BY JAKE WOOD
Are you a musician looking for some awesome apps or tools? You’re in luck. This article will review the top music-related Android and iOS apps that musicians should be using.
Various apps include tuners, metronomes, drum machines, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, and 4-track recorders. There is an overabundance of apps performing essentially the same function, and it can be overwhelming trying to purchase the right one. To get more out of your mobile device, here are some of the best apps for musicians.
Best music apps for iOS
We found some cool apps for musically gifted geeks. Check out our list and choose your favorite iPhone app for musicians.
The call of duty is lost on the dedicated worker bees at Intua, for they have triumphantly surpassed all yardsticks with a first-class drum machine that blastbeats the competition out of the water. Along with the 16-trigger-pad drum machine, Beatmaker also sports a sampler, a sequencer, and an effects rack.
Unlike the other toys out there, this is one of those rare apps that really elevates the iPhone to a class of professional musical gear. Its effortless beat making and programming is fun (the provided sample library is exquisite), but it’s the sampling and wave-editing functions of recorded audio with seamless integration that deserve the award.
It’s incredibly easy to quickly record a snippet of sound straight into the program, crop any unwanted audio, and assign it to a pad for instant triggering. To top it off, Intua has also developed free software (Beatpack) that supports drag-and-drop kit creation. This means it’s possible to create a kit of homegrown samples on the computer and download it to the iPhone. Finally, I can put my drum kit in my pocket!
While it certainly isn’t a drum machine’s job, Beatmaker’s absence of a synth really leaves much to be desired. One other missing detail is the inability to change the screen-locking preferences within the app.
Best metronome apps for IOS
Visual Metronome $1.99
Some feel that metronomes are the bland bloodletters of beats. For those who feel otherwise (engineered time-keeping perfection makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside), consider downloading Visual Metronome and turning that iPhone into the most glorified click ever. But don’t be fooled by its business-crass (sic) appearance. It is meant for the working musician. No pretty colors, just an interface that works. It’s far cheaper than a real metronome and it comes with tap-tempo, visual cues, handy dandy subdivisions of eighth-notes and triplets, and even a pitch pipe.
An overlooked aspect of metronomes is the tone — is it piercing enough to cut through the sounds of the drums yet pleasant enough to listen to for extended periods without driving you batty? Companies rarely get that part right (cowbells and claves are the way to go). Thankfully, the folks over at BZH Tec spent a little time cultivating solid, clean, loud samples. While this metronome isn’t exactly the best tool out there (it’s a bit more limited than the Visual Metronome), two of its five options for tones are excellent. It sounds much clearer and more pleasant than all the other metronomes out there, and that alone deserves an honorable mention.
Why buy a tuner app when there are free apps that do the same thing? Because Cleartune is more accurate, and accuracy is paramount for tuning. But go ahead, download a freebie, become unsatisfied, and then please sign the “I told you so” form.
Meanwhile, consider Cleartune because the features on this program go above and beyond most other tuners. Its response to frequency change, with needle-dampening options, has a fast-acting response time that is far superior to almost every other tuner out there. It also has a chromatic pitch pipe, various transposition modes (for instruments like saxophones and trumpets), and alternate tunings (like Pythagorean). The only slight drawback is that switching between the pitch pipe and tuner is a little annoying. Otherwise, it’s an excellent tool that even a drummer needs (because your guitar player forgot his tuner … again).
Audio Recording apps for IOS
When it comes to audio recording, it’s hard to be happy with any of the current apps. Although there is a plethora of voice recorders that function well, there are no apps that have gain control at the preamp level. This means that no matter what program is used, loud noises will distort. Try recording a rehearsal or drum session and the end result will be an unbearable garble of distortion. It’s incredibly frustrating as there is so much untapped potential here!
According to certain app makers, preamp gain control is unavailable because of proprietary reasons, which makes it impossible for the average-Joe developer to code. Pointless roadblocks aside, there are still some good audio-recording apps to check out for those situations under 110dB. (Note: For all iPod Touch second-gen users, an additional microphone is needed for these programs to work.)
Free or $4.99 for the premium version
iTalk is a quick-and-easy plug-and-play app. There aren’t many options, but its ease of use and intuitive design make for an expedited experience when fumbling to record that can’t-be-missed once-in-a-lifetime sound bite.
Everything needed in a voice recorder is right there on the front page, including a big ol’ Rudolphesque recording button, a fidelity selector, and a file labeler. Data storage is primitive (only one directory, and probably better for it), and transferring files to the computer is fairly painless. It’s perfect for on-the-go recording.
Free or 99¢
Remember the PortaStudio? Well, oddly enough, 4-track recorders are making a comeback, but now as reincarnated apps. Functioning similarly to the old cassette eaters, GigBaby offers a platform for multi-track layering. While only one track can be recorded at a time, a total of four tracks can be played back simultaneously.
Again, the issue of preamp gain control is a huge limiting factor, but for multi-instrumentalist drummers, this app can be a haven for culturing song ideas. It’s hard to rationalize complaining when an app is free, but nonetheless, when previewing the rhythmic library, be aware that there is an annoying count-off before each playback that prevents quick browsing. The other major flaw is its fussy file-transferring software.
Audio Spectrum Analyzer
FFT Analyzer $19.99
Studio Six Digital pretty much has the acoustical-analysis app world cornered with an arsenal that any audio engineer will find both useful and accurate. The company’s gem, the FFT Analyzer, is a graphical representation of volume and frequency. This app is useful for more than just the acoustician.
For instance, ever been at a sound check with an engineer who has no idea how to tame some crazy feedback? Turn on the FFT Analyzer, find the problem area, and tell them otherwise clueless engineer to turn down the 4kHz. It also has the potential to aid in acoustically treated rooms.
However, trusting the iPhone’s internal microphone for any major construction might be a bit of a gamble (Studio Six took this into consideration and added a calibrated filter, which can be turned off for an external microphone). Planned for a summer release, Studio Six Digital is working on the iAudioInterface — an audio interface with a built-in microphone and a 1/4″ TRS input and output.
MIDI Controller For DAWs
ProRemote Light $35.99
For those who still feel the guilt of buying a $300 phone, Far Out Labs’ app series can quickly set the reckless buyer’s soul at ease by instantly converting an overpriced phone into an underpriced control surface.
Designed primarily as a controller for Pro Tools operations, the ProRemote family also works with Logic and Ableton (parameters are already set and ready to rock), and even sports a few extra skins in the mixer view for each program. With an incredibly easy setup (runs just like any other MIDI controller in Pro Tools) and a low latency response, ProRemote is an incredibly handy app for when an engineer needs to reference a part while working the floor.
The most frustrating flaw, aside from the fact that the iPhone is such a small workspace, is the inability to create new playlists (which isn’t a reason to slight Far Out Labs, as Digidesign has yet to make it a shortcut). To compensate, there is an all-to-readily pressed “undo” button.
To test the waters before sinking a paycheck, check out ProTransport, which is just the transport feature of ProRemote, or try ProRemote Light, an 8-channel version of ProRemote (the full version controls up to 32 tracks).
Best Android apps for musicians
Audio Evolution Mobile Studio
Audio Evolution Mobile Studio is one of the best music studio apps for Android. It is a mobile DAW (digital audio workstation) for mobile devices. It has a lot of the features that professional musicians and producers require from a DAW, including MIDI sequencing, multi-track recording and playback, looped playback, a metronome, latency correction and so on. Like other popular DAWs on the market today, it’s not very easy to use at first.
However, as you become more familiar with it over time, you get used to its quirks and limitations. Learning how to use it becomes easier over time when you figure out how to achieve what you want without having to read its manual too much.
Free / $3.99
gStrings Tuner is a handy little app that’s great for musicians. It can tune virtually any instrument, from guitars to woodwinds. gStrings will help you tune your musical instrument or even voice with high precision. The easy to use interface will get you tuning in no time. If you need to tweak the tone of your instrument, this is one of the best free apps for musicians.
iReal Pro is an app for musicians that helps you to practice and learn more. It includes tools for practicing, chord charts for various instruments, 1,000s of songs to play along with, emulated music to practice with and many other great features.
You can even edit charts to your liking or create your own from scratch. Learn to play the guitar, piano, or ukulele using interactive chord diagrams that show you how to play a song step by step. With the mixer, you may change the backing tracks to fit your demands, fine-tune the volumes of each instrument separately, and mute them to replace them with your own performance.
Best metronome apps for Android
Metronome is for sure one of the most useful tools for musicians. And what’s better than having it in your pocket and using it when and where you want? We found some of the best metronome apps for musicians available both for iOS and Android systems.
Soundbrenner is a metronome that helps you practice better to improve your musical skills. With the Soundbrenner app, you can create any rhythm in the world, choose from over 20 sounds, add visual cues from your display and camera flash, start on time with a count in and more. You can freely change between time signatures, subdivisions and accents to emphasize your beats.
The Soundbrenner metronome app has an elegant, user-friendly interface that delivers you to the core of what you need — a powerful tool for a musician’s practice. It’s a great app for musicians and a band helper app for studio practice time.
Modern metronome apps for musicians simply display the time and have no features to help improve your sense of tempo. Gap Click focuses on improving your ability to keep the tempo and become more aware of any clicks or gaps during a bar.
Through this, you’ll become bulletproof and accurate with all notes of the subdivision. Gap Click helps you do this through a beautiful interface that makes it fun and easy to practice at any tempo. You will be able to see visual feedback for every note that is played, including rests.
With the Gap Click app, you can tap to set your desired tempo or spin a nostalgic wheel to find it. Choose from many different time signatures, including 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 and find your favorite sound from a variety of click samples. You can use Accent beat 1 of each measure or turn accents off; it’s up to you.
Apps for musicians to play together
If you are an amateur or professional musician, you must have come across situations where you wish to jam with other musicians online. If your friends are not around, then what can be done?
Luckily, several apps for musicians are available on the internet that can help you play music with other artists online. These apps provide a platform where you can connect with other musicians and play together. You can also record your music and share it with others. Here are some of the best music collaboration apps.
Soundtrap is a collaborative platform owned by Spotify. It is an online DAW that you can use to record your own music, or you can use it as a music band app and collaborate with other musicians. You can send a track to friends from different social media platforms and work together on your sessions.
It is available on any device, and all of your projects are stored online in the cloud. You can connect Soundtrap with your own microphone, guitar or any other instrument. It has an easy-to-use interface and offers a variety of instruments, loops and high-quality beats and presets right at your fingertips.
Flat is a collaborative music software that lets you write your own sheet music and share it with other musicians. It provides you with all of the tools you need to create your own sheet music straight in your web browser or on any mobile device.
Start writing on your phone, collaborate in real-time with a friend or share with another musician. You can also use it offline, and all your changes will be synchronized as soon as you are back online. All changes you make are saved, and you can restore a previous version when you want.
When considering which is the best music app, you may need to prioritize what’s most important to you. There are so many music artist apps, and you will find a lot of them very useful for individual or band practice. S
Some of the best apps for musicians are metronomes and tuners, but that’s just the basics. If you want, you can have a pocket recording studio for tablet, phone or another device with various features for creating, recording and editing the music.
We hope you will find our choice of best apps for musicians useful and have all you need to get started creating music wherever you are.