Ten of the best mobile apps for music production

We live in an age where the current crop of phones are nearly as capable as the studio computers from just a few years ago, and to take advantage of all power we have consulted with our community about the best mobile apps for music production. Here’s what we found out:

 Gadget

Korg Gadget


What it is: A very comprehensive package that offers a ton of sounds with over 30 gadgets ranging from synthesizers and drum machines to effect modules, including software versions of many of Korg’s classic electronic music production hardware but also many brand-new instruments - or “gadgets” to use the app terminology. On top of that there’s a audio/MIDI editor and sequencer that can run as many tracks as your device can handle, inter-app audio, iCloud for sharing projects and Ableton Live integration. With so much going on it’s easy to understand why it lands on the first spot!

Requires: iOS 9.3 or later on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.



 GarageBand

Apple GarageBand


What it is: A free DAW that you can take everywhere with up to 32 tracks and support to professional-grade Audio Unit plug-ins sounds like a no-brainer, and basically that’s what GarageBand is for iOS users. If that was not enough it also comes with a good range of synthesizers, beat generators, samples and effects professors. It also allows users to access their work everywhere through iCloud and projects are compatible Logic Pro, which makes it perfect for the Apple user who wants to produce and record music everywhere.

Requires: iOS 11.0 or later on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Price: Free!



 Animoog

Moog Music Animoog


What it is: An innovative polyphonic synthesizer from Moog Music that draws inspirations from the past but glimpses into the future with the new Anisotropic Synth Engine. Animoog combines the widely praised Moog tones with many sound shapers such as modulators, envelopes and effects - all on a interface that takes full advantage of touch screens. A mandatory for all the iPad synth heads.

Requires: iOS 8.2 or later on iPad



 FLUX:FX

NOIISE FLUX:FX


What it is: FLUX:FX is the culmination of Adrian Belew’s vast experience, which includes working with Frank Zappa and King Crimson. This mind-boggling app can basically do every imaginable effect by offering the user over 30 effects from EQs, compressors and distortions to delays, reverbs and complex modulators, and they’re all extensively editable and configurable in many unique ways. It also features a sequencer so effects can be automated, a live performance mode, inter-app audio support and a gorgeous interface. Easily in the no-brainer category!

Requires: iOS 7.0 or later on iPad.



 Cubasis 2

Steinberg Cubasis 2


What it is: Simply put, this is a miniature version of Steinberg’s acclaimed DAW, and as with its bigger brother it comes many capabilities such unlimited tracks, real time time-stretching and pitch-shifting, automation, a full-blown mixer with channel strip, wealthy sound content, inter-app audio support and much more. Cubasis 2 can also handle up to 24 physical inputs and outputs with resolution up to 24-bit/96kHz, which makes it a fine choice for a compact recording system.

Requires: iOS 9.0 or later on iPad. Unsupported beta version also available for Android 5+ devices.



 Music Memos

Apple Music Memos


What it is: This app is set to make the songwriter life as easy as it gets by offering an effortless way to capture ideas. Besides offering streamlined recording Music Memos also enables the user to identify chords, add backing tracks, organize their projects for quick browsing and upload them to iTunes or iCloud to be shared around. It also allows creators to move songs to GarageBand or Logic Pro for further mixing with professional tools. It’s super fast to work with and it’s free, so there’s no excuse left for missing out on song ideas.

Requires: iOS 11.0 or later on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.



 Auria Pro

WaveMachine Labs Auria Pro


What it is: A bonafide DAW for the iPad, Auria boasts a strong feature set with unlimited tracks, real-time audio warping and pitch shift with élastique algorithms, a mixer with 32 internal busses, up to 24 physical inputs with resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz, Mackie MCU/HUI support for remote control and plug-ins from the likes of PSP Audioware and FabFilter. Definitely an app that should be considered if serious recording and production have to be done outside of the studio.

Requires: iOS 8.0 or later on iPad.





 SampleTank

IK Multimedia SampleTank


What it is: Sampletank has been around for a long time and build a reputation as one of the best all-around instrument collections, so it was only natural that it would find its way to our devices. This mobile version brings over two thousand sampled instruments covering nearly all chromatic or percussive instrument out there, including pianos, drums, electric guitar, violins, synths and much more. It also comes with an on-screen keyboard, 8-track MIDI sequencer, inter-app audio supports. If you want an instrument library on the iOS, look no further.

Requires: iOS 8.0 or later on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.



 BeatMaker 3

INTUA BeatMaker 3


What it is: A streamlined app optimised for music production that packs a powerful instrument library, intuitive sequencing, effortless audio editing and a mixer packed with effects. Most importantly, BeatMaker focus on creativity and provides musicians with tools for quickly getting the desired chords, scales and beats arranged and transformed into full songs. This crafty app also offers Core MIDI to control other apps or external instruments and Ableton Link support.

Requires: iOS 9.3 or later on iPad.


And there goes our list - time for a few comments:

  • We had a vast number of recommendations from our users with all sorts of interesting and useful apps, so honourable mentions goes to FL Studio Mobile (Android/iOS), IK Multimedia AmpliTube (iOS) and Caustic 3 (Android/iOS).

  • As expected, iOS users are in a much happier place when it comes to mobile music production than their droid-using peers. Partly due to the immense device diversity and lack of a universal solution to handle audio on all that hardware, music production on Android is severely limited when compared to Apple devices - which explains the iOS apps taking the majority of the spots on our list.

  • The iPad seems to be the most enticing device for mobile music production right now. Thanks to its size it can provide bigger computing and storage capacity, not to mention the fact that a bigger screen can provide greater ease of use, so it’s basically a computer you can take everywhere and accomplish things that would at least require a laptop just a few years ago. That doesn’t mean iPhones are out of the table for serious work, as those tiny processors are also extremely capable nowadays.

  • More hardware manufacturers are becoming aware of the fact that mobile music production and recording is here to stay, and recently we have seen brands such as Apogee, RME, Audient and others offering iOS support for their audio interfaces, not to mention the myriad of controllers that are currently available under many shapes and forms.


For more on mobile music production visit our Audio Production Apps + Peripherals forum.