You're accustomed to using your computer with digital audio workstation software to record, mix and master tunes in your studio. If you're looking for portable additions to your roster of studio tools, rethink how you use your smartphone to increase your audio, musical and miscellaneous options with a wide range of free and paid apps. With these tools on your phone, you can shrink your hardware down to pocket size and carry your music technology everywhere you go.
You'll find apps such as RoboVox and My BeatBox that pitch-shift your singing or turn it into a virtual rhythm machine. Options such as Sonic Loops help you build tunes and backgrounds from loops and samples. Still more, such as S Mixer, provide onscreen multitrack mixers that accept input from other apps. Full-fledged digital recorders such as S Multitrack use interfaces that support drag-and-drop editing to make the most of touchscreen capabilities. Before you head into the studio or out on a mobile gig, upgrade your memory card with a higher-capacity version to accommodate the audio data you create.
Synths & Virtual Instruments
Between apps such as Best Electric Guitar that draw from the sampled sounds of real instruments to those such as RD4-Groovebox that emulate classic synths or create new ones, smartphone-based studio tools help you build parts or all of new songs. Some apps, such as SPC-Music Sketchpad 2, focus on sampling and sequencing electronic music, whereas others, such as S Sequencer, encourage you to explore and develop new sounds. Along with melodic instrumentation, smartphone apps such as GrooveMixer and Dubstep Creator also enable you to build drum and percussion parts, create drum-machine sounds inspired by famous beat boxes and other electronic gear, and anchor your tunes with a solid bottom end backed by bass lines. Choose an app such as Best Composer to access a pad-style interface through which to build your own samples and songs on a button-based sketchpad.
Sequencers & Music Notation
Whether you need to write guitar tablature to quantify the chords of a rhythm part or want to look up the chord progression of a familiar tune, smartphone apps give you access to the musical notation you need in the studio. Apps such as Guitar Chords and Tabs show you chords and tabs from hit songs.
Sequencers such as Dubstep Producer and Music Riff Studio enable you to alter samples to suit your composition and create songs using the sonic patterns you develop. Loop-based composition tools can work with purchased loops or sound sequences you build yourself. Because your smartphone gives you a built-in touchscreen, you're freed from reliance on pointing devices and external peripherals.
Keep your stringed instruments at correct pitch with an app such as Super Tuner that takes advantage of your smartphone's portability, bringing the tuner to the guitar instead of the other way around. Use an onscreen emulation of a guitar neck to try out chords and audition strummed patterns. Run a realtime DJ mixing console such as Live Touch XJ that accepts tunes from your memory card or USB device and saves playlists. For the ultimate in eerily unmistakable instrumental additions, try out a smartphone theremin in an app such as Plasma Sound HD.
Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media
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