpose of latency-checking.
Electric guitars or Youtube videos played from your smartphone are excellent sources of “live sound.”
- For a guitar, aim the iPad camera at yourself.
- For YouTube, aim the iPad camera at the smartphone screen.
📱 Open the Larix Broadcaster app on the iPad.
🔄 Flip the camera if necessary to watch the source of sound so that you can have a sense of how the decibel meter should be moving.
🎸 Play the guitar, a YouTube video, etc.
📏 Confirm that Larix Broadcaster’s decibel meter is moving with the source of sound plugged into the iD14, not whatever is going on in the room that the iPad’s built-in microphone would be positioned to pick up.
👏🏾 Clap loudly near the iPad’s built-in microphone in a rhythm your Audient should not be able to detect easily and make sure that Larix Broadcaster’s decibel meter does not spike alongside your claps.
- If Larix Broadcaster’s decibel meter is synced with the iPad mic, unplug the CCK from the iPad and plug it back in again and wait 5 seconds. Better now?
iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad have a tendency to recognize their most-recently-plugged-in source of sound as the “system sound” most apps will rely upon.
🎧 Confirm that you hear the sound you expect through the headphones plugged into the iD14’s monitoring port?
🎉 Move on to the next test if everything worked well.
📱 Open the camera app on the iPad.
🎥 Set the camera app to “video” mode and hit “record.” Record 10 seconds of yourself playing guitar, or 10 of the screen of your smartphone playing Youtube (while having its headphone jack connected to the Audient). Hit “stop.”
🔌 Unplug the CCK from the iPad’s charging port and play back the video to make sure you’re happy with A/V sync and with the sound quality from the iD14. You should hear sound over the iPad’s speakers.
If you’re already having technical difficulties, you need to troubleshoot the iD14 or contact the vendor who sold it to you ASAP!
One nuisance with the iOS operating system used by iPads is that once you’ve plugged in a “sound input” device through the charging port, you have no way of hearing anything else going on on the iPad – e.g. your video playback.
Unfortunately, iOS just doesn’t seem to be smart enough to figure out what you want to do if you, say, plug an iD14 into its charging port and a pair of headphones into its headphone jack.
Note that this means you should be able to use the iD14 to improve the sound of non-interactive livestreams such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live when broadcasting from your iPad, but that you wouldn’t be able to do so for a Zoom or Skype or Hangouts call because you wouldn’t be able to hear anyone else talk.
🔌 Plug the CCK from the iPad’s charging port, switch back to the Larix Broadcaster app on the iPad, and repeat the first test to make sure the iPad is still picking up sound from the Audient and not its built-in microphone, now that you’ve been playing with unplugging and replugging cables.
🔌 Plug the iD14 into the wall using the power cable it came with.
🔌 Plug an unamplified microphone into an XLR jack on the iD14 and flip the appropriate input’s “+48V” toggle is flipped on.
🎤 Make some noise into the studio mic that would be difficult for the built-in iPad mic to pick up (e.g. whisper closely into it).
📏 Confirm that the decibel meter in Larix Broadcaster indicates the iD14 is sending studio microphone sound to the iPad at appropriate amplified levels. rather than the iPad picking up your voice on its own?
👏🏾 Power off your studio microphone on the microphone itself. Clap loudly near the iPad’s built-in microphone and make sure that Larix Broadcaster’s decibel meter does not spike in time with your claps.
- If you are not getting the results you expect, and if the guitar is still plugged into the iD14, unplug the guitar.
- Especially if you plugged the microphone into input 1 and the guitar into DI on the front – they’re both “input 1” and the DI input trumps the XLR input!
- If you had been playing with “optical” input to the iD14, unplug that too if you need to troubleshoot.
- You can also try unplugging and replugging the CCK’s connection to the iPad’s charging port to make the iPad “notice” your iD14 again.
Other than specialized apps, my understanding is that iPads ignore sound signals beyond the first two “channels” from multichannel ADCs like the iD14.
If you are having trouble, unplugging and replugging things may trick the iPad into paying attention to the iD14 channel that your studio microphone is plugged into.
If you’d like, you can make another short video recording to double-check that you like the sound quality that the Audient is transmitting to your iPad.
🧹 Power everything down, unplug the iD14 from the CCK, unplug the iD14 from wall power, and move the iPad and CCK and spare battery pack out of the way.
🧹 Simplify and unplug all audio inputs to the iD14 except the guitar/smartphone you used for the first test. Flip off any preamps that you had turned on.
🔌 If your computer is a laptop and low on battery, plug it into wall power.
🔌 Plug the iD14 into your computer via one of the computer’s USB ports.
💻 Give Windows a moment to “install drivers” or whatever it feels like it needs to do in reaction to having the iD14 plugged into it.
- With any luck, Windows will automatically recognize the iD14 as a potential source of sound input. See if it does.
- Even if it does, you may still need to install special software from Audient (be careful to decline any bundled bloatware the installer might offer) to fully control the meanings of the knobs on your iD14 and to install proper “Windows ASIO drivers” to get all 11 channels available through the iD14 as distinct input source options, but for now just see what happens when you plug it in and don’t install special-purpose software.
💻 Open Audacity software.
Close to the top, below the record/play buttons and above the timestamps bar, drop down the picklist to the right of the microphone icon and see if anything that looks like it might be the Audient appears as a possible input. Pick that one.
Toward the top right, to the right of the record/play buttons and some icons such as for search, click the microphone icon next to a decibel meter. Click “Start Monitoring.”
🎤 Make some noise into the studio equipment attached to your iD14 that would be difficult for the built-in computer mic to pick up.
📏 Confirm that the decibel meter in Audacity indicates the iD14 is sending studio equipment sound to the computer as expected.
👏🏾 Unplug your studio equipment from the iD14 or power it off. Clap loudly near the computer’s built-in microphone and make sure that Audacity’s decibel meter does not spike in time with your claps.
Okay, now comes all the hard stuff.
It’s probably time to install special software from Audient, learn how to use it, etc.
Make sure you record some things (e.g. with Audacity) and listen back to them. Are you getting any weird noises that you need to troubleshoot, either in configuring your iD14 or the “drivers” and settings on your computer?
Beyond that, I’ll leave it up to you – enjoy some late nights poring over internet audio geek forums. Welcome to the world of beating your head against the wall trying to get audio softare & audio hardware working together perfectly. Or so I hear.
- If you’re planning on making professional studio recordings, start thinking about proper Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. Audacity is free and nice for a sound check, but you probably want at least the $60 Reaper software and perhaps want several-hundred-dollar software like Cubase or ProTools.
- If you’re livestreaming from your PC, you’ll want to brush up on getting your sound the way you like it in software like OBS Studio (and assorted plugins), NDI Tools, etc.
Good luck and enjoy learning to master your new toy!