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The best music creation app on mobile

Posted by Jennifer Allen on February 2nd, 2016

Ever wanted to make your own music? It’s not as hard as you think, thanks to a variety of different apps out there to help you do exactly that.

You don’t even need to use a PC or Mac, with your trusty iPhone and iPad filling that role admirably.

Here’s a look at the best on mobile.

Music Maker Jam Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on August 10th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MIX THOSE BEATS
Proving to be a simple way to create some music, Music Maker Jam is quite appealing.
Read The Full Review »

Crayola DJ Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 22nd, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CREATIVE VIBES
Crayola DJ is a fun music creation tool for kids.
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Create Music From the Sounds Around You With Feed

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 11th, 2014
iPad App - Designed for iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: GROOVY :: Read Review »

New to the App Store is version 2.0 of Feed, an iPad app that allows you to create music from the sounds of the world around you.

The app offers an intuitive layout that means it's easy to record, playback, loop, pitch shift, and modulate sounds - all gleaned from your iPad's in-built microphone. Whether you're walking through the countryside or taking your daily commute to the city, you should be able to grab some great sounds to use within Feed.

In honor of its significant update, Feed is currently on sale at 40% off, meaning it only costs $1.99 at the moment. Get in fast though as this is a time limited sale.

Sequence Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 17th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: NEWBIE MUSIC CREATION
Always wanted to create some music but don't know where to start? Sequence has it covered.
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Arranger Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on November 19th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: A LITTLE OFF KEY
Get ready to embark on what is perhaps the most bizarre musical adventure ever! Just be ready for a few stumbling blocks along the way.
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Songineer - Instant Composer Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on November 22nd, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BALLAD BUILDER
Songineer bridges the gap between simple music-generation and full-blown compositions.
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Portable Music Creation From IK Multimedia And SampleTank

Posted by Jennifer Allen on October 20th, 2011

IK Multimedia has built up quite a reputation for its numerous products aimed at professional musicians. Whether it be the iKlip, iKlip Mini or AmpliTube, there's something for every form of music recording. Such variety has been enhanced, today, with the release of SampleTank an app that promises to be 'the first professional quality sound and groove module that puts hundreds of world-class instruments and patterns in your pocket'.

The app allows its users to play SampleTank instruments on stage with the addition of the iRig MIDI interface and a conventional keyboard controller, or directly with the on screen keyboard.

SampleTank is out now in two different varieties. The free version of SampleTank includes 8 different instruments and over 400 patterns of riffs and grooves. A version priced at $9.99 includes 72 instruments and over 900 different patterns. Numerous in-app purchases are available ranging from $4.99 to $39.99. These can increase the number of instruments to 16 different instrument categories, offering in all over 400 instruments that cover pretty much everything worth considering. Drums, pianos, bass, guitars, synthesizers, strings, percussions, it's all in there.

Check out the video below for a full view of exactly how it all works.

Bottle Tunes Puts Music in a Bottle (Obviously)

Posted by Rob Rich on September 29th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Show of hands, who here sometimes likes to blow across the top of a bottle to make that vaguely musical sound? Okay, good. Another show of hands, who here either has or has considered amassing several of these bottles filled with various amounts of liquid and recreating a real song? Interesting. Well then, have a gander at Bottle Tunes.

Bottle Tunes is pretty much what I just described, only with digital representations of bottles and music rather than physical ones. Although there's a little more to it than that. Sure it's possible to fill up some bottles and go to town, and even save tunes for replaying or editing later, but there's also a bit of a game here. Namely, users can adjust fluid levels and attempt to recreate a specific "bottle-themed" song.

I imagine the market for something like this is a little limited, but then again the appeal of magic bottle music is fairly universal. Plus it's totally free, so why not download and play around with it?

Make A Mixtape With Dragontape

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 20th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Once upon a time, the mixtape was the most romantic thing that anyone could ever do for me. While the cassette tape gave way to the CD, both offering ways of providing mixes, the digital era didn't really leave any room for romance. Unless of course, the romantic person decides to use something like Dragontape.

Dragontape is an universal app that lets its users create up to 3 hours long mixtapes of their favorite YouTube and Soundcloud clips. They can rearrange the clips however they want, edit and crossfade (in the case of Soundcloud). It's all done via the app and a Dragontape.com account that's quick and simple to get set up, then the only restriction is a person's imagination.

It's an easy app to use with editing only ever requiring one tap of a finger. Switching from track to track is simply a matter of swiping across the screen so it's easy to skip tracks if need be. Users can share their creations with whoever they want via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and the Dragontape website. Socially minded people can also browse other creations for some inspiration. There's also the potential to collaborate with friends which could provide a great learning tool too for something like a group project.

The potential overall really is pretty great. At its simplest, users can use Dragontape to set up a mixtape of their favorite workout music. There's also the romantic element of creating a mix of tracks for someone they love. Or people could use it to simply create a montage of videos of a beloved pet, or a concert they attended.

Dragontape is available now for all iOS devices. It's currently free but there are suggestions on the app page that it's free while in beta with a possible pricetag added in the future. So best get downloading now.

GarageBand For iPad Review

Posted by Timothy Smith on March 18th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Apple

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar


Ever since the iPad's introduction people have wondered why GarageBand (or any of the other iLife software for that matter) wasn't available. Rumors of its development came and went, and budding musicians across the nation grinded their teeth in anticipation. After a while other app developers began filling the void with various instrument apps, recording apps, and even sequencers, and while some of them were quite impressive, non of them offered the ease and versatility that Apple's flagship music creation software is known for. There wasn't anything quite like Apple's GarageBand available anywhere except on Apple's own line of computers and laptops, until now. When Apple introduced their latest generation iPad they released a whole set of iLife apps, and now GarageBand is more portable than ever before. The question is, was it worth the wait?

GarageBand is a full featured app with recording options, built in instruments, a multi-track mixer, and a host of audio effects. The sheer amount of versatility offered by this app is impressive because if has a level of features that could have easily been broken down into several smaller apps. I am glad Apple decided to keep it all rolled up into one though. You can do live performances or practice with the built in multi-touch instruments, or you can record full featured songs with the 8-track mixer. There's a built in amp kit with various pedals and effects for all the guitar players out their too. Don't worry, if you aren't an extremely talented musician you can still throw together some good sounding jams with the built in loops and the nifty "smart" instruments (more on this later).

On the surface, the GarageBand app looks like a simple virtual instrument program with a selection screen for guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and some live recording options. You can select any of these options to reveal a realistic instrument layout. Then you can start toying around with all the effects or just simply begin playing. The guitar and bass both have several variations (acoustic, clean, muted, classical, etc.), and the keyboard affords you a whole range of organs, synths, and mallets. Even the drums go above and beyond expectation with realistic virtual drum sets, a beat sequencer (with an awesome randomizer for creating drum beats on the fly), and a classic looking electronic drum pad. Overall, the instruments sound believable and the interface remained glitch free and intuitive even when I attempted to play at a frantic pace.

As you dig deeper into the app's feature set you will discover a well crafted mixer. Simply select your instrument of choice, decide on a tempo and number of measures to play, and then hit record. There is a metronome feature to aid in keeping time, and the app allows you to split your song into sections so it is easy to finalize different aspects of a song in progress without destroying it. The mixer allows you to use GarageBand's built in instruments, record your own live instruments, and even sing on up to 8 tracks. You can even add a selection of built in music loops to spice up your song. The loops included are a nice touch, but there weren't near enough for my tastes. I hope Apple provides more with future in app purchases. After recording you can add effects to the song as a whole (reverb, echo), and save it to the device. Apple allows you to export your saved songs to iTunes or share them via email.

The one major feature that sets GarageBand apart from the competition is its use of "smart" instruments. If you select a smart instrument you can sound like a pro with little to no musical knowledge. Basically you choose which instrument you want then twist an onscreen nob to decide on a preset pattern. Tap on a note and viola; the iPad will spit out a smooth sequence of sound. You can mash record and jump from note to note and make some pretty snazzy tunes. Some people might consider it cheating, but I found the option pretty useful. If you are a beginner it's an obvious boon, but even more seasoned musicians can use it to easily add subtle layers to their own songs. I think it was a smart move on Apple's part to include the "smart" instrument feature because it opens the doors for newcomers, and it makes some of the harder-to-play-on-a-touchscreen instruments (I'm looking at you, Mr. Guitar) sound more convincing.

I didn't get to fully test the amp features because I don't have an electric guitar (I know, I'm lame), but I did pop on a pair of headphones and use the iPad's built in mic to test some of the effects on my concert ukulele. It turns out, heavy distortion on a ukulele is pretty metal. Needless to say, the amp possibilities look well rounded. There are several amps to choose from by simply swiping the screen, and you can use up to three of the ten pedals at a time for seemingly endless combinations of effects (it would take you more than one rainy day to figure them all out).

Performance wasn't an issue during my GarageBand sessions, and this surprised me because I am still rocking the original iPad. I did notice that the app had to optimize my song before recording when I was in the six to eight track range, but I didn't experience any crashes or major hang-ups. The app simply shows a loading bar when it needs to optimize and ten seconds later you are ready to jam again. I am sure the iPad 2 doesn't have to optimize as often with its beastly dual core processor, but rest assured you can still fully enjoy GarageBand with an old school (read, one year old) iPad. I've really only scratched the surface of what this musician's dream of an app can do, so if you have any musical inclination whatsoever, I implore you to give it a try. Apple did a great job making their portable version of GarageBand accessible for beginners, but feature rich enough for real musicians. It isn't going to replace a real studio set-up, but it's definitely more than a novelty. Their price point is really competitive too. As I said before there are options within GarageBand that could've been separate apps altogether.

Check out Apple's demo video for an in depth preview of each instrument:

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soundTable for iPad Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Chris Kirby on July 29th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: AURALLY INTRIGUING
It's not the most sophisticated beat-creation app in the app store, but its interface encourages a pick-up-and-play experimentation that's good to see (and hear).
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iSequence for iPad Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Chris Kirby on July 12th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: POWERFUL
Regardless of your musical expertise, iSequence can grow with you.
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