Accessories and Peripherals
Ways to Listen
While MIDI Sprout for iPhone comes with everything you need to connect your plant to your phone (and your computer) the device can be paired with a number of other consumer electronic products.
Plugging your MIDI Sprout to an iPhone
If you have a MIDI Sprout but didn’t get the MIDI Sprout for iPhone bundle, the one thing you’re missing is the iConnectMIDI1 Lightning Version, 1-in 1-out USB to MIDI Interface for Mac, PC and iOS. This allows you to plug your MIDI Sprout into your iPhone to listen to your plant music using our app. It also includes an adapter to connect your MIDI Sprout to a computer for use with a digital audio workstation or other music applications. If you haven’t purchased a MIDI Sprout yet, get the MIDI Sprout for iPhone bundle and save $10 from what you would pay if you bought the MIDI Sprout and iConnectivity cable separately.
It’s worth mentioning that if any of the below options sound too complicated, you can always pick up a brand new iPhone 5C on Amazon for just over $100. We’ve also found used ones in excellent condition on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for $50-100. These also have headphone jacks, unlike newer phones.
Plugging your MIDI Sprout to a computer
If you don’t have an iPhone or the primary use for your MIDI Sprout will be pairing with a digital audio workstation (DAW) like Ableton Live Suite, you may not need a Lightning adapter. In this case, a much more affordable option is the CREATIVE EMU XMIDI 1X1 USB MIDI Interface that will connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer. Please note that there are other cheaper MIDI to USB cables out there in the $10 range and in our experience, they are not worth purchasing. We’ve been using our EMUs here for years. They work great and they’re reliable.
Plugging your MIDI Sprout into a synthesizer
This is an easy one. If you have a synthesizer with a MIDI input, like a Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI, you can simply grab a MIDI cable and you’re set. Now, it’s important to note that the MIDI Sprout is scaled chromatically, so if you want to limit the notes your plant plays to a specific key, that will require connecting to your computer and scaling there using your favorite DAW. That said, in performances, we have experienced plants switching their key to match surrounding musicians, so it might be worth experimenting first.
Your MIDI Sprout comes with three pairs of electrode pads and one electrode lead wire. This combination of sensors is best for use with plants that have leaves at least as big as the pads (about 2”). But what if you want to listen to a plant that has smaller leaves?
Please note that plants with smaller leaves will likely have less activity and thus produce less music. Also the weight of sensors on smaller plants might be too much for them. Use your judgment and be kind to your plants.
Portable Speakers and Bluetooth Receivers
Maybe you want to go on a hike and hear the full spectrum of sound coming from your MIDI Sprout rather than just listening through your phone speakers. We always carry some sort of Bluetooth speaker in our pack, like the JBL Charge 2 or the Bose Soundlink.
In the case that you want to stream your plants from your phone to a home stereo via Bluetooth, try out the TaoTronics Bluetooth Transmitter/ Receiver.
Pro Audio Options
Say you’re a DJ or musician who wants to incorporate MIDI Sprout into a wide variety of improvisational scenarios. You have a DAW and synths and the interface you need, but you want to have a compact kit that will work anywhere from the jungle to the club.
Plugging into a Mixer
Every mixer is a little different but the connections are pretty standard. For the most part, you’re going to come across ¼” TRS or instrument line-ins, RCA ins or XLR. XLR adapters are bulky and usually unnecessary, so we build our travel kit with RCA and ¼” cables in mind.
We find that the having the following cables and adapters allows for the most flexibility while eliminating carrying lots of extra cable length. By using adapters instead of having multiple cables, we eliminate any bulk. Here’s what you need.
Here’s how we use these.
If you’re coming direct out of a laptop, the first thing you’ll want to have is a 1/8" stereo male to 1/8" stereo male, and if you need more length between your laptop and your mixer, you can add the 1/8" headphone extender cable into this equation. Now you have a ⅛” male coming from your laptop. If you’re plugging into an input that has a ⅛” in (a car stereo, for instance), you’re set. If you need to go into a mixer using RCA, just add the 1/8" stereo female to two RCA male. If the mixer takes ¼” TRS or instrument cables, add the two RCA female to 1/4" male adapters to the ends of those and you’re set.
If you’re jamming in a studio or at a friend’s house, you’re not necessarily going to need a 20 foot MIDI cable, but you might want to have that option should you be in a situation where your plant is going to be far from your workstation, like in a performance environment. For that reason, we recommend carrying a MIDI extender as well as an extra 15 ft MIDI cable. This way, you can couple the cable you’d already be using to the longer cable to add length if need be. When you don’t need more length, you can just work directly from whatever cabling solution you have, be it the EMU we discussed above or another MIDI interface paired with a MIDI cable.
One last thing
With all of those cables everywhere, you’d be served to have some gaff tape. If you only want to carry a little, wrap a few feet around a pencil.
For more ideas, check out this video of an example travel kit Joe Patitucci used when backpacking through Thailand.