The transition from a desktop DAW to an iOS device for music production can sometimes be a frustrating experience. It’s easy to get lost or stuck in the iOS architecture when you’re used to your cozy all-in-one powerhouse software.
Well, did you know that there’s often an iOS equivalent for your favourite DAW features? Tie it all together with an Audiobus chain or Inter App Audio and you just might appreciate the advantages of using a tablet or phone alongside your desktop computer.
In ‘There’s a Music App for That!’ we try and find signature functionality that make a certain desktop DAW and compare it to its iOS counterpart. Who knows, maybe we can turn this into a series!
FL Studio’s Step Sequencer + DM-1
Going strong for many years now is FL Studio. Now being at version 11 FL Studio’s main centrepiece remains its top-notch step sequencer. It’s at the base of many tracks you’ll start in the software and has often been copied in other music software because you can quickly write down a rhythm track with it.
You’d maybe look at FL Studio Mobile first to find that same step sequencer, but we find Fingerlab’s DM-1 drum machine much more pleasant to work with. Sporting 86 drum kits on board as well as the ability to create your own kits with custom samples you have a broad sound palette to get going. Add to that the effect section, the cool pattern arranger and the flexible ways of getting audio in and out of the app, DM-1 is a powerhouse on its own.
Ableton’s Session View + Loopy HD
For composing or live performance there’s not much that can beat Ableton’s workflow in the Session View editor. The clip launching has become so popular that it dictates the hardware controllers that are released nowadays.
There are multiple iOS apps that have incorporated or emulated that same Session View workflow, but we keep coming back to A Tasty Pixel’s Loopy HD. Loopy, as the name gives away is a great looper app available for iPad and iOS. With intuitive touch controls you can record a (microphone) input or other app’s audio into Loopy’s circle slots that can be set up with varied bar length. Playing back and silencing tracks happens with a touch of the fingers and exporting and importing audio is a breeze.
You’ll miss out on a scene launcher and the maximum of 12 loop circles might feel limiting, but other than that Loopy HD is a great sketchpad for composing.
Reason’s Racks + Caustic 3
Propellerhead’s Reason has a large following that mostly fell in love with the self-contained rack-based interface. The modular ecosystem of Reason might’ve started out as more a weakness than a strength, but over the years it has (also with help of Rack Extensions) developed from a rewired sound source into a full-fledged DAW.
Propellerhead has flirted with iOS for a while now. First with Figure and later by bringing their flagship Reason synth Thor over to the iPad. However, the closest thing you can find to Reason on an iPad right now is Single Cell’s Caustic 3. Caustic started out as a music production app on Android, but was ported over to iOS with the release of version 3.
Just like Reason, Caustic consists of different synth, drum and effect machines that you can tie together in a rack-based interface along with a mixer and mastering section. The app sports a neat, retro interface and allows you multiple import options (WAV, Soundfont) to make the sound your own.
Can you come up with more examples for a part 2? Let us know in the comments!