8 Apps for Mobile Music Making
Making music on the go has never been easier. As gear has become more and more compact the ease of taking it with you has also increased. Additionally, with how powerful computers have gotten, many people are able to make their music exclusively on a laptop. However, not everyone has a laptop or instrument small enough to take out and about with them. Well, for people in this boat there is still hope. There are now hundreds of apps out there targeted to people wanting to make music. You really can create quite a lot on just the phone or tablet that you carry around. I’ve compiled a brief list of what I believe to be some of the best you can get currently. If you are someone who is looking to jump into the world of mobile music-making, then these apps are for you.
FL Studio (iOS, Android) – $14.99
Kicking things off we have a very popular DAW that many will be aware of its desktop counterpart. The FL Studio mobile app has the potential to give you a great platform to create from. This DAW is geared towards electronic and hip-hop production styles, but you can make anything you would like. As far as using this compared to the desktop version… it’s really not comparable. Using a mobile DAW is an altogether different experience than on a desktop and FL Studio is no exception. Regardless this is still a fantastic music creation tool and works just about as good as you could ask for. FL Studio is one of the best options for a mobile DAW that exists today.
Garageband (iOS) - FREE
For Apple users, Garageband is a super solid free choice for a mobile DAW. This is a particularly great choice for those who may be newer to working with music software. As far as being a “friendly” DAW, there is not much else that beats the easy-to-use interface and workflow of Garageband. If fact, this leads me to the one major complaint of the DAW. For more experienced people, it may feel limiting. If you are in this camp, I would recommend trying out one of the other DAW like apps on this list. But nonetheless, it is free and works great for anyone looking to make music on an iPhone.
nTrack Studio (iOS, Android) – FREE, $29.99 for full Pro version
nTrack Studio is another great option for getting a full DAW like experience on a phone screen. This app combines things you would expect from a mobile platform with more intensive features like vocal tuning and volume automation. The layout also adds to the experience by providing a nice workflow for the user. But the downside to this app is, while the core experience is free, you have to pay for the additional features you want. The prices range from small monthly payments to $29.99 to outright own everything, which is reasonable considering all that you are paying for.
Soundtrap (iOS, Android) – FREE, pro upgrades available
If I had to describe Soundtrap in one word, it’d be clean. This audio app lets you easily record from your phone's mic and get right into the music. The interface is laid out in a way that was clearly thought out for the size of a phone screen, making a pleasant user experience. And if you want to pay for the upgrades this can quickly become a full-on DAW. For those wanting a fast and easy way to get multi-track recordings on your phone, this is a great option.
This is in no way an app meant specifically for music production, but I had to throw a simple voice recorder on this list. A voice recorder can act as a lifesaver for preserving the ideas that you stumble across. Wherever you are, a quick voice memo is usually going to preserve the idea better than just writing it out. Whether it is a quick melody idea or just a concept for a song every musician can benefit from having an app like this at the ready.
$30 for an instrument app? Well you might think that is overpriced at first, and you’d be correct if this was like a lot of the free instruments out there, but this is more. KORG has made this app to be an exact recreation of their legendary MS-20 unit. This is a very thorough reawakening of a well-known synth, plain and simple. Any avid synth lover could appreciate the detail to which you this thing controls like the real analog inspiration. Unfortunately, the one downside of this guy is the exclusivity. The iMS-20 is only available to be downloaded on to Apple iPads.
KORG Kaossilator (iOS, Android) - $19.99
This is another instrument that the folks at KORG have made into an app for us to enjoy. Again, this is a lot of money compared to some apps, yet it is also much more involved than them. This is the perfect mobile music maker for those with little to no knowledge of music production or theory. The tracks are made to build off one another in a way where there are no “wrong” choices to be made. And for the more experienced out there, this is still a rather fun and interesting piece of software to play around with. The best part here is that unlike the MS-20 iPad app, the KORG Kaossilator is available on all iOS and Android devices.
Minimoog Model D (iOS) - FREE
The Minimoog is yet another very classic and iconic synth. Moog has done a great job of taking the sounds that made it so great and packing that into your phone screen. This app really does sound awfully close to that of the original and through good speakers/headphones, it will shine even brighter. This software also introduces a lot of modern features (like 4-note polyphony and many presets) that help make this a modern instrument. On top of everything else this thing is free, enough said.