As more people are turning to their iPad’s as a way of recording and producing music, we give you the top 10 apps that are the best around!
Apple GarageBand, £4.99/$4.99
Apple GarageBand GarageBand for iOS may look and feel similar to the Mac built version, but the mobile version of Apple’s entry-level DAW is really its own entity. Combining simple but effective Touch and Smart instruments, guitar amps and effects and a sequencer that (depending on the iOS device you're using) enables you to record on up to 32 tracks. The great thing about Garageband is that you can plug a USB Microphone into your iPad and get some fantastic studio results.
You can of course use the Studio Series SL150 USB Microphone on your iPad. All you need to connect the usb microphone to your iPad is the Apple USB to lightning connector. (Or the adapter we sell on the recording equipment page.)
WaveMachine Labs Auria Pro, £48.99/$49.99
Auria Pro is the most impressive in terms of specs and ambitious iOS DAW being offered. There's little in difference to its feature set from that of one of its desktop counterparts. The original Auria, which came out back in 2012 is based around a dual section workspace with Mix and Edit views. It can record audio at a range of sample rates up to 96kHz via either the built-in mic or an iPad-compatible audio interface. The Pro version however introduces MIDI tracks, along with extensive sequencing capabilities such as a piano roll editor, real-time quantise, flexible automation and Virtual MIDI. Built in instruments now come within the excellent bundled effects, too.
Steinberg Cubasis, £48.99/$49.99
Let’s take a look at Steinberg, which was the first of the major DAW developers to port its big name application to the iOS platform. Obviously Cubasis is a cutdown version of its PC/Mac sibling, yet still has the same look, feel and many of the key features of the original. Cubasis 2 interface is great to use on any size iPad, the DAW fundamentals of arrangement, editing and automation all being precisely tuned for touchscreen; and you can get serious production done with it as well. Whether you're a Cubase user or not, if you own an iPad, Cubasis is worth every penny of it.
Korg Gadget, 38.99/$39.99
Described by the company as a 'mobile synth collection'. The app houses a large selection of virtual synths and drum machines, or 'gadgets' as Korg calls them, each of which is roughly based on a classic hardware unit. Multiple gadgets can be loaded into a project, with each device offering its own sequencer, and there's a multitrack arranger and mixer, which allows the creation of full tracks from within the app. The sequencers and keyboards of each gadget can be locked to a set key too, which improves the workflow for those with a limited knowledge of musical theory, and generally helps circumvent the difficulty of playing melodic parts using the sometimes fiddly touchscreen keyboard.
Blip Interactive NanoStudio, 6.99/$6.99
NanoStudio remains a comprehensive ‘in the box’ production tool for iOS. Even though It won’t let you record audio, but it can handle six MIDI instrument instances (upgradeable to 16 via an in-app purchase,) allowing you to build full tracks with its excellent built-in subtractive synth and sample-based drum machine. It features a mixer section with insert effects, two send channels and automation too. Plus, the app supports Audiobus, Audio Copy/Paste, Core MIDI and export to SoundCloud.
4Pockets Meteor, 19.99/$19.99
Meteor is an iOS audio recorder that features up to 16 recording tracks. Meteor’s trump card is its excellent sounding effects, although many of these require extra in-app purchases. It also features a handy little audio editor which can be used to trim and tidy up recordings brought into the app via Audiobus. It also supports Inter-App Audio, too Intua
BeatMaker 2, 19.99/$19.99
Version 2 of Intua’s micro-studio features two types of instrument - a drum machine and a well-equipped sample-based synth - and also supports multitrack recording. It’s far from perfect and features a fair few limitations, but BeatMaker 2 certainly looks great, has a host of useful little features, and plenty of export options - all of which easily justify the price. What's more, it's been confirmed that BeatMaker 3 is on the way, which we're hoping will bring the app right up to date.
Xewton Music Studio, 14.99/$14.99
Music Studio was an earlier DAW-style apps for the iOS platform. It’s evolved and expanded considerably since it was first released, however, to develop into a relatively powerful app. Highlight features include audio tracks, Mic recording, 178 sample-based instruments (60 of which are in-app purchases) and a 127-track sequencer. It also supports Audiobus, along with a host of other import/export options.
Image-Line FL Studio Mobile HD, 14.99/$14.99
The mobile version of Image-Line’s FL Studio was originally based on Xewton Music Studio, offering a very similar set of features but re-skinned to look similar to the desktop version of FL Studio. Version 3, however, changes the game completely, bring a "ground-up rewrite" that's designed to look and feel far more contemporary. It enables you to work with built-in synths/samples, record audio and apply effects, giving it proper 'mini DAW' status. The app also works as an FL Studio plugin, meaning that you can start projects on your desktop machine, take them to your mobile device and even bring them back again.
Retronyms Tabletop, free
Modular iPad production environment Tabletop has a lot of great features, but also a few frustrating downsides. When it was first released, Tabletop showed vast potential but also felt limited in its capabilities. Subsequent updates have really won us over, however, adding features like proper note editing, MIDI control and the likes of iMPC and iMini as integrated 'Tabletop-ready' apps. The problem is that Tabletop doesn’t support Audiobus, Inter-App Audio and AU instruments, and although it’s open to third-party developers, at present the take-up hasn’t been massive - meaning that the app isn’t as expandable as some of the others in this round-up.
Record on your iPad? Check out our iPad Holder, you will never forget your lyrics again!