Your iOS toolkit

(Apologies if this should be part of another post or in another forum - I did search first, I promise!)

I’ve been getting heavily into iOS music making - on a range of devices from my crusty old iPhone 4, 4s and iPad 3rd gen to my moderately less crusty iPhone 6 and sparkling new iPad Pro 10.5" - and am fascinated to hear/read if/how other people are utilising iOS devices in their process.

All three 30-pin units I have we’re either gifts or given in trade for something I didn’t need or a skill I could offer that I didn’t feel comfortable taking money for (despite the recipients of said service being adamant that I take some kind of payment).

I’ve got a Tascam iM2 mic for the iPhone 4s (which thinks it’s a field recorder) the 4 lives in an Akai Synthstation 25 (and thinks it’s a strange-looking Mellotron, basically) and the iPad 3rd gen has an Alesis ioDock to call home, which makes it really useful as a MIDI device (both sending and receiving, depending on what’s needed). I’ve just got an iTrack Pocket for the iPhone 6 and am looking to get a Zoom U44 for the iPad Pro.

By selling unwanted vinyl and no longer needed pieces of equipment I’ve add controllers to the setup, most recently a Launchpad Mini Mk2 and a Roli Lightpad Block M (which I’m immensely happy with/excited about).

I’m about to freeze my setup in a bid to stave off GAS and have a small amount of credit for the app store that I’m looking to part with before the big chill touches down. I feel like I’m well covered in most departments, but there’s every chance that I’m missing some apps that more learned individuals have come to see as indispensible (or certainly highly useful/desirable).

Any recommendations would be most appreciated.


I… had not thought of doing this with my old iPhones: just call them instruments. I’m embarrassed. Well done!


The beauty of being able to buy an app once but utilise it on (potentially) 5 different devices is a huge bonus (although some apps aren’t happy with the sub-version 10 iOS of the older units). Also all the 30-pin accessories are next to nothing now so if you have any of those docks and connectors for MIDI etc are dirt cheap.


There are some really great granular synthesis apps for ios. having multitouch on a synth like Thor is delightful, if a little cramped and imprecise (even on my 12.9" ipad). I initially bought an iPad thinking it would be a controller via touchOSC and lemur but never warmed up to touchscreen control of my systems - but I love he UI design of some of the granular and performance-oriented apps. Borderlands and the apesoft stuff can be treated as bona fide performance instruments. In some ways it feels there’s more innovation happening for iOS audio/music than for mac/windows. And for so little $$$ (other than getting an iPad/iphone to begin with).
Sure wish I could revive the batteries on my two older iPhones - great idea to use them as dedicated field recorders etc.


Interesting you mentioned Borderlands Granular as that was one I’ve been massively intrigued by but didn’t know if it would be different enough from Quanta (which I recently picked up thanks to Chris Randall showcasing it in his superb ambient videos) to warrant purchasing.

I know what you mean. Not to suggest for a second that innovation isn’t happening on desktop devices but it certainly feels like developers are really hitting their stride recently in terms pushing iOS devices into new, largely unexplored territories.


I’m heavily invested in iOS music but hadn’t thought about using the old phones as you have. Great idea and I’m turning ideas over how to integrate them. I find with some iOS music apps there can be a learning curve and their apparent usefulness isn’t clear for a while - to me anyway! Once the need to do something musically arises then is a good point to buy. Otherwise they can soon soak up quite a bit of money!

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I paid less than a tenner for a pair of excellent 30-pin mics, the likes of which could offer all kinds of possibilities to somebody with the Moors on their doorstep :wink:

I really like using the older devices as sample sources for the new, with Koala being my latest addiction - connecting an iPhone 4 to my iPhone 6 via a cheap iRig and grabbing sounds from all over the place, including the various synth apps I have at my disposal, YouTube/the internet at large & all points in between. Loads of (instantly gratifying) fun, plus the loops from Koala can be exported to anywhere else and mangled into something fresh and new.

Your use of the phrase “heavily invested” made me wince slightly, as I’ve spent a several hundred on apps, effects and the like over the past few years,


I love iOS for music making, but I try to keep things limited, otherwise I just end up getting lost. At the moment I use:

  • Ripplemaker - Modular sound
  • AUM - Mixing/recording/hosting
  • Rozeta - Control/sequencing
  • Kosmonaut - Effects
  • Hokusai 2 - Mastering and editing recordings

I’ve got into Eurorack recently so I use that a lot at the moment, but if I can’t travel with my skiff I use the above on a 2018 iPad Pro 12.9”, or on my iPhone 8 if I’m just out and about and inspiration hits me.


All of those are firm favourites of mine too, aside from Hokusai which is new to me and looks worthy of further investigation.

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30-pin mics? Now there’s a thing I didn’t know! Yes the Moors are a great source of sounds. As to Hokusai it’s very good and a lot of features but the operation and interface isn’t as intuitive as I’m used to.
Apps are very addictive! Just don’t mention it to the nearest and dearest!

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is it terribly crass to promote my own work here? - please delete/complain if so

I’ve got a couple of iOS apps out which might appeal to the monome world - both generative midi kind of things

You can find them on the App Store under ‘Abigail Macfarlane’ (my partners name - we’ve still not organised the proper limited company etc - too busy making stuff)


I’d really agree with this - and that’s one reason I’ve started developing for the iOs platform and increasingly using it for music making. things like AUM and Apematrix are bringing a modular approach to the plugins and I suspect we are just at the start of that journey. I’ve made a lot of music just on my iPad (including one track when bored on a very slow train :slight_smile: )


I think it’s a two way thing - iOS music making has given me awareness and access to synths etc and now I’m eyeing up hardware…a slippery slope. Autony is great btw though spell check usually turns it into a name not unlike me own!


the fact you are even looking means you are already doomed - you just don’t know it yet :wink:


Ha! I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve been buying iTunes cards with cash from Asda (who offer 10% off denominations of £25, £30 and £50) so that neither my wife nor myself can keep track of my spending! In all honestly, she wouldn’t have a problem with it at all, but seeing “ITUNES” stamped all over the bank statement makes me all too aware of my expenditure!

Dear gods, no! I’ve got Autony on my wish list and will purchasing later on today. It looks absolutely fantastic. I have to admit to ignorance re: Cality though - very exciting stuff!

Likewise, although lately my iPhone 6 has been my weapon of choice as it’s absurdly portable so I always have it with me. Also, it not actually having a SIM or even being unlocked to the network I use means that I don’t think of it as a phone and therefore don’t get distracted by the internet and various other things it could do (if I let it).


I use my iPad for music quite a bit, both on its own and as part of larger setups.

My main software tools are:

  • AUM
  • Audulus
  • Patterning 2
  • Quanta
  • Ruismaker FM
  • Waldorf Nave and Attack
  • Samplr
  • all the Audio Damage effects

For hardware I usually use it with an iConnectAudio4+ and Faderfox UC4.

It’s a great tool, super flexible and very playable.


I love Autony! I do! I’ll have to have a look at Cality now too. Autony is almost cheating sometimes. I set it to control melodies with just enough randomization and let it rock in the background while I control the atmosphere. Sort of a reverse of the usual workflow.


Borderlands is pretty different. Its interface alone is different enough to let you find novel ways of using it, though it’s not been updated in some time, unfortunately.


Very much this! AD and Bram Bos apps comprise a healthy amount of my go-to tools. I have no concept what I’d do without AUM and AudioShare either.

I’ve been having a look at Samplr and Borderlands as both seem to offer similar things to Quanta whilst remaining quite distinctly different.


I got an iPad a few months ago, and have really just blown away with how useful it is for me. It really has more or less become the center of my everyday studio. And AUM is at the center of it. Whether it’s adding FX to and recording (and immediately uploading) from external sources (via Scarlett 2i2 and the powered Apple CCK), or using Fugue Machine/PolyPhase to sequence multiple iOS apps (current faves are Aparillo and Quanta), or creating an MLR-ish template of asynchronous loopers (Audio Damage Enso is amazing) controlled via a MIDI Fighter Twister. And all of that is just the tip of the iceberg. It really is like the swiss army knife of electronic music production.