iPad® recording made easy

Tools to turn your iPad into a recording studio

By

Ken Nail

Ken Nail has written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. He's an avid music listener, whose favorites are classical and film music. When not chained to a desk, Ken spends most of his time training for triathlons and marathons, and likes getting outside for backpacking, downhill skiing, and bicycle touring. He attended West Virginia University, where he received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History.

More from Ken Nail

If you’ve got an iPad, you don’t need to be convinced of its merits – you prize its portability, the availability of apps, and the ease of using its touchscreen interface. These attributes make your iPad a great tool to use for recording music at home or on the road.

guitar

There are plenty of apps that’ll let you use your iPad to record, mix, and master your musical creations, including Apple’s own GarageBand. Like GarageBand, most  apps come with built-in synthesizers, drum machines, and effects, so you can get pretty creative with your creations. And if you have GarageBand on your iPad and a laptop or computer, you can shift between the platforms as you work, so you’re not chained down to one location.

But when you want to add your own vocals and instrumentals into the mix, it’s time to start looking for some gear that’ll let you expand your creative horizons.

Add a microphone

The first logical step to getting more out of your iPad as a recording device is connect a good quality microphone. Here’s a few we’ve found work well with an iPad or other iOS device.

Zoom iQ5

The Zoom iQ5 attaches directly to your iOS device.

  • Simple and portable the Zoom iQ5

    Just plug the Zoom iQ5 into your iOS device’s Lightning™ connector and you’re ready to record – it’s that easy. Its small size and flexibility make it ideal for use when you’re out and about, shooting video or capturing the high points of a live performance, as well as for making recordings in your home studio. And with Zoom’s free Recorder App, you can add effects, edit, and upload tracks right from your device.

  • Step up to a USB condenser micthe MXL Tempo and MXL Trio

    Condenser mics are the standard for capturing sound in the studio. Their sensitivity ensures that you’ll capture the nuances of voices and instruments, and mics like the  Trio from MXL are designed with the home studio in mind. They offer excellent sensitivity, a cardioid pattern that rejects off-axis noise, and come with a nifty table-top tripod stand, so you can set them up almost anywhere.  Plus they’ve got a headphone jack built in, so you can directly monitor what the mic is picking up when you’re recording.

Record multiple tracks simultaneously

But what if you want to capture more than one track at a time – say, for instance, your vocals and your guitar accompaniment? An audio interface is the ticket. They provide extra inputs for microphones and instruments, and give you an extra degree of control for your recordings. Here are a couple of our favorite options.

  • Record two tracks at once the PreSonus iTwo 

    PreSonus AudioBox iTwo

    The AudioBox iTwo provides two inputs for your device.

    The iTwo is a compact USB and iPad recording interface that gives you some pretty sweet options in a compact and simple device. It incorporates an XLR combo inputs for microphones and instruments.

    The mic input incorporates a 48V phantom power source, so you can plug in sensitive condenser microphones. And each input has a separate gain control for fine-tuning. The headphone jack offers direct monitoring to eliminate latency and its own volume control.

  • Integrating multiple inputs and iPad control — the Focusrite iTrack Dock

Taking it to the next level of convenience is the iTrack Dock. The iTrack Dock is built around a recording interface with two inputs — each featuring XLR and line inputs, and one adding an instrument input. Phantom power for condenser microphones is built in, and there are two monitor outputs along with a direct monitoring headphone output.

Focusrite iTrack Dock

Focusrite iTrack Dock

What makes the iTrack Dock cool is the dock. The dock fits both the iPad and the iPad mini®, with a sliding Lightning connector so connection is easy. And iTrack Dock includes a free download of Tape, an easy-to-use app that lets you take charge of your recording session from the iPad’s touchscreen.

Products in this article