Specdrums and MIDI Compatibility

Did you know that you can connect Specdrums to digital audio workstations (DAWs) like GarageBand and Ableton? Here, you will learn how to connect your rings to platforms outside of the Specdrums apps. Because there are many different types of DAWs, we will cover just a few samples. Please keep in mind that Specdrums do not currently work on Chromebooks or Chromebook DAWs.

Specdrums are Bluetooth MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers. Depending on which DAW you use, you can connect Specdrums rings to your chosen device through Bluetooth MIDI and you will still be able to make music within the DAWs.

DAWs are used to produce, record, and create music. There are many different DAWs including GarageBand, Ableton, FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Bandlab. If you do not have access to the Specdrums apps, you can still connect your Specdrums rings to your Mac or PC without the Specdrums apps.

Connecting your rings to a MacOS.

In order to connect your Specdrums rings to a DAW on your Mac or PC, you must first connect them to the computer you are using. This tutorial below will show you how to connect the rings specifically to a Mac.

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If the Bluetooth icon is not available in top bar (as circled in picture above), the icon will be available as a rectangular box that can be clicked on (similar to the boxes you see with Bluetooth ID numbers).

Connecting your rings to Windows on your PC

Once your rings are connected to your Mac or PC, open your chosen DAW on your computer and choose the MIDI Bluetooth ID of your ring (i.e., SD-0374) that you connected to your computer. With a DAW like GarageBand, you may be able to open up the program and start playing automatically. With other DAWs, you may have to choose and indicate which rings you want to connect.

Below are examples of what this process looks like across different platforms.

Different DAWs

Let’s look at a cloud-based DAW, Bandlab. Bandlab is platform agnostic (Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS), free to use, and has an intuitive interface. Bandlab can be accessed from your browser and does not require a software download.

How can we tell if a ring is connected?

In this example below, Bandlab is on a MacOS platform. Every platform will have a slightly different variation in the way the DAW, like Bandlab, is presented on screen.

After connecting your rings to your computer, you may have to locate a section that displays which Bluetooth MIDI device is connected to your DAW.

Let’s also look at Ableton Live. Unlike Bandlab, which can be accessed from your browser, Ableton Live must be purchased and will download as software onto your PC or Mac.

After setting your rings up to your PC or Mac, use the following instructions to set the rings up in Ableton Live.

To get to this window in Ableton (pictured above), click: Live > Preferences. Then select the Link/MIDI tab. Both Track and Remote should be set to “On” in the Input section. Everything should be set to “Off” in the Output section. You can also get to that window by pressing: “command +”.

Connecting to GarageBand on iOS Devices

Here are instructions for setting up your Specdrums rings in GarageBand on your iOS device. You will set up the rings in the GarageBand app, not on your phone. Unlike your computer, you do not have to connect the rings to your device first before connecting them to a DAW platform. You will be able to connect directly to GarageBand on your iOS device.

MIDI Default Note Mapping

When setting the Specdrums rings up to GarageBand and Bandlab, the notes will default automatically to a C Major scale with a series of four chords in a I-vi-IV-V chord progression. Notes and chords cannot be changed in these DAWs. In addition, the rings only play within a certain instrumental range. So if an instrument like a low bass is chosen within the DAW, the rings will not be able to play those sounds. It is better generally to stick with keyboards, synthesizers, or anything considered to be in a treble range rather than an instrument in a bass range.

Default notes and chords can be changed in Ableton and Logic Pro.

If you are looking to change notes and chords across all platforms, you can do so through a platform known as a Bome MIDI Translator.