Novation Launchpad: Best free iOS loops player
Launchpad is absurdly fun and manages that tricky proposition of appealing to music newbs and pros alike. It’s essentially a board of pads, which you prod to trigger pre-set loops. These are organised into genre-based sets, such as House and Dubstep, and it’s almost impossible to play something that doesn’t make you want to get up and dance about like a loon.
For anyone who’s hankering for a little more depth, IAPs exist for new sounds and the means to import your own audio; additionally, you can record sessions and edit the sounds triggered by each pad.
djay: best free iOS DJ app
If you fancy yourself a top deck-spinner, but lack any actual decks to spin, djay is the next best thing. For free, you get a classic two-deck set-up, with vinyl controls, a mixer slider, scrolling waveforms, and live effects to faff about with.
Even on iPhone, it can be a lot of fun smashing together tracks from your Spotify or iTunes collections. On iPad, the app’s something else, the large display giving you plenty of creative potential as you UNCH UNCH UNCH into the wee small hours.
And when you decide you’re the next David Guetta, subscription IAP unlocks a slew of pro features, including a four-deck view, video mixing, MIDI, and 1GB of samples.
AudioKit Synth One Synthesizer: best free iOS synth
Our iPad’s littered with superb synths, and so newcomers have to do something pretty special to make us take notice. Synth One’s cunning plan is to hurl amazing sounds at your ears, and place a huge range of features at your fingertips – but not have you pay a penny.
For free, this app is borderline ludicrous. It feels like an embarrassment of riches as you rifle through the hundreds of presets, twiddle knobs, play with the excellent built-in sequencer, and hook everything up to Audiobus and Inter-App Audio. Just about all it can’t do is point your fingers at the right keys for crafting that perfect pop hit.