Samplitude on a tablet – part II

This is part two in the adventure where I’m experimenting with using my DAW on a tablet with only a touch interface. See here for part one: Samplitude on a tablet – part I

I believe I have found the most productive combination of toolbar buttons. I have also updated the Thinkpad tablet to Windows 10 and everything still works smoothly.

SamProX2_Tablet-b

This is the set of toolbar buttons I settled on. These actions are optimized for recording and arranging song ideas, not mixing. There are 18 buttons:

  • toggle drawmode – shows/hides track control panes
  • show/hide track editor – edit a single tracks properties, access to plugins
  • show/hide mixer
  • group objects
  • ungroup objects
  • toggle snap
  • undo
  • split object
  • remove range
  • zoom=10s
  • zoom=60s
  • lock all audio – Prevents accidental moving of objects. With a keyboard I use shortcuts to toggle the Lock/Unlock  state of individual objects. With touch it is easier to have a single global lock.
  • cut – Normally I ctrl+drag objects to copy them but cut/copy/paste works better with touch.
  • copy
  • paste
  • toggle metronome
  • rec
  • play/stop

The Windows task bar is back at the bottom of the screen and hidden. Swiping up from the bottom shows the task bar and gives access to the touch keyboard.

If you use multiple time signatures like I often do, I recommend setting the project time signature to 1/4 or 1/8 and NOT adding any signature changes. This makes it easier to move song sections and parts around.

Samplitude on a tablet

Samplitude Pro X2 was recently on sale for a ridiculously low price so I decided to grab a second copy. My studio DAW has Samplitude tied to a dongle for historical reasons so it was nice to get a dongle-free license for mobile use.

So… I’m wondering if Samplitude would be usable on a Windows tablet? I don’t like using a computer for songwriting and demoing, there is enough mousing and typing during the day already. Could a tablet provide a more organic and fun experience somewhat like a 4-track cassette portastudio back in the day?

Inspired by surfaceproaudio.com I decided to try it. I’ve installed Samplitude Pro X2 and ASIO4ALL on a Thinkpad Helix tablet and I’m in the middle of figuring out the workflow and settings that make this possible. Touch only – no keyboard and no mouse! This is a work in progress but so far things look very promising!

Sam Pro X2 tablet

To maximize the space for manipulating audio, I have removed all the visual elements that are not absolutely essential. The Windows 8.1 task bar I’ve moved to the left side of the screen to free some vertical space. The onscreen keyboard is accessible from the task bar all the time. Naming tracks and saving files still requires some typing. I’m trying to fit the frequently used actions on a single toolbar so I’ve removed the toolbar at the bottom. Samplitude has a Big Toolbar option which makes the icons just the right size for touch.

The toolbars can be customized to contain exactly the buttons you need. There is a default palette of commonly used toolbar actions. In addition, any action that can be found in the menus can be added to the toolbar with the custom button. This kind of customization is essential for usability in any software.

Sam toolbar custom action

The arrangement (VIP) window supports touch gestures. I can scroll the timeline, pinch-zoom, marquee-select objects, select a range, move the play cursor – all without buttons.

There are some essential actions still missing from my toolbar. I can select and split objects but have no way to delete or mute them… doh! I guess I’ll remove the zoom and navigation buttons to make room for those.