iOS Music Production

How to use an SFTP Server with Ableton Export

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-18-59-amMoving files from the iOS music production environment to the desktop is an important part of workflow, and is important to extend both the desktop and mobile environments, and operating systems, enabling flexibility and the maximal access to the tools each affords.

With the arrival of Ableton Export this week, and my overlapping studio relocation, I decided to look into ways of transferring files, mainly from iOS to OSX. Apps like triqtraq and BlocsWave, which I use regularly, were two of the four apps enabled for Ableton Export upon its release.

Being able to convert an iOS app file to an Ableton Live file, then to transfer it to the correct location for storage, is a terrific new feature. I’ve been joking around that the past year has seen Ableton Live wrest control of musical time & transport with the release of Link, and now Export.

As I’m relocating my studio, I’ve decided to switch over to a fully wired ethernet setup, mostly because I want to eradicate latency and jitter in all their forms, and because I like network topology and have always wanted to put one in at the house.

While studying various network MIDI and Audio architectures, I’ve been looking into the possibilities for iOS. I came across an app called Transmit, which works by connecting your iDevice back to the Desktop via an SFTP Server.

As fancy as an SFTP server may sound, to create one on a Mac you just go to System Preferences –> Sharing –> then tick File Sharing, voila ~ you’ve now created an SFTP Server.

Next you’ll need to Connect to your SFTP Server from your iDevice. So you open up Transmit and Connect to the Server – you’ll see it because it’s your Mac’s Name. To login to the server you’ll enter your Login credentials for your Mac – the ones you use to login when you start up the Mac.

Once connected you’ll see a nicely rendered browser for files on the Mac.

Not only can you browse for files on the Mac, you can Transmit them into the Transmit app – which has its own storage repository. You can also Transmit the file directly to the App you want to Open the file.

For example, if I have a .wav file I want to import from my Mac – I just select it, you can Drag-And-Drop the file directly into the Transmit File repository, or select it to show the available apps to input the file to.

Transmit works both ways, so you can Export any file from within Transmit to your Mac, or any other device connected to your SFTP Server.

The only other bit of configuring to do – is to Create some Favorites for your other Cloud Drive Services. If you’ve got these connected to your Mac – then Save the File Directory as a Favorite within Transmit. Same goes for your iDevices – mark the various cloud Drives as Favorites within Transmit. This way, whatever you move into the Cloud between your Desktop and other devices, will stay dynamically updated, allowing you to quickly move files anywhere within your SFTP Server environment.

To Speed up the Login Procedure to your SFTP Server, and to further secure it, consider setting up a set of Keys between your Mac and other devices. Keys enable a secure handshake between the clients/server – so you don’t have to continually login, and presuming nobody gets your keys – have a very secure connection. You can also generate an RSA Key from your Mac by opening Terminal and entering:

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