Is there anything our smartphones can’t do? Simply calling people has taken a backseat to the multitude of ways we can use these pocket-sized computers and tablets. Today, we can assume that an app exists for just about any purpose imaginable. Music production is no exception. While high-powered Macs or PCs and desktop-oriented DAWs remain the standard for most professionals, no one can deny that mobile apps provide a new, viable avenue for music production. Touch screens alone make controlling mobile DAWs that much more intuitive, whether on a tablet or phone screen. And sometimes inspiration strikes while you’re nowhere near your home studio. This portability can make the difference between a hit song or a forgotten one. You might still be sceptical, though. Worry not, because we’re going to look at seven of the best mobile apps for music production out there today.
6 Mobile Apps for Music Production
Before we begin, note that many music apps are built exclusively for iOS devices. However, we’ve made sure to include apps built for Android/all devices as well.
1. RD4 Groovebox by mikrosonic
Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, RD4 Groovebox allows you to synthesize and sequence your way to great sounding music on the go. This $4.99 USD app comes loaded with 4 channels, tap tempo, 5 effects, USB MIDI support, and a ton more. For electronic music production, you don’t need much more than what’s offered here. Unlike some mobile apps for music production that try condensing a desktop interface onto a phone screen, the RD4 Groovebox is optimized for small devices. Anything created in Groovebox can be saved and share via SoundCloud.
2. G-Stomper Studio by Planet-H
The G-Stomper Studio is a level up from the RD4 Groovebox, and comes in at $12.99 USD. It’s an all-in-one synthesizer, sequencer, sampler, audio editor, and line mixer on the go. The app boasts an impressive number of drum samples, channels, and effects for the price tag. It’s so fully-featured, in fact, it’s designed with live performance in mind. Anything you do can link to Ableton Live. If you want to try the app out without dropping the 13 bucks, you can download a watered-down demo for free. This is one of the few mobile apps for music production exclusively for Android users.
Anyone with a Mac is likely already familiar with this staple. Garageband is like Logic Pro’s little brother, coming pre-installed on Mac computers. The mobile version (exclusive for iOS and free to download) offers a lot of the same features you’ll find in the desktop version. With a simple user interface, touch controls, and a massive sound and loop library, GarageBand feels more at home on a phone or tablet than anywhere else. Of course, anything you create on the go can be brought into the desktop version and Logic Pro X, so you can take your work wherever you go.
4. Take Creative Vocal Recorder by Propellerhead
While we’re going over iOS-exclusive mobile apps for music production, we should mention Take Creative Vocal Recorder, which lets you record spur-of-the-moment ideas. This app resembles the discounted Apple Music Memos app in several ways. It features three tracks of audio to record via the iPhone’s (or iPad’s) mic, a built-in metronome, some drum loops, and a few simple mixing controls. Take might not have all the bells and whistles of Music Memos, nor can it integrate with other DAWs, but it’s a handy tool for quick ideas. Plus, it’s free.
5. SunVox Modular Music Studio
This synthesizer/tracker has been around for a decade now. SunVox‘s design harkens back to the early days of computer generated music and trackers. Therefore, if you’re not familiar with tracker technology, the user interface might seem over-complicated and abstract. Channels aren’t laid out in stacks like you’d find in a typical DAW. Rather, you’ll encounter a sort of web of channels and effects. You can do a lot by just messing around with the program. But unless you’re savvy in the realm of coding, it might take some getting used to. Still, you can generate and manipulate some incredible sounds here. The mobile versions for iOS and Android are just $5.99 USD. Plus, you can download a free desktop version of SunVox to get a feel for this unique, old-school program before diving in fully.
6. NanoStudio by Blip Interactive
For its mobile app, NanoStudio only operates on iOS. If you haven’t caught on yet, iOS definitely dominates the ring when it comes to mobile apps for music production (this has to do with low-latency optimization, etc.). The app only costs $1.99 USD and rivals the GarageBand app with its intuitive user interface and features. Using NanoSync, you can transfer projects created on the mobile app to your desktop DAW. Or, you can directly upload mixes to SoundCloud.
Ten years ago, if you floated the notion that you could produce music on a phone, people would scoff. While not every mobile app for music production offers the full meal of a professional desktop DAW, they’re becoming more useful, powerful, intuitive, and integrative than ever before. Now, we can hum a melody into our phones, add some backing instruments in an app, transfer that audio to a DAW, and continue to produce a full song. In our busy, mobile lives, these apps allow us to always work on something when inspiration strikes.
About the Author
Ethan Keeley is a musician, voiceover talent, and writer from Rochester, New York. When he's not on tour with his band Unwill he's working on new songs and stories.
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