Mixing, transport, and other shortcuts now appear on Apple mobiles with the newest version of MOTU’s Digital Performer (DP) DAW on Mac. Photos courtesy MOTU.

First-party touch control is gradually coming to big-name DAWs. There are plenty of third-party applications that allow control of music software, but until now, we’ve only seen Cubase iC from Steinberg for native control. Anyone who was betting Apple would be first for GarageBand or Logic, guess again – following Cubase over one year earlier, MOTU Digital Performer now comes with bi-directional mixing, transport, and editing features. (This should come as little surprise after MOTU added native OpenSoundControl support to their flagship Digital Audio Workstation.)

Correction: In the original version of this story, I suggested that MOTU DP Control was the “first” first-party app to offer native iOS touch control support, which is patently wrong. Steinberg’s Cubase iC absolutely deserves that honor, as noted by Chris Randall. I apologize for the mistake – it illustrates that, in over a year, no one other than Steinberg has entered this area, satisfied to leave it to third-party developers. MOTU does deserve to be the first major commercial DAW with OSC control, however, meaning one difference between the Cubase implementation and DP implementation is the fact that it’s accessible from any hardware or software that uses OSC. (Previously, that was true only of the open source DAW Ardour.)

In a wisely generous gesture, MOTU has released the control app for free for customers of DP 7.2 and up (as is Cubase iC also free, incidentally).

The app looks quite nice. I doubt that it’ll fully replace motorized control surfaces, but it doesn’t have to – even if you own such a control surface, having a handheld additional controller can be quite convenient.

DP users have expressed a desire to control more than the current OSC API allows, so I expect they’ll be vocal about what should be in a future release of this app. In the meantime, though, there’s access to quite a lot of the functionality you need. From MOTU’s feature list:

  • Real two-way communication: changes made in DP Control are immediately reflected in DP, and vice versa.
  • Editable time counter with selectable format (including real-time, SMPTE time, samples, and marker names).
  • Main transport control and many other transport-related Control Panel functions (click, countoff, memory-cycle, etc.)
  • Page-controlled, scrollable mixer with animated, recordable pan knobs and volume sliders, plus level meters and peak indicators.
  • Solo, Mute, Record-enable, Play automation, Record automation and automation mode settings for each track.
  • Track list for the host DP project, complete with collapsable nested track folders and dynamically linked track organization that matches the currently open DP project on the host Mac.
  • Infinite undo, with the ability to step through the next and previous tasks in the host DP project undo history.
  • Marker creation and naming.
  • New Take, Previous Take, and Next Take functions that operate on all of the record-enabled tracks at once (essential for tracking drums).
  • Take selection, by name, for individual tracks. Also New Take, Delete Take, and Rename Take for the current take on any individual track.
  • Save function for saving changes made to the DP document.

Full details:
DP Control App

Of course, it’s one thing to read about software on paper. DP users, let us know how this works in practice, especially since you’ll be able to grab it for free if you own an iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone.

  • Wantless

    Pretty sad that MOTU manages to bring this to the table before Apple manages to make any iPod/Phone/Pad control app for their own Logic…

  • CPRoth

    As a DP user since '99, I say YESSSSSSSS!

  • http://www.analogindustries.com Chris Randall

    Hmmm. "[...] until now, we’ve waited to see a major production app developer release their own control tool."

    I'm gonna go ahead and disagree with your detective work, there, Peter. Cubase iC, written and released by Steinberg, has been available since fall of last year.

    http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/sounds_acces

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Chris: You're right; I'm completely wrong, as a quick search of my *own site* would have revealed. My statement would only have been correct if I said "major production app developer with 'of the unicorn' in their name."

  • kev

    This app is deep! Completely amazing for DP users (like myself)… Being able to simultaneously change takes for multiple tracks and to undo (and view the undo history) from the phone are really powerful features. MOTU hit a grand slam with this.

  • http://www.gunboatdiplomacy.com justin

    this is cool. but i won't upgrade my DP because of some new themes and an iphone app. i watched the video and a couple things occurred to me: the app isn't scaled for the ipad yet, and there is no way i'd rather type in marker names on my iphone than on my keyboard. and aren't there a couple apps for ipad out there already that do wireless mixing via the HUI protocol?

    the biggest news out of this update is the right-click menus in terms of actual everyday usage. everything is just blinkenlights.

  • Juan

    so I have a touchscreen, and I´ve been searching the whole web for software like this to be runn on the native Mac OSX system but I haven´t have any luck.

    maybe could be a way of running these apps on Mac OSX?

  • androidmedia

    DP is WAY behind in terms of real-time MIDI control over AudioUnit plug-ins, or plug ins of ANY sort. I'm not talking about automation! Regardless to what MIDI device used, at this point, you can pretty much forget about using your knobs/faders/buttons to control the program. I would like to see MOTU follow Ableton's Path, and allow MIDI control over plug in parameters. Put THIS onto an iPad, and I'll buy.