Since the 2000s DAWs have become the gold standard for music production. Today, meticulously designed mobile iPad and Android DAWs are both user-friendly and inexpensive.
No matter what kind of smartphone or tablet you use, there’s an iPad DAW or Android DAW for you.
In this article, we’ll look at 8 unique takes on the mobile DAW, some free and some paid.
Each DAW on this list has its own workflow, look and feel—but all of them are designed to help you write music on the go.
No matter what, you’ll be ready when inspiration hits with the 8 best mobile DAWs for iPad and Android.
GarageBand for iOS is so good, recordings from it have been used in hit Kendrick Lamar tracks and beyond
Without question, GarageBand is the top DAW for iPad and iOS users.
So it’s no surprise that Apple’s mobile version of Garageband is a top choice for iPad and iPhone users—it’s the best iOS DAW there is.
Whether you want to use the mic in your phone or an audio interface, or just play with the app’s synth and instrument library, you have a lot of great, intuitive options for writing tracks.
GarageBand for iOS is so good, recordings from it have been used in hit Kendrick Lamar tracks and beyond. That’s saying something about both the power of having a DAW in your pocket and the quality of the software itself.
- Expertly designed and user friendly
- Interfaces well with desktop versions of GarageBand and Logic
- A little bit limited compared to more advanced tablet DAWs
For Android users (and iOS users), FL Studio Mobile is a great choice—especially if you’re already used to FL Studio’s beatmaking-oriented workflow.
It features much of the same look and feel as the desktop version of FL Studio—with the same beat programming workflow and the ability to use a recording interface directly into whatever tablet or smartphone you use.
- Great for FL Studio users
- Emphasis on mobile beatmaking
- Workflow might not be intuitive for non-initiated FL Studio users
Here’s an excellent beatmaker’s app that’s inspired by the legendary workflow of the AKAI MPC.
MPC 2 draws on the familiar look and feel of MPC grooveboxes and brings it into the app format.
With its huge sound bank, intuitive chopping and sampling controls and timeline-based editor—it’s competitive with the mobile Android and iPad DAWs out there today.
If you’re a fan of the MPC look and feel, definitely grab this one.
- Based on the classic MPC workflow
- Comes with lots of sounds and samples
- MPC workflow is limiting for uses beyond beatmaking
Cubase is one of the original DAWs, and it remains beloved among many music production circles today.
Highly engineered and capable, an entire DAW in its own right
Now in its third iteration, the mobile version of Cubase is also worth your attention, especially if you like the workflow of Cubase and Ableton (since Ableton is closely related to Cubase).
This DAW comes with a lot of features, among iPad or Android DAWs it’s one of the more advanced options, in terms of functionality and features.
Its fully fleshed-out workflow enables everything from jamming to recording, arrangement, sequencing, mixing and more.
It even offers the ability to use third-party plugins from other plugin developers.
For a very advanced DAW with a lot of features, this might be the best choice for you.
- Highly engineered and capable, an entire DAW in its own right
- The most advanced DAW on this list
- Higher price tag
- Higher learning curve
- Ideally used with a larger tablet
Changing gears, we’ve got the incredibly simple and intuitive Spire app.
I use this app personally as a way to write down ideas on guitar and begin arranging.
What drew me to Spire was its deep sense of simplicity—it draws design and workflow cues from the 4-track tape machines of the late 80s and 90s, where many great demos were recorded.
In Spire, you get the ability to easily multitrack and overdub your recordings—making it super easy to use the mic in your smartphone to start sketching out guitar parts, sung lyrics or even drums.
It draws design and workflow cues from the 4-track tape machines of the late 80s and 90s
Spire is decidedly a demo-making tool—but if you get its attached hardware microphone and speaker, you can get a head start on writing a finished track.
- Incredibly simple workflow to pick up and start using
- Fast and effective for sketching out recording ideas
- Compatible mic and interface make it easy to improve recording quality
- Not ideal for finishing songs
Here’s another Android and iOS DAW that’s inspired by a legendary beatmaking groove box and workflow—this time though, the inspiration comes from Native Instrument’s Maschine.
Maschine is both a DAW and a groovebox in one—and so is iMaschine 2.
This iOS DAW is an excellent choice for beat makers who love the Native Instruments workflow—the intuitive app design makes it easy to translate that knowledge and start writing tracks.
- A great choice for anyone used to the Maschine workflow
- Fun and easy to start using
- Beatmaking emphasis limits it in other areas
Don’t want to commit to downloading an app just yet? Why not try making beats in your phone’s browser instead?
With Creator by LANDR, you can start sketching out beat ideas in seconds using any loops you can find on LANDR Samples (that’s like hundreds of thousands of loops!)
Creator will automatically time stretch and pitch shift your loops, so you don’t need to worry about matching keys.
All you have to do is play around with loops that you like and you’ll be able to hear them together.
Best of all its all available on your browser, so you don’t need an app.
If you make something you like, you can save it to your LANDR Samples profile and download the time-stretched and pitch-shifted samples later on when you’re working on tracks at your desktop.
- Free and accessible in your browser
- Instantly time stretch and pitch shift samples into a coherent beat
- Download the samples straight into your DAW
- Not a fully mobile DAW
- More suited towards sample arrangement
Audio Evolution is a dedicated mobile DAW that was built from the ground up for use on both iOS and Android.
It’s unique on this list because it’s the only DAW app that was designed entirely by app developers—meaning that its workflow is well designed for use on tablets.
The DAW comes with most of the trappings of a portable DAW and is more than capable of producing near-finished tracks—especially with a good recording interface and mic.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced mobile DAW with a lot of features and functionality, this could be a great option.
- Great design, built for tablets
- Lots of functionality
- Works on both iOS and Android
- No desktop version
- More suited to larger tablet sizes