Is Making Music On iOS Really ‘A Bag Of Hurt’?

Music technology blogger Will Kuhn posted an interesting take on the state of mobile making today, arguing that making music on iOS is ‘a bag of hurt’.

To explain why, he compares making music with a DAW to making music on an iPad:

  • Writing music on a “real” computer (circa 2012)
    • Fire up [DAW of choice]
    • Lots of instruments are available
    • Load “plugins” (little programs within a program) to compensate for shortcomings of DAW software.
    • Write your parts
    • Mix in context – correct mistakes as you go
    • Upload to SoundCloud
    • Go on with life (e.g. create dummy SoundCloud accounts and give yourself positive comments, etc.)
  • Writing music on an iPad
    • Fire up GarageBand (or a different DAW, but probably not)
    • Think of an idea for a part; realize the GB instruments don’t do all the tricks you need
    • Fire up $5.99 synth app; learn how to use it
    • Maybe it works. Maybe fire up another $5.99 synth app; learn how to use it
    • Switch back to GarageBand and check what tempo your song is
    • Switch back to Synth app – switch that tempo to the right one
    • Record an out-of-context loop, but try to envision the drum part
    • Audio copy the loop
    • Switch back to GarageBand
    • Audio paste
    • Whoops, wrong Audio paste method – use the other one (repeat last 3 steps)
    • OK great synth part! That sounds so warm.
    • Next idea…

Kuhn’s comparison might be a little harsh, but is basically accurate. If you want a mobile workstation DAW, you’re better off taking your laptop.

But musicians that only compare iOS as a music platform against powerful desktop computers are missing the big picture: a few years ago, your phone could do squat and tablet computers were bulky, niche products.  How much music making can you do on anything else that you carry around all the time?

What do you think about the state of iOS music making? Is it ‘a bag of hurt’ – or is it time for mobile musicians to put up or shut up?

212 thoughts on “Is Making Music On iOS Really ‘A Bag Of Hurt’?

  1. This is why I find it to be a useful synth host, sound editor. As I stated when the new Waldorf app was announced, I don’t use the iPad as an “all in one” music making machine, to expect that from a hand held device is just crazy. With all the midi availability within synth apps, I see the iPad more like the Receptor VST host with a great way to interact with my editors. I think the keys in just about every synth app (except Animoog) are hoky and worthless but the synths them selves are awesome (addictive synth, NLogPro, GrainScience, ect.) so plugin an audio cable hook up a wireless midi network and rock the F out. To say using the iPad is a good “all in one” device for anything other than idea sketching, is a bit of a stretch, but because some guy thinks this doesn’t mean it isn’t possible and a worthy use. Look at the electric practice piano, who’s sound is now in every basic sound pack ever made, it was a “toy” until a blind guy made some smokin tunes on one (superstitious), was he wrong for that?

    1. Good thing I read this post first. I was about to write exactly that. BTW, I played two complete shows with my band using only GarageBand and Animoog.

    2. I dont think Steve Wonder is going to get the full iPad experience….that would be the crappiest game of Angry Birds ever!

      OK, poor taste…I do love Stevie….iTards drive me nuts. Have fun with your big phones…I got real gear to enjoy….

      Id rather have a Porsche than play Gran Turismo…

        1. Yeah….thats the point…WHAT FOR????? It is a bad thing….its a general mindset thats quickly over saturated the electronic scene…People stopped respecting the craft of music. It is TOO easy now. The reason old school people hate this shit is because there are things the younger crowd doesnt know and they need to know but its not the fact that you guys cant appreciate re-amping a synth over a snare drum…its the fact that you dont know why let alone care why…Im not busting nuts over a tappy plate playing nice with my real gear, but lets say, finally a patchable synth is out with an ability to save presets…Ever heard a drum machine like the DCM8? The reason old school people arent freaking out is because this is just plain out nothing new, exciting, or conducive. Musicians need things that are more than the sum of their parts. The iPad is a value, but all that value is, is the sum of its parts. Take $500 worth of gear: Tell me the quality of your creative time spent making music at any stage would be more creative on an iPad than an RM1X, an Electribe A, a few guitar pedals, and a pawn shop bass amp…

          I can sure guess your answer but it doesnt matter, youre missing the point of the question…

          1. Check out a recent Synthtopia post, “Beachside Bebot jam proves you really can make music at the beach” to see exactly why making music on an iPad is not a bag of hurt. That guy shreds in a way that would otherwise be impossible for that price. And there are new apps coming out all the time, one might come out tomorrow that will set this whole argument to rest. Who knows.

            And to those worried that it will be the downfall of music: don’t be silly. Making technology affordable may increase casual production, but it won’t make the good stuff harder to find. Just don’t click Soundcloud accounts at random and you should be alright.

          2. Don’t you have a bridge to ask riddles at? Troll…
            If your shit is soooo awesome and your the savior of electronic music, where are your platinums?

  2. I’m taking the long view on this. iOS is already the more dominant of Apple’s platforms, and I don’t think Apple intends it to be toy-like. They will methodically add things as they are needed, as they’ve shown. Do you really think we won’t live to see the total iOS-ification of the computer platform? Music apps need to be ready for this.

    1. This makes me wonder what advantages iOS would have over OS X on a laptop.

      As for the devices themselves, they sacrifice versatility and connectivity for portability. Seems like they put quite a bit of thought into it.

      Can’t help but think that this phase we are in of spoon-feeding music making to make it more accessible to everyone is here to stay– which is fine. But it means we will be swimming in boring music for the next few decades. On the other hand, I like that making these tools more affordable and user-friendly means that music will be more interactive for a large spectrum of folks.

  3. Mobile devices are revolutionary for musicians, either as instruments or as tools – but as standalone music-making platforms, we’re really not there yet. Sure, you can write and record a whole album with an iPad, but it’s still something of a novelty. I think in the next few years, laptops will eat up the whole tablet craze by gaining touchscreens and more compact form factors at affordable prices. Windows 8 looks like it’s attempting to merge mobile and more traditional devices into one OS – which is a good thing (whether they succeed or not will be another matter – I think the tech is there at least).

    I get why people are annoyed at their over-coverage though. VSTs and ‘proper’ music software comes along with equal/greater frequency, with equal/greater quality. It seems some sites are still too enamoured with the novelty of making music on a phone. It’d be like if the gaming press was obsessed with Nintendo Wii and nothing else, or a film magazine reviewing mumblecore indie flicks 99% of the time.

    1. I think you are wrong on one point – that “VSTs and ‘proper’ music software comes along with equal/greater frequency, with equal/greater quality.”

      It seems like a lot of developers have given up on making big updates to their desktop music programs. Remember when Native used to update FM7 and the rest of its synths? Now it just seems to repackage them.

      And it isn’t just Native, it’s happening across the industry and it seems to have really kicked in when the economy crashed a few years ago. The companies stopped investing in their music apps.

      iOS is hot right now because some developers have figured out how that they can make a lot of money with music apps on the platform and others have figured out they can do new and interesting stuff on it. And there’s a lot less piracy, so they can price things dirt cheap and still make a buck.

      I’ll be interested to see if the ‘walled gardens’ that Apple and Microsoft are making for their app store developers will jumpstart desktop music app development, too.

      My biggest frustration is that developers aren’t thinking very much about moving things back and forth from your iPhone to your desktop.

      Like the new Propellerhead app Figure – it’s cool, but you can’t bring Figure grooves into Reason. How much does that piss off every Reason owner?

      The first music app that really gets workflows right is going to be hit!

      1. But there are countless bits of (often free) desktop software/plugins made by smaller developers, and even just hobbyists. I think if there’s one thing bigger, high quality developers can learn from iOS, it’s that they need to try and sell greater quantities at cheaper prices, rather than simply aiming at the pro/prosumer wallet. Propellerhead seem to be cottoning on to that with their new plugin function. My point in the second paragraph was simply that I think it’s reasonable to feel a little fatigued by all the coverage. While I definitely suspect a higher proportion of musicians and synth users own an iDevice, and use these apps – compared to the general population – it’s still a relatively small and inacessible audience. Apps that really utilize the platform are great, but it’s hard not to eye-roll when you see people and sites gushing over fairly rudimentary VA synths, because they happen to be on an iPad. One’s no one would blink at were in VST format.

  4. I have been saying forever that AudioCopyPaste is a stupid hack that only delays good solutions, making it worse than nothing. We will see what AudioBus does for this situation. This problem is 100% the creation of using AudioCopyPaste as a workflow rather than bouncing tracks together normally. You should be able to press record and switch to a full-screen instrument while the count-in happens and just bounce tracks over each other. (Video mult-tracking should always work this way as well.)


    -Fire up expensive 4 track tape machine

    -record 8 tracks of drums, submixed down to 4 tracks. Try to envision your submix and performance as part of a whole

    -record 5 different takes of same song. None are perfect, pick the one you think will work best.

    -bounce all drums down to 2 tracks. mix is set. only 2 tracks left to play with.

    -record guitar part. record bass. record vocals.

    -bounce tracks all along the way.

    -whoops! mic placement on the kick isn’t quite right now that all the instruments are in the mix.

    -do what you can to correct the problem. go on with life.

    Will Kuhn is right. Bag of hurt. time to throw out all of my records.

    1. Wow, just wow….20 thumbs up….no wonder people call smart musicians arrogant…. See, if your recording to tape then you perfect your song before you record it…BEFORE….Not after….Everything else you mention is either a skill you dont posess or problems you ran into because of a lack of skill and experience…

      ps….DId you really F up kick drum mics that much????

      1. This attitude is beyond frustrating. Anything that makes a process easier, more creative and more accessible is a good thing. I can’t play musical instruments very well, so being able to edit, perfect and experiment with things until my heart’s content is a godsend. I, however, posess skills that most traditional musicians, and some older generation producers won’t. There’s this ridiculous notion I often see amongst musicians/producers that the harder/older ways are the better ways, regardless of the results …and the sooner that dies out, the better.

  6. it depends, if you’re a guy that likes to open one single app without having a real idea what to do, then its true, it can get messy with all the apps and audio copy etc

    but if you already have an idea of what you want do do, i think its pretty much the same like in any other daw

    for me it starts with with nano studio, i build the basic beat, and then either add the built in synth or an external one like ims20 and just add the parts i need, or the sounds i need. even when starting with a nice synth patch in ims20, i would bound it and export it to nano studio

    if you’re used to have 1289 cracked plugins on a quad core machine, working on an iPad for sure is different

    but lets face it, the iPad is a notebook, and comparing it to a desktop machine is like comparing a small paper notebook to a full sized canvas and a RAL and PANETONE set of oil colors.

    for sure if i just want to paint around, and “we will see what it turns out” then its better to start with the canvas, but if you just want to take a note, and paint it when you’re in your studio, then its fine

  7. I have sent synth head a private message with a track I made in less than two hours using GarageBand on iPad, I didn’t even use acp from other apps. The result is a credible goa trance type track and I’m very pleased with it. Similar stuff can be done with nano studio no doubt as that has much more intense possibilities. I hope synth head posts the track so you can make your own minds up

    As an iOS producer and dj I am bound to be biased,I have used Reason, Absynth, Sound forge before the IOS days and that was amazing, but circumstances ( my pc crashed and I was gifted an iPod touch) dictated that I adapt to another creative scenario. One that I’ve grown attached to and cannot do without. In fact, I was given a MacBook and it has GarageBand, logic and a few bits and pieces and my iPad needed a new battery, so I tried unsuccessfully to make some music on it.

    An important factor is that I feel the vast majority of iOs music app users ( especially judging from the behaviour on a lot of their blogs) are under the age of 20, and as such are coming into music production via apps with little or no experience of desktop software and hardware etc..

    So because the price of apps are cheap and the learning curve quite minimal, the app users will likely put that on a higher pedestal.

    But those who prefer desktop stuff or hardware should not minimise apps either because some are actually very good. And it seems Auria and Audiobus will be game changers.

    I have noticed of late that acp is a pain in the butt and as such I chose to make the track I want synthead to post exclusively on one app only. Now it’s a simple track but nicely sequenced and very deep, but not much tricks going on. To do that I’d need to use acp and GarageBand uses a lot of CPU and that slows down the workflow.

    I really think that this year will be great for apps and I really do appreciate the honest and very human discussions on here, it’s very valuable and educational for all concerned.

    I conclude by saying that people’s preferences should not be imposed and that each party should honour the others tools.

    Do I think apps can go all the way? Yes, but only if you know what you are doing, and that of course means having some prior experience with other tools.

    I look forward to following this discussion

  8. It’s interesting that iOS stirs up so much emotion and passion. I mean, consider another piece of common technology, the TV remote control. It would be fairly easy to create an infrared sensor that reads the signals from a TV remote. Then all the little buttons we use to control our TV can be Rewired to makes sounds or control MIDI values, etc. We could MAKE MUSIC with our remote controls! But so far as I know nobody has ever done this. And so far as I know nobody would care to try. But something about the psychology of Apple devices and Apple users digs down into some people’s deepest secret soul and they say, I’m not going to use this guitar or flute or piano and I’m not going to use this desktop or laptop, I’m going to use this essentially trivial piece of technology and relive all the endless technology glitches that we’ve lived through with C/PM and UNIX and Windows and the first Mac OS and then NeXTSTEP. The only thing it is, is interesting. Something like Grain Science is wonderfully intriguing and might sell a device just by itself. But, still, the whole iOS issue is just weird. I mean, I love my TV remote control but I don’t feel any imperative to make music with it (or use it as a phone or a camera).

    1. I don’t understand why anyone want to use these newfangled computer whooziwhatsits when tape works just fine. Why relive the glitches we encountered when we switched from wax cylinders?

      1. When I gave up wax cylinders for tape and then solid-state, I got NEW capabilities and NEW glitches.

        iOS is the EXACT SAME set of glitches that have already been lived through (and solved!) on real operating systems and iOS devices give you LESS capabilities than a real OS.

        In a way, iOS people are people who want to push aside solid-state and tape and GO BACK to wax cylinders (because that’s what they’re doing computer-wise–they are accepting decades-old glitches and limitations by not using laptops or desktops).

        Use what makes you happy. (I strongly suspect the underlying dynamic here is just that money from simple-minded people has the exact same value as money from thoughtful people. So corporations sell makeup and then tell women they’re beautiful to get their money. And Apple (and others) sell tablet stuff and then tell people they’re “musicians” to get their money.) Use what makes you happy. It doesn’t really matter in the long run what “script” corporations or anyone else puts around a product. If it does what YOU want it to do and you create stuff, fine. But don’t expect other people to embrace and celebrate the same fantasies you do. We all have our own.

        1. When you dismiss musicians that use iPads as “simple-minded people”, it seems that you must be ignorant of how many are now using iPads and iPhones and how cost-effective they are as tools.

          iPads make fantastic and cheap wireless control surfaces for mixing – excellent for live use.

          They make great controllers for Ableton Live, because you can see the names of your loops. Also much cheaper than custom control surfaces!

          Garageband is surprisingly powerful. If you can’t make music with it, it’s time to give it up.

          The iPad also creates a great interface for working with older hardware synths and rack mount gear.

          Anybody dismissing iPads as toys and their users as simple minded must either be ignorant of all the benefits and cost savings that you can get by using one or is just trolling.

  9. The IPad/Iphone/ipod is a marvelous scratch pad by itself, or a decent guitar effects processor for song writing or practicing. I’m wanting to use it more for Midi work but unsure of the best midi adaptor to use, the wifi is decent but latency is noticeable. I have the camera kit, but need a USB to midi adaptor for it, and im unsure what to use, any suggestions? I have garageband, midipads, animoog, and a few others. I love animoog and midipads, I need the midi adaptor. Is there a usb to usb midi cable out there or just the usb to midi DIN connectors? Which of those works well?

    1. I’ve had success with the E-MU XMIDI 1×1 Tab USB interface. It’s about $30 or less.

      The iConnectMIDI does what you want and a whole lot more. It costs a bit more at $180.

    2. For old-school 5-pin DIN MIDI, I recommend the iRig MIDI ($64 shipped on Amazon) since it actually *charges the iPad* while you play.

      It’s rather nice not to run out of battery right in the middle of a jam or recording session.

  10. I see working on the iPad a bit better than working on an MPC and synth keyboard. On the MPC I have to hook up a turntable to my MPC, fire them both up, go through some menus on the MPC, arm for recording, find records, listen to a few to pick out catchy sounds, then record into MPC, slice parts, get tempo, sequences samples, find drum sounds, sequence drum sounds, fire up Blofeld, hook it up to MPC inputs and MIDI ports, play bass and leads, then arrange then into a track, exports sounds separately, transfer to computer, open up in REAPER, mix and master, then record vocals on my computer, edit here and there, add effects, and finalize track.

    On an iPad all I have to do is fire up BeatMaker 2, pull song from my music library, slice parts, place them on pads, sequence along with my drums, of which I can hold many more on the iPad memory, then add a bass from Animoog or Alchemy all within the same extremely slim and portable device, then arrange, send tracks separately over to DAW via FTP or Dropbox, and into DAW.

    The iPad is easier to work with for me, and IMO BeatMaker 2 is as good as my MPC.

    Apparent by my process, everyone has a different workflow. This article is nothing more than this writer’s process. Not everyone will have the same process. Ultimately it comes down to your creativity and dedication to your music. Tools are just aids to what you already have on your mind and heart. Nor an MPC, FL Studio, or BeatMaker 2 will make you any better or worse than you naturally are.

  11. Making music on an iPad is stupid. One of the most important reasons for this stupidity is its bad ergonomics and its comparatively weak processor. Compared to a full blown desktop computer with one or even two 24″ monitors it’s truly a step backwards. For me, as a piano and keyboard player, there’s one more, important drawback: you can’t _play_ it. I mean, it’s really cumbersome to touch a display to “play” an instrument. But hey, lots of those iPad users can’t play a real instrument anyway.

    So why on earth should a musician use this iPad stuff? There’s just one answer: it seems to be hip. It’s a toy, not more, not less.

      1. yeah, let’s take the concept of found sound, sound design, DIY etc and compare it with tapping through a patch bank on a glass screen..

        1. Please don’t speculate as to how and why our dear mr eno uses an iPad. Please do some serious research or maybe find out from someone who knows him ( like I did) as to how and why he uses an iPad “sometimes”. He finds them so valuable that he even helped develop an app.
          Admittedly, he clearly has the very best tools on the planet to do his amazing work and the iPad is just one of many things he can choose to use as it takes his fancy.

          Here’s some homework for you, go on YouTube and do a search for the live recording sessions for his second to last album, not the drums between the bells one,the one before that, you will then see an iPad being used by the man himself.

          I’d say mr eno is so intelligent and broad minded that he wouldn’t discredit anything as long as it makes a sound, and it is well known, he doesn’t do categorisations. He’s a spontaneous guy with a genius streak!

          The point is not to put anything as supreme, but to clarify if, when and how it can be used. That is the core of this discussion I believe

          1. >He finds them so valuable that he even helped develop an app.

            Duh, it’s a money grab, he’s selling you an app! Of course he’s going to say it’s good! Just like Jordan Rudess, every day that guy has a new paid endorsement of some crappy 99 cents app or wacky $10,000 string instrument no one wants.

            And if Brian Eno is so “open minded” then why is there a quote right here on “our beloved” synthtopia where Brian Eno is dissing video game music? I’m no big fan of video games but it’s hard to deny things like the Super Mario Theme aren’t become a kind of modern classic. In fact I’d say the Super Mario Theme (which is basically an old school rag time piano tune) is more musically advanced than any of the glorified synth pads Brian Eno passes off as songs.

              1. I’m struck by the insidious, computer-driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity. The transfer is not paying off. Sure, muscles are unreliable, but they represent several million years of accumulated finesse.
                — Brian Eno

                … via The Synthtopia homepage.

            1. Your painfully thin understanding of Eno and his impact. Try “Here Come The Warm Jets”.

              I agree w/ the Rudess comment.

          2. “So I guess Brian eno is not a musician? He uses an iPad sometimes in the studio..”
            “Please don’t speculate as to how and why our dear mr eno uses an iPad. ”

            First you claim things about Mr. Eno, then you complain that people speculate things about Mr. Eno? Please be more consistent in your comments Mr. Evolutionaryartsdotorg.

            I don’t think Mr. Eno uses his ipad much when its next to his EMS Synthi.

    1. Criticizing an iPad because it doesn’t have a piano keyboard makes as much sense as criticizing your piano because it doesn’t have a touchscreen computer built into it!

      Basically, you’re suggesting that musicians that use iPads as cost-effective MIDI controllers, sequencers or instrument hosts are fools.

      Smooth move, Ferguson!

      1. Yeah…its not a good analogy. See, a synth on a screen taking up screen real estate with a shitty graphical keyboard is not the same as a Piano with a touch screen….pretty much what a Korg Triton is….

    2. Hey, if you can’t be expressive on an instrument with a multi-touch interface, it’s your own damn problem. Don’t be mad at the rest of us for having some talent and the joy of a new way to express it.

      1. Being expressive on a touch screen? You’re kidding, aren’t you? I mean, playing expressive means to have some sort of different velocity, the higher the resolution, the better. And now, try to “play” expressive on a touch screen. This is ridiculous. My tip: try to learn piano or keyboard, then you might know what it means to play expressive.

        1. you missed the bebot jam on the beach! do you even read synthtopia or did you just come here for this one article.

  12. I use Beatmaker 2 with 2 BA capable Synths (Sunrizer, Animoog) and 3 HW Synths on the outside through a small mackie mixer. effects unit on the AUX channel there. Tape out into desktop through a MOTU ultralite if I’m feeling impro. The desktop version of this kinda workflow is a bag of hurt for me everytime I have to grab mouse and keyboard or worse a trackpad. Always liked the hands on approach which kinda inspires me. And desktop can always be insufficient, too when you’re the kind of producer who desperately needs to run a dozen steinway emulations at the same time or heavily processed tracks.

    1. Yes, but anyway … a DAW is much more comfortable and makes much more sense. In terms of music making, an iPad is just needless. There are no advantages, it’s just a shiny gadget.

  13. For me it would go:

    * Fire up [DAW of choice]; learn how to use it…

    * Stop on page 173 of manual, go play with Figure some more.

    unless the DAW is Renoise then:

    * Stare at blank pattern for five minutes, go play with Figure some more.

    1. Go search smite matter on cd baby, his album technopolis lost was made only with ios, if you think his music is toylike then you are even stupider than your comment

  14. This article is assuming you use garageband, which i would agree, is not that great…. There are a lot of great apps out there for making music. One, called Tabletop, is far superior to garageband, i feel.

    Look at animoog, the many Korg apps, the new propellerhead figre app, or Rebirth, for that matter. A lot of these apps you can create a complete song with.

    Or, you can do what i did and get yourself little 4 track recorder and then you can combine as many apps as you want to make your song. There are many apps for drums, synths, bass, guitar etc. ( although i use a real guitar).

    I am a fim believer you don’t need a PC to make songs, as long as you have a little bit of hardware ( 4 track, mixer, etc) . I personally dont use a computer at all for recording.

  15. Also, The Fall by the Gorillaz was great and they used an ipad for a lot of that album. I dont consider it a novelty, in fact i probably wouldnt have even noticed the difference if they hadnt made it so well known that they did use an ipad.

  16. For the most part ipad apps appear to be pretty useless for serious music production. Several reasons for this. As a performance controller, possibly a different story. But that glass is a little awkward.

    Maybe in the future things will change. But right now, the trajectory of ipad music apps seem aimed towards the amateur market. The price is right.

  17. This is an example of people projecting their expectations. “If this totally different thing doesn’t operate like the thing I’m used to. Useless!”

    They’re all just tools. A piano is a tool. Your voice is a tool. Software is a tool.

    You have a pen, and you’re like, you have nice dark lines, can control line thickness with the nib, but you’re judging it as a pencil. WHERE IS THE ERASER! USELESS! It is like saying a trumpet is useless because it doesn’t have good drum sounds.

    mobile is a totally different thing from desktop computing. the form is different, the gestures are different, the feedback is different. Developers are gradually, gradually realizing that this means they have to adapt development to the platform instead of directly translating what they know to a mobile app. Users need to start doing the same.

    1. “It is like saying a trumpet is useless because it doesn’t have good drum sounds.”


      Why judge an iPad against a desktop computer or even a laptop? It’s a new tool and people should only use it if it makes sense for them.

      If you make the opposite comparison, though, the desktop computer fails, because it can’t be used for mobile music making, it can’t be used as a touchscreen instrument, it doesn’t make a good MIDI controller!

    2. Thats the problem….the market is following the users instead of developers forging ahead with anything new and exciting…Whats popular on the iPad….Animoog? Fairlight? Lemur? Lots of buzz around this new Walorf app….Ohh, Figure???? Come on….its all been done before, better. Stretta…simple question…

      Monome or Monome App?

  18. This guy is right. IOS has some nice instruments, but the lack of communication between apps kills the workflow.

    IOS is good for playing and some quick fun, but for recording and serious sequencing its not that great.

    1. How can anybody seriously believe that its a good thing that you can’t record or export/copy from every apps?
      How can you love not being able to connect apps together? There are so much great synths that are stuck in their sandbox and can’t be integrated in a studio environment.

      What kind of musician is against projects like Audiobus? You guys really suffer from the stockholm syndrome if that is the case.

      1. “How can anybody seriously believe that its a good thing that you can’t record or export/copy from every apps?

        How can you love not being able to connect apps together? There are so much great synths that are stuck in their sandbox and can’t be integrated in a studio environment.

        What kind of musician is against projects like Audiobus?”

        Um – exactly nobody has suggested any of these things here, Goode. When somebody does, though, it looks like you’re ready for ’em.

        1. “Um – exactly nobody has suggested any of these things here, Goode. ”

          Everytime I suggest IOS could handle stuff like true multitasking, a real pasteboard, and hosts with plugings (the kind of stuff PalmOS could do years before IOS), I have to face a barrage of people who claims IOS is perfect as it is and cannot be made better. Most of the time those people argue that IOS is not powerful enough, or that this stuff would crash all the time…

          Thankfully software like Audiobus and Audiocopy let us work around these IOS shortcomings, and hopefully IOS will integrate these kinds of functions in the future, maybe…

          I think it would be great if we could load an app within another app, like loading a Sunrizer in a Nanostudio track.

    2. Exactly. This is the reason why you’ll find iPads for this purpose (making music) mostly in children’s rooms, but not in serious studios. Even if you can see some producers on YouTube playing with this toy in their studio it doesn’t mean they use it for there daily work. They just jumped on the bandwagon to be hip. But for serious work? No way.

      1. The problem with that argument is that “serious studios” are the ones that crank out loveless, mannerist crap that have nothing to do with anything but generating more landfill pop hits that are forgotten within 6 months.

        It’s the guy with the Tascam, a $40 mic, some assorted Fisher-Price toys and his imagination that make stuff which has listeners saying “Wow”.

      2. It’s why the masterfully-produced “Soldier Of Love” by Sadé is doomed to be a footnote in the cut-out bins, and why McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” (recorded in his freekin’ garage in 1970) STILL gets played 100 times a day, 42 years later.

  19. It’s the analog vs digital argument all over again. If you don’t see soft synths as a viable instrument then of course you won’t like the iPad. But it’s crazy to think that it makes someone a bad musician if they pick one up.

  20. Key points

    – sceptics have yet to see evidence or should I say, HEAR evidence of pro music made on iOS.

    Admittedly, there is not much…

    -how many of the critics have actually TRIED to? And FAILED?

    If you have seriously tried and failed and are actually a pro musician then you have the right to criticise, otherwise you are just speculating, being annoying and biased

    So please tell us how, exactly how and why iOS apps cannot make “real” music

    Jordan rudess is seen to be a real musician, now why is he diving deep into apps?

    I look forward to reasonable and mature answers to the above

    1. > I look forward to reasonable and mature answers to the above

      Sadly, I don’t think you’ll find that here. If you know where this discussion could take place without a bunch of people posting the equivalent of, “stop liking things I don’t like,” let me know.

    2. Simple….Jordan Rudess is SEEN to be a real muscian… He is in realty a POPULAR musician…he likes money. Id take him seriously if I ever met anyone with a Dream Theater shirt I didnt want to punch…

      But seriously, who cares WHO is using the apps…Its 1999 all over…
      Its the new wave of affordable synthesis….the last wave nearly killed the electronic genre all together…the Limewire era of any jackass with the internet becoming a “musician”. Now, any jack as with $10 and an iPrius can be considered a “musician”.

      No thanks, not in my book. This is not the analogue vs digital debate again….This is the real instruments vs software….and I thought we all agreed….Software has a use, but last I checked in that argument is anyone with any sense will tell you HARDWARE WINS. It sounds BETTER. Its not my preference, its just a fact. You guys have fun getting audio from headphone jacks and iRigs and whatnot….I’ll stick with 1/4 inch Monster cable, a 32 space rack nutsacked full of the 80’s, and the ever-creativity-boosting wonder of patience.

      1. Hmm, I actually never met Jordan Rudess until I got to talk to him at his app booth at Macworld. He seemed pretty cool. He also gave a presentation on iPad music apps and also played an excellent set later that evening. He looks a bit unusual and maybe it’s fun to hate him because of his geeky fondness for iPad apps and plentiful endorsements, but all in all I’d say that he seemed like a real musician to me, an excellent keyboard player and not a bad guy either.

      2. Monster cables – they really do make your music sound better with their electroacoustic synthomagnetic technology for smoother, more accurate sound – almost completely eliminating wow and flutter as well as the 360 degree phase shift, L/R channel reversal and unity gain which you might experience with other, cheaper cables.

        1. You can use a guitar center cable for all I care, the fact is I’d rather use 1/4 inch than a camera connection kit or headphone jack…I believe we can agree.

          Maybe tube pre amps and analogue compressor started sounding like shit, I missed that memo…Either way, I like to use those things…which I have no intention of hooking up adapters to interface with gear that has standard connections of an acceptable fidelity…

          Its just two different schools…you have your new school guys with their iPads stuffed full of virtual instruments…then you have your guys that built the school, with the instruments your Apps emulate.

          Have fun at the App store, I’ll have fun at Big City…

    3. iPad can probably make “pro” music. But why would anyone choose sounds that cost 5.99 when they have access to single analog oscillators that cost $500? it’s like asking a million dollar studio to record with the mic in the laptop when they got the good stuff sitting right next to them. There are gibson’s and there are epiphones… For a reason.

    4. Jordan Rudess praises everything when he gets paid for it. Some time ago he was sponsored by Kurzweil so he endorsed Kurzweil as the very best workstation you can get. Then he was payed by Korg and suddenly Korg is the best one can get. In this case, Rudess is something like a whore. Whenever you see a video where Rudess is praising something you can expect that there’s a financial deal behind it. Okay, to take it positive: he’s a good businessman.

  21. >Think of an idea for a part; realize the GB instruments don’t do all the tricks you need

    If your “ideas” rely on tools rather than creativity, they probably aren’t worth recording in the first place. An iPad represents more power and sonic opportunity than a professional studio set up had only 15 or so years ago, and tons of music was made before then.

    1. If you need gimmicks like “made on an ipad” to get anyone to care about your music then it’s probably bad music.

    2. xtopher…were you in a professional studio 15 years ago? I was….What the fuck are you talking about? Exactly what is it an iPad can do a 15 year studio cant? Now flip that around….15 years ago a pro studio may or may not have had, but more than likely did, a 48 channel board, a room full of outboard, analog and ADAT decks, a full set of instruments…most likely a few samplers, maybe a Fairlight, maybe even a U87 or two….Now tell me….what exactly is it an iPad does functionality wise that a 15 year old studio doesnt??? What? Size? Well, I’ll remember that the next time I record on an iPad with 48 channels of clean audio, effects and dynamics processors on every channel, with headroom and aural dynamics that, at this time, cannot be achieved by an iPad…. Ill remember all that….

      1. You know…. years ago I paid thousands of dollars for an ADAT + mixing console + other junk + miles of cables … now I’d be sorely tempted to get an 8 (or more) channel USB audio interface and simply use a laptop and/or iPad. This setup is nice for mixing since it gives you fader automation for free.

        If I recall correctly, Harmonicdog demonstrated an 18-channel interface recording to their iPad app at NAMM.

      2. What iPad does that 15 year old studio doesn’t?
        (A) cost less than $200.000
        (B) depreciate by over 20% a year
        (C) blend.

  22. I just like using the iPad plus genome to run all my hardware synths. Convenient and fast compared to programming on my old EMX and ESX ELECTRIBES. plus it has chords and program changes and cc messages and a nice visual feedback. I think this is where ios is great. And who can argue with a dsi prophet 08 and tetra plus alesis ion and jp 8000 all raging in sync at the same time with a nice screen to tell you what’s up.

    1. Using an iPad + MIDI interface + Chris Randall’s Phaedra sequencer saved me about $1,000 over what I would have spent to get the same functionality in a hardware module.

      1. Yeah, and the usability is just crappy. For the same money you could just as well buy a halfway decent computer, install Reaper and you’re done. And you’d have a working environment which is much more comfortable and expandable.

  23. I think we should all just make music on “whatever” and “however” and focus on that, after all, that’s why we are reading and commenting on this article in the first place.

    There is no inferior or superior,it’s all relative and subject to constant evolution.

    If an iPad had been out 15 years ago, everyone would be like wow! It’s because so much technological advancement has been made of late that it appears that iOS apps are weak

    But ponder this- something so small ( iPhone or iPad) is capable of so much in such a short time ( iPad has only been out two years) and apps are IMPROVING and not declining in ability, so let’s just see what happens over time?

    The evidence is there in the sheer popularity of ios apps, music and otherwise that something must feel right for so many, if it’s not for you, then cool, but it is for so many

    It is really a threefold scenario

    Apple must see that iOS needs improving ( and it is, ios5 does so much more than the previous ones)

    Developers must see the need of the hour and cater for that ( hence audiobus and Auria)

    Users must state their needs clearly on forums such as these and hopefully apple and developers will take note and work toward that. And we can see that Propellerheads themselves have shown some initiative to apply some of the feedback from the Figure app release in future updates.

    Ok, happy Easter:)

  24. Finally somebody with common sense. Thanks for this article. At the moment, it is really hard to see all the companies jumping on the iPad bandwagon (in order to make a quick buck), while at the same time ceasing development of their flagship plugins. Many – like Korg – do still not offer 64-bit compatible versions of their soft synths, but release more and more iPad stuff. Sorry to say, but despite me actually having an iPad, I do not like this development.

  25. Guaranteed the “ipad music craze” is going to look super corny in 30 years sort of like some of the tacky stuff from the 80s. Look at the photo at the top… How dorky is that? That looks like a scene out of an Anime or World Of Warcraft convention. In a few years you’ll think back to fiddling with some crappy ipad music app in Starbucks trying to impress girls meanwhile the girl working behind the counter is only thinking “so glad my boyfriend can play guitar, just look at these nerds!”.

    1. That picture is a horrible example for this article, they aren’t even trying to use it professionally. And if you really choose your equipment based on what you think people think about you, I feel sorry you are so insecure.

      1. But you choose the ipad because you think it makes you “cutting edge” so you should feel sorry for yourself then…

              1. I said I don’t own one, that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried one. Besides, half the people here obviously don’t own one because they have an aversion. I personally think they’re beautiful machines, but I am happy with my setup now and am tight on money. However I do have access to one and use it often. I am fond of Animoog and have taken hundreds of samples off of it.
                This is all besides the point because I never said anything that would require an expert iPad knowledge to know. I think you have to nitpick and take things out of context because you never had a good point in the first place.
                Regardless, this has been a good conversation for the most part, it was interesting hearing about peoples personal gear setups and how they integrate the iPad.

    2. “super corny in 30 years” — Yes, BUT, you know, these days, that’s kind of a selling point! I mean, look at Teenage Engineering. They’re making $800 on high-tech devices that are like fancy versions of the ancient Casio VL-1! And I used to have a Casio VL-1 in my closet and it just got kicked from side to side. And now it is the inspiration for the coolest hand-held on the market.

      The market is strange and music is a social scene and ANYTHING can happen. There’s no law that says ANYTHING has to make sense. And, luckily, things are allowed to be fun, even under-powered single-board computers without keyboards.

      1. Hey. the VL-1 was the first in a long line of awesome Casio devices! It was the first synth I ever played!!

        Hmm, maybe that’s why I find the OP-1 inexplicably appealing…

    3. Yeah. My bass guitar makes me feel like a rock star. iPad makes me feel kinda like that annoying dude on the Mac commercials. Can you imagine “I’m a Mac” making music? Rocking out on his iPad? Lol

  26. Final thought from me..

    It’s not about rejecting, not about accepting,it’s about what can compliment ones own musical quest. We are all individuals with different needs, different tastes, different levels of skill and different levels of expression.

    Now, I was told that someone did a test of korgs ims20 and electribe between app versions and their hardware counterparts and found not much difference at all in essence or in overall sound quality.

    What they did find what a vast difference in price however 🙂

  27. The people that hate on iPad music making are probably gear enthusiasts who have like 20 keyboards, huge racks and modules with wires all over the place, like 5 desktop computers, some drum machines here and there, and all kinds of compressors, limiters, and other effects racks, but never make a single song. They spend their time bashing other people’s weapons of choice instead of using theirs and getting on with their lives.

    While you guys hate I’ll be making music with my MPC 1000, Blofeld, MicroKORG, a computer loaded with FL Studio, REAPER, Zebra, DIVA, Nexus 2, Alchemy, Sylenth1, Guitar Rig, Izotope Nectar, Fabfilter bundle, my iPad loaded with BeatMaker 2, Animoog, Sunrizer, Alchemy Mobile, ThumbJam, NanoStudio, GarageBand, Filtatron, and my bass and electric guitars. I’m going to use all the tools at my disposal to make music, whether I’m at my desk or in bed with my iPad. You guys have fun hating though.

  28. I experimented for years on the portability / functionality holy grail. I’ve taken bigger keyboards using outsize luggage, analogue modules interfaced via apogee units, bought and sold an OP-1 and toyed with the thought of buying an ipad. But I think I already found my ideal: a macbook fitted with a desktop-size hard drive and one of those minute USB keyboards from Akai. I can go travels and never again worry about missing a moment of inspiration or the desire to play some music. More importantly, my holidays need not be ruined by the need to sit in a hotel room staring at a computer screen because I’ve brought a whole load of equipment with me for the purpose.
    More important than all that, I realised that creativity doesn’t require instant capture. If it’s any good, it can be retained in the memory until the proper resources in the proper environment are available. It’s nice that technology now allows one access to incredible technology in the bus or in the bath but it isn’t really necessary.

    1. I should add: the game-changer of the last 25 years of far more significance as far as I can see is the affordable home studio. Before that, one couldn’t really make a decent recording without a record deal and all that comes with it. And time was limited to expensive hours in an expensive professional studio. In other words, time-at-large, more than location-at-large, is what has opened up vast creative possibilities.

      1. Gordon

        I’m old enough to remember how much musicians joked about DAWs when they came out – how they were toys and not for ‘real musicians’, etc, etc.

        Then there was the same discussion when VSTi’s started to appear, and virtual studios like Reason. ‘Toys’ and not for real musicians.

        Things change. Some people just jump right in. Others aren’t going to accept it until they see how it all plays out.

        1. Spot on Gordon! I remember all the bitching I heard when I bought my first ProTools system in the early 90s about how it wasn’t as good as tape and why use it. Now these Neanderthals have latched on to that but are whining about being able to be creative while mobile. LOL! My iPad has more power and capability than that PT system, cost about 1/15th, and goes where I go.

          1. So you opted to spend $10k for brand new technology in the early 90’s? Add cost of everything else for a Pro Tools rig….Then put into account youre claiming to be quite the pioneer since Pro Tools didnt even catch on in studios till the mid 90’s… For what? Your 4 to 8 tracks and eventually even CD quality fidelity? Really? Im just confused by every post you make….

    2. Bing! Bing! Bing!

      If we get to vote on who wins this thread I vote for you.

      (Although I wouldn’t have sold the OP-1!)

    3. At the end of the day iPad music making is software based like Mac, Windows, and Linux music making. None are going to sound as good as analog hardware music making, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful. With good mixing and mastering skills software music will sit in the mixes well, sounding indistinguishable from hardware A/D conversion on a CD. iPad has an advantage to me, and that’s the hands on approach. Once you start using an iPad it’s hard to go back to a mouse and a keyboard. I’d rater deal with the minor “limitations” until AUs are introduced to the iPad, or Win 8 tablets release, than to go back to the old fashioned mouse.

  29. Ill stick with my real Waldorf, thank you very much…Even as a sound module I just look at the iPrius and wonder….why do people freak out about this stuff??? Either way, everything Ive heard at all out of an iPad just doesnt cut the mustard…Its equal parts the fact that Ive never met anyone that owned one that new what they were talking about synth wise let alone anyone with a creative spark in their body. Well, that stuff and the fact that people look just so damn ***** tapping on those things…

    Bring on the iPrius hate….at least my gear sounds good.

  30. If you think of the iPad as a computer, you will likely be disappointed. If you think of it as an instrument with extra features, you will be elated by the possibillities. It’s all in the focus.

    1. Well, now that you said it, I did get this new instrument from the pound….its about a foot tall, shits all over the house, and eats my shoes….but everytime I kick it, it barks and yelps….Its a good thing I got this small, furry, instrument…I never thought there would be such an innovation in music….

      You can think of shit, dirt, bed sheets, or tree bark as an instrument…just because you can make music with it doesnt mean its an instrument…just because you make music doesnt mean youre a musician…Look at Kanye West, he makes his living off of writing and performing music….Kayne West, not a musician.

  31. You know what….Ill wrap this up with this:
    I may pick up an iPad as a tool, but it’ll never make a sound…I like the idea of the Lemur app…Id rather have a Lemur but I will give on the price vs feature argument here…the lemur app is awesome. As far as a synth app….We’ll see in a few years, but doubtful. Just not sure how much i’d use it for music…Even the Lemur app….Its just fake buttons and sliders. A launchpad and a Korg nano works just fine for all that….

    Im always on the fence but alas, iPad looses every time…Especially since Ive immersed myself in Max…Maybe when I can have Max on the iPad… I do like PD, which I understand you can do with the ipad, but its just not Max.

  32. I love people that come and cry about things of which they have no educated opinion, and base all arguments on some YouTube video they saw one time…I’m not pointing fingers or saying names but someone in here sounds like a douche…

  33. Although I enjoy making music with Reason, Live and various plug-ins, I think multitouch is superior to a mouse-based interface for software synths. Going back to the mouse makes me feel as if I only have one finger.

    I have outboard MIDI faders, knobs and buttons for use with my laptop, but I really enjoy the immediacy of the multitouch interface on the iPad.

    1. Multitouch is sure likable in some situations (like mixing), but not so much in others. The big advantage of a mouse is that is has a pixel-based cursor with a hotspot. So the precision you can achieve with such a pointing device is much more superior to that of a multitouch display, where the “size” of your fingers decide over precision. Just reminds me how many times I have tried to move that position bar on my iPad while always falsely opening notifications. For sure a combination of multitouch and other pointing devices is the best you can have…

    1. @leslie

      What happened? Did your browser bring you here by mistake? Shouldn’t you be dissing toys on that other blog?

  34. I think that a good artist can make music with just about anything. I have written a piece using a sample of a Vietnames frog croaker. Granted it was supplemented a bit by effects but none the less. The days of early electronic music are full of great music using very limited equipment such as splicing tape or composing using computer punch cards.

    That being said, those early EM artists would have killed to have something even as limited as the Garage Band DAW. But my point is that if they had it they would have used it. While there is a certain aesthetic to limiting oneself I don’t get the point. I don’t understand this belief that less is more.

    Look, I love my IPad. I am using it now for what it was intended. Things like the web, music, books, ect.. It does all those well but if I have a symphony orchestra at my finger tips (and I do), then why would I want to play a kazoo. Ok, overstated for effect but you get my point.

    Perhaps great tools will be available some day but believing the are there now is pure fantasy.

    That is not to say that in the hands of a real artist even a kazoo will sound good so for Tge I musicians up for the challenge. Go for it. I just won’t be following.

  35. iPad is the most valuable synthesizer module ever. I hate iPad otherwise, its games are total crap(for the devices price). iPad is only good for music. I will stop using soft synthesizers once I get iPad.

      1. And your comment is nitpicking, do you know that? Clarification for nitpickers; I will stop unsing OTHER soft synthesizers, when I get iPad. I like the hands on ability to use all the parameters musically and intuitively without automation.

        1. Sorry for the nitpicking, but there are people who don’t know that IOS synths are softsynths.

          As for the ability to use parameters, I have dedicated controllers for that which didn’t cost much money, and I prefer them because I don’t need to watch the screen to check which button I’m controlling.

          But I adore my ipad for instruments like Geosynth­, no need to buy a Haaken Continuum thanks to apps like Geosynth 🙂

          1. Have some faith on Synthtopia readers. Most iPad fans I know are owners of pretty impressive modular synths, and they enjoy iPad controllers, sequencers and synths and they all know, that they are software.

  36. I don’t understand why people keep bashing the iPad. I have two hardware synthesizers, a V-Synth GT and a Moog Little Phatty, and I also have some apps in my iPad. Some are bad (like MorphWiz) and some are great (like Animoog)!

    You can easily make a concert with just an iPad and a portable MIDI keyboard and people wouldn’t tell a difference between an iPad and a ROMpler. Hardware is good but an iPad can easily substitute it for more portable gear setup.

    Making a while music on the iPad can be quite painfull but it’s a cheaper way of making music, and I do believe that good musician can make it sound really professional.

    I do agree that analog and hardware synths are better, but I also enjoy the iPad for several things that can’t be done with them.

    Other great thing about the iPad is that you can use it to control your synthesizers and DAW, making your life easier!

  37. Comparing Apples and Oranges. iOS is a great platform for getting your ideas captured, but you need the power of a DAW to do more serious editing. Maybe some day, iOS devices will have enough cpu and memory to do the additional things you can do via a DAW, but DAW features will likely grow beyond what’s available now. Point is – an iPad is a great platform for capturing your ideas. The desktop, is a great platform for evolving those ideas into something better. Apple has a video showing some of the differences –

    Can someone create a masterpiece with GarageBand? They sure can. It is easier, and more convenient though, to use a desktop system – with additional memory, disk space, etc. to get the job done.

    A comment (opinion about the opinions 🙂 ) about Jorden Rudess… Like his music or not – he is a musician, and pushes the envelope of what you can create with a mobile device. Good on him! The distraction, to some – is that he has a stake in game. I don’t discredit his work, because he makes money off iPad apps. He is leading the way with innovative use of iOS / Music.

  38. I don’t care what you guys use. At the end of the day it’s personal preference. I will say that if you pay serious $£ for these tools then you have to make them work. I use Renoise on Linux. Works just fine for me, and the whole thing cost £150 to build.

  39. Lol, I see it’s still going strong…a very relevant discussion indeed!

    Had some thoughts…I really don’t think people should be out to prove the supremacy of one thing over another, for example, we see that some of the eyedesignsound readers are posting here fighting and stating their case, which is fine up to a point, but it gets tiring and overdone. I was doing the same thing on these very pages then realised that ” to each their own”. However, this discussion is good all round, not to let off steam, but to genuinely analyse the music software world. And if this is being read by ios developers, then they may get some insight as to what is needed to make the apps more credible and as such, sell more units.

    For the most part, this discussion has been mature and rational and not at all embarrassing as the discussion about FIGURE on a certain blog. That is totally unnecessary and doesn’t accomplish anything apart from verbal vomit.

    I hope synth head comes up with more interesting topics and I always advise my readers to come visit synthtopia as it is the most informative of the many blogs around.

    One example of how I have found some iOS stuff is as good as its desktop counterparts is the new DJ DEX app that has come from PCDJ who have also amazing desktop dj tools. They sent me a promo code for the app and I do not say this lightly, but it is as good as the desktop version. I’d go as far as to say that it is THE ONLY PRO DJ APP out there.

  40. What I love, as a hobbyist producer/musician, is the freedom that music creation gives me. For instance – I can read all the ‘pros’ here (whom I’ve never heard of) and all their ‘great advice’ – and totally disregard it all and laugh at you. If I want to use an iPad or iPhone in my workflow I will. Easy enough.

    1. If I’d write the 200th posting I’d reject to win an iPad. Oh, wait, maybe I could use it to chop onions on it in my kitchen …

      1. Now andy…don’t be like that, here is why I know you are lying or just hating!


        You really want one or cannot afford it

        You are too clumsy and might drop it and thus break the screen

        You don’t know that if you won one that you could sell it real quick and go buy a lame android phone!

        Some people astound me due to their need to incite anger from others, that’s a big dysfunction right there and the biggest causes of problems on the planet right now

        1. “You really want one or cannot afford it”

          No, I still see no use for it.

          “You are too clumsy and might drop it and thus break the screen”

          Yes, that might happen. But it’s much more likely that I rather smash it than to drop it.

          “You don’t know that if you won one that you could sell it real quick and go buy a lame android phone!”

          I don’t need an Android phone either. But as I said, I think I’d have some use for an iPad in my kitchen. Provided that it is firm.

          But seriously. I mean, a new iPad costs a lot of money. Round about 500 bucks. Now considered you already have a small studio with a decent computer, a DAW software, just like most of us. Now, what can you do with 500 dollars or euro?

          Maybe you still use headphones to mix your songs. For $500 you could buy a pair of good, entry level monitors.
          Or you could buy Omnisphere, one of the most versatile and best softsynths you can get, and you’d still have some money left.
          Are you still using your crappy on board audio chip with an ASIO4ALL driver? You could buy a really good audio interface and you still have some money.

          BUT … you run into this iPad marketing trap and buy this shiny thingy + some 99ct apps which pretend to be synthesizers just to realize that you make a step backwards in music production because of its unergonomic handling and weak cpu power. But hey, now you have an iPad. Nice to show-off in your schoolyard.

  41. I want to troll out on Zombitron, for a sec.
    Who are you? What makes your opinion more valuable than someone else’s? Tell us, what was your last hit record, if your so pro? I would like to hear it, so I can bash your style, workflow, and sound choice. Wow, you own an elecrtibe, big fucking deal. I bet your cheesie worn out sound is selling millions. Once again who the hell are you to say what someone else is doing is wrong? Are you the Hitler of electronic music? If it doesn’t if in your gear selection it must not be pro? Get a fucking life, go write the next top40 hit and leave us technophiles alone. In ten years we’ll call you up and say “hey we think it’s on a pro level now, you can multitask 48ch of protools and it will make coffee for you so you can get rid of your not-pro intern, oh and you can stable your high-horse so you don’t hit that big head of yours on the door-frame on your way into the new pro world of music making”

    1. Oh jesus, one of these ‘You aint on no magazine’ jerks…I’ve had my credits, Ive had well known clients down to unknowns….thats what happens when you have the freedom to choose when you’ve worked to achieve something. Yes, I was in fact involved in a certain record that made the top 40…a surf record to boot….and used to make my interns fetch me Thai food. You know why? I worked hard to get there, I’m dedicated to my craft, and I was once that kid fetching coffee in a studio so really, Troll Hunter, what exactly are you trying to call me on? I dont like iPads for a number of workflow, creative, and audio pitfalls? I have a perspective you can’t have? My perspective is offensive to your tappy plate? The internet doesnt forget, Hunter….If I said something I didnt believe I wouldnt post it, as evidenced by douche #2 below Im easily found…You really want to leave immature assumptions under a snarky, childish alias then go ahead…

      I’m guessing you really did F up those kick drum mics pretty bad…

  42. Based on the increasing amount of comments on iOS articles, the iPad is by far the most exciting thing in synth business in a real long time. And the resistance seems to grow more and more bitter and fewerish as rapidly as the iOS synths evolve.

    1. come on, do you guys really forget your musical ideas in the time it takes to boot and run a program? are you senile? if your pc is truly that bogged use a dedicated computer/partition or something..

  43. I m not a professional musician, I don’t sell music, but line a lot of people : I really enjoy learning, playing music with friends
    I own an iPhone 4, it cost me about 100$. I’ve spent 15$ on beatmaker 2, and had a lot of fun recording and arranging small “music creation”with this setup.
    Add another 100 dollars, buy a Midi interface, an akai LPD8 or a midi keyboard. Your setup is just good for practice, educational purpose, sketchbook, travel gear, etc…
    Just don’t forget low budget people who want to learn and share, enjoy playing music. An iOS device is just a computing brain, software just need to evolve within the users needs.
    I would love to afford some expensive device to play with. As a graphic designer, I know that software tools are just a way to express an idea, but there is many other way to express them. If the melody is good, then whatever the device/instrument it will be played on : I know I’ll feel similar sensation.

  44. I’ve noticed that almost every comment here that says iPad isn’t good gets thumbs down votes. At the same time, there is not one link posted by anyone with a real example of music made with an iPad. If it’s so great as everyone here says it is, then let’s hear the great music you are making with it.

    1. Welcome to Synthtopia. Where people who loves their ipad so much they will blindly downvote anything that is critical about it. Suggestions are prohibited as well..

      1. I think iPads are nice for reading books, browsing websites, watching videos, etc. i just think they’re not particularly good for making music. I mean these guys who say “but with my ipad i can make music in bed!” well i think if your work ethic is so bad you can’t get out of bed to make music then you probably aren’t a very accomplished musician, sorry.

        1. That’s great. My iPad seems to be good at keeping me from making music and instead wasting time writing comments on a blog. But this brings up an important thing that isn’t being mentioned much. When you buy a synthesizer, it’s fundamentally designed to make music. A desktop or laptop is fundamentally designed to work and produce. An iPad is fundamentally designed to sell apps and videos and make apple lots of money. iPad is a consumer gadget that hooks into your wallet. This thread of comments religiously defending the iPad is a perfect example of apple achieving exactly what they set out to do… Take your money. You feel like a god because you can buy everything of your wildest dreams for $5.99. But you always get what you pay for.

        2. Theres no harm in being able to keep your instruments always with you. Thats not taken away from studio time. Things are a lot more dependant on inspiration for musician, than many other occupation. You can still work in a studio with iPad for 8h days, many other instruments on the other hand are not available in the buss, where the inspiration can strike just as well. Artist works with emotions and things he sees in the world, no harm of having an instrument when walking around it.

          If you cannot make good music with an iPad, you are not a musician at all, sorry.

          1. “If you cannot make good music with an iPad, you are not a musician at all, sorry.”

            This! For a musician the iPad is massively powerful tool.

        3. Well I’m a drummer for 25 years, Dud. Do you expect me to go smash on a kit at 11:30 at night? And what happens when I decide that I need a bass part? Do I go ring up my bassist? Or maybe I should take up bass, too. Let me trot right down to the store and drop $500 on a nice Precision. May as well pick up a $1,500+ synth while I’m at it; wouldn’t want to appear less “accomplished” to a bunch of anonymous gearheads!!

    2. Bebot jam on the beach is another good example of a touchscreen performance. And its usable as a powerful midi controller, sequencer, and it has great softsynths, so you can find it in a lot of modern music, although you might not recognize it from the sound alone.

  45. Does anybody else wonder why Reason has not been ported “as is” on IOS?

    Reason’s interface works really great on touchscreen (I use it on my Motion Computing tablet). Also Reason does not need that much resources, I used to work with reason on a 1ghz computer with 512mb of ram 10 years ago, I’m pretty sure the 1ghz/512ram iPad2 could handle the complete Reason software, but instead we were given a ultra-simplified version of Reason on IOS.

    I’d pay much more to get the full Reason experience on IOS.

    1. I think the Propellerhead didn’t have/allocate resources into iOS until Figure, and something like Reason 4(which is something, that I think that would run smootly on iPad 2) takes longer to make happen. Figure is just a first, very small step into iOS for them. Its a matter of time(I hope not too many years) until Reasony app arrives from ome one.

      1. IOS is based on OSX, they could have used the OSX version and build a touch interface around it, like they did for Rebirth (although they could do a better job).

        1. I still think the work would have taken too much time. I don’t think you can just throw intel or old G4(don’t remember mac processors names from the times of Reason 4) stuff into the ARM’s shoulders. The big players might also find it hard to continue to sell their DAW apps for pc @ 500$ if there was at all similar offering for 20$ for iPad. Thus we have only seen iPad apps evolve small steps at a time, and taken from ground up by indie or external teams.

    2. Because……

      Reason wouldn’t run without more ram and faster processors, since Propellerhead didn’t stop developing Reason in 2001;

      Reason wouldn’t work well on iOS without a UI update to support multitouch;

      Propellerhead wouldn’t devote that level of resources when the market won’t support a $200 iPad app, and….

      If they did it, Synthtopia readers would complain that Propellerhead should really be updating the desktop version of Reason.

      Other than that, though, your idea makes a lot of sense, Goode.

      1. It would probably be good enough for people used to Windows – but not up to the standards set by iPad apps.

        Tablets need more power and RAM, and apps need to be written to take advantage of them!

      1. Sorry mr Goode, but it seemed as some people wanted to win, not me, I don’t care, I enjoyed the discussion but it did get a bit silly:)

  46. I’m utilising GB for iPad by sketching my ideas on the bus or train and if I’m happy with results, I will upload my project to Logic for fine tuning.
    I also ue my iPad extensively as MIDI controller for Ableton Live Suite, Cubase and Reason,
    Also, my iPad serves very well as sound module for rathere excellent synths like Sunrizer, Moog, Korg, Addictive, and so on…
    My other sketch pad sequencers are: NS, BM and Genome.
    Love them all 🙂

  47. Is that some sort of futuristic band practicing at Starbucks in the photo? I dig the baby blue smart cover the drummer is rocking out on.

    The photo seems to answer any questions about using the ipad for music.

    1. Actually, that makes a good point about the way people perceive “non-musicians” as the champions of iOS music.

      As a drummer, I don’t have a lot of direct experience with piano theory or guitars. So the iPad is a great tool for me, because:

      A) I have plenty of musical ideas, but I’m not interested in spending thousands of dollars on proper hardware synths and controllers, because…

      B) I already HAVE an iPad!

      So I take exception to the musical snobbery a few people here have exhibited, because the fact is, I’ve torn it up for years w/ a live band, delivering both speed and tight syncopation for your listening pleasure.

      I’m a musician, and the iPad is my best friend for expressive audio creation (when I don’t have 4 other people around).

  48. I just wanted to comment that comparing the Haken Continuum and an IPad is a comparison that should not be made. The IPad has virtually no tactile feedback and it’s not velocity or pressure sensitive nor would I ever considering using it as a keyboard.

    Are IPad synths soft synths? Sure. Are they anywhere near as powerful as

    1. Its not that simple. Screen can change its layout, you can show tons of knobs and still play continuum like things. With that waldorf synth you can interact with waves directly. Theres also differen’t input methods, like gyroscope, camera and microphone. And you can keep it always with you, it works by it self, and it doesn’t cost ridiculously much. Both have their good stuff. iPad is not only cheap, its actually stunningly powerfull, and just plain damn good and versatile synth module, which in addition to its affordability and mobility is also quite unique instrument.

      1. true, is there anything like the tc-11 synth on any os or “real” synth? no, only ios! i’ve been doing this for 35 years and it has one of the best control inputs i’ve ever seen.

    2. Actually there’s not that much tactile feedback on the Continnum, its one continuous flat surface, you don’t really know what note you’ll play if you don’t look where you’re putting your fingers, unlike a piano.

      I wish it didn’t cost something like 3000$, the Madrona Soundplane looks very interesting too, and is a little cheaper.

  49. Oops, sorry, are they as powerful as PC/Mac soft synths? Clearly not! I’m not bashing I synths but to put them on the same level as other soft synths does not make sense.

  50. While it’s by no means groundbreaking, making this song in ikaossilator on my iPhone (didn’t have an iPad yet) led to me putting more interest in the iOS music scene. I have plenty of vsts ,(kvr’s buy/sell section is a godsend) have done 70-80 track productions, have hardware synths blah blah blah. What really matters is I HAD FUN making this track with ikaossilator. That’s why most of us do this right?? The classic “chasing the dragon” scenario… Trying to find that spark, that excitement we had when we first started out… Well my friends I experienced that, and that’s why I purchased an iPad.

    Song is called ikaossilatorlive

  51. i have an iphone and it’s fun to play with. no, i don’t make real music with it. yes, i am a real musician. that bebot on the beach thing sucked. whatever

  52. If the iPad would run on lion and contained normal processing power and you could choose from different sizes.
    it would be a great concept.

    But the only interesting thing about the iPad is the touchscreen,
    the rest sucks big time.

    Most software is useless.
    And the useful software i would rather see developed as software instruments.
    that can used on normal daws.

    The problem i have with apple is that they leave you no choice.
    It is their way or no way.

    The result is perfect computers.

    But toyboy innovation.

  53. Making music on iOS is a friggin bag of orgasms!

    I have all kinds of synthesizers; analog and digital, subtractive and additive, soft and hard, but I still found iPad to be a great addition to my arsenal. I would have paid twice the price to have this kind of synth, but fortunately this isn’t synth but an iPad, so this is a bargain!

  54. i think people are kind of wasting their time if they think the ipad is going to replace a computer based workstation any time soon. iOS in its current state isnt meant to be a multitasking powerhouse. hell, even multitasking on iOS is still pretty clunky when you think about it. iPads and the like are meant to be instruments, not DAWs.
    the thing people overlook is this – with the iOS apps out there, the device can be whatever you need it to be, when you need it. That’s far more valuable to me than being able to trade a five pound laptop for a two pound tablet.

  55. Garageband is limiting, it is good for the average guitar and vocals but for other types of music it’s just not right.

    This guy obviously hasn’t tried nano studio, or better yet something like Sunvox, which is 4.99 and is highly versatile. Nano studio. Ones with a great synth called Eden, sunvox has a basic generator, analog synth, fm synth, spectra voice, etc. everything is modulized, basically I could have 20 or more lfos connected to a synth, if I wanted to. Also sunvox and nano studio both have free Mac and pc versions. The only thing lacking as of right now is the lack of vst support but with so many nice synth apps which yes, are around 5 bucks (way cheaper than vst computer versions) the need for vst’s is minimal. I’ve spoken directly to the developer of sunvox, he listens to his customers. The developer for nano studio is very interactive on the websites forums. If you don’t think music production is mobile head over to soundcloud and look up the sunvox, nano studio groups as well as groups from other apps. Proof is in the pudding.

    1. +1 for Nanostudio, i love it. I wouldn’t try to make a finished, complete track on it, though you could if you wanted to. What i use it for is as a musical sketch pad, on the train or wherever (once i wrote a track while walking to work), and then later export the audio out into a desktop DAW (i use ableton). Nanostudio has great export functionality where you can export the midi and the audio from all of your tracks, seperately or mixed together. The synths in Nanostudio are truly excellent.

    2. iOS synths evolve at such pace, that now even the acclaimed Sunrizer is actually left far behind. It still sounds good, but after Cassini, it feels distressingly limited. The Cassini iPhone sounds great, but it has some of the most stunningly powerful features that I have seen in any subtractive synth!!! 3+1 oscillators, 6 LFO’s 9 envelopes etc etc etc. Its massive monster. Every one should get it today.

  56. In the way it truly is(A Bag Of Hurt); the butt hurt whiners are in so much pain now, that they have bitched 6 iOS topics into the top of the most discussed topics.

    1. This seems like one of the key debates among electronic musicians right now.

      Reminds me of all the complaining about virtual synths when they came out. That’s died down because nobody can really tell the difference anymore – at least not once it’s recorded.

      1. Yes….and there seems to be odd symmetry to this cycle. The expensive hardware dudes, who didn’t accept VSTi’s, seem to be accepting iPad synths. Now the VSTi dudes are considering the iPad synth apps as toyishly cheap sounding trinkets to children, the same as hardware dudes said about VSTi’s.

  57. I guess I can come around by saying id like to give a whack at libpd at some point, Im just having a hard time justifying $500 for a touch screen netbook that cant multitask or take any of my multichannel sound cards. I cant leave it at this for me personally…I dont like the idea at all, but Im always willing to explore something further if I see a used one around for around $200. Makes it a little more on par with a netbook to me.

  58. Trying to produce some music in your spare time via computer:

    -Fire up your computer, DAW, plug ins, and get your soundcard/interfaces working, set things and navigate with mouse… tick, tock… yes, you have already forgotten that great idea… although you’ve got a couple of thousand Euros in front of you to mess arround with till something interesting happens.

    -Learn how to get everything going and doing what’s in your head, producing and playing/programing every single sound… tick, tock… yeah, a year has passed and you already hate your unispiring set up, room and what not.

    1. That’s funny, when I want to make music it’s
      -fire up daw(usually ableton)
      -drop an instrument in(usually operator)
      -start making some noise
      What kind of shitty gear/programs are you using that require you to configure everything every time you start it up?
      Besides, if you’re really that gung-ho about speed of workflow, you’ll have project templates and instrument presets saved for your most common tasks. Do you make EDM that always has a sidechained kick/bass? make a template with that already set up on it. You just cut 5, 10 minutes off your work time. do you always use five copies of one particular VST in every song? Make a template with them already set up.

    2. ^^This sounds idiotic. How about Turn on computer PC/Mac and fire up Reason or FL Studio and get bizzy. Simple as that.

  59. I used to make music with real proper hardware, and then with a real proper computer, but then life got in the way what with job and children and wife etc, I could never get to spend the time to record anything, and as about a thousand people here have mentioned by the time I got to the computer, got everything running etc I had forgotten the idea anyway. Then I was given an ipad at Christmas and now I can record music on the bus for 40 minutes a day, or in my lunch hour, or between meetings. There may be limitations, but the benefits outweigh the pain.

    1. I got a life too…if I cant fire up my set up I’ll just use my laptop…My set up in my bunk when I was a commecial fisherman was a Powerbook running Reason 4 and Cubase Le…and a DSi with a DS10 cart. I have a Macbook these days, I still do Reason on the bus a lot…Max on the train…the other day I pulled out my laptop on my lunch break in the parking lot and recorded a Gleetchlab jam for a half hour sitting on the curb….

      To each his own…there seems to be a lot of ‘Fuck you if you dont use what I use people’ around but personally, I dont really want you to use what I use…you might find out Im not really doing anything! =-0

      1. This discussion was always more about “fuck you if you use an iPad, because I don’t.” Pointless.

  60. I don’t think the iPad is a great replacement for a laptop or desktop with a good daw. That being said, my iPad and iPhone are an integral part of my live performance. I use a midi keyboard with my iPad, and iPhone (sometimes), I use a hardware analog modeling synth, and an electric guitar. The iPad is a great way to carry several synthesizers at once. I love my animoog, iTNR-I, addictive synth, various noise making apps, etc. Would I use the iPad exclusively to make music? I have. But I think for any musician that loves electronic music, it is the Swiss army knife of musical tools. There is so much flexibility. You can use it in so many ways and combinations of ways. To put it down would be like saying that a keyboard with sequencing and arpegiator is a way for non musicians to make music. It is simply another powerful tool, and the music that comes out of it is still only as brilliant as the person using the tool. Every day I find more uses for it, but it doesn’t quell my lust for analog synths or guitars or even my piano. I’ve recorded music with my iPhone while playing my iPad combined with my baby grand piano. I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up on a new Eno record or the like. My two cents.

  61. Use what ever you need to, if a sound is found on an iPad synth use it, if not don’t. Didn’t
    Albarn make a full album on the iPad!!!

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