A Beginner’s Guide to Making Music on iPhone and iPad

Woman wearing headphones and typing on an iPhonesergey causelove / Shutterstock.com

You do not need to be able to sing, play an instrument or read scores to create music. With an iPhone or iPad, you have a mobile production suite, a recording studio and a mixing desk.

Make music with the right apps

IPhone and iPad users have access to some of the best apps, especially when it comes to creating music. Not only is the platform relatively simple to develop, but the implementation of low-latency Apple audio technologies has also helped iOS become the platform of choice for mobile producers.

One of the most accessible applications is that of Apple. GarageBand. This digital audio workstation (DAW) allows you to play, record and program music for free. Ideal for playing with virtual instruments, it can also be used as a mobile recording studio, virtual guitar amplifier and drum machine for workouts. If you offer something special, you can export and work with GarageBand for Mac (also free).

GarageBand runs on an iPadapple.com

To produce electronic music, hip hop and more technical genres, Auxy perfectly draws the dividing line between usability and raw power. Its use is free with an optional monthly subscription of $ 4.99 which gives access to hundreds of samples, additional instruments and regular updates. It's very easy to start with Auxy, in addition to a vibrant community of artists who share songs and support each other at the time of reading. Auxy Disco forum.

KORG Gadget 2 is another very productive production environment. KORG has a long tradition of creating professional instruments, synthesizers, sequencers, and so on. Gadget uses many of these signature sounds and, unlike Auxy, provides full support for MIDI controllers. Gadget is probably the most comfortable on an iPad, due to the "mixer" UI approach adopted by its developers.

KORG Gadget running on an iPad Prokorg.com

Making music does not have to be a serious exercise in creative expression. It can also be a fun way to burn five minutes, as in the case of figure. This application allows you to tap and slide your fingers on the pads to manipulate the pitch and sound. You can create drum loops, establish bass lines and improvise catchy melodies in just a few minutes. It's hard not to have fun with Figure.

This is a small sample of the most accessible production environments, but the App Store is also full of virtual instruments, synthesizers and drum machines. Out-of-competition applications include:

Animoog – a touchscreen autonomous synthesizer based on Moog's analog legends.
ISEM – a faithful reconstruction of the 1974 SEM in Oberheim.
Model 15 – Moog's first modular synth for iOS, a striking replica of the original Model 15.
KORG iKaossilator – a software version of KORG's innovative Kaossilator XY pad.
Fingerlab DM-1 – a dedicated drum machine and a rhythm sequencer that fits in your pocket.

Some of these apps are free, while others can be expensive. Most of them will go on sale at some point, so it's worth keeping a close eye on the App Store using a service like AppShopper to find the best deals.

Using instruments and microphones with iOS

Many iOS synthesizers and digital audio workstations are compatible with real instruments. This includes keyboards, guitars, microphones and audio interfaces.

MIDI keyboards

Many USB MIDI keyboards work immediately with iOS, but for best results, always buy a keyboard that announces compatibility. Good examples of iOS-compatible keyboards include the ultra-compact keyboard KORG MicroKEY 25, drums Akai LPK 25and the normal size M-Audio 88 Keystation.

KORG Microkey MIDI Keyboard

If you already have a MIDI compatible keyboard, you can buy a cheap MIDI interface such as iConnectMIDI1 Lightning or iRig MIDI 2 and use it with your iPhone or iPad. In addition, these interfaces almost always work with Windows, MacOS and, in some cases, Android.

Guitar Interfaces

If you want to record or use your guitar with iOS music apps, you will need an appropriate interface. Basic analog interfaces like the iRig 2 are pretty cheap. They provide a raw analog signal ideal for scrambling or demonstration.

But if you are more concerned about the sound quality, you might want to opt for something like the iRig HD2. The big difference here is the sound quality since the HD2 converts the analog signal into a 24-bit digital signal at 96 kHz. You also get some additional entries and controls.

Guitar connected to the iRig HD2 and an iPadikmultimedia.com

If you want your guitar to sound better, you can spend the extra money allocated to a digital interface.

Microphones and audio interfaces

There are all kinds of microphones, lavalier microphones to clip for recording interviews to condenser microphones more suited to vocals. Some of them are designed with iOS compatibility in mind, like high quality Shure Motiv MV51.

Many other USB microphones work perfectly with iOS, as long as you have the Lightning to USB camera connection kit. Some USB microphones consume more power and will not work immediately. The solution is to install a USB hub powered between your microphone and the Lightning to USB adapter.

The best microphones usually use an XLR or 1/4 "connector, and for these, you'll need an iOS compatible audio interface.A good starting point is the iRig Pro I / O, which serves as both an audio interface (for microphones and instruments) and a MIDI interface (for controlling a synth). For a similar portable battery-powered interface that gives up MIDI, check out the section Zoom U-22.

Focusrite iTrack Solo with iPadfocusrite.com

the Focusrite iTrack Solo is another solid option. This is a two-channel XLR and 1/4 "input interface and comes with a gain control for both channels and a 1/4" headphone output for control purposes. If your budget can stretch, the Apogee duo worth the eye too.

Choosing the right application for live recording

So you have an interface and you want to start recording audio. You can start with GarageBand, which provides a ton of useful functions. You can record via a virtual guitar amplifier, add effects to your voice and even access the rich library of sounds without rights from Apple.

Cubasis 2 Steinberg is one of the most successful DAWs available for the platform. Record an unlimited number of tracks in 24-bit quality at 96 kHz. Use time stretching and pitch-shifting to manipulate your recordings. Also included are virtual instruments, a mini sample, 17 effect processors and more than 500 ready-made loops.

Another popular DAW third is Auria and his more expensive brother Auria Pro. It's a professional recording, mixing and mastering suite for iOS. The main difference between the two versions is that Auria Pro comes with MIDI support, virtual instruments, quantization, and more. Check out the full list of differences on the Auria website.

For a DAW budget, look no further than DAW multitrack. This app allows you to record up to 24 audio tracks with non-destructive and nonlinear editing. There is no MIDI support, and the feature set is decidedly bare-bone, but that makes it relatively easy to use compared to an app like Auria. For solo jamming, you may only need a loop recording application. Loopy.

Most DAW iOS include support for AudioUnits, plug-ins that run in other applications. Instead of linking applications together and running multiple applications at once, AudioUnits lets you run everything inside a single application for a better user experience.

Turn your iPhone into a virtual guitar amp

If you can not start your amp because you live in an apartment, your second choice is to use a virtual guitar amplifier. These allow you to experience a whole range of different sounds without having to spend thousands of dollars on furniture and pedals.

GarageBand has a selection of amplifiers to help you get started. You can recreate classic sounds by adjusting the knobs and adding pedals to your setup. You can then record directly into GarageBand, add voices, drums and share your creation.

GarageBand Effect Pedal Chain on iPhone

But there are also guitar amp simulators. These typically offer much more customization than GarageBand, allowing you to adjust the "microphone" used, add virtual preamps, and create feedback loops with creative routing.

Some of the best virtual guitar amps include:

RIGID – Modular amp virtualization with 12 amps, 10 cabinets, six rooms and 14 pedals.
engorge – a multi-effects processor for guitar and bass with an online community for sharing presets.
BIAS AMP 2 and BIAS FX – with hundreds of amps, effects and pedals.
ToneStack – with support for up to 64 amperes and effects in a single chain.
iShred LIVE – Free to start (with in-app purchases) so you can get shredding immediately.
Amplitube – Modeling virtual amps expensive and well established by the developers of the iRig range.

Use more complex tools to improve your music

With so many iOS music apps available, you will probably want a way to connect them. This allows you to record the output of one application (such as a synth) into another (such as a digital audio workstation). You can even process an input (like your guitar) via an application (a virtual amp) and save the results in your favorite music software.

The previous Apple standard in this regard, Inter-App Audio (IAA), is abandoned in favor of Audio Units v3. Audio Units allows you to run elements of one application in another, such as a traditional VST or an AU on a Mac or PC. There is an application that remains a serious competitor where AUv3 support is absent, however: AudioBus.

AudioBus allows you to transfer audio and MIDI from one application to another. You can create application strings, adjust levels and even bind commands to your MIDI controller with the right built-in purchase. There is also a small overlay that allows you to start and stop playback or enable and disable effect processing, regardless of the application you are using.

There are more than a thousand AudioBus compatible applications (Check out the complete list). You can download AudioBus 3 from the App Store for $ 9.99, and get the Remote AudioBus to control your configuration from a separate iOS device.

An alternative to AudioBus is an application called AudioCopy. The AudioCopy feature is often integrated with compatible applications and works like a classic copy and paste. The difference is that you do not create a chain of applications for recording. Instead, you create small files that you can paste into other applications, such as a drum machine loop, to process them or use them in a larger composition.

The results speak for themselves

Gorillaz produced his 2010 album The fall on an iPad. Steve Lacy produced the accompaniment track for PRIDE from Kendrick Lamar using iPhone apps and having his guitar plugged into an old iRig. Just listen to the talented producers of Auxy as aUstin haga, phluze, Kayasho, and Mr. Anderson to see the potential for yourself.

Instead, create music in your browser? Check-out the best sites to create music-No additional software needed!

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