Griid Pro Update and Cliip for iPad Review

A world-first in controllers, Cliip allows you to create and edit MIDI clips with your fingertips using an elegant touch-enabled piano roll.

Context/Disclaimer:

I love Griid Pro. I love it so much that when I ran into a few snags using their original GUI I got hold of Liine to give them some feedback and suggestions for a more workable interface so that I could keep on using it in my live set. I was very happy to find their support team quick and responsive and they welcomed my feedback enthusiastically. They took note of everything I had to say and after a few e-mails back and forth I got back to making tracks and working on other projects.

Then out of the blue came an invitation for me to beta test the latest version of Griid Pro, including their new addition to the package – Cliip, and I happily accepted.

So I have been fiddling around with this new addition for a few months and periodically sending feedback on the end user experience and making some suggestions for professional needs as a live performer.

What follows is a condensed version of my feedback to them and a few things on my wish list for the app.

In their own words

A world-first in controllers, Cliip allows you to create and edit MIDI clips with your fingertips using an elegant touch-enabled piano roll.

Cliip makes editing MIDI clips a truly live, musical experience. The piano roll is now an instrument too. Paint notes onto the smooth zoomable grid. Use intuitive multitouch gestures to edit note length and velocity – no need to LEARN it, just FEEL it. Snap/Fine and Percussive/Melodic modes and the powerful Duplicate function will help you unleash your creativity. Use in the studio to effortlessly create that killer hook or get personal with your audience and truly create music in front of them.

The Cliip module is initially available only when running on iPad. Cliip will run on iPhone and iPod Touch too in the next update.

Finely tuned for rapid navigation, you can enjoy the freedom of playing Live sets of any size with ease. Explicit visual feedback means that you have all the information you need, quite literally at your fingertips. Combined with wireless operation, this means you can perform with Ableton Live without ever needing to look at the computer screen..

Features:

Piano Roll
Experiment, improvise and compose like never before. Explore the note grid with intuitive gestures for scrolling. Zoom in for micro edits or zoom out to cover several bars. Four different edit mode combinations let you jam the way you want. Use the Copy/Paste/Duplicate functions for a seamless workflow.

Velocity
Edit note velocities the way you always wished you could: just draw them! Creating velocity ramps has never been easier, simply drag your finger across the screen. The velocity lane is semi-transparent so you never lose sight of the notes behind.

Set Up:

If you already own Griid Pro, Cliip comes with the latest update. As usual you will have to go into the MIDI Sync preferences panel and select Griid as the control surface. If you are looking into buying Griid/Cliip for the first time you will need to do a basic setup from scratch once you have purchased.

The software is a little time consuming to set up but once up and running it is stable and works as advertised. Just follow the instructions step by step and you should be fine. It took me about an hour or so to get everything synced and working but that is only because, before I got started, I had to brush up my knowledge of ad-hoc networks and setting up IAC busses on my Mac so there is a bit of a learning curve for end users like me but nothing that can’t be overcome by just RTFI.

Thoughts:

As I have said before this is a truly professional and elegant app designed for a specific purpose and the best (only?) in its field by a long shot. The addition of Cliip (and rumors of more to come) actually makes me very excited and that is saying a lot because the sudden dearth of iPad based music tools and gadgets, while awesome in its own right, has jaded me quicker than the attention span of the average YouTube user.

What I really love about Griid Pro is that the whole package feels very much like an instrument (especially with the addition of Cliip) and as with any instrument there is a learning curve but, because of Griid’s well implemented design, discovery is intuitive and rewarding rather than confusing and distracting.

This instrumental aspect and the gorgeous interface, both in look and feel, sets Griid Pro and Cliip apart from the other controllers I have tried in this market.

It is really refreshing to see Liine integrating new ideas and technology and expanding Griid Pro into a powerful music making tool and transcending its original playback only function smartly an elegantly.

Issues:

Griid Upgrade:

No issues at all. Brilliant. Love it. The upgraded interface is intuitive and responsive and it’s very difficult now to accidentally trigger entire scenes. The scroll pinch zoom functionality is orders of magnitude more useful and practical in a real live performance situation and it is exactly what I was after when I contacted Liine in the first place.

Cliip:

The piano roll looks and feels great but can be tricky to get used to.

It is all fine and well sitting in the studio carefully contemplating the beautiful interface and carefully selecting where to place notes and carefully manipulating them with very well implemented, intuitive gestures but add standing up, jumping around, starting and stopping clips, switching between Griid and Cliip views in real time, keeping track of which MIDI clip is being edited versus which MIDI clip is playing and in relation to which audio clips are in motion and a million other live parameters – like sweaty fingers, vibrations from the sub-woofer, flashing lights, a smoke machine and groupies – Cliip becomes increasingly difficult to use, unless you stand quite still and look like you are ironing and folding very, very tiny clothes.

Also “Painting” notes onto the screen can, at times, be more like dripping notes on as the screen tends to pick up unintended gestures just as easily as intended ones and this can get quite messy at times.

Another point is that when selecting a MIDI clip to edit in Griid the opened clip defaults to showing Middle C regardless of where notes are written on the roll. This means, when editing drums, which are most often preset to start with a kick at C1, always having to scroll to get at the notes. Although this gesture does mess with flow and timing somewhat it is nothing one can’t work around or integrate but it would be nice to have the MIDI clip open to where the notes are written.

I also noticed that creating a new MIDI clip in a row in which another MIDI clip is already playing causes the MIDI clip that is playing to stop. It seems creating MIDI clips on the fly is not possible in this sense, but I could be doing it wrong. The work around is to either create a predetermined amount of empty MIDI clips before starting a session or to make MIDI clips by using the computer and cursor. But, as the more astute among you might note, having to enter MIDI clips via the computer UI renders the point of having a feature like Cliip moot.

Wish List:

– Graphic distinction between editing Piano roll/Instrument and Drum roll/Drum Rack.
– Piano Roll Audition/Sound Playback. The inability to use the piano roll to audition/play sounds is frustrating and disconcerting. It looks like it is there for that function so it sets up a “play me” expectation – so much so that I regularly found myself trying various shift-hold-poke gestures just to make sure it doesn’t audition sounds.
– Drum/Instrument names mapped to Piano Roll – Lack of instrument/rack data/names in piano role makes it difficult to sequence drums unless note positions have been memorized or one references them on the computer screen. (This is currently not possible.)
– Would be nice to be able to select all inputted notes at once to make chords on the fly or to be able to select all notes at once to move them up or down an octave or steps to the left or right. (Rubberband and Multi editing)
– Notes are too easily input, accidental gestures/touches immediately input MIDI notes and cause some erroneous note patterns and unwanted data input. Intuition has me wanting to tap twice to really input/delete anything (mirroring Live’s MIDI editor in cursor mode) but since Cliip mimics Ableton’s Draw mode (⌘-B) which enters data in one click this is just a user preference rather than an issue – would be nice though to have the choice.
– Play/Stop functionality from within Cliip editor. As of the writing of this review one has to edit MIDI notes in Cliip then switch to Griid to launch the MIDI clip and then head back into the Cliip editor to fool around again. It feels like lobbing tennis balls out the window then running outside and lobbing them back in again.

Conclusion

Liine is truly dedicated to making the best iPad controller on the market and now that they have teamed up with my other go to iPad studio controller (LiveControl/OSC) I am stoked to see some of the best of both apps merging into one system of control.

Regarding Griid’s upgrade – it is still a visual treat to work with, and now that Griid sports some much improved navigation fixes (the scroll/zoom/pinch/launch all clips in one area design headache I covered in my first review) it is solid, stable and much, much easier easy to use than the original UI.

I look forward to seeing how they expand this series and highly recommend this software even more than I did last time.

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Links:

Griid Pro. (iPad)

More Controller Reviews:

Midi Katapult

Livecontrol/TouchOSC

touchAble

Context:

I invested in an iPad because after an exhaustive search I simply could not find a ”hardware” controller that satisfied my needs as a live performer.

In my live set I already use two Novation Remote Zero SLs controlling Ableton Live and I wanted to get a separate clip launcher without needing to take up any more space than I already do. I also like to have dedicated controls for each function in my set because I do a lot of simultaneous manipulations across multiple tracks and a lot of the newer controllers I looked at don’t seem to cater to this way of working.

It is for this reason that I am not a big fan of the Akai APC40 and the Novation Launchpad. They rely on multiple layers to access devices/features and have these one-at-a-time device-you-are-looking-at-now controls that make controlling effects across multiple devices and tracks awkward and unintuitive for me.

I am also amazed that neither support velocity sensitivity on their pads and buttons, and their overtly plug in and play feature, particularly that hideous Automap software, drives me nuts. (Anyone who knows how to disable it completely on the Zero SL please let me know.)

These kinds of controllers are squarely aimed at the bedroom DJ/Producer market and will clearly be obsoleted by newer versions of themselves in the months to come so I found myself at a loss for what to do until someone suggested I get an iPad.

Now I am not ashamed to admit I had my eye and dreams on the JazzMutant Lemur Interface for years and when Apple announced the iPad my very first thought was, wow a Lemur for a fifth of the price, but for some reason I just couldn’t get my head around what an iPad actually was and what is was good for, until I saw the apps being developed for music software control.

I am not an early adopter, I like to leave the line waiting and the bug battles to those who care more deeply about that kind of thing so a lot of the software I am talking about here is not necessarily new or revolutionary, it is just software I have tried out since getting the iPad and some of it has left me disinterested and a little confused and some of it has simply blown me away, inspiring and enabling new interactions with my software and instruments and opening up a whole new level to my live performances and studio production.

I hope these insights assist you in making a decision on which app best suits your setup.

Links:
JazzMutant Lemur