Updated January 20th 2012:
This list has become a bit outdated. It is still well read, so I will make a whole new “Must Have” list updated to both include and or remove music apps based on what I use today, and recommend highest. Check out my new “Must Have iOS Music Apps-2013” post. Ill leave this up in case it remains of some interest. Thank you for reading and all the kind messages.
I seem to have neglected this during the holidays. You know how it is. Anyway, like you I’ve come across some amazing new music apps since this was last updated. So of course there must be new additions to my list. AND a new category. The new Must Have category is for a combination of both Loopers, and DJ type apps. Its a short category to start. Check it out.
I’ve added, Grain Sience, by Wooji. This is one huge synthesizer that shows off some of the more finely detailed programmability options to hit a grain synth, or any synth really.
Also, new to the must have list is Bit Shapes TC-11 Multi Touch Synthesizer. This synth is an amazing work of art itself, taking full advantage of the iOS user interface. It’s a very organic feeling instrument. A 3 dimensional experience allowing a monstrous amount of programming and routing possibilities beyond the traditional synthesizers. TC-11 took the “box” and set it on fire, leaving us the most effective and powerful multi touch synth to date.
The Drum Machine DM-1 has to go on this list. Even with it being slightly off the mark as a truly mobile (waiting for ACP) music app, it really is an amazing drum machine with loads of classic, and modern drum machine styles and sounds. DM-1 is teaching me to be patient. Good development doesn’t happen over night. This is the sole exception to the “must have ACP” rule. Only because it’s so damn good, and it will have ACP sooner or later.
Updated October 31st: I’m adding iSequence HD. I really wish I had this app a lot sooner. It is a fantastic sequencer, great sounds, easy to use. A real delight!
Also, on a related side note. I want to note that I am going to integrate some apps from this list into what will be a small series of blog posts about my iOS creative process. It will help flesh out more about why the apps are “must haves” and how I use them as they relate to my process. I know, I said I’d write about my process for a while, and still shown you nothing. I apologize for that delay. It was harder to explain than I expected. Harder than the process actually is to practice. Then I thought since I get so many questions and requests to write about that process, and also about the apps on this list, why not work that out all together? I will start with step one this week. I’ll give you both the process and talk about specific must have apps.
Updated October 17th:
I have to include a couple more synths recently released. Alchemy Synth because of its huge sounds. Also adding Animoog! Its just to cool for school.
Updated: October 7th. I am adding Xewtons Music Studio to the list. It’s always been an excellent music app of exceptional quality, but it lacked certain fundamental functions that prevented it from making my personal choice list of “Must have music apps”. Now it has been updated to include(among many other great additions)my number 1 required function, audio copy paste. ACP is an absolute requirement for me, and I’m happy to add it to my list.
“How did you do that? What music app did you use? What do you consider must have music apps?”
Those are questions I hear the most from other iOS musicians, especially those just starting out. I am always more than happy to answer and engage in a dialog to learn more about the person asking to better advise them. If I can, of a few apps they might get the most out of.
After several of these friendly email conversations ending consistently with, “You should write about your must have apps on your blog!”
After a lot of careful thought and not so careful note taking I did come up with a list of my most used, and needed music apps.
The first thing that I want to explain right off the bat is that it should be very clear to you, my friendly reader, that this is only my opinion based on personal experiences, needs and style. Additionally, I use only my iPad and sometimes iPod for every aspect of making music with a very serious approach. Besides obviously needing quality, I also need complete freedom from wires. For me, that freedom defines what I consider a “must have music app”, and it also means they must have (ACP) copy/paste, pasteboard support. My entire music studio is in my lap, and on my iPad. Not even iTunes file share will cut it when I take my studio to the park, woods, or mountains. I won’t… scratch that…. I cant use anything that needs a cable to move files around through a computer.
So now that I’ve explained where I’m coming from here is my list of what I consider my favorite, must have music apps for iOS. I’ll try to make this simple and clear by app type, but not really in any particular order.Also, how anyone mixes and matches is up to them. You can expect this list to be updated regularly as more new amazing iOS music apps hit the app store.
Must Have synthesizers. NLog Synth Pro, Addictive Synth, Sunrizer Synth, Crystal XT, Grain Bender, Synthtronica, BassLine, Alchemy Synth, Animoog, Grain Science, and TC-11 Multi Touch Synth.
Must Have samplers / sequencers. SampleWiz, Electrify, SampleLab, iSequence HD.
Must Have beat makers / drum machines. MoDrum, Funk Box, Molten, The Drum Machine DM-1, and iElectribe.
Must Have Audio Editors and FX. Reforge, Hokusai HD with pro tools package, Moog Filtatron and Mixtikl
Must Have Studio, mixer, or DAW style. Nano Studio, Multitrack DAW,*Music Studio, Studio HD, BeatMaker2
Must Have iOS instruments and (or) Virtual Core MIDI controllers. iShred, Thumb Jam, Sound Prism Pro,
Must Have Loopers, or DJ apps. Looptastic HD, Loopy, and Meta DJ HD.
These are all apps I use on a regular basis, and honestly just can’t live without. I realize that it’s not ideal for everyone, and really selecting one or a couple from each category would build a pretty nice iOS studio for most people into electronic music.
But what if you really only want to get started? You’re not sure how serious you want or need to be just yet? Maybe you want to get the best possible set up under $20 that won’t be too complicated?
That’s easy. Get Nano Studio and the 16 track upgrade. It has everything an electronic musician needs covered. Honestly even if you think you have out grown it down the road, you’ll still come back to it for the amazing Eden Synths. It’s not iPad Native yet, but my experience with it on my iPad has been solid and trouble free. It’s a superb, complete music studio type app. My second choice would be Music Studio.
Remember this isn’t a set of rules, or an edict. This is just MY opinion of Must Have iOS music apps. How anyone chooses to make their purchases and in what order is entirely up to them. I do believe you can’t go wrong with any that I named here. I hope this answers some of the questions I hear most and might help someone. Thank you and have fun! Surely we will all see more Must Have iOS Music Apps as iOS music evolves and improves.