In this 2015 Holiday Gift Guide, we have rounded up some of our favorite iOS and iPad music production applications that will make great gifts for mobile music producers this holiday season.
iOS SYNTH AND SAMPLER APPS
iMASCHINE 2 | Groove Production System
iMASCHINE 2 by Native Instruments is a full-featured app for producing on the go with your iPhone or iPad. Watch LA-based producer TK Kayembe create an entire track in one day using iMASCHINE 2. Create a beat on 16 pads with hundreds of professional sounds. Use the Smart Play keyboard to add melodies and basslines that are always in-key. Spice up your track with vocal and field recordings or sample directly from iTunes. Use Apple’s 3D Touch technology to optimize your workflow and get even more creative. The Arranger in iMASCHINE 2 lets you turn your loops and scenes into full tracks with the swipe of a finger. Add parts quickly and easily. Change the color of your pads or groups to see your entire arrangement at a glance – rearranging and editing tracks on-the-go has never been quicker or easier. Share your creations with the world by uploading them directly to Soundcloud. Or export your projects to the MASCHINE 2 software and continue working on them in the studio with your full MASCHINE hardware setup.
Pricing and availability: Download iMASCHINE 2 from the App Store for $9.99. Find out more here.
iMPC Pro | Music Production Suite
Developed in partnership with Retronyms, the iMPC Pro by Akai Professional is a 64-track music production powerhouse for your iPad. With built-in sampling functionality, a massive sound library, effects, and over 30 performance-driven features, iMPC Pro brings the functionality of Akai Professional’s coveted Music Production Center to your iPad. The iMPC Pro comes with pro-grade tools for intuitive beat-creation whenever inspiration strikes. It combines multiple sampling methods, producer-tested MPC features, a custom sample library from Richard Devine, and an intuitive gestural editor.
Pricing and availability: Download iMPC Pro from the App Store for $12.99. Find out more here.
Tabletop | Musical Environment
Developed by Retronyms Inc, Tabletop is a modular environment where you can mix and match different devices. You can select from over 40 in-app devices including samplers, mixers, effects, sequencers, and more. The app also allows you to access powerful Tabletop-Ready Apps including iMPC, iMini, and iProphet. You can connect multiple devices and control every parameter with any MIDI-compatible hardware or customize control mapping with Midi Learn mode. Tabletop is truly an audio playground where you can create beats, compose songs, mix live, make mashups with samples, and so much more.
dot Melody | Multidimensional Arpeggiator, Sequencer, and Drum Machine
dot Melody is a new app from Olympia Noise Co., who also made one of our favorite iOS applications for chords: Chordion. This new app is being billed as “a simple, beautiful, and unique interface for creating music on the iPhone.” From our experience, dot Melody offers an intuitive sequencing experience that allows you to choose polyrhythmic time signatures and scales to build a structure for composition. Once you choose a few variables you’ll get lost connecting nodes and playing with different parts of the interface to “create intertwining melodies, bass lines, and beats.” dot Melody is currently $2.99 at the app store and well worth its low price for creating cosmic melodies.
Pricing and availability: Download dot Melody from the App Store for $1.99. Find out more here.
Samplr | Multi-Touch Music Creation
Developed by Marcos Alonso, Samplr is a forward-thinking app that makes sampling in rhythmic, expressive ways possible. Samplr allows you to make music and play with sound in a new and intuitive way by touching the waveform on the screen with your fingers. Explore the sounds melody and texture using the different play modes and create your music compositions with the gesture recorder. The different play modes include a Slicer, Looper, E-bow, Tape, Scratch, Arpeggiator, Keyboard, and Loop Player. Each mode is multi-touch enabled. The interface lends itself to live performance as well as studio use. Samplr also includes effects including reverb and delay. Check out Dubspot’s Matt Cellitti jamming in Samplr and demonstrating many of the app’s functions.
Pricing and availability: Download Samplr from the App Store for $9.99. Find out more here.
KORG iM1 | Mobile Music Workstation
KORG’s all-new iM1 mobile digital synthesizer for iPad is a complete reproduction of the legendary M1 music workstation that has become a popular favorite in the music scene. KORG stepped up the design by including additional features and capabilities making the iM1 a seriously powerful, flexible, and professional environment for mobile music creation. The iM1 comes loaded with a gigantic sound library bringing 3,300 sounds to your fingertips using the new “Smart Sound Browser” making it quick and convenient to find the desired type of instrument or tonal character. The iM1 even features a “KAOSS pad” from the popular KAOSSILATOR, allowing you to perform intuitively just by touching or swiping the screen. By using the dual KAOSS pads to play chords or adjust the sound, even people who are not accustomed to keyboard instruments or knowledgeable about synthesizers can enjoy performing M1 sounds. There’s also a conventional virtual keyboard screen, as well as the “smart keyboard,” which lets you specify a scale setting appropriate for your song and play chords with a single finger. You can also connect a MIDI keyboard and play the iM1 as an external sound module. The iM1 is capable of so much more, visit the KORG website for additional details.
Pricing and availability: Download the KORG iM1 from the App Store for $14.99. Find out more here.
Arturia iSEM | Modeled Synthesizer
iSEM by Arturia is a recreation of the classic 1974 Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module), capable of producing a wide range of warm analog sounds. iSEM comes with over 500 sounds that can be played from the iPad keyboard or controlled from a MIDI keyboard or other app via CoreMIDI making it easy to integrate it into your studio or live performance. iSEM features all the original parameters of the Oberheim SEM: two oscillators, each offering sawtooth wave and variable-width pulse wave with PWM, sine wave LFO, 12dB/oct multimode Filter with low-pass, high-pass, bandpass and notch, two ADS envelope generators, and much more.
Pricing and availability: Download iSEM from the App Store for $4.99. Find out more here.
Arturia iMini | Modeled Synthesizer
iMini by Arturia is a recreation of Moog’s classic Minimoog instrument, and shares the programming of the company’s award-winning Mini V software. The iMini has three oscillators with a classic 24dB-per-octave Moog filter, a plethora of touchscreen knobs for parameters, effects (such as chorus and delay), polyphonic play, and much more. iMini supports MIDI as well as the onscreen keyboard, and it offers two x-y pads (like those seen on Korg’s iMS-20).
Pricing and availability: Download iMini from the App Store for $4.99. Find out more here.
Sunrizer | Virtual Analog Synthesizer
Beepstreet Studios have recently released an update to their immensely popular Sunrizer synth, and we’d like to take the opportunity to let you know that it’s still one of the best synth apps available for the iPad. The super saw emulation gives the synth a Roland JP-8000 feel, but with a multitude of oscillator and filter options that make the synth very versatile. Sunrizer features true SuperSaw sound emulation, two warm-sounding analog modeled oscillators, two sub-oscillators, two filters per voice with 15 filter types available, a ton of sound shaping functions, various modulation options, a number of built-in effects, over 380 presets, and much more.
Pricing and availability: Download Sunrizer from the App Store for $9.99. Find out more here.
Korg iELECTRIBE | Analog Synthesizer
Developed by Korg Inc, the iELECTRIBE is a virtual analog beatbox that faithfully recreates the historic ELECTRIBE·R’s entire sound engine and sequencer capabilities. In addition, it provides advanced Motion Sequencing, eight supercharged effect types, plus 64 new preset patterns that instantly allow the user to create music in a wide variety of dance and electronic music styles. The iELECTRIBE has an easy-to-use interface offers an intuitive “hardware” feel, making it fun and intuitive to use as on a vintage analog synthesizer. Simply choose a sound and touch the 16-step sequencer to quickly build a groove. Visit the Korg website to learn more about this analog-synth style beat maker.
Pricing and availability: Download iELECTRIBE from the App Store for $9.99. Find out more here.
SoundScaper | Experimental Sound Mini Lab
SoundScaper is a sample-mangler that uses ideas borrowed from circuit bending and applies them in an almost modular synth fashion. At its most basic, up to three audio files are played back with control over the speed and, therefore, pitch. A sophisticated reverb, filter and delay are added. Multiple complementary low-frequency oscillators can evolve these settings a lot or a little over time. SoundScaper’s secret sauce is the ‘bent circuits’ that are added to the signal chain. There are up to five of these with configurable circuit hacks. They’re either triggered in a rhythmic pattern or engaged full time. Enabling options under these ‘circuits’ feels like a glitchy bit crusher effect crossed with a grain effect. Different sections of your file will be played and possibly have broken bits which adds distortion and digital textures. There’s no waveform display so you either have to use your ears to figure out what’s going on or experiment until you like what you get. Additional distortion and gate controls ensure that no one will recognize your source material.
Pricing and availability: Download SoundScaper from the App Store for $8.99. Find out more here.
Waldorf Nave | Wavetable Synthesizer
What is immediately appealing about this synth is the beautifully designed user interface. From the graphic intro that takes you from the studio into the iPad to the three-dimensional waveforms that you can touch and turn, the attention to detail and usability of this app create an immersive sound design experience. The instrument is built around two wavetable oscillators and one classic oscillator (for more conventional sounds) as well as factory wavetables from Waldorf’s Microwave, Wave, and Blofeld hardware instruments. Taking this synth over the top is a 3-D wavetable editor, a classic Waldorf sounding filter, effects, four track recorder, and control for just about every parameter you can think of to make power sounds. We think it’s one of the best deals around to get familiar with wavetable synthesis and a powerful addition to your sound design and music production arsenal. It also might be the most powerful synthesizer we’ve seen for the iPad so far.
Pricing and availability: Download Nave from the App Store for $19.99. Find out more here.
Waldorf Attack Drums | Virtual Drum and Percussion Synthesizer
Attack Drums by Waldorf is an iPad music app migrated from the widely used Waldorf Attack virtual drum and percussion synthesizer VST. Attack Drums delivers an extensive amount of drum sounds suited to any musical style, all driven by a unique sound engine offering instant access to all sound parameters and an integrated 16-step sequencer. Attack Drums offers 24 programmable instruments that can be enhanced with one of four independent insert multi-effects. The sound engine is also capable of producing powerful polyphonic sounds capable of creating basslines, melodies, and lead sequences. Above that, Waldorf has also added a new Phrase Vocoder technology great for vocal effects. Attack Drums is a seriously in-depth musical instrument for the iPad.
Pricing and availability: Download Attack Drums from the App Store for $19.99. Find out more here.
Propellerhead Thor | Polysonic Synthesizer
Thor is a recreation of Reason’s legendary flagship synth delivers thunderous sounds and sculpting capabilities. This polyphonic synthesizer for the iPad has over 1000 expertly crafted synth patches, expressive touch interface keyboard, six different oscillator types, four unique filters, modulation and pitch bend controls, assignable knobs, and much more.
Pricing and availability: Download Thor from the App Store for $14.99. Find out more here.
Virtual ANS | Photoelectronic Microtonal/Spectral Synth
Virtual ANS is a software simulator of the unique Russian synthesizer ANS – photoelectronic microtonal/spectral musical instrument created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin from 1938 to 1958. While the other similar programs are just fun toys, the Virtual ANS is a full-featured professional tool that allows you to create unusual, deep, atmospheric sounds. With this app, you can draw a complete piece of music, or convert sound to image (sonogram) and then make some complex sonogram modifications. Virtual ANS features a unique Virtual Analog sound engine, unlimited number of pure tone generators, and a powerful sonogram editor that allows you to draw the spectrum and play it at the same time.
Pricing and availability: Download Virtual ANS from the App Store for $5.99. Find out more here.
iOS EFFECTS PROCESSOR APPS
Moog Filtatron | Filter and Effects Engine
Designed by developers at Moog Music Inc, Filtatron is a real-time audio filter and effects engine modelled after the same four-pole resonant Moog Ladder Filter that gives Moog instruments their classic warm, thick sound. The latest version of Filtatron can act as a source, destination, or a filter for audio from other compatible apps and can also be controlled from hardware controllers or external sequencers. Filtatron also comes loaded with an array of loopable samples, all-new presets to kick-start your sound, and feature-packed FX module to sweeten everything up. When you’re ready, you can share files from the Samples directly to SoundCloud.
Pricing and availability: Download Filtertron from the App Store for $5.99. Find out more here.
Pioneer RMX-1000 | Audio Effects Suite
Pioneer’s RMX-1000 for iPad is a tactile iPad app that gives you the tools to apply high-quality audio effects to music in the studio or during DJ performances. This app also shines when linked to the Audiobus app and Inter-App Audio, which will let you add audio effects to music you’ve created on your iPad. The RMX-1000 emulates the hardware to deliver touchscreen control of Scene FX, Isolate FX, X-PAD FX, and Release FX. Just like the RMX-1000, the app lets producers customize the parameters of the audio effects to create their own unique sound.
Pricing and availability: Download RMX-1000 from the App Store for $19.99. Find out more here.
Sugar Bytes Turnado | iPad Edition
One of the most exciting effects processors for the iPad is Turnado iPad Edition by veteran plug in developers Sugar Bytes, who you may remember from popular computer-based effects such as Effectrix. Turnado iPad Edition is based on the popular plug-in of the same name and offers the ability to combine up to eight effects that each offer dynamic control through 4 XY pads on the app’s interface. The program integrates with Audiobus, MIDI, Audiocopy/Audiopaste, iTunes, and other external sources to mangle sounds in unimaginable ways. Turnado is available now for $19.99 in the App Store.
Pricing and availability: Download Turnado from the App Store for $19.99. Find out more here.
Elephantcandy LiveFX | DJ Effects Kit
LiveFX is a Dynamic Effects Processor for iPad. Any audio source can be processed; use either live sound input, the built-in track player that plays from your iTunes library or Audiobus to stream audio through LiveFX. Create your own combination of audio effects, and simultaneously control up to four effects using a single fingertip (over 1000 possible combinations) or use multi-touch for automated dynamic sound effects. Make music with features that truly stand out from the crowd. Introducing LiveFX for iPad; it’s sound control evolved to a whole new level.
Pricing and availability: Download LiveFX from the App Store for $12.99. Find out more here.
iOS MIDI APPS
Genome | MIDI Sequencer
White Noise Audio Software has developed a fun pattern based MIDI Sequencer for the iPad that allows musicians to control all of their MIDI gear and apps. The Genome MIDI Sequencer is capable of sequencing single patterns or an entire 16 track song. GMS can also sync to drum machines and arpeggiators by sending and receiving MIDI clock messages. In addition, MIDI files can be exported and imported for integration with desktop apps. Genome also works great for sequencing other iOS apps. Now you can program melodies and basslines for apps like NLog PRO or Sunrizer while keeping a beat synced with Modrum.
Pricing and availability: Download the Genome MIDI Sequencer from the App Store for $12.99. Find out more here.
touchAble 3 | Ableton Live Controller
touchAble 3 by AppBC offers a vast array of new and improved features that give you full control over Ableton Live’s Session View. touchAble 3 includes six different modules that give you the tools to easily create music or perform on stage with Live 9. The modular interface allows you to split the screen to show two modules at the same time – or to maximise the surface area of a single module. This version also connects via USB cable and is capable of connecting as many to as many iPads or iPhones as you like using touchAble Mini.
Pricing and availability: Download touchAble 3 from the App Store for $24.99. Find out more here.
Chordion | Musical Instrument, Arpeggiator, Drum Machine, and MIDI Controller
If you follow our blog you probably know that we have an affinity for iOS apps and instruments that help non-musicians create complex melodies and chords in simple ways. Developed by Olympia Noise Co, Chordion has gained our affection with an easy-to-use application that allows you to “effortlessly glide through chords and melodies without the need for music theory.” While Chordion has been around for a while now, the addition of MIDI support makes this app much more useful in the studio. Chordion also features a number of synth presets, effects, four drum machines, an arpeggiator with customizable patterns, and loads of scales and chords to choose from, including custom scales that you can create and save.
Pricing and availability: Download Chordion from the App Store for $3.99. Find out more here.
Korg microKEY and microKEY Air | iPad Keyboards
Korg has developed one of the most streamlined iOS MIDI control options we’ve seen with the new microKEY and microKEY AIR Series of keyboards. The microKEY can be powered by an iPad or iPhone and offers a pedal input for sustain (micoKEY25 offers a sustain button). There’s also a new 49-key version for the two-handed player. To accommodate simpler and quicker setups, or to simply unwire your rig, the microKEY Air series features Apple’s Wireless Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) standard, which provides long battery life and extremely low latency. The microKey Air can run wirelessly for about 30 hours on a pair of AA batteries and also offers standard USB connections.
Pricing and availability: Learn more about these two keyboards at the Korg website.
iConnectMIDI 4+ | MIDI and Audio Interface
Use your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch with your Mac/PC like a plugin, controller, and so much more! iConnectMIDI4+ Lightning Version completely redefines the concept of a MIDI & audio interface, integrating today’s professional multiple-computer (iOS, Mac, PC) set-ups with iOS devices and MIDI hardware. Not only does iConnectMIDI4+ support three computer devices simultaneously – Macs, PCs, and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) – its Audio passThru technology routes audio between them digitally with zero signal degradation, simply appearing as an audio interface to the operating systems. This combination of audio and MIDI connections has countless applications. A synth running on your iPad could behave as if it were a touch-controlled plug-in running inside your host DAW, or you could process a software instrument in your DAW through an effects processing app like an amp simulator on your iPhone. If you are feeling adventurous you can even use your Mac or PC as a slave to your iOS device. The iConnectMIDI4+ offers seamless integration in all directions. Many MIDI devices include a USB port for input/output of MIDI. iConnectMIDI4+ accommodates for this by addition of a USB host port that allows musicians to integrate their USB MIDI devices seamlessly. iConnectMIDI4+’s MIDI host port supports up to 8 USB MIDI synths, controllers, etc. enabling all computing devices that are connected to iConnectMIDI4+ to send and receive MIDI from devices that are connected to its USB host port. iConnectMIDI4+ also has an Ethernet port. Users can connect iConnectMIDI4+ to wireless router, Ethernet hub/router, or any Ethernet enabled device via its dedicated Ethernet port and is network discoverable, allowing for musicians to control any of the devices connected to iConnectMIDI4+ via network connection, adding further control and connectivity options. With all of this connectivity comes possibility and nearly endless options.
Pricing and availability: iConnectMIDI4+ is available at iConnectivity’s website for $199.95. Find out more here.
Behringer iStudio iS202 | Professional Docking Station for iPad
The Behringer iSTUDIO iS202 is an iPad docking station that offers a number of useful connections and controls for using your iPad to manipulate audio signal. This device only works with the iPad and more specifically full-sized iPads that have 30-pin connections. If you happen to have one of these models, the Behringer iS202 could be a tempting solution for effects processing as it offers two analog inputs and two analog outputs with full digital to analog and analog to digital conversion. The dock also offers MIDI in/out, USB MIDI port, video output, an aux input, footswitch control, and physical level knobs on the surface of the device. While it’s less portable than something like the iRig HD, this option would be useful for the iPad user who plans to use the device for studio recording on a regular basis.
Pricing and availability: Learn more about these two keyboards at the Behringer website.
iStomp | e-pedal for iPad
The DigiTech iStomp is an entirely new concept in pedals. It works just like a traditional stompbox with one huge exception. It can be completely reconfigured by loading it with any of the 47 e-pedals available in the Stomp Shop app. Unlike devices that require you to stay tethered to your iOS device, the iStomp does all of its processing internally. This means professional-quality, high-definition signal processing with no latency and you don’t need your iOS device while you’re playing.
Pricing and availability: Learn more about these two keyboards at the DigiTech website.
Ask questions. Watch demos. Test drive workstations.
Visit our New York and Los Angeles locations! Ask our Admissions Counselors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy. Watch live music production and DJ demos, and test drive our student workstations. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, stop by one of our Open Houses in NYC or schedule a tour in LA to find out more about the learning process at Dubspot. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.