10 of the Best Mobile Music Production Apps

As a musician you’ve probably been in the position where you have the urge to record something as inspiration suddenly strikes but you’re in the middle of nowhere, away from all of your recording equipment, distanced from your computer and expensive software. Or how about those times when you need to get that idea down and waiting for your computer to boot up and load your hefty DAW won’t cut it.

In the 21st century a lot of you will have a smartphone or tablet on your person most of the time and guess what? With the right app, your mobile device can be transformed into the most portable music-maker you’ll find.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 great DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and sequencers that not only let you record and create on the go but also give you the tools to fine tune your tracks to perfection with professional, and some great amateur, production software.


FL Studio Mobile – $19.99/£14.99 (iOS, Android)

Image-Line already have renown for their great desktop DAW FL Studio. Their mobile version shares the intuitive and well designed notation input of it’s desktop peer. Using the built in piano roll on a bunch of various and editable sample-based instruments you can create a wide range of sounds.

Since it’s release Image-Line have been frequently updating the app with new features including audio tracks, so you can import and edit various audio files. Though it of course pales in comparison to the desktop version of FL Studio, the mobile variant still provides you with a fully fleshed, multi-track DAW to take with you on-the-go.

Image-Line are set to release the third major version of their mobile app soon: routenote.com/blog/fl-studio-mobile-3-coming-soon

Steinberg Cubasis – $49.99/£39.99 (iOS – iPad only)

Steinberg are probably the biggest name in music production software – whether you like their famed Cubase program or not. Their iOS variant Cubasis makes the power of Cubase portable. A streamlined sequencer with multi-touch compatibility using Cubasis you can record, edit and mix your projects easily.

With unlimited audio and MIDI tracks (we have no idea how) and a bunch of effects, instruments and loops to use Cubasis has plenty of creative potential. Add to that it’s extensive recording and editing capabilities and this is one of the best DAWs outside of a computer. You can also share projects between your desktop version and iOS app so no project is left behind.

Garageband – $4.99/£3.99 (iOS)

Apple’s staple in music-making software – GarageBand has been around for over 10 years in various iterations, beginning on Mac OS. These days the software is available on your iOS devices for whenever that creative mood hits.

Garageband offers great functionality through it’s built-in Touch and Smart instruments so you can record a variety of sounds directly into the app. With up to 32 tracks available you can record your instruments with MIDI and jack converters too. Featuring built in guitar amps, effects and a sequencer GarageBand is a great all round music production application. GarageBand also allows transfers from their new Music Memos app for super simple recording on the fly.

SunVox – $5.99/£4.79 (iOS, Android, Windows)

SunVox isn’t the most appealing of mobile music production apps but it does something very unique – it works on Windows phones! It is actually compatible on most OS’s both mobile and desktop.

SunVox is a pattern-based sequencer and modular synthesizer and once you get past it’s striking visuals has plenty to offer. The application supports a variety of inputs depending on what OS you are using and features real-time recording, MIDI import/exports and more. Although it’s one of the few DAWs to work on Windows phones it’s features are still very limited on the device.

Lemur – $24.99/£18.99 (iOS, Android)

Lemus is a professional MIDI and OSC controller application that makes it easy to create all kinds of sequences whilst you’re out-and-about. The app features a deep sequencer with which you can control MIDI instruments. One of Lemur’s best features is it’s great multi-touch functionality.

With the new Canvas feature in Lemur you can script custom widgets within the app from a HTML5 element. On top of it’s great features you can customise the ‘Skins’ of Lemur so that it looks however you want it to look.

TouchDAW – $4.99/£3.36 (Android)

TouchDAW is a feature-packed DAW and MIDI control app for Android. It features multi-touch compatible launchpads and keyboard, MIDI controllers and incredibly impressive mixing capabilities. Seriously, this is the one we recommend if you want in-depth mixing of individual track parameters on your Android tablet or smartphone.

One of this apps major features is it’s compatibility with desktop DAWs, allowing you to use it as a separate mixer or synthesiser whilst you work on your project which is not only really cool but incredibly useful. Although this app is exclusive to Android it’s files are compatible on iOS and Windows phones.

Caustic 3 – $9.99/£7.99 (iOS, Android – free)

Inspired by rack-mount synthesizers this neat little app lets you create racks of up to 14 built-in machines. You can then sequence and create your tracks using the variety of digitised synthesisers which you can apply up to 2 effects on each out of 16 effect types.

With Caustic you can also insert certain USB MIDI controllers on compatible devices so they you’re really playing your recordings. Though not the most diverse, feature packed recording app it’s great for laying your ideas down and even greater if you love synthesisers. For what it is, words don’t do it enough justice so check it out in the video below.

Sequencer – free (Windows)

After a gruelling search this was as good as I could find for the underpowered Windows phones (excluding SunVox). It may not be a DAW but it’s a pretty well realised sequencer (aptly titled – yes) with variable track lengths of up to 128 steps, 70 samples, 3 oscillator wavetable synthesizers and 35 synthesizer presets.

That’s not all with a 7 channel mixer, loop settings and various adjustable features Sequencer is the easiest (and one of the only) ways to create great beats on your Windows phone and best of all – it’s free!

NanoStudio – $6.99/£4.99 (iOS)

NanoStudio is a fully fleshed out “recording studio” for your iOS device. With virtual analogue synths, sample trigger pads, impressive sequencer, sample editor, a mixer, loads of effects and more. All in one app!

Lay out and record any ideas in real time and make them sound exactly how you want. It may take a little practice to get used to simply because of it’s massive set of features. The downside – you can’t record audio but an app that handles six MIDI instruments is good enough. The app also supports Audiobus and exports to SoundCloud.

Akai iMPC Pro – $12.99/£9.99 (iOS – iPad only)

Have we saved the best until last? Well that’s subjective and I won’t force an opinion on you but Akai Professional’s iMPC Pro brings together a gorgeously simple yet intuitive aesthetic with a massive set of music recording and editing functions. The fact alone that it’s a 64-track music production app for your iPad is impressive enough as it is but iMPC Pro provides so much more.

Based on Akai’s MPC series this app provides LOADS of composing, editing and mixing features to aid you from start to finish of your tracks. A massive library of sounds, instinctive sample editing, drum pads, hundreds of editing capabilities from effects, levels, trimming, splicing, timing, tuning, panning and so, so much more. Unfortunately iMPC Pro is iPad only but for those lucky iPad owners this is a music production app you do not want to miss.

 


It’s worth noting the differences in iOS, Android and Windows smartphones when it comes to mobile music-making. You may have noticed the list tends to lean towards iOS compatibility and definitely doesn’t favour Windows phones. Well there’s a reason for this.

Windows phones generally don’t have the power or compatibility to work with proper DAWs and therefore shouldn’t be your first choice, however there a couple of inclusions for those Windows users who want to make do.

Android is a big step up and features a wide-variety of music-making applications however the vast difference in specs between models of Android phones leaves a little ambiguity for compatibility and means you may not get the best results, but there’s still bound to be something for you.

Lastly iOS devices are generally considered the best mobile platform if you want to properly record, mix and edit tracks on the go. From the way they handle audio files to it’s ability to cope with all the various functions of a DAW iOS is for the most part the preferable choice. iPad’s are definitely the top dog for it’s large screen, increased processing power and it’s excellent exclusive apps.

But no matter what your operating system, there will be something for you (even if that’s a little something for Windows users), so get out there and start making music!

Apple Release New Recording App: Music Memos

“An app to capture your song ideas. Whenever inspiration strikes.”

Apple has surprised everyone with the launch of a new recording app and an update to their popular mobile version of GarageBand. The update brings some great improvements and new features to the app and Music Memos gives you an entirely new and easy-to-use platform to record your ideas with.

Music Memos is an app that resembles Apple’s built-in Voice Memos app with some extra, flashy features in the vein of GarageBand. However Music Memos promises high-quality, uncompressed audio, all through the use of the built-in microphone of your iPhone. You do have the option to connect an external microphone however it’s not necessary to create a clear recording. Music Memos has been optimised for the recording of acoustic guitar and piano but works well with other instruments too, including voice.

Apple Music Memos Verge

The most unique and exciting feature of Music Memos however is the ability to add and tweak a backing band, that follows your lead when playing. The app automatically analyses the essentials of your recording and then suggests which chords you played on a track. You can then play it back, adding a virtual drummer and bass player to jam along with you. The app will even track the tempo of your playing and will adjust it’s speed in real time, even if you change speeds during the track. As you listen you can fine tune the playing by switching between different types of drums and bass’ and tweaking the energy or style of playing.

Apple Music Memos

What if you record something using Music Memos that you really love? Easily add it into GarageBand on your iOS or Mac and even into Logic Pro X. You can also share them between friends and devices by adding them to your iTunes library, Apple Music Connect, SoundCloud and Youtube – all directly from the app.

On top of it’s impressive recording functions Music Memos also features an instrument tuner and, of course, a list of your past recordings where you can rename your tracks, add star ratings and add tags, for example Apple suggest adding tags like Intro, Verse, Bridge etc. So when recording a song you can make sure every part is perfect.

Apple Music Memos

Do you want to know what is potentially the greatest thing about Apple’s new Music Memos app? It’s completely free! You can download the app now from the Apple App Store on compatible Apple devices here: itunes.apple.com/app/music-memos/id1036437162?mt=8&v0=www-us-ios-musicmemos-app-musicmemos

Also watch T-Pain try out the new GarageBand update, courtesy of The Verge:

Tracktion’s Unique New Virtual Synthesizer – BioTek

Tracktion Corporation, the company behind popular DAW Tracktion, have released a new premium quality virtual instrument in the shape of BioTek.

Introducing a premium quality virtual instrument that combines an advanced synthesis engine with a stunning array of samples sounds from natural, urban and mechanical environments. Built on the entirely new Acktion platform this “organic synthesizer” sounds like nothing else.

BioTek’s user interface is designed to place a wide range of sound sculpting tools right at your fingertips. Rather than a confusing mix of menus and layers. The 20+ controls on BioTek’s single screen interface change function to give you the ideal set of variable parameters for each sound.

To ensure that BioTek sounded like no other virtual instrument, a whole new library of unique samples was needed. Enter composer and engineer, Mike Wall. BioTek’s natural and environmental sounds are samples from Mike’s collection spanning 20 years of field recording in Washington, Oregon, California, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Hawaii, with a bit of Texas stirred in.

For the industrial sounds, Mike did location recording at several manufacturing facilities near Seattle. Mike achieved exceptionally high-resolution and low noise by utilizing various stereo microphones, hydrophone rigs and digital recorders that are customized for intense field conditions. The samples were carefully looped and mastered for the Acktion Engine.

Mike Wall said of the instrument: “The quality and range of the sounds, as well as the way they interact with the synthesizer in organic and sometimes very twisted ways is uniquely addictive. All of the patches are so carefully crafted that the mash-ups make sense in surprising and unexpected ways. I find myself tempted to compose an entire piece using only one instance of BioTek.

“This new instrument may become the next must-have tool for soundtrack, ambient, chillout, and electronic music work. It is perfect for adding a unique splash to modern popular music production.”


BioTek Demos

BioTek will lead you down new paths and bring fresh inspiration when you need it most. Built on Acktion sampling and synthesis technology, an entirely new platform, BioTek doesn’t recycle or remix the same old sounds. Instead, all raw sounds are crafted by our designers then you have the ability to manipulate a wide range of parameters with BioTek’s unique interface.

Have a listen to BioTek, the “Inspiration Engine”.

BioTek Banger by Woody

Poisoned Oasis by Mike Wall

Doctor BioTek by Frank Van Gompel

https://d32wk0rsvytfcu.cloudfront.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/biotek-sample-doctor-frank-vangompel.mp3

Sapphire Dream by Frank Van Gompel

https://d32wk0rsvytfcu.cloudfront.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/biotek-sample-sapphire-dream-gompel.mp3


Purchase Tracktion’s premium, organic, virtual synthesizer BioTek now for $150 at: https://marketplace.tracktion.com/app/checkout/cart/

BioTek is available on Mac, Windows and Linux – recommended requirements are below.

Mac: Mac OSX 10.7.5 or Later – Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz Processor – 2GB RAM (4GB Recommended)

Windows: Windows XP, VIsta, 7, 8, 10 – Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz Processor – 2GB RAM (4GB Recommended)

Linux: Debian 6 or Later, Ubuntu 10.04 or Later – Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz Processor – 2GB RAM (4GB Recommended)

Roland Launch Their First Music Game Application

Roland have launched their first music-based game application for iOS and Android devices.

TR-REC GAME is now Roland’s first ever mobile game, an application that combines rhythm-based, touchscreen gameplay with the music devices and over 40 years of music production experience of Roland. The game is visually presented in a similar design and style to the TR drum machines of the 80s.

Imagine playing Guitar Hero but your mobile device is your screen and controller and a drum machine is your interface. The game will use sounds from Roland’s TR-808 and TR-8 machines and the game centres on recreating the rhythms played by the app as they get progressively harder and tonally complex.

The app features 16 musical selections and 48 stages through which you can play, tap and earn points for the more accurately you recreate beats and tunes. When you fail to complete a song in the set time you will lose a life, and such is the app.

You can download TR-REC GAME for free right now on the Google Play and Apple app stores.

Serato DJ Free 1.8.1 Update Out now

Popular DJ software Serato DJ have released an update to version 1.8.1 that brings a range of bug fixes and maintenance support.

Serato recently released 1.8 which brought some great new features to the software including Key Detection, Key Display, plug and play support, an update to Pitch ‘n Time DJ and more.

Serato’s Head of Product Strategy, Nick Maclaren says: “Stability and performance is the most important thing for every DJ. It’s great to follow up on the recent feature heavy 1.8 release with a nice stability release that’s full of bug fixes and El Capitan support.”

Here are all of the fixes, optimisations and changes in Serato DJ 1.8.1:

Bug Fixes

  • In HID mode the CDJ cue buttons can jump to incorrect cue point markers
  • With Pitch N’ Time engaged performing a cue point can cause audio artefacts
  • Record timer fault after recording reaches 100 mins
  • Multi channel AIFF files causing crash when loaded to deck
  • Tracks flagged as corrupt can stop deck playback in autoplay
  • MIDI initialisation not working for some controls on OSA devices
  • Full Screen mode in El Capitan not working correctly
  • Half/double BPM edit causing hang
  • Potential hang on library import
  • Dragging and dropping outside of SDJ not working correctly
  • Unable to scroll and organise crate lists correctly
  • Album art is not displaying on supported CDJs
  • Hang on startup for some users
  • Recording meter showing max volume at all times
  • On instant double waveforms are not displaying correctly on some controller screens
  • GUI popups not layering correctly causing visual artefacts
  • GUI stalls when rescanning ID3 tags
  • Analyse files button does not light up when tracks are dragged over the top of it
  • Song time text position incorrect
  • Potential hang when using censor actions during Flip playback
  • Selecting track with unloaded album art can cause all CDJ HID album art to not display
  • Slicer status bar message for beatgrid displaying even when slicer is not enabled
  • Dock Icon bouncing on OSX during startup of SDJ
  • Autoplay stops playback after it skips a missing file
  • Potential crash when editing beatgrids
  • Scope view alignment issues when using SDJ in French and Spanish languages
  • Track info disappears in History Panel after track is removed from the library
  • Translation alignment issues

Other Changes

  • A range of performance, graphical and memory optimisations
  • Fixes for potential crashes, hangs and memory leaks
  • Bundled the El Capitan specific drivers for the Pioneer DJM 850, DJM 900 Nexus, DJM 900 SRT, DDJ-SZ and DJM S9 drivers into Serato DJ

Known Issues

  • When using CDJ HID mode with OSX El Capitan the CDJ900-Nexus and XDJ-1000 players will not be recognised if they are powered on after connecting to your machine via USB, please power your CDJ units before connecting USB, we are investigating this issue.
  • With Pitch N’ Time engaged performing a cue point can cause audio artefacts in certain situations, we are working on this issue and hope to have a fix in a build soon.
  • After updating your machine OS to 10.11 we advise restarting it before attempting to use Serato DJ, it is also highly likely you will need to do another restart after installing any 10.11 specific drivers for your hardware (if your hardware requires it)
  • If your CDJ is not detected using El Capitan and HID mode there is a known issue and we are working on it – in the meantime hotplugging your primary device while the CDJs are connected will detect them.

Traktor Creators, Native Instruments, Release FLESH

Native Instrument’s FLESH is “a fun and innovative performance synth that turns anything you feed it into an electronic symphony”.

FLESH is a new REAKTOR Instrument created by producer, musician and inventor Tim Exile. FLESH lets you upload up to 12 samples which will be analysed by FLESH so that the sound can be transformed into curves and triggers that are sent to four audio engines for re-synthesising new sonic material. These four engines work specifically on changing the sonic character of sounds, transforming samples into monophonic sequence or lead, chords, or sub-bass frequencies.

FLESH augments your music to form dynamic basslines, riffing melodies, throbbing pads, and more. The instrument is intended to provide producers with a way to enhance their live sets or to experiment with fresh sounds for original productions.

Creator Tim Exile said: “The concept for FLESH came to me when touring with my custom looping beatmaking, and improvising instrument that I built in REAKTOR. I was missing a way to make harmonic and melodic material in a live, improvised scenario. I wanted something that would empower me to create expressive and dynamic sounds which fit in perfectly with whatever was going on at the time.”

FLESH has been designed so that it’s easy-to-use and fun to create new sounds from your original samples whilst retaining the original samples qualities. You can also edit and alter the sounds with an effects section and a modulation page.

FLESH is the first REAKTOR Instrument designed from the ground up to get the most out of the KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards. Color-coded control octaves on Light Guide make it easy to see keyswitches – even on a dark stage. FLESH also uses the Light Guide to provide tight visual feedback, highlighting sounds and samples, and sequenced harmonies. Thanks to Native Map, parameters are perfectly pre-mapped to the eight control knobs on the KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboards. Plus, you can save presets – including samples – and recall them in real time.

Make Music For Your Videos Effortlessly With Jukedeck

Using Jukedeck you can create a custom soundtrack to back your videos with no musical knowledge, at a low to no cost!

Every single video creator will know the struggle of having filmed your 2 minute, claymation masterpiece but, with nothing but silence to accompany it your efforts look (god forbid) amateurish. Jukedeck’s new online service is here to rectify that, allowing you to easily create high-quality soundtracks, with as close to no effort as creating original music has ever been before.

With Jukedeck you can select your genre, tempo, mood and even instrumentation to create an original instrumental to complement your videos. Once you’ve “created” (set the guidelines) for the music Jukedeck will auto-generate you your own personal piece of music to download and use as you wish. The services comes with a free tier that lets you download five tracks a month for personal or commercial use, companies must have under 10 employees for commercial use.

If you exhaust your five free downloads a month you can add more for $6.99 each, which isn’t bad considering the first five were all free and these are unique tracks. In fact, just to prove that the each track is original for $199 you can purchase the full copyright to a song. For businesses with 10 or more employees downloads cost $21.99

Creator of Jukedeck and Cambridge university music graduate, Ed Rex, has busied himself for the past few years by sharing the secrets of song composition with computer programming. Inspired by a computer science lecture when visiting his girlfriend in Harvard, Rex became convinced that computer technology was advanced enough to create an AI composer of sorts.

With the funding aid of Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Innovation Capital Rex and physical and mental aid of his childhood friend Patrick Stobbs Rex’s creation has come to fruition with it’s beta release out now.

Speaking of his innovation, Rex said: “There’s an assumption that creativity is something that artificial intelligence can’t touch. Creativity is learning from past examples, imitating and recombining what you learn and introducing minor variations. It’s about seeing how the results go down with your audience and iterating. All those tasks can be done by a computer.”

Jukedeck’s soundtrack’s have already seen some notoriety with videos uploaded to YouTube by Google and the Natural History Museum using Jukedeck’s songs when it was in a pre-launch, beta testing stage. Jukedeck’s founders feel that in the future their programme could be sophisticated enough to create songs that you would hear in the high street or on Spotify.

 

Steinberg Release Cubase Pro 8.5 and Cubase Artist 8.5

A year after the release of Cubase 8, the award-winning digital audio workstation is back with version 8.5 for Cubase Pro and Cubase Artist.

The new update brings with it a host of impressive new features and enhancements that Steinberg say have been developed by request of the many professional Cubase users worldwide. “Cubase Pro 8.5 and Cubase Artist 8.5 not only offer a sleeker workflow and added creative tools but also an innovative cloud-based collaborative system embedded in Cubase: VST Transit” says Steinberg.

Here’s a quick overview of the new features in Cubase 8.5:

  • VST Transit cloud collaboration service brings together musicians and producers from all over the globe
  • Retrologue 2 provides mesmerising new sonic capabilities and hundreds of new presets
  • More responsive MixConsole environment with refined hover controls
  • Pull tracks from existing projects into your song in only a few clicks, including all settings and content
  • Upgraded Key and Drum Editors for faster, more intuitive MIDI editing
  • Enhanced Chord Pads with new Sections play mode and custom chord symbols
  • Profile Manager stores and recalls program settings and preferences (exclusive to Cubase Pro 8.5)
  • Better Transport infrastructure consolidated for easier access and improved visibility
  • Dedicated punch points, independent from locator positions for even more flexibility when recording audio or MIDI
  • Version 3 of zPlane’s extraordinary élastique time-stretch/pitch-shift algorithm

Transport and recording workflow: Better visibility, smoother handling and added features mean more effective workflows for even the biggest, most intricate tracking sessions.

Mixing and track handling: Refining the acclaimed MixConsole environment and proven Cubase track handling tools, version 8.5 makes mixing and manipulating audio channels even more intuitive.

MIDI editing: Famed from day one for its MIDI editing toolset Cubase now offers even more tools and options when manipulating MIDI data, with added tools for both the Key and Drum Editors.

Accessibility and workflow: Using feedback from Cubase users, we implemented a horde of tweaks designed to make vital functions more accessible and the entire Cubase experience even more responsive.

Enhanced Chord Pads and symbols: Further enhancing one of the most inspiring songwriting tools available on any DAW, the extended Chord Pads feature will help you break through even the most massive composer’s block.

MediaBay Racks: Locate your content even faster with MediaBay project racks by clicking through icons and images for VST instruments and their libraries, content packs and preset categories.

One of the most interesting new features has got to be VST Transit which allows for musical collaboration through the cloud all within the Cubase DAW. VST Transit is embedded into Cubase and will allow you to upload audio and MIDI tracks to the cloud and then continue working on your project from anywhere else, then just synchronise the changes back into the cloud. You can also use it to collaborate or share projects with friends, bandmates and anyone else.

With Cubase 8.5 Steinberg introduce the second iteration of their acclaimed virtual analog synthesizer ‘Retrologue’. With Retrologue 2 Steinberg have ensured that they keep the texture of the analog sound whilst improving other areas an adding new features.

Retrologue 2 features:

  • Classic virtual analog synthesizer optimised for low CPU load
  • Over 700 outstanding presets covering classic analog synth sounds and beyond
  • Intuitive interface for fast, creative sound design
  • 3 oscillators with up to 8 de-tunable voices alongside sub and noise oscillators
  • Apreggiator with up to 32 steps and “Export to host” feature
  • 24 first-class filter types
  • 4 LFOs plus filter, amp and custom envelopes
  • 16-stage drag and drop modulation matrix with Note Expression support
  • 5 distortion modes including tube, clip, bit reduction and rate reduction
  • FX section with delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, vintage ensemble, reverb and 4-band EQ
  • 3-band Resonator with 14 different filter configurations and integrated LFO

 

The Cubase Pro 8 and Cubase Artist 8 full retail versions are available from resellers and through the Steinberg Online Shop from December 2, 2015. The suggested retail price for Cubase Pro 8.5 is 549 euros. The suggested retail price for Cubase Artist 8.5 is 299 euros. Cubase Pro 8.5 and Cubase Artist 8.5 updates from the previous version 8 are available for 49.99 euros each. Various downloadable updates and upgrades are exclusively available through the Steinberg Online Shop. All mentioned prices include German VAT.

Customers who have activated Cubase 8 and Cubase Artist 8 since October 15, 2015, are eligible for a free, downloadable Grace Period update to the latest version.