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"So You Want to Go Mobile?" - Transition to iOS Music Production

Posted on 07 December 2017

Pictured above is part of my desktop set up. Not pictured: Roland Juno 106, Mellotron Micro, Guitars, Drums, numerous keyboards & midi controllers, Maschine Mk3, Akai MPC Touch, and thousands of dollars in software.

So you want to go mobile, huh?

I speak with music producers every single day from all walks of life. Folks with jobs, with families, with real life responsibilities. In fact, I'm one of them as well as the members on the MSXII team. We're all guys with a dream to create and continue to explore our creative sides...all while maintaining the areas of life we've been entrusted. This leads me to discuss publicly some of the thoughts that tons of us have when it comes to music production. We'd like to do more, but there simply isn't enough time. Not enough hours in a day. 

This is where mobile music making comes in. In the previous article, I discussed briefly some of the cost benefits alongside some of the features of an iOS based, music production set up. In this article, I hope to give you some keys on where to get started. I'm going to give you a real world example--where I was--excluding the sound design aspect of what I do, and how I wanted a more efficient, productive, and more gratifying music production experience overall. Let me outline it for you:

Life was:
  • Work = 40-60 hrs per week
  • Family & home life
  • Chill time
  • Music making time
Life now with an iOS based set up:
  • Work = 40-60 hrs per week...with iOS music time
  • Family & home life...with iOS music time
  • Chill time = iOS music time
  • Music making time = iOS music time with maybe some exporting to desktop

Now obviously this isn't a fully accurate description or specific order of how my life is organized. My point is to show that since transitioning to an iOS based music production set up, I'm much more efficient. An iOS music production set up can simply compliment your everyday activities. Once again, I think Henny shows the best example of this. Now while alot of us on this side don't film quite as much, please believe iPads are with us daily. iPads are on the couch with us while watching TV shows. They're at the park when the kids need to burn off energy. It's mobile!

The first thing you need to do is change your mindset. Yes, you can produce like you can now--and even better on iOS. I'll say that again...even better! The first misconception you need to shed is that you "won't sound like you" on iOS. That's a lie. Your vibe is your vibe...that doesn't change. These are simply tools for the job. Once you learn the tools, you're still you. Secondly, you need to invest. This is the part that weeds everyone out. Guess what you can't do currently on iOS...pirate software. If you're one to not want to pay for your products, find torrents, cracks, borrow codes, etc...let me stop you here. That mindset simply cannot work. It's not an investment mindset. Here are a few pieces that will be key for you moving from an Ableton/Maschine/Reason/Studio One/Cubase/FL based set up to an iOS set up:

iPad Pro [$649+]- Pro gets my recommendation here as it's what we have and you'll want max power. Don't go cheap on the brains of your set up.

Audio InterfaceSome can argue whether or not this is truly needed. The way I look at it is if you're wanting to eventually replace a desktop setup/mindset, get one. Be sure it's bus powered. Here are few to peep.

Midi Controller: This is key in your journey. You'll need to get something that compliments your style + workflow (keys/pads/etc). 

Apple Lightning to USB 3 Adapter - This piece is essential for you to run any type of interface/usb connection set up in your mobile rig. You'll need this to supply power to your iPad while staying connected with everything you have. Get one.

Apps - The fun part. There are numerous apps and the platform is bringing pretty much everything you have on desktop to the mobile arena. Because this one can get pretty subjective, I'll list a few DAWs & utilities here that will help you find the correlation to your current set up on mobile.


So you can see there are plenty of ways to go mobile. What I can tell you is your entire desktop production setup can not only be replicated, but you can also go further on iOS. You'll make the kind of music you want with ease and efficiency. What's most important at this point is to start. Start somewhere. Get a few items here and there. Or, go all in and do it all at once. You'll have to put your time in, but once you do, you won't look back. We haven't and it's been great. I hope this was helpful. Comment below if you have any questions. Peace.





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    • o'darque hunnett: December 25, 2017

      After years of mock ridicule endured while toiling around on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, a tablet with NO OTG capability, trying to make beats and full-fledged musical compositions, I finally made the switch to iOS (and upgraded to an iPad Pro), and I’ve been pretty happy with it. I came off the top rope with almost every app I saw that looked like it could do what I wanted to do. It ‘s still a struggle to balance that time between life and music on the go, but when I have that time, I’m learning about the apps I got (from iMPC Pro, iMaschine 2 and [Arturia] iSpark, to BM 3 and GarageBand, which I slept on for MONTHS) and getting my workflow up. Between my friend, and Henny The Bidness on YT videos, I’ve learned what works best for what they do as far as peripherals. It’ll be a minute before I’m up on a Bluetooth keyboard controller and a top-line audio interface, but I’m gonna make what I got do what it do until then. This is a good and compelling read for anyone on the fence about taking the plunge into iOS-based production.

    • Praise: December 08, 2017

      Im a dinosaur. Extra comfortable on my laptop/desktop setup. Love my vsts & vsti’s etc. I PAID for them so a convo about a move away from them would need some extra compelling points to say the least lol. This article is almost all of the nudging I needed to take a haaaaard look at iOS production. Honestly the biggest selling point for me was the perspective M.Simp provides when discussing work/life balance. This is crucial for me. The second point is that I would sacrifice nothing in the way of sound. That along with storage limitations was one of my biggest concerns. Both answered in detail by this article. The only downside is the price of an iPad Pro. Smh smh smh. That’s not really an iOS production gripe so much as it’s a (Praise is cheap) issue LOL. I’ll get there. I currently have an iPad Air 2 (I know I know). Once I budget for this pro I’m on it though lol!

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