Best Drum Apps
Not surprisingly there are loads of apps for beat making, but we’ve managed to narrow it down…
INTUA BeatMaker 2
BeatMaker 2 is actually a much more fully featured iOS music workstation but it does have some excellent tools for making beats. You can import songs or samples or record your own sounds straight onto pads, then use the wave editor to manipulate them.
The drum machine section has 128 trigger pads (16×8 banks) and the Chop Lab tool lets you slice loops to automatically create playable remix kits. Each pad has its own controls and there’s a Live mode for performance. Audio tracking is supported and there’s a multitrack sequencer and a mixer. There’s virtual MIDI and WIST support too as well as in-app purchases.
Web intua.net/products/beatmaker2/ Price £6.99 Platform iOS
A software version of Korg’s hardware groove sequencer, iElectribe has been around for a while in iOS terms but is still as popular as ever. With a total pattern memory of 160 split across various categories it gives you eight voice parts in total: four percussion synths and four PCM synths. There are eight effect types and a master effect that’s assignable per step or per part.
The look and feel is that of a groovebox and it’s great fun to use, creating patterns and tweaking beats and sounds on the fly. Korg’s unique Virtual Valve Force Modelling Technology lets you dial in some warmth and crunch to give your beats a more vintage feel.
Web www.korg.com Price £13.99 Platform iOS
Native Instruments has been making great inroads into the mobile app world, and iMaschine has made the leap from iPhone to iPad. You get four slots in which you can mix and match pad-based instruments, keyboard-based instruments and live audio sample tracks and record into the sequencer.
There’s bundled content that can be expanded via in-app purchases and you can record and edit your own sounds and add up to two effects per channel in the compact-but-useful mixer section. When you’re done you can bounce out to audio or move to Maschine on the desktop as raw
Web www.native-instruments.com Price £1.49 Platform iOS
Sugar Bytes Turnado iPad
The iPad version of Sugar Bytes’ popular plug-in, Turnado, is adept at slicing, mashing and generally manipulating beats in incredible ways. Open a loop or a beat in the app and choose from the array of different effects available to you. Swap modules in and out and vary the amounts to slice and dice your beats, add tempo-synced delays, bitcrushing and many other kinds of processing.
You get four X/Y pads to control two effects at once, a music player and recorder, inter-app audio, and copy and paste support. There’s virtual, network and external MIDI support and MIDI clock sync so you can incorporate it into your computer-based setup as well.
Web www.sugar-bytes.de Price £13.99 Platform iOS
Single Cell Software Caustic 3
This multi-talented sound generation and sequencing environment for Android lets you pick and choose which instruments you want to buy from a selection including virtual synths, Hammond organs, vocoders, and BeatBox, an eight-channel sampling drum machine.
It has an effects rack that supports two effects per machine from a choice of 16 effect types, and a mixer and master section with effect slots and parametric EQ. Automation of most controls is available and you can import your own samples into BeatBox and other instruments as well as loading SoundFont files. There’s a demo version available, and you can then buy a key to unlock the full app.
Web www.singlecellsoftware.com Price £2.49 per module Platforms iOS, Android
Synthetic Bits FunkBox Drum Machine
This simple but fun drum machine emulates an old skool rhythm creator and comes with hundreds of classic sounds sampled from the developers’ collection of vintage drum machines. There are 36 preset patterns and you can create your own or modify existing ones by overdubbing. Use the built-in mixer to adjust volume, panning and accents for each sound and share your beats out when you’re done.
There’s adjustable swing and you can even sync the app up to an external drum machine or groovebox via MIDI sync. There’s even a bonus MIDI bass sequencer included.
Web syntheticbits.com/funkbox Price £2.99 Platform iOS
Impaktor is a unique drum synth that uses physical modelling, frequency modulation and noise shaping to turn your input into beats without using any samples. Load the app and then strike any surface near the device’s microphone. The acoustic impulses from the mic are used as the source for advanced sound generation from modules that simulate the behaviour of membranes, cymbals or strings.
It also has a six-track audio recorder, 3D panning, auto quantization and reverb and delay effects, as well as audio copy and wave export. It’s an unusual and unique instrument so the best thing to do is check out the video demo on the website.
Web beepstreet.com/impaktor Price £2.99 Platform iOS
With 99 vintage and produced drum kits, DM1 not only looks great, it sounds amazing too. There’s a step sequencer for old-skool beat programming, touch drum pads with automatic quantization, a mixer, FX trackpads to distort, modulate and transform your beats, and a song composer to chain the patterns you have created into a whole song.
You can import your own samples from various sources and take advantage of the randomiser tool to generate ideas. There’s support for WIST, inter-app audio and Audiobus, and full MIDI implementation for incorporating it into your studio.
Web www.fingerlab.net Price £2.99 Platform iOS
Finger Pro MoDrum Rhythm Composer
This iOS app uses real-time synthesis rather than sampling to generate its sounds, and is a virtual analogue drum machine with a 32-step grid sequencer, many sound-shaping parameters, tempo-synced delay, compression, reverb and MIDI support as well as an audio looper and a performance recorder. There are 11 real-time synth modules covering everything from kicks and snares through cymbals and even cowbells.
Built-in support for Audiobus, Wave sharing and WIST means you can link it to other apps and you’re also able to expand the preset list via inexpensive in-app purchases. This is a nifty drum synthesis environment for any iOS user.
Web www.finger-pro.com Price £2.49 Platform iOS
Electrum Drum Machine/Sampler
This beatbox for Android lets you load custom samples or record your own via the mic in your device, as well as adding more sound packs (most of which are free) from Google Play. You can audition samples live while a pattern is playing, record a vocal or instrument track to go over your programmed beat and use loops as well as one-shot samples. You can export to audio, MIDI or even ringtone files and re-import into a desktop DAW to continue working on material.
A number of effects are available including reverse, delay, distortion and reverb and you can hook up an external MIDI controller for better playability. Share the results to SoundCloud or export them out.
Web play.google.com/ Price £2.45 Platform Android