Every musician has at least a couple of applications that help to get ideas down, experimenting with different sounds and expanding them to full-fledged songs. In the digital age, music-making applications are available not only on computers but also on smartphones and tablets, allowing artists to create music at any place and time.
In fact, there are so many services on the market that it’s quite a challenge to sift through all options and select the most suitable ones. To make this process easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best software for music production that includes applications for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.
OS: iOS, macOS
GarageBand is a staple in music-making on Apple devices. This application functions as a regular DAW and offers a massive array of features. With its help, you can create a song on the go right on your iPhone or iPad, allowing to record, arrange, mix and edit tracks. What’s more, you can add comments with lyrics and future direction ideas.
It can turn your device into a digital instrument that you can play like real ones – grand piano, electric piano, organ, clavinet, synth, violins, violas, cellos, bass, you name it. GarageBand enables you to collaborate with a virtual session drummer (acoustic or electronic) that plays realistic grooves and fills. After you’re done, your musical creations can be shared directly to various social media platforms and stored in iCloud in AAC, MP3, MP4, AIFF formats.
OS: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Roland Zenbeats is a cross-platform music production application built around a huge collection of new and classic Roland sounds. It’s fully optimized for touch – virtual instruments, controls, and effects are seamlessly modulated with finger taps and slides across the screen. Zenbeats has an extensive range of features, creative tools, pattern presets, sounds and loops. Whatever your mood is at the moment, you can easily find the right sound, find a very specific style of music or sort the library by broader genres.
Zenbeats SampleVerse tool enables you to capture sounds, play, edit and change them to your liking using phrase arpeggiator, oscillators and filters. Cloud-based integration (Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive) allows you to always have all your productions at your fingertips.
As an aspiring producer or beatmaker, you will love and the intuitive workflow and in-app lessons. As a seasoned producer, you will appreciate professional tools like LoopBuilder and ZC1 synthesizer with built-in MFX.
OS: iOS, Android, Chrome OS
Regardless of how long you’ve been making music, you most probably know about Cubase. It’s an OG digital audio workstation that was developed back in 1989, was regularly updated and widely used by producers around the world ever since. Cubasis is sort of a mobile version of Cubase – ‘sort of’ because initially Cubasis was released as a cut-down version of Cubase, but with the rapid increase in mobile-device power, Cubasis was re-made and enriched with professional features.
Cubasis has over 120 virtual instrument sounds and its MiniSampler allows you to create your own instruments. It’s easy to make music on the virtual keyboard with chord buttons and drum pads that have intuitive note repeat. Automatable plugins, numerous effects, over 500 MIDI loops, hundreds of presets, real-time time-stretching and pitch-shifting and up to 24-bit 48 kHz audio I/O resolution – everything you need for high-quality studio-like music production experience. Cubasis provides also the ability to add unlimited number of audio tracks to your projects and allows export to Cubase, Google Drive, Drop Box, external hard drives and wireless flash drives.
OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome OS
FL Studio is yet another popular software among producers worldwide. Coming in both desktop and mobile versions, it provides access to high-quality synths and samples, virtual drum pads and piano keyboard, and a step sequencer for fast percussion programming. FL Studio has tons handy features like pitch blending, sampling, wave editing and various effects, such as Chorus, Compressor, Limiter, Distortion, Parametric Equalizer and Reverb among others.
With the audio recording feature you can capture live performances right within the app. It runs on a quality audio engine optimized for low CPU load. Once you’re done with your tracks, you can quickly export them in WAV, MP3 or AAC to Dropbox, SoundCloud or share them via email. FL Studio is a great piece of software with pretty much endless possibilities – beginners and intermediate producers alike will appreciate its wide variety of features and intuitive design.
OS: Windows, macOS, Linux (Ubuntu)
Waveform is one of, if not the, best digital audio workstations for beginning music makers. It’s packed with useful features and actually available for free as the name suggests. The interface is clean and geared towards carefree music production. Waveform supports many file formats, including WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG Vorbis, MP3 and MIDI, allowing you to both create music from scratch and work with ready-made audio files.
You can customize Waveform as you see fit, from assigning keys to functions to changing appearance to your liking. The project you’re working on is always safe thanks to the plugin sandboxing feature – in case a third-party plugin crashes, it’s automatically deactivated, so it won’t take down your DAW along with it.
A wide selection of chords and groves, step sequencing, transposing, snapping, quantizing, drum sampling, electronic instruments, unlimited track count and many configurable parameters – these and many other features, all offered for free. Once you play with them enough, you can try the premium 90-day(!) Waveform trial version and eventually upgrade to one of the paid plans to get a hold of pro-features and take your music making to the next level.
Pick the app that suits your needs best and enjoy making music!