The same is true of the many amazingly capable drum machines apps. Deceptively simple yet powerful is Native Instruments' iMaschine, which is a tiny version of the company's Maschine hardware/software combination. The focus is on the beats - which you can tap out on the app's 16 drum pads - but there's also a keyboard and audio recording functionality, so you can make a full mini track if inspiration strikes on the go. Trust us - you'd never get your desktop Maschine setup on the bus!
Other more comprehensive solutions include Propellerhead's ReBirth and KORG iElectribe, which showcase the platform's abilities - these are complete beat-making solutions that everyone who considers themselves a 'pro' should be using. After all, it's far more natural to feel the beat right there in your fingers than it is to manually draw it in using a mouse.
Laying down a track
Digital audio workstations such as GarageBand, NanoStudio and BeatMaker 2 act as the centrepiece of your iOS musicmaking experience, whether it's Ed Sheeran or Sasha in your sights. They're like a big melting pot where you can gather together all of your audio recordings, MIDI performances and samples, mix and balance all of the ingredients and then add some effects as a garnish.
But how do you get all your elements together in one app? There are a couple of methods, but it's simpler than you might think!
Back in 2011, Apple began allowing audio to be copied and pasted into and out of apps using the iOS clipboard, and this is the most convenient way to get your stuff into GarageBand or another DAW. Most apps allow you to record or save your work, so simply hold your finger down on the file you want to move, select Copy, open up your DAW, tap and hold on the track you want to add it to, and hit Paste.
And there you have it - the mighty tones of the Animoog, say, ready to be layered up with other elements in GarageBand!
However, before Apple made this functionality available, Sonoma Wire Works created a similar standard called AudioCopy. Over 100 apps are still compatible with this method, so you might spot it as an option when you tap and hold on a file. Feel free to use it instead, although bear in mind that GarageBand doesn't support it.
If an app doesn't support either copy standard, don't panic; it's no problem - you can use your Mac as a middleman. Export the file to your desktop, then re-import it to your app of choice through its File Sharing Area in iTunes. Back in the app, find the Import Files option and select it from the list. This is a bit more of a faff than simply copying and pasting, but it still gets the job done.
Once you've got the whole crowd gathered together - synth parts, drum beats, guitar performance, messed-up samples, blinding vocal part - then it's time to mix them down.
At the most basic level, make sure that the volume for each track is appropriate - you don't want the drum beat to drown out the vocal - and add any effects you think sound good.
If you're a professional put off by the lack of mastering and effect options in GarageBand, take a look at NanoStudio before you decide to write off iOS as for gathering and manipulating sounds only. This comprehensive app offers four insert effects per channel (choose from compression, EQ, reverb, waveshaper, chorus, bitcrusher and delay) as well as two global effect sends, so it's not short on power.
BeatMaker 2 is also a very capable alternative, with ten effect units, three insert slots per track and unlimited global effects racks.
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