Your iPhone – A Portable, Professional Music Making Device

About a decade ago, making music with computers became affordable for those without a ton of money. A decade before that, major label albums were done on very expensive, yet hardly sophisticated systems. Now, your iPhone actually rivals those systems in terms of computer specs (processor, memory, etc).

All you need now to produce professional quality music, other than the expertise, is the right software. With the iPhone, you can work on the go, use it as a musical scratchpad, field recorder, or even an instrument. Here is some of the iPhone’s best:

Work on the go:

The App store is full of music making apps – some better than others. In the midst of the “band in a box” and toy-like apps are some useful apps, made by music software companies. Since the iPhone is basically a mobile computer, its limits are the developer’s imagination. Being portable, you can work on music anywhere – even on the subway, train or airplane.

Sequencing with the iPhone:

Electronic music wouldn’t be possible without the program that tells the instruments what to play, when to play it and how to play it – recording your keystrokes as you create the music. That’s what a Sequencer is for. On the iPhone, you can use the following apps for sequencing:

- StudioApp by Krasidy LLC.
- BeatMaker by Intua.
- JR Hexatone Pro by Amidio Inc.

4 Track Recording, the Musical Scratchpad:

Don’t make electronic music? Or prefer to work with audio files rather than midi keystrokes? Back in the day, you’d use the good old Tascam 424. Now, you can use any one of the following apps, at a much lower price considering the Tascam originally retailed for $1,000.

- iPro Recorder by Bias.
- FourTrack by Sonoma Wire Works.

Field Recording:

The iPhone’s portability, surprisingly good microphone and the fact that you carry it everywhere, makes it a great option for a field recorder. There are a few recorder apps out there, here are some of the better ones – more suited for field recording, rather than simple dictation / voice recording.

- FiRe – Field Recorder by Audiofile Engineering.
- HT Professional Recorder by Audiofile Engineering.

Live Performance / DJ Tool:

Serious / professional musicians get a lot out of using a iPhone as a controller for outboard gear. Especially in live situations. When playing live, the more crap you bring and the heavier it is – the more of a pain its going to be when you haul it on stage and off by yourself or with one or two other people.

DJs love iPods – you can carry a truckload worth of records in the palm of your hand. Anyone that’s ever had to haul 5+ creates of records onstage (or into a booth) 5 minutes before going on is more than thankful for this. Some apps can actually be the mixer for internal music inside the ipod. Others allow you to plug into an outboard mixer as your “song bank” while you control the action just like regular turntables via a controller.

Some of the better Live Performance / DJ apps are:

- TouchDJ by Amidio Inc.
- TouchOSC by hexler.
- iTM DJ and iTM MidiLab by Silicon Studios.

Don’t Limit Your Imagination:

Think about it, 30 years ago major label studios were making famous albums that you’re familiar with by using computers that don’t even come close to the iPhone. 20 years ago, you’d pay thousands for a 12bit sampler / sequencer that held about 8 megabytes of samples. 10 years ago, having an OS 9 or Windows 98 machine that ran Cubase or Emagic’s Logic was equal to the pros.

The point is, Grammy winning albums were created using machines that the iPhone runs circles around. Specifications, processors, memory and speed is irrelevant. You need an ear for what sounds good and to be willing to learn the expertise it takes. You can use the iPhone professionally, its not just a mobile phone.

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