Alesis iO Dock - Getting the best performance and signal possible

In this article, we share some tips on getting the best performance and signal possible while recording with the Alesis iO Dock.

 

Performance tips

  1. Make sure you are running the latest iPad iOS, the latest iO Dock firmware, and the latest version of any recording apps you plan to use.

    As of this posting, the latest versions available are:
    • iOS 5.1
    • iO Dock firmware 1.0.7
    • Garage Band 1.2
       
  2. After updating your iOS, or GarageBand, if you experience any unusual behaivor in GarageBand, reset the app by performing the following:
    1. From the iPad home screen, select Settings.
    2. In the left-hand pane of the Settings app, scroll down until you can see the  Apps section. 
    3. Find and touch GarageBand in the list of apps to open its settings.
    4. Turn Crosstalk Protection to OFF.  This setting applies only to device that connect to the iPad's headphone jack, and not to the Alesis iO Dock.
    5. If anything in the app is acting strange after an update, or if you just want to reset the app to its original state, set Reset GarageBand to ON.
       
  3. You want to be sure your iPad doesn’t get distracted by email or Facebook notifications or by nearby Bluetooth devices while you are in the middle of a recording.

    From the home screen, select Settings and turn Airplane Mode to ON.  This will disable both Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, and will ensure that your music app gets uninterrupted access to your iPad’s processor.
     
  4. Be sure to quit any other open applications.  For a walkthrough on quitting background apps, see the following video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWQBjt95AY

 

Getting the best signal possible

GarageBand has many meters and volume sliders.  Only one actually shows you your peak audio input level (see below).  Use this level meter as your sole reference when setting the input level knob on the rear of the iO Dock. 

Your goal when setting the input level is to accurately capture the performance with a good signal level, but without clipping or reaching the right side of the input level meter (0dB).

GarageBand Input Level Meter - use this meter alone when setting your input gain
 

 

Guitar Tracks

When you double-tap on a track icon, to zoom into a track you will see other level meters (see below).  On tracks with virtual amplifiers (i.e. guitar tracks), the meters on this screen are 'output meters’ and are affected by the virtual amp’s knob settings in the software.  Because of this, this meter is not a reliable guide to setting your input gain on the rear of the iO Dock.  Instead, use only the input level meter (light purple arrow above) as a guide when setting levels.

GarageBand output level meter - do NOT use this as a reference when setting your input gain.
 

 

Vocal Tracks

On vocal tracks there is no virtual amp to worry about affecting your perceived level.  However, the VU meter (see below) on the GarageBand audio recorder measures average, rather than peak level, so it’s also not a great reference for setting input levels.  If anything, it may lead you to set the input gain too high. The input meter on the main GarageBand window (light purple arrow above) is also your best reference when setting mic levels as well.

 

GarageBand VU Meter - do NOT use this as a reference when setting your input gain
 

 

General

With input settings and headphone volume setting accounted for, there are still some other considerations that affect noise during monitoring:

When monitoring input during recording, make sure to turn down the iO Dock gain knob on any inputs you aren’t actively recording so you aren’t monitoring preamp noisefloor from inputs you aren’t using.

Generally, you’ll turn the Direct switch OFF when recording guitars (since you’ll want to hear the virtual amp) output only.  

If you choose to leave the Direct switch ON while recording microphones, you may want to turn down the track volume slider in GarageBand so that you are not monitoring the signal twice (once through the iO Dock Direct Monitor, and once again through GarageBand), causing you to hear double the noisefloor as well.

 

Balancing your headphone mix

Once your input level is set properly using the input level meter as your sole reference (light purple arrow above), then balance the volume of other tracks, and your headphone volume to create a headphone mix that is balanced with your input signal.

Do not adjust your input signal to try to match the level of pre-recorded tracks, or based on what you hear in the headphones.  The input is set solely based on the signal on the input level meter.

After recording is finished rebalance the tracks again into a final mix-down.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of apps work with the composite VIDEO OUTPUT?

YouTube, iTunes, and Netflix, among others.


Certain (but not all) iPad apps have been designed to take advantage of the iPad iOS available video output. Apps which support this feature can output their video stream to an external monitor instead of to the iPad. The built-in iTunes and YouTube apps support this, so you can watch movies and videos on these apps on an external monitor or screen. A recent update to the Netflix app has brought this feature to Netflix users as well. Note though that this feature, and the app-specific support is supported on both the iPad 1 and iPad 2, and is a different technology from the newly announced Digital AV Adapter (iPad 2 only).

A firmware was released for the Alesis iO Dock. Firmware v.1.07, improves MIDI performance, and allows users to switch on/off the Video Output. This new firmware can be downloaded from the product's dedicated support page here.

 

Why does Input 2 record in GarageBand, but not Input 1?

You may need to change the input recording preferences within GarageBand. In the Audio Recorder, tap the Input icon on the top left corner. In the menu that appears, you will be able to choose which input (Left Channel, Right Channel, or Stereo) that GarageBand will record from.

 
How can I confirm that my iPad is docked and recognizes the iODOCK?

Insert the iPad to the iO Dock. Power the iO Dock. Power the iPad. Tap Settings > General > About. You should now see Alesis iO Dock in the list towards the bottom. If the iO Dock is not in this list, your iPad is not recognizing the iO Dock.

 

How does the footswitch input work?

The footswitch actually has two functions. You can connect one or two standard keyboard sustain pedal to the footswitch input. To connect two pedals, use a Dual 1/4" TS to 1/4" TRS y adapter. It is up to the app whether or not to support the footswitch input. The two functions are:

  1. Transmits toggle MIDI start (250) / MIDI Stop (252)
  2. Transmits momentary MIDI CC #63


Note that the Apple GarageBand app does not support the footswitch. Another app that does support the footswitch input is Everyday Looper.

 

Related Resources

 

Technical Support & Warranty Service

Visit Alesis online: Each product has a dedicated support page on the website where you can find manuals, specifications, software updates, drivers and troubleshooting guides: www.alesis.com

Contact by Phone: 401-658-5760

Hours of Operation: 8:30 AM - 6:30 PM EST Monday through Friday (except holidays).

Contact by emailwww.alesis.com/support