Best Apps For Making Beats On Iphone

More than a review of apps, this post is written to get you started making your own beats. Think of it as an introduction to the fun and creative process that is drum machine programming.

The 9 Best Mobile Beat-Making Apps in 2022 - Output

Best Apps For Making Beats On Iphone

  1. BeatMaker 3

Price: $26.99
Operating System: iOS (iPad-only)
Pros: Pro-level DAW features, velocity-sensitive beat pad and keyboard sampler, excellent documentation
Cons: Frequent updates, iPad-only (iPhone version in development)

Four years after its initial release, Intua BeatMaker 3 continues to be one of the best mobile beat-making apps on the market. This feature-rich app is, for all intents and purposes, a fully-fledged DAW. You can play and program drums on the 16-pad Drum Machine interface, create new instruments with the Keyboard Sampler, and even mix directly on your iPad.

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BeatMaker 3 is the closest you can get to recreating the full DAW experience on a mobile device. It has functions that are especially useful if you use a lot of audio or samples in your productions: BeatMaker 3 has a powerful wave editor for editing audio and you can easily import files via Dropbox or AirDrop (for macOS users).

The best part about BeatMaker 3: If this is your first DAW or music software, and you eventually want to move to a computer-based DAW like Ableton Live or Logic Pro X down the line, the skills you learn by using BeatMaker 3 will carry over into your new software. The app also supports Ableton Link, which means you can sync up your BeatMaker jams to Ableton Live with ease.

  1. GarageBand

Price: Free
Operating system: iOS
Pros: High-quality drum machines and synthesizers, MIDI programming, guitar amp and cabinet simulation compatible with interface adapters like iRig, lots of free sound
Cons: No Ableton Link connectivity, no proper mix window, maxes out at 32 tracks

There’s a reason GarageBand is at the top of this list, and not only because it’s free for anyone with an iPhone. Apple’s mobile digital audio workstation (DAW) is an adaptable choice for anyone who wants to jump into making music on an iOS device. It comes with a wide variety of instruments, including 808 and 909 drum machines, various synthesizers, keyboards, a sampler, and even stringed instruments like guitar and bass. You can create up to 32 tracks, play the instruments using the on-screen keyboard or a USB MIDI controller, and edit via the piano roll.

No matter what genre you’re into or skill level you’re at, Garageband for iOS can be a powerful creative tool. It utilizes a grid-based clip-launching system called Live Loops, which is similar to Ableton Live’s Session View. Use your own loops to build out arrangements, or dip into Apple’s free Sound Library which is stocked with sounds from producers like Take a Daytrip, Oak Felder, Boys Noize, and more.

GarageBand isn’t just for slicing up samples. It’s friendly with live instruments too. If you play guitar, use a mobile interface like iRig to plug your instrument directly into your iPad or iPhone, record straight to the app, and then use the built-in guitar amp and cab simulators to dirty things up.

Once you’re familiar with GarageBand for iOS, you’ll also understand the basic layout of GarageBand for macOS. And if you want to refine your mobile demos once you’ve made them on your phone, you can open your sessions on the desktop version. There are also tons of apps that play nicely with the desktop version of GarageBand, like FlyTape 2, which adds vintage character to sounds. (FlyTape 2 is also available as a standalone iOS app!)

  1. Patterning 2

Price: $19.99
Operating system: iOS (iPad-only)
Pros: Powerful rotational drum sequencer with Euclidian sequencing mode, free drum kit library with option to import your own sounds
Cons: iPad-only (older iPhone version available)

For iPad owners who make electronic music, there is one app on this list that is an absolute must-buy: Patterning 2. Developed by Ben Kamen of Washington-based Olympia Noise Co., Patterning 2 is a totally unique drum sequencer and beat-making app. It ditches the traditional linear arrangement layout in favor of a multi-layered circle, subdivided into different steps.

At first glance, the app appears pretty straightforward. But simple actions can wildly change sounds. Adjust parameters like velocity, filter cutoff, and panning with a swipe. Or set different layers to automatically rotate their position each time the loop makes a full rotation so that every time it circles back around, the pattern is completely different.

The original Patterning was the Runner-Up for Apple’s App of the Year in 2015, and it’s not hard to see why: Kamen’s fantastic design gives way to an organic and effective beat-making workflow. And, Patterning 2 expands on the original’s magic with an even richer feature set. You can import your own samples to create and switch between different patterns, or tap into hundreds of user-generated kits via the app’s Cloud Kit function.

  1. Koala

Price: $3.99 (+ $2.99 for Samurai Edition upgrade)
Operating system: iOS/Android
Pros: Straightforward sampling workflow, works with any USB class-compliant interface, import your own samples or record new sounds, creative track/global FX and resampler, Ableton Link enabled
Cons: Can’t import samples from Dropbox in-app

If you want to make beats on the go but the idea of fiddling with a more traditional workflow on a small screen doesn’t sound appealing, check out the Koala sampler. Available on iPhone, iPad, and Android, this deceptively powerful app has three tabs: Sample, Sequence, and Perform.

The Sample tab offers you a 4×4 grid, with the ability to assign a sample — any sample you like — to each of the 16 pads. How you get those samples is up to you. Record from your iPhone mic for instant one-shots, load samples to your device, or access your sounds with a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Koala is pretty flexible and even lets you grab audio from YouTube videos. (Just make sure you’re not breaking any copyright laws!) Then, program beats in the Sequence tab and add effects in the Perform tab like comb filtering, reverb, and dub delay.

Koala’s sample editing features are very robust, but if you want more grab the $2.99 “Samurai Edition” DLC. That comes with extras like time stretch, a piano roll, and an Ableton Simpler-style auto-chop. The app is easy and fun enough to get kids into producing, while also having enough professional features to make it a best-in-class app. At $3.99, Koala is priced like a game, but these functions far outstrip any toy.

  1. miRack

Price: $9.99
Operating system: iOS
Pros: Eurorack-style modular synthesis environment in the palm of your hand, comes with over 500 modules, with new ones added regularly, full AUV3 compatibility with multiple inputs and outputs, bring your sessions and patches to your computer with miRack for macOS
Cons: Can be overwhelming if you’re not on a tablet, high learning curve for modular synthesis, patches can only be synced between mobile and desktop via iCloud

miRack is, potentially, the mightiest app on this list. It’s essentially an iOS port of the open-source desktop app VCV Rack: a Eurorack-style modular synthesis environment where you can chain different sequencers, oscillators, filters, and other elements to create complex rhythms and atmospheres.

miRack is for anyone who’s ever wanted to try modular synthesis and was put off because of the high price tag associated with building a physical rig. The app comes with over 500 (!) modules, some of which are based on coveted real-life hardware by manufacturers like Audible Instruments. You could make music in miRack every day for a decade and still only scratch the surface of what it’s capable of, thanks to the limitless possibilities of signal routing.

Because miRack is AUV3 compatible, it syncs up with other iOS music apps. And when you want to bring your patches to your proper DAW, there’s a free companion app for macOS. Since its launch in 2019, the miRack community has also assembled an ever-growing library of hundreds of patches, available to all users. If you’re already making music on an iPad, the $9.99 price tag makes miRack a no-brainer.

  1. Endlesss

Price: Free download with $8.49/month subscription for all sounds
Operating system: iOS
Pros: Collaborate and improvise others on the fly, unique loop-based workflow, major library of free presets with many more sound packs available, great X-Y FX, easy looping, built-in sampler
Cons: Amazing for generating ideas but not so much for editing

Endlesss is a powerful, collaborative beat-making app developed by technologist and electronic artist Tim Exile. As the name suggests, the workflow is all about continual loops and building musical layers atop one another. You can create private jam sessions and invite friends and collaborators to join in at any time, with any project.

Endlesss features three main categories of instruments — Drums, Notes (for leads, poly synths, plucks), and Bass — as well as a Sampler, an FX bucket, and a Microphone input that can also be used with external instruments if you have the right adapters. As Exile puts it, the app is “not for perfection, but to keep you in a forward motion of creativity.”

Though the app requires a premium subscription to access all of the features and the 300+ presets, the free version comes with a surprising number of very usable electronic sounds, and you can get to collaborating straight away. The $5 per month subscription also nets you two new sound packs every month, as well as 11 more FX and the Sampler.

  1. Flip

Price: $9.99
Operating system: iOS
Pros: 9-channel sampler with powerful effects processing, importing samples is easy with Airdrop, easy-to-use automation, can output to other iOS music apps like AUM via AudioBus
Cons: No time-stretching, no Android version (yet!)

Flip is a powerful sampler for iOS that also might be the most beginner-friendly app on this list. Created by artist and prominent music tech YouTuber Andrew Huang, the app lets you import or record audio to one of 9 pads and then play or program the sounds inside a DAW-style arrangement view. Each of the pads has a full ADSR envelope with multiple effects (graphic multiband EQ, bit crush, delay, and more) and can be played polyphonically. This essentially puts 9 instances of Ableton’s Simpler at your fingertips.

There are a lot of recognizable professional DAW features here, shrunk down for mobile. There’s a full piano roll, along with latch and draw-in automation for all effects parameters, which makes it easy to create shifting arrangements over time. Every channel is automatically routed to a reverb send and there’s a mixer window with panning, solos, and mutes. The master bus even has a maximizing compressor and limiter to give your beats that extra oomph when you need it.

When putting your tracks together, you can build different patterns and chain them into arrangements in a very elegant, almost game-like interface. From there, you can then tap into different MIDI and audio performance effects (like note randomizer or low-pass filter) and assign them to separate tracks. As of July 2021, they’ve also added support for Audiobus and Inter-App Audio (IAA), meaning it’ll play nicely with other iOS apps.

  1. FL Studio Mobile

Price: $13.99
Operating system: iOS/Android
Pros: FL Studio users will feel right at home, familiar drum programming workflow, will run on practically any hardware
Cons: Inflexible programming, workflow not for everyone, no AUV3 support on iOS

FL Studio Mobile has been around since 2013, but developers Image-Line have refined it over the years and continue to support it, releasing the latest patch in July 2021. If you’ve ever used FL Studio for desktop, you’ll know exactly what to expect: A bright color scheme, rigid yet satisfying sequencing workflow, and modern software synths and effects.

As with many mobile music production apps, you may have an easier time working with the software if you have a tablet or iPad instead of keeping to your phone. But even with limited space, it’s easy to navigate FL Studio Mobile’s interface thanks to a neat layout. You can even record vocals, in a pinch. Don’t expect to use any third-party plugins, though, as FL Studio Mobile currently does not support AUV3.

  1. TwistedWave

Price: $9.99
Operating system: iOS
Pros: Simple waveform editor lets you cut, fade, and affect audio clips, great for “mastering” your mobile beats for loudness, exports in multiple file formats (WAV, AIFF, MP3, FLAC)
Cons: UI is functional but outdated, doesn’t do anything Audacity can’t do

TwistedWave is a multichannel editor for iOS that can edit audio files and apply effects processing. However, it is not a multi-track recorder, meaning it’s not a digital audio workstation. TwistedWave is actually something closer to a stripped-down version of Magix Sound Forge, so it is an essential utility for mobile beatmakers. You can trim your samples, prepare loops, apply effects, and resample your edited audio, all within one app.

If you’re making beats entirely on your phone, then you might also want to finish your music without a computer too. While we don’t necessarily recommend it, you can throw your finished beat into TwistedWave and use it as a mobile mastering app in a pinch.

Best apps to make beats

Figure by Propellerhead
Price: Free
More info: Propellerhead
Where to buy: iTunes

The first thing you’ll notice that sets this apart is that it breaks from the oft-used setup of drum pads and keys and instead opts for more intuitive controls, which allow users to easily jump between velocity, FX and pitch controls. Propellerhead has created a great notepad for producers looking to sketch ideas on the go while freeing their thought process.

FL Studio Mobile HD
Price: $20
More info: Image Line
Where to buy: iTunes / Google Play

Up until recently, there has been no Mac version for FL Studio—the first incarnation is still in the testing phase. However, the miniature version they made for mobile has been available for both Android and iOS for a few years now. What you get is a very stripped-down yet capable version of FL Studio. Set up to look like it does on the desktop, the mobile version includes many of the features that make FL Studio so easy to use. The step sequencer, drum programming, and FX controls are all there, as well as the ability to create full songs and send them your desktop/laptop for additional work.

Price: $5
More info: Apple
Where to buy: iTunes

GarageBand for iOS is probably the user-friendliest of the DAW-type apps. It was built that way on purpose so anyone could pick it up and create music quickly. There are some expected limitations—including a max of eight tracks. However, the fact that you can use an iRig to plug in a guitar or keyboard and even incorporate your own voice into the mix makes GarageBand another great tool for getting ideas together on the fly.

Traktor DJ
Price: iPad ($10) / iPhone ($2)
More info: Native Instruments
Where to buy: iTunes (iPad / iPhone)

What list would be complete without a Native Instruments product? While it is a bit tricky on a smaller phone, you can use your phone’s existing song library to mix tracks in minutes. The control over looping while using a touch screen allows users to really isolate specific elements, making it possible to really step up how you play with tracks together. However, it could become daunting to use this on an iPhone for any extended period of time.

Price: $20
More info: Korg (iPad / iPhone)
Where to buy: iTunes (iPad / iPhone)

Korg has several faithful recreations of many of its iconic hardware products. This version of its famous groove box is accurate both in sound and look. It comes preloaded with 192 beats from the original Electribe R, plus an additional 32 templates for different genres. Of course, there is an “init” one that is a blank canvas for your own creations. If you want an analog recreation in your pocket, this is it.

Ninja Jamm
Price: Free
More info: Ninja Jamm
Where to buy: iTunes / Google Play

We’ve covered the Ninja Jamm before, and it deserves to be brought up again. This is set up for you take your hand at hacking up tunes using drum pads or the arsenal of FX tools that sound great and are made just for the iPhone. With most music apps you find the controls are often jumbled together in a way that makes them almost unusable; that’s not the case here. The coolest feature, though, is the access you have to Loopmasters sample packs, as well as a library of Ninja Tune releases, so you can even get your remix on with your phone.

Price: Free
More info: Beatwave
Where to buy: iTunes

Beatwave is set up similar to a Launchpad with a grid of squares that responds to notes on the vertical axis and where they fall in time on the horizontal. You can layer up to four sounds at once, and you have control over effects and mixing from a drop-down menu for each track. Beatwave lets you create full songs within the app, and you can even use Audiobus, another mobile app, to use your Beatwave sounds within another app.

Price: Free version; $4 for pro version
More info: Fingerlab
Where to buy: iTunes (Free version / pro version)

Out of all these apps, Musyc takes the most interesting approach to the creative process. It’s like building with blocks that have a mind of their own, and it’s your job to figure out a way to contain their power. Using the line tool, you can create walls for the shapes to live in; you can move them around as much as you’d like or completely get rid of them. While using it to make anything outside of the experimental and weird would take some serious practice, Musyc definitely will keep you occupied for a while.

djay LE
Price: Free version; iPad version $10; iPhone and Apple Watch version $2; Mac/Desktop pro version $50; Android version $3
More info: Algoriddim
Where to buy: iTunes (Mac, iPad, iPhone/Apple Watch, Google Play)

In terms of ease of use in a DJ app, this one has it in spades. A simple set up of two turntables, a pitch control, and a crossfader are all you see upon launch. You also have access to a set of sample pads (available only in the pro version). It of course has built-in sync function and the ability to record your mixes. If you want full access to all the controls, including the ability to mix more than the 15 songs the app picks for you, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version.

Price: iPad ($25) / iPhone ($6) / BlackBerry Z10 ($10)
More info: Moog Music
Where to buy: iTunes (iPad / iPhone) / BlackBerry World

Animoog from Moog Music is one of the coolest apps available for iOS. It’s a detailed professional synth created specifically for mobile use and it has all the beef and thickness of the legendary manufacturer’s analog gear. Using the X/Y pad to manipulate the parameters is quite easy. Since it was designed as a professional app, you can dive pretty deep into this one. It also means some of the parameters may be a little difficult to understand for the average user.


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