Musicians’ creativity doesn’t stop when they’re on the road. In a perfect world, we’d all have access to the comfort of our home studios 24/7, churning out music as often as we’d like. But whether you’re a full-time artist/producer or a hobbyist, life’s obligations pull us from the studio hideaway. Luckily, there are plenty of great apps available, so when inspiration strikes, no matter the place, you can be making music on your phone!
We’ll take a look at some of the best music production apps for mobile. Some of them are free, and others aren’t, but they all cater to a an ever increasing necessity for musicians: quality recordings on-the-go.
A standard piece of software bundled with Apple computers since 2004, Garageband is a music production mainstay. Intuitive and practical, it was designed with novices in mind; with little to no experience, anyone can grab loops from Garageband’s library and stitch a tune together.
Those with more experience can experiment with a variety of virtual instruments or track and edit their own audio. Paired with something like IK Multimedia’s iRig 2, Garageband is one of the best in making music on your phone. And it’s free.
A major update to the app added Logic Pro’s Alchemy synthesizer, featuring 150 presets. Garageband also has the capability of utilizing third-party Audio Units plugins.
If you’re an iPhone user, the app is probably already installed on your device. If not, simply open up the App Store and download Garageband at no cost. It’s worth noting that it is an iOS-only app, so Android users will have to sit this one out.
WaveMachine Labs Auria Pro (iOS)
Arguably one of the best music production apps available is Auria Pro by WaveMachine Labs. Its user experience is likely one of the closest things you can get to a professional DAW on the iPhone or iPad. At $50, it’s definitely a bargain for everything it includes.
Auria Pro operates at 24-bits with sample rates up to 96 kHz, allowing 24 tracks of simultaneous recording with the right audio interface and an unlimited number of total session tracks. It also includes up to 32 internal busses for extensive routing options with full delay compensation.
In addition to “pro-level” recording and playback capability, Auria Pro’s MIDI and audio editing is next-level as far as mobile apps are concerned. Two FabFilter synthesizers are packaged with the software, as well as WaveMachine’s own Lyra sampler. A piano roll editor provides a familiar MIDI-editing interface with access to the gambit of MIDI manipulation.
If you’re in need of a serious DAW for making music on your phone or iPad, Auria Pro is one of the best you can get. We’ve only touched on a handful of its features here, so you can rest assured it runs like a full-featured desktop DAW.
Music Maker Jam (iOS, Android)
Music Maker Jam is one of most popular applications for making music on Android. This one lets you create your own tracks using various loops and beats. It features more than 100 music styles (hip hop, dub-step, rock, funk, trap, drum & bass, techno, etc.) It also has more than 10 free ‘Mix Packs’ containing over 2000 loops in the Music Maker Jam store.
Once you’ve made something you’re happy with, you can export it and load it into your DAW when you’re back in the studio! Best of all, it’s totally free.
Reason Studios ‘Compact’ (iOS)
Reason Compact is an amazing DAW for making music on your iPhone or iPad. You’ll have a powerful and easy-to-use music studio right in your pocket, ready to sketch down ideas whenever inspiration strikes.
It comes with a host of virtual instruments so you can begin to sketch ideas while you’re on-the-go. Depending on how you like to create, you can program beats from scratch or start with some pre-made drum patterns that are genre-specific. Either way, Reason Compact comes with 16 free drum kits. It’s not just a beat-making tool, however, because Reason Studios developed a specific free app for that as well (see below)!
The app also comes with multiple synthesizers so you can craft melodies and lead lines — making music on your phone has never been easier!
Reason Studios ‘Figure’ (iOS)
An excellent choice for hip-hop/electronic-minded users, the company behind Reason produces the Figure app for mobile. Reason Studios developed the software as an easy-to-use beat production app for making music on your phone. Though it’s much less powerful than the previous entries, it’s a fun alternative when simple is all that’s called for.
BandLab (iOS, Android)
BandLab is currently one of the most innovative, fully-featured free online DAWs available. Everything you make in it is stored in the cloud, so you won’t ever lose your work. You can pull from thousands of available beats and loops in BandLab’s extensive library, or connect an interface and record live audio.
Plus, since it’s all online, remote collaboration is easily built right into the software. If you plan on making music on your phone, BandLab is definitely worth a try, as it’s completely free.