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A guide for beginners to make music on iPhone and iPad

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

You do not have to sing, play an instrument, or read music to make music. With an iPhone or iPad you have a mobile production suite, a recording studio and a mixer in one.

Making Music with the Right Apps

iPhone and iPad users have access to some of the best apps, especially when it comes to making music. Not only is the platform relatively easy to develop, but the implementation of Apple's low-latency audio technologies has also helped iOS become the preferred platform for mobile manufacturers.

One of the most accessible apps is Apple's GarageBand. With this first-generation Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), you can play, record and program music for free. It's perfect for playing around with virtual instruments, but can also be used as a mobile recording studio, virtual guitar amp, and drum machine for practice sessions. If you think of something special, you can export and edit it with GarageBand for Mac (also for free).

  GarageBand runs on an iPad

For producing electronic music, Hip Hop and Auxy is a more technical genre that crosses the line between ease of use and pure power. With an optional monthly subscription of $ 4.99, you can access hundreds of samples, additional tools, and periodic updates for free. Getting started in Auxy is easy. There is also a lively community of artists who support each other and share tracks in the Auxy Disco Forum.

Korg Gadget 2 is another high-performance production environment. KORG has a long history of developing professional instruments, synthesizers, sequencers and more. Gadget uses many of these typical sounds and offers full support for MIDI controllers, unlike Auxy. Gadget is probably best at home on an iPad, as developers have chosen the UI "mixer" approach.

  KORG Gadget runs on an iPad Pro

Making music does not have to be a serious exercise in creative expression. It can also be a fun way to burn for five minutes, as is the case with Figure. With this app you can tap your fingers on the pads and drag them over the pads to change pitch and tone. You can create drum loops, set bass lines and improvise catchy melodies in just minutes. It's hard not to have fun with Figure.

This is a small selection of the most accessible production environments, but the App Store is also full of virtual instruments, synths and drum machines. Featured apps include:

  • Animoog – a standalone touch-sensitive synthesizer from Moog's analog legends.
  • iSEM – a faithful replica of the 1974 Sheimer SEM.
  • Model 15 – Moog's first modular synthesizer for iOS, u Outstanding replica of the original 15.
  • KORG iKaossilator – a software version of KORG's innovative Kaossilator XY pad ,
  • Fingerlab DM-1 – a special drum computer and beat sequencer that fits in every pocket.

Some of these apps are free, while others can be expensive. Almost all of them will eventually go on sale, so it's worth keeping an eye on the App Store with a service like AppShopper to find the best deals.

Using iOS Instruments and Microphones

Many iOS synthesizers and digital audio workstations (DAWs) are compatible with real instruments. These include keyboards, guitars, microphones and audio interfaces.

MIDI Keyboards

Many USB MIDI keyboards work with iOS by default. For best results, however, you should buy a keyboard that advertises its compatibility. Some great examples of iOS-enabled keyboards include the ultra-compact KORG MicroKEY 25, the battery-powered Akai LPK 25, and the full size M-Audio Keystation 88.

 KORG Microkey MIDI Keyboard [19659006] If you already have a MIDI-capable keyboard, you can buy a low-cost MIDI interface such as the iConnectMIDI1 Lightning or iRig MIDI 2 and use it with your iPhone or iPad. 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 need an appropriate interface. Basic analog interfaces like the iRig 2 are cheap enough. They deliver a raw analogue signal that's perfect for jamming or demo work.

However, if you care more about the sound quality, you should opt for something like the iRig HD2. The big difference is the sound quality, as the HD2 converts the 96 kHz analog signal into a 24-bit digital signal. You also get a few extra inputs and controls.

  Guitar connected to iRig HD2 and an iPad

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

Microphones and Audio Interfaces

All sorts of microphones are available, from clip-on lavalier microphones for recording interviews to condenser microphones that are more suitable for singing. Some of these microphones have been designed with iOS compatibility in mind. B. the high-quality Shure motif MV51.

Many other USB microphones already work with iOS if you have the Lightning to USB Camera Connection Kit. Some USB microphones consume more power and are therefore not ready for immediate use. The solution is to switch a powered USB hub between the microphone and the Lightning-to-USB adapter.

The best microphones usually use an XLR or 1/4-inch connector. For these you need an iOS compatible audio interface. A good starting point is the iRig Pro I / O, which acts both as an audio interface (for microphones and instruments) and as a MIDI interface (for controlling a synthesizer). You can find a similar battery-powered portable interface that does not use MIDI in the Zoom U-22.

  Focusrite iTrack Solo with iPad

The Focusrite iTrack Solo is another solid option. It has a two-channel interface with XLR and 1/4 "input, dual-channel gain control, and a 1/4" headphone output for monitoring, and if your budget is not enough, the Apogee Duet is well worth a look

Choosing the right app for live recording

So, if you have a user interface and want to start recording audio, you can start with GarageBand, which offers a host of useful features. You can record effects via a virtual guitar amp Add to your vocals and even access Apple's extensive collection of royalty-free sounds.

Cubasis 2 from Steinberg is one of the most successful DAWs available for the platform. Draw an unlimited number of tracks in 24-bit 96-bit audio. kHz quality, use time-stretching and pitch-shifting to manipulate your recordings, and include virtual e instruments, a mini-sample, 17 effects processors and more than 500 ready-to-use loops.

Another popular third-party DAW is Auria and her pricier sister Auria Profi. It's a professional recording, mixing and mastering suite for iOS. The main difference between the two versions is that Auria Pro provides MIDI support, virtual instruments, quantization, and more. The full list of differences can be found on the Auria website.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced DAW, you are in the right place with Multitrack DAW. With this app you can record up to 24 audio tracks with non-destructive, non-linear editing. There is no MIDI support and the feature set is clearly barebones, but that makes it relatively easy to use compared to an app like Auria. For solo jamming and playing around, you may only need the loop-based recording app Loopy.

Most iOS DAWs support AudioUnits, plugins that run in other apps. Unlike concurrently linking apps and running multiple apps, AudioUnits lets you do everything in a single app to improve the user experience.

Turn your iPhone into a virtual guitar amp

If you can not crank up your amp Because you live in an apartment, using a virtual guitar amp is second best. It lets you experiment with a whole range of different sounds without spending thousands of dollars on boxes and pedals.

GarageBand offers a selection of amplifiers to get you started. You can re-create classic sounds by turning the knobs and adding pedals to your setup. You can then record directly into GarageBand, add vocals and drums, and share your creation with others.

 GarageBand effect pedal chain runs on the iPhone

However, there are also special guitar amp simulators. In general, these offer much more customization than GarageBand, so you can tailor the microphone you use, add virtual preamps, and create elaborate feedback loops with creative routing.

Some of the best virtual guitar amps include:

  • STARK – Modular amplifier virtualization with 12 amps, 10 boxes, six rooms and 14 pedals.
  • JamUp – A multi-effect 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 amps and effects in a single chain.
  • iShred LIVE – FREE (with in-app purchases) Get started right away.
  • Amplitube – expensive, but established virtual amp modeling by the developers of the iRig series.

Improve your music with more complex tools.

With so many available iOS music apps you can probably want some kind of collaboration to join you. That way, you can record the output of one app (such as a synthesizer) to another (like a DAW). You can even process an input (like your guitar) through an app (a virtual amp) and record the results in your favorite DAW.

Apple's previous standard, Inter-App Audio (IAA), is being discontinued in favor of Audio Units v3. With Audio Units, you can execute elements of one app in another, for example: A conventional VST or AU on a Mac or PC. There is an app that is still a strong competitor when there is no AUv3 support: AudioBus.

AudioBus lets you transfer audio and MIDI from one app to another. With the right in-app purchase, you can create app chains, adjust levels, and even bind controls to your MIDI controller. There's also a nice little overlay that lets you start and stop playback, or turn on and off effects processing, no matter what app you use.

There are over a thousand AudioBus compatible apps (see full list). You can download AudioBus 3 for $ 9.99 from the App Store and download the separate AudioBus remote to control your setup from a separate iOS device.

An alternative to AudioBus is the App AudioCopy. AudioCopy features are often integrated directly into compatible apps and work just like normal copying and pasting. The difference is that you do not create an app chain for recording. Instead, you create small files that you can paste into other apps – such as: A loop from a drum machine – to process them or use them in a larger composition.

The results speak for themselves.

Gorillaz has produced his album The of 2010 Fall on an iPad. Steve Lacy produced the backing track for PRIDE from Kendrick Lamar with iPhone apps and had his guitar connected to an old iRig. All you have to do is listen to talented auxy producers such as Utin haga, phluze, Kayasho and Mr. Anderson to see the potential for themselves. Check out the best music creation sites – no additional software required!

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