Less is more; part 5 – a compact iOS music app collection for music production

finger on a tablet computer screenStarting around May of last year, I posted a short series of articles built around the concept of ‘less is more’. The underlying idea here was not a new one but, if you are the kind of person who gets easily distracted by the geeky side of music technology and, as a consequence, sometimes finds it difficult to actually produce any music (which is kind of the point of owning the technology in the first place), then perhaps those articles will have resonated?

Partly because I’m one of those easily distracted geeks, and partly because running the Music App Blog means I get exposed to lots of new iOS music apps on a regular basis, my own app collection is…. well, ‘extensive’ is a polite way of describing it. These apps are all great to own, and fun to dip into on occasions when the need or mood strikes, but I know I own far more apps than I really need…  and certainly more than I could ever hope to master in a single lifetime.

So, in order to get productive, is there a case to be made for streamlining your app collection? Are you more likely to be productive if, having tried lots of apps, you can identify those that really are the ‘keepers’ and that, with a modest number of these, build a ‘core set’ of apps that you can (a) get 95% of your music creation done with and (b) because it is a modest number, actually learn how to get the best from each of them without feeling you are just skimming the surface?

The case for the prosecution

I laid out the crux of the argument in the earlier articles linked to above….  but the basic idea bears repeating. There are lots of musical examples where successful artists have made brilliant music using only a limited range of equipment or under some other sort of workflow constraints. The bottom line is that access to shed-loads of ‘gear’ is not what limits musical creativity for most of us; it’s our skill level in using that available gear and, of course, our musical skills themselves (playing, singing, writing, arranging, etc.)….

Whether it’s for music creation or music recording, can you replicate the functions of this kind of space with a well-chosen selection of iOS music apps?

…. if you want to ‘improve’ your musical results, investing in new gear is a tempting fix but investing in your skills is perhaps more likely to reap results. In other words, for the majority of us, there is no short cut to making better music; you have to work at it…. and a compact tool set (rather than endless choices) means less distractions and a streamlined workflow so you can focus on that skill development.

Personal preference re-visited

In the 2nd part of the original ‘less is more’ series, I built a personal compact list of iOS music apps that, at that time, formed my own ‘core set’ for my iPad-based recording tasks. I went for 16 apps (a single screen within a typical iPad ‘folder’) plus 4 ‘add-ons’, so 20 apps in total; not such a big number given just how many excellent iOS music apps are out there.

As mentioned above, this was a selection built very much with recording in mind. However, what I’ve discovered in coming back to this ‘core set’ over the intervening months is that, while a decent selection for just recording duties, I found myself regularly reaching outside this collection when I was wearing my ‘composing’ hat rather than my ‘recording’ hat.

Actually, what I think this is really reflecting is something about my personal use of iOS music tech; yes, I do plenty of iOS recording but my iPad is also an important musical scratchpad for composition. And, as I also run a desktop music system – and as I’m happy to mix and match between the two platforms (although I appreciate others prefer the iOS-only route) – sometimes ideas get started on the iPad and then developed on the desktop. As such, my ‘core set’ of apps really needs to perform two equally important roles; recording and creating (composing).

Of course, 9 months or so down the line, I’ve realised my ‘core set’ of apps perhaps needs revisiting because they need to do a somewhat different job (or, rather, pair of jobs) than I’d originally envisaged. However, 9 months is also a long time in the world of iOS music apps so there is, of course, a second reason for taking a new look at this kind of toolset collection; all those excellent new apps that have appeared in the meantime :-)

So, with the obvious qualification that this is very much a personal selection based upon my own musical needs, and that I’m thinking of both recording and composing duties, here is a further look at a ‘less is more’ compact iOS music app collection….. and, this time around, I’m going to be super-strict with myself and stick to just those 16 apps that fill a single page of an iPad folder group :-)  Some apps remain the same but, equally, given the slight shift in ‘function’ that I’m expecting these apps to perform, and that there are some new apps to pick from, there are also some changes…..

Open DAWs

If you are a long-standing reader here at the Music App Blog then no prizes for guessing the first app on my list; my iOS DAW/sequencer of choice, Steinberg’s Cubasis.

Cubasis provides a well-featured audio and MIDI recording, arranging and mixing environment all brilliantly implemented on the iPad's touchscreen.

Cubasis provides a well-featured audio and MIDI recording, arranging and mixing environment all brilliantly implemented on the iPad’s touchscreen.

I could easily swap in Auria Pro here; it is, in many ways, more powerful than Cubasis and much closer in specification to a desktop DAW/sequencer. However, I’m a Cubase user on the desktop so Steinberg’s iOS take on the Cubase platform feels very much like home to me. Steinberg have continued to move Cubasis forward. It now includes some decent effects options, a channel strip, plenty of useable virtual instrument choices and, of course, now offers AU hosting. Yes, I can think of a few features I’d love to see added (folders and group channels for example) but, on the whole, I actually like the fairly streamlined feature set as I think it suits the iOS format and, in this case, also suits my ‘less is more’ philosophy.

And, in workflow terms, as it’s probably the app I know best of all the iOS music apps I use, it also means I’m already pretty efficient when using it.

Guitar hero

My main instrument is the electric guitar so I’m going to want at least one of the many very good iOS guitar rig simulation apps within this collection. I’ve actually gone for Line 6’s Mobile POD here but, as before, it would still be a toss-up between that and Positive Grid’s BIAS FX. In the end, I think heart won over head (I’m a long-standing Line 6 fan and use their modelling hardware in my project studio) and many of the models within the app are familiar to me through their various incarnations in other Line 6 products I’ve used including the latest and greatest of these, the Helix.

Mobile POD has recently gained a new look... but I still love the sounds Line 6 create with their guitar rig modelling.

Mobile POD has recently gained a new look… but I still love the sounds Line 6 create with their guitar rig modelling.

Heck, I’m even OK with the rather abstract graphics that Line 6 introduced when updating Mobile POD around 12 months or so ago. I’d seen these coming in their desktop/hardware products so it perhaps wasn’t such a surprise when they appeared in the iOS app. However, the bottom line is, of course, all about sound and I just like what Line 6 do with their modelled guitar tones…. and, with many years of using Line 6 stuff under my belt, familiarity wins here also.

Making my drum kit fit

I’m happy enough to go with a single guitar rig sim but, when it comes to drums and grooves, one app on it’s own wouldn’t quite cut it so, in this area, I’ve actually included three different apps although there are some changes here.

For acoustic drums, I find myself using Drum Session more than anything else at present. It may be that this is simply because the app is new and novel. However, I think it is more a case of it fitting my needs. I play the drums a little (mostly badly) but, whether composing or recording, I want to get my basic drum part together quickly to keep the creative flow going. yes, I might go back to things later and refine, but I like the way Drum Session combines good sounds with easy song construction workflow.

Drum Session – a virtual drummer app for iOS with inspiration from some of the top-flight desktop drum software.

For electronic sounds, I’ve picked a combination of Patterning (for my sample-based electronic grooves and drum sounds) and DM2 (for a synth-based approach to drum sounds). Patterning is a long-standing favourite and I think it is an exception bit of software (the kind of app I’d love to have access on my desktop system and would happily pay a desktop price for it). What makes it stand out is the design of the pattern programming features and the options for different step-lengths for each sound within your ‘kit’. Sample import features work well and the Ableton Link support is great to have. This is simply a very creative tool for drum pattern creation.

Patterning – brilliant iOS drum and groove machine.

I was impressed with DM2 on release but this is also an app that has continued to grow on me. For some users, I’m sure Elastic Drums would their preferred choice here. It is a brilliant app and, in some ways, it is a more sophisticated drum synth with deeper programming options and now includes sample-based sounds also. However, given that I’m no expert sound programmer (give me a break…  I’m a guitarist after all!), I find the more streamlined approach adopted by DM2 goes far enough for me most (not all) of the time. The UI is great, the sounds impressive and, with Ableton Link support included, it is easy to sync with Patterning for some genuinely wonderful rhythmic experiments.

DM2; great sounds, great looks and a great price. What’s not to like?

Slimline synth selection

I’ve definitely seen some changes in my ‘go to’ synth selections over the last 9 months or so and, while this is perhaps the hardest category to slim down given just how many stellar synths you can find on the App Store, I’ve gone with three pretty modest choices (by synth standards). Again, this perhaps tells you more about me (that guitar player again) rather than those synths I have not included….

I’ve retained SynthMaster Player in my core set. OK, so I know the synth purists amongst you are now spitting your coffee over your touchscreens but, as I’m really a guitar player, then cut me a little slack. In my case, SynthMaster, while it can most certainly be seen as glorified preset machine, also offers a huge range of sounds and, for my needs, just enough programmability to make things interesting but without me getting bogged down. It works nicely via IAA within Cubasis, although AU support would be good to see at some stage. The SynthMaster environment is one I’m also familiar with as I use the desktop version as well and its great for EDM type sounds….

SynthMaster might have a ‘player’ or preset tag but, actually, it offers enough sound editing features to keep things interesting and the sounds themselves are very good indeed.

My token ‘proper’ synth this time around is a new selection; Poison-202. This is a new-ish app and, as with a number of my other selections (and I think this is a ‘theme’ running through many of these choices), Poison-202 is ‘just enough’ in terms of depth but not ‘too much’; the interface is simple to follow, the sounds impressive and I think the design strikes exactly the right balance between features and depth to suit the iOS platform down to the ground…  at least, it suits the platform for the way I choose to use it. However, the fact that it is also AU compatible was a consideration; with Cubasis now offering AU hosting, this is an app I can call on multiple times within the same project if I need to.

Poison-202 – a heck of a lot of synth for a very modest price.

My final ‘synth’ selection is also a new selection and a new app; Troublemaker. Again, this is not a complex or sophisticated synth engine but, at what it does – 303 sounds and more – I think its very good indeed. And I lobe the compact step sequencer feature; it’s a brilliant bit of design. Oh, and yet again, the app offers AU support and works well within Cubasis.

Troublemaker – are you looking for trouble, 303 style?

Get generic

On top of my three synths, I’m also including one other virtual instrument, although this is more of the sample-based variety; SampleTank. SampleTank is a bit of a ‘catch-all’ for everything else that my synths won’t do and that some of the sample-based sounds in Cubasis don’t quite deliver. There are perhaps better sounding apps for all of the sounds it covers but, as a single app that covers a lot of basic sonic ground, it does a great job. The fact that it is also eight-part multi-timbral is an additional plus point.

SampleTank – the v.2.0 update represented a pretty substantial step forward for IKM’s sample-based virtual instrument.

All in one EDM

My recording experience has been built on using conventional DAWs such as Logic and Cubase. Cubasis is, therefore, a concept that is familiar to me and offers a similar way of working. However, just as the original version of Reason on the desktop was, essentially, a MIDI-only sequencing environment, we have a number of electronic music production environments available under iOS that offer brilliant and creative options for music creation. Given that my ‘core set’ of apps is now aimed at music creation duties as well as recording, I’ve drafted in a couple of selections here also; Gadget and Oscilab… and both are great for getting some electronic ideas started (or even nearly finished) before handing off the results to Cubasis.

Gadget – slick and powerful ‘all-in-one’ electronic music production app for iOS.

I’ve included Gadget simply because I think Korg have created something that just works on the iPad platform so well. The visual design is great and the feature set strikes (for me at least) the perfect balance between ‘enough’ and ‘not too much’. And, with a really interesting set of ‘gadgets’, access to the sounds within Module (a bit of a bonus), and a great MIDI sequencing system, this is hard to beat. It is a hugely creative platform for sketching out ideas and, as it looks like audio recording might be coming to Gadget soon, this might even challenge Cubasis for some recording tasks.

Oscilab – 2beat’s all-in-one EDM production tool – features some brilliant design elements that make use of the touchscreen.

However, for a variety of reasons, I think Oscilab is also a brilliant tool. Oscilab has been around longer than Gadget. It takes a similar concept and shrinks it down to something even more compact. However, where the app really scores is in the interesting way you can create sequences. This is pure touchscreen brilliance…. Oscilab is, in my opinion at least, one of the underrated gems within the iOS music app section of the App Store. I’ve loved it since I first used it and, with development still obviously active, this is an app a keep coming back to; very creative.

Keep me in the loop

I’ve always enjoyed music creation based around pre-recorded audio loops (think Acid on the PC) and, as my new ‘core set’ selection is as much about ideas generation as recoding, I’ve introduced two loop-based apps into the selection; Blocs Wave and ReSlice. Both of these are relatively new apps but both are apps that I’ve grown very attached to very quickly.

Blocs Wave is, operationally, nothing like Acid but is offers a means of music creation that is built upon the same sorts of fundamentals; mixing and matching pre-recorded loops with real-time pitch- and time-stretching. When Novation launched the app it was obviously promising but the rate of development since has been remarkable and the feature set is now both impressive in scope and yet still easy to use/access. This is a great bit of design and, with plenty of additional loop content available, plus the option to record/import your own loops, this is – in function at least – Acid on an iPad (or an iPhone come to that).

Blocs Wave – if you like working with loops, this is a great choice with a slick interface and a rapidly expanding feature set :-)

ReSlice is very much a new kid on the block. In some ways, it is ‘old’ technology in that it allows you to take an audio file, automatically slice it based upon transient detection and then maps those slices to MIDI notes for playback. However, VirSyn have added a couple of very considerable twists. First, they have given the app a rather brilliant step sequencer/arpeggiator function so you can create all sorts of instant rhythmic effects from even the most bland of original loops. Second, they have then taken that step sequencer concept to another level by giving it multiple playheads each with the option for different playback speeds and step lengths. Polyrhythms anyone? The results can be magical…  and the app is a doddle to use once you have got your head around the basic concepts.

Do you like to mangle audio loops? Then ReSlice might be right up your street :-)

Incidentally, the other app I’d consider adding here would be the (also brilliant) Sector. This still remains a favourite but it is perhaps a much deeper app than, for example, ReSlice and takes a little more mastering. It is still an app that I return to on a regular basis but, like many of the other apps that have made it into this modest selection, ReSlice is perhaps a little more immediate and accessible. Maybe there is a bit of ‘novelty value’ in my selection at this stage given that ReSlice is so new? Time will tell but Sector is still awesome.

Effect me

Cubasis comes with a respectable set of basic effects processing options so, for routine compression, EQ and modulation, I’ll most certainly get by and, as I added the two IAP effects packs some time ago, I’ve got access to most of what I need. That said, iOS does offer a huge number of brilliant audio effects options….

…. but, if I’m going to stick to my ‘less is more’ principles here, I need to constrain my picks within this category. In the end – and given the slight shift in purpose for the overall selections, I’ve included just one dedicated effects apps here. Moved aside are my previous picks of Auto-Tune for iOS, Stereo Designer, AltiSpace and Turnado (all great at what they do) and in comes an app that I thing manages to combine both routine processing tasks and more creative ‘notice me’ options; DFX.

Fingerlab’s DFX – multi-effects in a compact and easy to use format.

This does reverb, delay, compression, modulation and distortion so if covers all the routine processing tools. Yes, there are better individual apps out there in each of these categories but DFX does a tidy job and its more creative options, while not a match for Turnado (best in class for just a creative multi-effects processor), are perhaps a little easier to get your head around.

OK, so I’m missing one of the better iOS reverb apps and I’ve left out pitch correction. In terms of reverb, Cubasis’ own reverbs and delays are now respectable enough for routine work composing/tracking while DFX adds to those options. I’d be tempting to stray outside this selection for a really critical mix task though…. I’ve said before that I think the App Store is waiting for a really good pitch-correction app to arrive. Auto-Tune for iOS could be that app but it is probably not quite there yet. It’s great for giving something a very gentle nudge for, for now at least, I’m resigned to doing any serious pitch correction on my desktop system.

Incidentally, I could easily be persuaded to tweak this particular selection. The obvious candidates would be (a) a top-notch EQ app and (b) a top-notch compressor app and (c) a high-quality reverb. If I was to add such apps I’d want them to come with AU support. Compression and EQ are perhaps the two most fundamental processing options required when mixing and multiple instances of a 3rd party app within Cubasis via AU would be the route I’d take. There are some obvious candidates….  just not enough space to include them in this ‘core set’ without cheating!

Quite a performance

Cubasis includes a ‘chord pad’ option and, while this is perfectly serviceable, iOS has a number of other MIDI performance apps that do a much better job. I’ve retained Chordion here simply because it is the one I’ve used for the longest and know the best (it’s also a streamlined feature set so, again, suits the ethos of what I seem to be going for in this collection) but I’d have been more than happy to go with alternatives such as ChordPolyPad (more powerful) or Navichord (perhaps more helpful for harmonic guidance?).

Chordion; a brilliant MIDI performance app that is a doddle to use.

Chordion; a brilliant MIDI performance app that is a doddle to use.

Master of the audio

While recording is not the only role this new ‘core set’ of apps is trying to fulfil, I’ve retained a tool for giving my stereo mixes that final bit of polish. I’ll therefore round off this core set of personal choices for recording with a mastering tool.

Igor Vasiliev's Audio Mastering

Igor Vasiliev’s Audio Mastering

You could, of course, chain together a number of different apps to make a mastering system, but I’m happy enough to go with a dedicated app for the job. While I do like IKMultimedia’s Lurssen Mastering, given the price for the full app, I think we have two more accessible contenders in this category; Audio Mastering from Igor Vasiliev and Positive Grid’s Final Touch. I’d be happy with either as they both offer more than enough tools to get the job done. I’m a long-standing fan of Igor’s approach to development though so Mastering was my personal pick here but Final Touch is also very good indeed.

One folder, one page

So, as shown in a single screen shot, I’ve managed to confine my selection to 16 apps; rather neatly, this is one page within one iOS folder. It would, of course, be very easy to start adding additional apps into this compact collection but, as I stated earlier, the aim was (somewhat arbitrarily) to stick with a target of 16 or less apps.

16 apps in one iPad folder…. If all I ever did was fully exploit this lot then I could get a lot of music made….

I think this selection is an impressive demonstration of just what you can do in terms of music creation and production under iOS. Yes, these specific apps suit my own personal needs – and your needs will vary – but you would have to be a very cynical (or blinkered) non-iOS musician to dip into this lot and remain unimpressed about just what the platform has to offer.

Your ‘less is more’?

Of course, we all make our music in different ways and are interested in making different types of music. My collection of 16  apps, while ideal for me, might not suit you even if your intention is also to build a compact app collection for composing or recording duties….

So, if these couple of posts have got you thinking, then feel free to share your thoughts below by posting a comment… or in an email to me through the Contact Us link…. It will be interesting to see just how diverse our ‘core set’ app collections might be… and, hopefully, to hear something of the reasons why those selections work for different members of the readership. Get commenting :-)

The Music App Blog ‘core apps’ selection for creation/composing and recording duties

I’ve reviewed or posted about major updates for all the apps mentioned above previously here on the Music App Blog and there are links embedded in the text so you can find those reviews/updates easily if you want to discover more about the apps I’ve selected. After that, feel free to hit the icons below to check the latest details and current pricing on the App Store….

cubasis logo 3Cubasis 2 – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Mobile POD – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Drum Session – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Patterning – review

Download from iTunes App Store

DM2 – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Synthmaster – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Poison-202 – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Troublemaker – review

Download from iTunes App Store

SampleTank logoSampleTank – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Gadget logo adGadget – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Oscilab – review

Download from iTunes App Store

Blocs Wave – review

Download from iTunes App Store

ReSlice – review

Download from iTunes App Store

DFX – review

Download from iTunes App Store

audio mastering logoAudio Mastering – review

Download from iTunes App Store

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    1. This is a great article, John, and should be helpful for a lot of people. I have three iOS devices but my main iOS music making hardware is a iPad mini-2 with only 32GB of storage, so I have to keep it trimmed of excess apps and files. I’ve had to take the less iOS more approach just to keep a stable platform, but it has helped me to concentrate on a certain number of apps and over time, be able to master them.

      Cubasis is also my DAW of choice, and I’ve come to really like Gadget quite a bit. For large sized apps (used as sound modules) I have Module, iSymphonic and SynthMaster Player. After all of those I don’t have a lot of room left but luckily most of the synth and EFX apps are small in size. AniMoog, Thor, Magellan, and iM1 are my regular synths but for AU’s I use iSem, and Viking. I have nearly a dozen AU effects apps, along with the Aufx series, Altispace, Holderness apps and Igor’s Audio Mastering. MIDI control and monitoring apps are also small in size and I have a bunch of those (it’s probably time to clean some of those out). But most important to me are AudioBus, and AudioShare, without those, I don’t know how much music I would actually get completed.

      At a quick count I’ve got over 50 music related apps on the mini2, way over the 16 that John mentions, but for me this is a much reduced set of apps over what my 64GB ipad4 houses.

    2. I’ll vote for the venerable Thumbjam as a a basic must have app. I’m not aware of any other app tag has as many playable scales. The internal sounds are fine but I use it primarily as a midi controller. The midi out note controls are extensive. For the novice who has never approached a keyboard, it’s a no brainier.

    3. Should be “that has as many “. Damn autocorrect.

    4. I like Chordion for quickly sketching out song ideas, MidiSTEPs for programming a few sequences with AU, and for whole songs I prefer Genome (for midi) with AUM (for AU). I really prefer AU over standalone apps because your AU settings are automatically stored as part of the workspace, which is not something you get when using standalone synth apps. My biggest frustration right now is that there’s no AU synth with a time-synced arpeggiator (or sequencer) that works in AU mode. Enkl is my favorite AU synth app, with Poison-202 as a close second (it had time-synced LFOs!). The Ruismaker drum apps are both pretty good AU drum apps. I want to like iSEM (since it is also AU), but it takes a long time to load on my iPad mini 2 and doesn’t time sync anything in AU.

    5. harporius says:

      Hey John,

      Animoog…………Just because
      Model 15………..The hi-est fi synth. Still trying to learn it.
      Borderlands……Texture u-like.
      Funky Drummer.. You play it grooves.
      Soft Drummer…… As above.
      DM2………………. just for a wee change. You can play tunes on it.
      Samplr………….. Cos its weird and will always surprise you.
      Bias FX……………Everything you’ll ever need– not just for guitar.
      Tines……………… In case Herbie Hancock drops round
      Cubasi…………… Cos I havn’t tried Auria Pro yet. I’m having fun with Quntiloop cos I can only play about 16 bars without making a mistake.
      Audiobus, Aum, Audioshare, AufxSpace, Aufxdub — because they all begin with A. oh and Final Touch.
      This would keep me happy on a desert island at least until I figure out how to work the Model 15

      All the best John (Hey, d’ya wanna talk about politics?)

    6. Thanks all for the interesting replies and alternative suggestions…. Keep them coming :-) very best wishes, John

    7. smackeroo says:

      Very interesting (everybody loves a good list :) ) But I defo agree, you have to remain committed to just a few apps if you want to actually get anywhere. My picks are :

      – Cubasis (ever since v2.0 came out)… I really like Micrologue and the FX packs
      – iSEM
      – Synthmaster Player (I cheat too :) )
      – Lorentz (the arp keeps me coming back)
      – Tonestack (for FX as much as the amps & cabs)
      – DrumPerfect Pro (great sound & control – only wish it was easier/quicker to use)
      – Turnado
      – AudioReverb
      – Final Touch (mainly for spectrum analyzer but plan to get deeper)
      Occasional use:
      – SoundScaper (which I won on here :) )
      – Synth-Q (mainly for vocoder)

      Am studiously trying to ignore new apps so I can mine the full potential of these – but it ain’t easy! I guess whatever your favored apps are you need to accept that they won’t always remain the shiniest or best, but if they are sonically good enough (and for me these ones are) then familiarity trumps technical/sonic superiority. The only danger is when an app you like ceases to be developed – then it’s time to jump ship and get on the learning curve again! Or if you want to change your sound massively I suppose.

      Side-note: I would love all of the above to have AU support, only iSEM and AudioReverb have it currently…

    8. Lisa Francis says:

      Well you have me seriously thinking about Oscilab now,I just knew you’d add it.Another solid write up.Thanks

    9. Great list, Line 6’s mobile pod is the one guitar sim app I don’t have. I think I have every other one? Most have been close to a waste of money except for Bias FX and Amp, JamUp and AmpOne. ToneStack for FX.

      I don’t here much talk about mobile pod. I have no idea how it sounds, I guess I’ll check out some Youtube video’s. Probably won’t get it, cuz to my ears Positive Grids guitar stuff is unmatched.

    10. This is a solid collection you’ve put together, John — including the alternatives. I have all but 5 of your 16 apps, and the ones missing are largely the newest apps (ReSlice, Troublemaker, Drum Session, Poison-202, and the exception — Mobile POD). Could it be that I’m finally exercising some restraint? :)

      I would have to give some thought as to what my desert island collection would be, but if I *had* to, I’m sure I could get on quite nicely with the bulk of your collection and the suggested alternatives I do have.

      By the way, Chordion is missing from your list of icons with App Store links at the end.

    11. Given the amount of output I’ve created of late, I could count the “must haves” on one hand. On top of that, my work routine over the last 9 months has influenced production so that, like the Jon Rawlinson cartoon, I’m active mainly when travelling (not driving, of course!)

      1. Gadget – I can spend too much time faffing about with a lot of really cool sequencers and great synths and drum machines but with Gadget, it’s just open it up, dive in, and start creating. The EDM label seems a little too confining for me, preferring the mouthful “any genre you like, only with electronic instruments”. :)

      2. When I need audio in, it’s a tough call between Cubasis and MultiTrack DAW. The latter was my go-to but with the release of Cubasis 2.0, I don’t think I’ve been back to MTD.

      3. Audio Mastering – does what you need it to do with minimal load. iPad 3rd Gen owner here. Nuff said.

      4. For the sheer pleasure of jamming, Launchpad. Like all of the apps in this list, this makes me smile just thinking about it.

      5. AudioShare. How this gets ignored by major app developers over the “standard” audio transferring app beggars belief. That said, it only seems to make Jonatan produce something even better every time Apple screws with the file management side of things… and then some.

      This has been a good exercise, thanks John. The only thing is, now what do I do with the $100s of apps I don’t use much? :D


    12. Hi,
      For me the basics are tools like:
      – Blocs Wave, Garageband, Group The Loop for song arranging.
      – AudioShare, Audiocopy, midi monitor, midi wrench for file and data mangement.
      – Synths like Korg Module, iMini, iPolysix but also bismark ibs-16k for sf2 and synthMaster.
      – Arrangers like MidiBand, Xmure and tools like iReal pro for sheet music musicXML to feed Xmure with popular songs.
      – Samplers like samplr, reslice and soon I hope BM3 and Beathawk2.
      – Fx such livefx, turnado and Final Touch.

      Also apps for video recording editing like Multicam/Switcher Pro, iMovie, Vidbox, Facerig and lumakey/veescope for green screen (still in my wishlist)

      That’s the more or less…

    13. My basics are:
      Alchemy original
      Magellan just for the FX
      Nothing for the guitar as I don’t take it away with me.

      Very interesting seeing other people’s basics!

    14. Hi,
      thanks for the interesting list and comments.

      Cubasis: I use Auria because of nicer editing and great plugins.
      Synthmaster: Absolut great Sounds and the pads with recording! But Ableton LINK ist still not implemented properly. It takes the time but not the pulse. It is not waiting for 1. MPE is great but I’ve got al lot of Midi hanger.
      DFX: My favorite FX App is definitely Flux:FX
      Drum Session: expensiv! And not Ableton LINK

      • Drum Session will probably go up in price at some point. $25.00 is a great price IMO. Have you seen the amount of updates and what each has implemented in Drum Session? Link is coming, and more features. It is quite an amazing drum app. For sure.

    15. I am already using saome of these apps but happy to give some of the others a try. thanks for sharing.

    16. Since the GarageBand updates earlier this year I have switched completely from Auria. Auria is still a bit clunky and the fine tuning/complexities it offers still belong on the desktop for me. And in th sprinting of limiting the ridiculous fantastic apps I have (but never actually use) GarageBand has replaced synths, guitar modellers, bass, drums. It’s even got a great looper/abelton style session view. And now with track effects, it really does it all.
      I sacrifice the high end features of some synths, drum sequencers, daws for the fact I actually get shit done, and easily.
      And if I really want to do some fine tuning and put better instruments in I Audiobus in :
      Rock Drums
      Insert a million synth apps here

      And then if I want to really get serious it’s off to the desktop.

    17. The music I make is electronic/ambient/noise/’tekhno’. I’ve used hardware and desktop but the iPad has come as a revalation for its flexibility and essentially it’s tactility….

      Having tried out lots of apps – My essential kit has become :

      Modstep – as host
      AUM – for recording

      And my favourite app/instruments to add something that Modstep doesn’t deliver ( but it delivers A LOT)
      Mood – synth magic
      Duplicat – budget mega delay
      AUFX series
      zMors eq
      All Bram Bos.
      + Effectrix (just getting the hang of this)

      Preferably AU compatibility.

      (Does the above list squeeze into “Less is more”??

      It’s been a very interesting series. At the end of the day there seems to be two issues. 1 what kind of music you make and 2 the actual interaction you get from particular apps/instruments. It’s a question of finding and then marrying these aesthetic requirements…. For instance a guitar, pop, classical musician would have a somewhat different set of needs to mine.

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