Audio Ape Recommendation By David Reed-Brown

David Reed-Brown has been a professional magician since 1998. He has been one of Jeff McBride’s primary “audio guys” since 2000. David writes Magic Tech articles for the Magic and Mystery School’s Secret Arts Journal and produces Pro Hacks video segments for Mystery School Monday’s online video classes. He is regular guest faculty for those classes and frequently lectures for the school’s annual Magic and Meaning conference in Las Vegas, which is like the TED Talks of magic.


AUDIO APE MUSIC CONTROL:  I recommend considering Audio Ape very seriously. It is top-of-the-line and used by many of the best professionals.  Why?  Because Audio Ape is extremely reliable.  After hundreds of performances, it has never failed me.  There is nothing worse than pressing a remote button in performance and NOTHING happens!  It’s maddening, and this seems to have solved the problem.

PRO CASE:  I recommend spending the money on the Pro Case and DI Box. They are well worth it. The case makes set up easy because it keeps everything connected and ready to go, shortening setup and tear down time.  It’s  extremely durable and more flexible.  The DI Box enables you to send audio through an XLR microphone cable great distances, instead of an RCA stereo Y cable. The XLR cable can send audio well over 100 feet.  A standard Y cable only goes 20 feet before the signal degrades. Another nice thing about the Pro Case is that you can have your iPhone affixed with a magnet inside the lid, or you can lean an iPad against the open case lid.  The Pro Case is a specially modified one by Pelican. It is padded, splash proof, dust-proof and shock-resistant protecting the electronics very well.  A bonus feature is that you can use the Audio Ape with the lid closed, fastened, padlocked and even chained to something in the wings to keep it safe.  Everything can be connected and turned on inside, and it still works!

QUALITY UNIVERSAL CONSTRUCTION:  The Audio Ape is made of durable metal and uses common connections, components and antenna.  It charges via standard USB C, so you can use the included plug, or power it from a USB C battery pack.  The Pro Case comes with one that’s just right.  These features make the unit feel more “universal.”  There are no proprietary connectors, no proprietary apps. And, it’s quite future-proof.  It works with more than one app including Go Button, iMix and Show Cues.  The first two apps come in free versions.  The Audio Ape sends standard music control signals to the iOS device.  (Pause, play, track forward, track backward, volume, etc.)  The hardware is certified for international sale, and since it’s an iOS device, it has to meet Apple’s strict requirements.

DISPLAY:  You can use any iOS device, so iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.  If you need to be able to see your tracks well, I recommend running the Go Button, iMix or Show Cues app off an iPad.  I have used Show Cues for many years, and the track names appear nice and large.  A standard iPad has been big enough for me, but you could use a 12 inch iPad Pro.  It IS nice to have my iPhone as a backup device or if I want to pack light.  PRO TIPS:  Give your tracks short names, like Rope, Bubbles, Rings, Egg, Kabuki etc.  That will make them show up bigger on screen.  Also, if you scroll to the bottom of the Apple web site, you will find “Refurbished and Clearance” iOS devices.  These have new screens, are in like-new condition and come with a full warranty.  I have done this several times.  It’s a no-brainer way to save a chunk of change.

THE REMOTE:  The remote transmitter is about the size of a car key fob.  It has large raised buttons that you can feel through your pants pocket.  They give a definite click response. PRO TIPS:  I did apply some sticky 1/4” round tactile dots to raise the buttons further because I like to be extra sure.  I also attach the transmitter with Velcro to a piece of cardboard cut to the shape of my pocket.  It has Velcro strips in various places, and I can put this card in my pocket in different orientations depending on the cut of my slacks.  This keeps the remote in the exact same place every time right where my fingers need it.  The less I need to think the better.

WARRANTY:  Finally, Audio Ape comes with a five-year warranty; has excellent technical support and  great customer service.

MEDIA MONKEY:  If you also want to control lights, fog machines, projectors etc., seriously consider getting Media Monkey.  It’s like an upgraded Audio Ape but plugs into your computer via USB.  It works with QLab show control software and the free iOS app Lab Monkey.  It enables you to run a very complex stage show from your pocket.



You know, there are a handful of systems out there that work fine. If one works for you reliably, that’s great.  For the bargain price of $299 with a proprietary app and a lower cost Android tablet, if UC gets the job done and works in your venues, then good for you!  I think these remote music control systems up everybody’s game.  This unit works for many people. Like the photos I take with my phone, sometimes good enough is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.  Awesome.  I think the two units are meeting different needs for different people in different markets. Audio Ape is in a different category. It’s like the difference between a consumer level video camera and a professional grade video camera.  Or a $200 wireless mic and an $800 all metal one with beefy failsafe electronics used in theaters and TV studios.  Under certain circumstances they both get the job done nicely, perhaps imperceptibly. The Audio Ape difference is in the all metal build quality and rock solid components, the extreme reliability, the multiple professional connection options, it’s universality, how future-proof it is, the five-year warranty, the durable lockable pro case where everything can stay connected with the battery in a case that protects and travels so well and you can chain it to something in the wings all closed up when you’re not around and it still works (!), that somebody figured all that out for you, the strength of the wireless signal, the strength of the audio output signal, that large quality antenna, the professional international hardware certifications, the multiple highly developed professional apps with tons of customization choices, the raves from many top pros working in hundreds of professional theaters around the world, Apple.  It’s for when a lot of people are relying on you, you need it built tough for frequent travel, the pressure is really on, you need options for different situations, and it ALWAYS needs to work. Despite a plethora of challenges, to quote Steve Jobs, “It just works.” However, not everybody needs all that. If something else works for you, that’s cool.

Copyright 2018 by David Reed-Brown. All rights reserved.

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