If you were buying a mobile device specifically to make music on, it wouldn’t be an Android one. Even the most diehard Apple hater would have to admit that, if you want access to the best music-making apps on the market, you need an iOS device.
This is principally down to the fact that Android doesn’t offer the low-latency audio performance that iOS does (though efforts are being made to rectify this), but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. Many of us do own Android phones, and would love to be able to do some music stuff on them.
Fortunately, there are now quite a few decent apps that enable you to do precisely that. Whether you’re looking to create synth sounds, beats, grooves or even fully-fledged productions, the solution is out there.
Here, we present an updated list of what we think are the best Android music making apps in the world today. Sign in to your Google Play account, click through the slides and get downloading.
Planet-H G-Stomper Studio
While some Android music making apps lack the visual elegance of their iOS counterparts, G-Stomper really looks the part. It has it in the features department, too; you can step sequence a drum machine and virtual analogue synth to create full productions. There’s also a focus on live performance, with 24 drum pads and a virtual piano keyboard being on hand.
Throw in effects, a mixer and a pattern/song arranger and you’ve got one of the most comprehensive and classy Android music making experiences around.
Image-Line FL Studio Mobile
FL Studio Mobile is a self-contained music production platform that enables you to create projects using synths, a sampler, drum kits, loops and with audio tracks.
Version 3 has just been released, which looks like a pretty big update. The app also has a completely new look.
Owners of the PC version of FL Studio should also be aware that projects started in the Android edition can be continued on your desktop.
Single Cell Software Caustic 3
Long regarded as one of the best Android music making apps on the market, Caustic enables you to make music using up to 14 devices, with the toolbox including various synths, a drum machine, an organ, a vocoder, effects, a mixer and a sequencer.
Most parameters can be automated, and several of the devices can host your own WAV or SoundFont files. You can also load FL Studio Mobile instruments.
Bottom line: if you want to make music on an Android device, Caustic is one of the very best places to start.
Mikrosonic SPC - Music Sketchpad 2
A pad-based music making environment that enables you to sample, sequence and program beats on your Android device.
You can use the built-in sounds and loops or import/record your own, and the app’s design means that it’s great for jamming ideas around in real-time.
Mikrosonic RD4 - Groovebox
This is the sister app to SPC - Music Sketchpad, which can import RD4 loops. It features analogue-style synths (including a 303 emulation) and a drum machine that emulates several classic hardware models (including the 909, 808 and 606). You can create tracks via the real-time step sequencer and there's a 4-channel mixer.
Throw in some effects and you've got a nice little mini production studio.
Oliver Wittchow nanoloop
Purists will insist that it has to be used on the Game Boy, but nanoloop is also available to Android users.
It’s a step sequencer-based app that lets you work with eight channels, each of which can be either a synth or a sampler. You can use up to eight patterns and two instruments per channel. You can load samples from an SD card, re-sample and make use of the FM/noise/PWM synth.
Alexander Zolotov SunVox
With its old-school tracker interface SunVox might not look particularly enticing, but it’s certainly powerful.
Its modular design enables you to work with a variety of sound generators, and there are also effects and a sampling option. If you want to go a little deeper with your Android music making, look no further.
Samalyse TapeMachine Recorder
A simple audio recording app with basic editing features is a must for capturing interesting sounds or making quick recordings.
TapeMachine fits the bill perfectly. Cheap, cheerful and effective, it’s ideal for recording and editing samples when you’re out and about.
Adam Smith Ethereal Dialpad
This cool abstract synth allows you to pick from Flat, Draw, Swarm or Grid modes and draw patterns on the screen to play sounds.
Synth options include pitch quantisation along with basic delay and flanger effects. Plug-ins enable you to expand the app with cool features such as gravitational sensor control.
Chris Wolfe Jasuto
Jasuto enables you to build synths from a set of components called Nodes - connect them together in any way you like.
Jasuto is a fantastic modular mobile environment, and at this price, it's pretty hard to resist.
Niko Twenty Electrum Drum Machine/Sampler
This simple drum machine app is based on the classic step sequencer format. With good built-in sounds and free downloadable packs based on classics such as the Roland 808 and 909, Electrum has some great sonic potential.
You can also record sounds into the app and make use of a variety of other processing features.
n-Track Studio 8 Pro
n-Track Studio 8 Pro represents an ambitious attempt to create a complete DAW-style app for Android, complete with MIDI and audio tracks, built-in sounds and mixing features. Grooves can also be programmed using the step sequencer.
The Pro version gives you all the features with no in-app purchases, but if you want to get a taste of what the app has to offer, you can also download the free version and get more features on subscription.
Image-Line Groove Machine Mobile
Groove Machine Mobile is, as its name suggests, a groovebox-style app for tablets. It features a 10-pad sample-based drum machine and five polyphonic synth/sampler channels, with the workflow putting the emphasis on performance.
One thing that is worth pointing out is that there's no direct compatibility with the desktop version of FL Studio at this stage. Unlike with FL Studio Mobile, projects can't be exported for use in said application.
eXtream Software Development Audio Evolution Mobile Studio
Another serious-looking DAW-style app, this one does multitrack audio recording as standard and offers MIDI sequencing as an in-app purchase (other features can be added in this way, too).
There’s project compatibility with the desktop version of DAW Audio Evolution 5, or you can export your individual tracks as stems and load them into other software.