Best iPads for musicians and producers 2024: Top Apple tablets for all levels of music maker

Apple's range of iPads has long been suited for music making, but its recently upgraded models - that feature the latest silicon M-Range and Bionic high-end chips - can handle anything musical that you can throw at them. So much so that the best iPads for musicians and producers now rival Apple's laptop and desktop machines in terms of power and potential.

There's an iPad at every strength, price point and size, but don't worry if you find the range confusing. We're here to help you home in on the right iPad for your music making needs as we reveal the best iPad for music making right now.

With big music technology companies like Steinberg, Arturia, Korg and Moog producing top drawer iOS apps - and Apple providing all the power you need to run them - there's never been a better time to get an iPad for music production. And the iPad scores better than the iPhone for music making - even though they share many of the same apps - simply because of the extra real estate you get by way of the screen. Playing an iOS DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) or synth on an iPad is simply that much easier and more fun! 

There are iPad apps of all sorts of musical shapes and sizes, from quality synths, to amazing effects, complete DAWs to off-the-wall compositional tools. You can make complete tunes on the move with a decent iPad and a selection of these apps, and run a mobile studio that is more than a match for many home and semi-pro setups.

However, the iPad range is wide and varied, so we have tested each model for its music production pros and cons, with our summary findings for each one detailed below. There's more about how to buy the right iPad at the end of this feature so jump to that for more advice.

Ben Rogerson
Ben Rogerson

Ben is the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. He previously spent eight years working on sister magazine, Computer Music. He's been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. Ben is MusicRadar's in-house Apple guru. 

Best iPads for musicians and producers: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best iPads for musicians and producers on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

The best iPads for musicians and producers

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Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best iPads for musicians and producers in our list.

The best overall

Best iPads for music production: Apple iPad Pro M2

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPad Pro M2

The larger iPad Pro M2 will transform your music making while the smaller model delivers equally great power

Specifications

Starting price: $799/£899 or $1,099/£1,249
Screen size: 11 or 12.9-inch
Chip: M2
Connector: USB-C
Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Display resolution: 2388-by-1668 or 2732-by-2048 at 264 ppi
Weight: 468g or 684g

Reasons to buy

+
The biggest and most powerful iPad 
+
Will easily handle today's music apps and hopefully tomorrow's 'big one' 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some spec options take the price into iMac price territory

The older - although not that much older - and larger M1-based iPad Pro was our top pick of iPads last time we looked at them, and there's no reason not to place its successor at the top of the heap this time around. Yes this largest iPad is expensive - especially so if you up the specs and extras, and if you do you should consider the Apple laptop route. But for music use, the larger iPad Pro 12.9” is just a joy to use.

With music apps, you will really find the increase in surface area makes a huge difference. We used to be pretty unimpressed when it came to using iPad soft synths and DAWs until, that is, we used a Pro. It will transform your music making, simple as that. 

In terms of the 11-inch model, you are getting just as much power and large storage options so in that respect, if you think the larger screen size of the 12.9" is too much, then this smaller Pro is a better buy. If you are considering the 11” Pro, though, do also look at the similar sized Air and standard iPads. If power is not a factor they both deliver a physically similar iPad experience for a lot less money.

Both of these iPad Pros boast a 10-15% power uplift over the M1 models, so you can be assured that the muscle you need is there. And they also have a decent battery life of around 10 hours, much better than some models in the iPad range. Of course you are paying for these extras, but we have other iPad options below if power is not your main requirement. 

Best lightweight option

Best iPads for music production: Apple iPad Air M1

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple iPad Air M1 (5th generation)

The perfect balance of iPad power, price and portability

Specifications

Starting price: $599/£669
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Chip: M1
Connector: USB-C
Storage options: 64GB, 256GB
Display resolution: 2360-by-1640 at 264 ppi
Weight: 461gg

Reasons to buy

+
Good power
+
Very light and portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly low battery life

The latest iPad Air came out in 2022 but still boasts one of the latest M1 chips - so is that bit more powerful than both the standard entry-level iPad and iPad mini, but you are paying a fair bit more for it. 

Interestingly the iPad Air is very similar in size and screen resolution to both the smaller 11-inch Pro and standard iPad. So if you are buying an iPad based on its screen size - and, let's face it, that is an important consideration - then you'll need to compare and contrast all three models. In this case it's a straight slug out of power vs price. While all three iPads are of similar physical size and appearance, you're essentially paying around $/£200 extra for each jump in processor power across the three models. 

The Air does just win out in the portability stakes across the range, and does still feel like the coolest and sleekest iPad if looks are important. And in many ways, the iPad Air delivers the perfect balance of price versus power versus portability. It's not too big - which the larger iPad Pro has been accused of - and it does boast the latest M-range chip technology at a reasonable price. If you don't need the maximum in iPad in power, this is a great buy.

Best on the go

Best iPads for musicians and producers: Apple iPad mini

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple iPad mini (6th generation)

Compact and powerful iPad, great for mobile musicians

Specifications

Starting price: $499/£479
Screen size: 8.3-inch
Chip: A15 Bionic
Connector: USB-C
Storage options: 64GB, 256GB
Display resolution: 2266-by-1488 at 326 ppi
Weight: 293g

Reasons to buy

+
The iPad that delivers the best combination of mobility and power
+
And the best priced for what you get 

Reasons to avoid

-
Smallest screen size (obviously) 

Even though it was a surprise announcement alongside the iPhone 13, the new iPad Mini's appearance made sense as it utilises the same 6-core A15 bionic chip as found in the new iPhone. It also makes sense that this chip is the main focus of the iPad Mini as it's Apple's new 'phone chip' and of course the Mini is closest in size to an iPhone you can get. (In a similar way the M1 chips are Apple's 'computer' chips so it makes sense they go in the iPad Pros – we love order and logic).

Comparing the two performance wise is, according to some, like comparing chalk and cheese. The M1 definitely wins out in the power stakes, but the new iPad Mini will still be powered up long after a Pro's battery life dwindles away. Either way the A15 will outperform the chips in the rest of the non Pro iPad range so the new Mini is the most powerful non M1 iPad available today, so we can certainly recommend it for music making on that score alone.

It will also suit pockets, both financially and physically, more than the Pro and you'll be tempted, as we were, to upgrade to the new 256GB version for a reasonable extra $150/£150. The USB-C connectivity will also help add music peripherals, so this is a fantastic new entry into the iPad family. 

Best for beginners

Best iPads for music production: Apple iPad (10th Generation)

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Apple iPad (10th Generation)

The entry-level iPad of choice, upgraded in power and a fine way to start your iPad journey

Specifications

Starting price: $449/£499
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Chip: A14
Connector: USB-C
Storage options: 64GB, 256GB
Display resolution: 2360-by-1640 at 264 ppi
Weight: 477g

Reasons to buy

+
USB-C port is great for musicians
+
Better camera and speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
Much more expensive than 9th gen

The latest 10th-gen Apple iPad loses the old Touch ID button below the screen and, with its thinner frame design, looks more in line with the latest mini and Pro. Other than that the size and weight between the 9th gen iPad (still on sale) and newer 10th gen are pretty similar. 

The new A14 chip in the 10th gen model makes it more powerful than the older 9th gen though, but you can't help being disappointed that Apple didn't notch it up to the A15 (as in the mini) or even and M1 to really make this the best iPad to buy. 

Whichever way you look at it though, the 10th generation 'standard' iPad is an attractive route into the iPad universe. It's smaller and more portable than the larger Pro, but does now boast a larger screen over the older iPad. 

And if you were choosing between the older 9th gen and newer 10th, then you also have to weigh up quite a high price hike between the two models. But you are also getting better cameras, speakers (placed wider with better stereo) and power with the 10th gen so we think it's just about worth it, making this our entry-level iPad of choice. 

Best budget iPad

Best iPads for musicians and producers: Apple iPad (9th generation)

(Image credit: Apple iPad)

5. Apple iPad (9th generation)

The best budget iPad for music producers

Specifications

Starting price: $329/£319
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Chip: A13 Bionic
Connector: Lightning connector
Storage options: 64GB, 256GB
Display resolution: 2160-by-1620 at 264 ppi
Weight: 487g

Reasons to buy

+
The cheapest iPad
+
Now starts with 64GB storage option 

Reasons to avoid

-
The least powerful iPad 

To say that the older ninth generation iPad is languishing in last place for music producers is somewhat unfair as it still represents a decent buy - it's just the others have had their power souped up or other specs tweaked the right way. Here, cost is undeniably a key target for Apple to keep down, so it's the cheapest iPad but also the least powerful.

Nevertheless there are good points. It comes with 64GB capacity as a base level – the 32GB on the previous generation had been looking too weedy for too long – which should be enough for most musicians to own a decent suite of apps. The 10.2-inch screen is neither the biggest or smallest either. And the price? Well next to the Pro this is obviously a steal but in the world of Apple and music making, you want the biggest and best and even though this is a third of the price of the Pro, we know which we're saving for.

Best iPad for musicians and producers: Buying advice

iPad displaying Logic Sample Alchemy

(Image credit: Apple)

How to buy the best iPad for your music-making needs

To the casual observer, all of Apple’s iPads might look pretty similar, but there are some crucial differences. The most obvious physical one is size: the iPad Mini (6th generation) is the smallest, with an 8.3-inch display, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro gives you the largest display. The other models in the range all fall somewhere between these two extremes.

Then there’s the issue of power: it probably won’t surprise you to learn that most iPads have different chipsets. The standard ninth-generation iPad has the least powerful processors (the A13), while the new 10th generation iPad has the A14 and the mini, the A15. Both new iPad Pros boast the same M2 processors, easily the most powerful of the range.

Music-making apps can be pretty demanding, particularly if you’re running two or more at the same time, and a faster processor will give you better performance.

You also need to think about onboard storage. iPads don’t accept memory cards, so what you buy is what you’re stuck with. Some of the best music-making apps - like Moog Model D for iOS, Korg Gadget and Nanostudio - take up multiple gigabytes of space, so don’t scrimp in this area.

The final and possibly most important consideration, though, is price. Buying the biggest, most powerful, most capacious iPad will cost you serious money, so for most of us, it’s about finding the best balance between features and affordability.

How we choose the best iPads for music production

Here at MusicRadar, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything music gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides. 

When choosing what we believe to be the best iPads for music production available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best iPads for music production on the market right now.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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