The best three DAWs for mobile are powerful, simple to use, and inexpensive. In case you’re new to the term, DAW means Digital Audio Workstation. If you thought you needed a soundboard and heavy technology to be an amateur music composer, we’re here to happily say it isn’t true! Scroll down for our favorite picks, and keep in mind, they’re not even the only options — just our opinion of the best right now.
Available for iOS and Android is Image-Line FL Studio Mobile HD
Suitable for novice and intermediate composers alike, the ILFL Studio is super easy and super fun to play with, not to mention absolutely capable of outputting professional-grade music. It’s less expensive than some other options, yet still comes bundled with a ton of features. These include (but are not limited to) 133 virtual instruments, a mini synthesizer with scores of presets, 10 effects, pitch blending, sampling, a step sequencer capable of 99 tracks, and, perhaps most importantly, a wave editor.
By the time you outgrow Image-Line’s offering, you’ll be among some of the most capable digital composers in the business.
Then there’s Steinberg Cubasis
Cubasis is more-or-less the industry standard for using your phone as a DAW, but at approximately 30 USD, you’re paying top-dollar. It’s also mainly for iOS, though Android users can hook it up with enough patience and tech savvy by following these instructions from the developers.
Steinberg’s own description describes it like so: Cubasis makes recording, editing and mixing a breeze. Record tracks in high-resolution audio quality, and edit your music with the Key and Sample Editors, while the included mixer and audio effects polish your song to perfection. Cubasis comes loaded with three virtual instruments which can be played in real time using the virtual keyboard and drum pads. Cubasis’ projects can be even opened in Cubase under Windows and OS X! Cubasis places touch-intuitive production tools in your hands, opening up a new world of possibilities for your creativity.
Key features • Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks (depending on the device used)? • 24 assignable physical inputs and outputs • 32-Bit floating point audio engine • Audio I/O resolution of up to 24-bit/96 kHz • iOS 32- and 64-bit support (depending on the device used) • Micrologue virtual analog synthesizer with 50 ready-to-go presets • MicroSonic with over 100 virtual instrument sounds based on HALionSonic and 16 Allen Morgan drum kits • MiniSampler with more than 20 instrument sounds to create your own instruments • Mixer with 15 revamped effect processors (insert and send effects) • Over 550 MIDI and audio loops • Virtual keyboard and virtual drum pads • Sample Editor and Key Editor • Automation • MIDI CC, program change, aftertouch support • AirPlay, Buetooth and HDMI audio out support • Export to Cubase, iCloud Drive, external hard drives, wireless flash drives, Dropbox, SoundCloud, AudioCopy & email? • MIDI clock and thru support? • MIDI over Bluetooth LE • Core Audio and Core MIDI compatible hardware supported? • Full Audio Unit, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus support • Import audio from your iTunes music library or iCloud Drive or iTunes filesharing, use AudioPaste or set up a Wi-Fi server in Cubasis
Keep in mind, folks, that you don’t really need all the above to cut beautiful tracks on your phone.
And of course, there’s Apple GarageBand
GarageBand has been around a very long time, and the devs have spent most of that time dialing everything down to a gorgeous UI that your kid brother would have no problem using.
Two major issues with GB, though: it’s iOS only (of course) and it’s strictly beginner-level. Anyone who uses GB with the intent to create bigger and better music is going to feel its limitations before too long.
That’s not to say you can’t make pro-grade music with it, though. A great song shouldn’t be unnecessarily complex, and a fine songwriter won’t need too many bells and whistles, anyhow.
Oh, and it’s super affordable.
That’s all for this week’s MondoDIY! Be sure not to miss last week’s related post on how you can make artificial intelligence work for you in the music studio.