In their earlier days in the 60s, The Beatles recorded their songs at EMI’s Abbey Road studio using twin-track vacuum-tube machine. There was very little opportunity for overdubbing, and the sessions were similar to recording live performances. In simpler words, the legendary Fab Four recorded each of their early songs perfectly in one take. One mistake would cost them time and money because they had to repeat everything from the beginning.
Kids today can duplicate those recording sessions using common smartphones, with no musical instrument, and in as many takes and retakes as they want. Anyone can bring a recording studio with virtually unlimited tracks in his/her pockets in the form of mobile apps. This era is truly the golden age for musicians.
GarageBand is the pioneer of music making apps for the masses, and it remains unrivalled until today. Unfortunately, mobile GarageBand is (and will be) available exclusively for iPhones and iPads. But worry not, if you are a modern-day musician who chooses to stay out of Apple loops, here are music-making alternatives for Android that you can try.
Note: Please be advised, considering the fragmentation in Android landscape, that the compatibility and performance of resource-heavy applications will depend on the OS version and hardware of your smartphone. Expect to experience some lags, latencies, and incompatibilities.
Free GarageBand Alternatives
Music Maker Jam helps you create music by combining loops – short musical chunks that you can play over and over in loops, hence the name. There are over 100 music styles and 8-channel mixer that will give you plenty of room to channel your creativity.
The app also allows you to record external voice, so you can use the feature to record your singing, rapping, or other kinds of sounds; and add them to your song.
After you have finished recording your song, you can share it with the world using the sharing feature. You can also discover new music in the Music Maker community shared by other users.
Pocketband is a combination of app and online service that can help you generate and share content with fellow musicians around the globe. It means you need to have an account and an active internet connection to use it properly.
The app comes with 12-channel mixers with effects, 3-band parametric equalizers, and automated pan and volume for each track. You can generate your music using loops, use the audio recording feature, import recording from music library or other installed music apps.
You can also collaborate with other musicians, vote and comment on tracks, and get feedback from other.
3. EasyBand Lite (Pro version is available)
As the name suggests, the app emphasizes on the easy side of music creation. It uses a linear music making process. You can drag and drop chords into the timeline, and the app will generate full band according to the chords.
You can edit the chord, change it to major or minor, make it play longer or shorter, use different styles of band accompanion, change the BPM (beats per minute), modify the drum fills, and many other variations. You can also assign groups of chords into different parts of the song: the intro, verses, refrain, coda, and ending.
The lite version has limited styles, such as cherry, dramatic, mellow, rock-it, piano, stinger, etc. Each comes with a different combination of musical instrument and playing style. The Pro version gives you more styles.
4. Walk Band
From the appearance and music creation process, WalkBand might be the most similar to GarageBand compared to other Android music-making apps. You can pick and play a single musical instrument such as guitar, bass, piano, drum kit, drum machine, and even digital loops.
Each instrument comes with its unique settings. One feature that I think interesting is the ability to play duet piano with another person, each player plays at one side of the phone in landscape mode. You can also do a multi-track recording session, assign one instrument to one track and combine the result as one song.
All is good and well. If you are GarageBand user who wants to find a similar app in the Android environment, you’ll feel right at home. However, the app comes with ads that interrupt the workflow. To remove the ads, you have to pay for an upgrade.
Paid GarageBand Alternatives
5. Caustic 3 (free Demo available)
Caustic is a virtual rack mount of synthesizer – or machines as the developer called it. You slide between machines by sliding the sidebar up and down, or you can pick one to play with by opening the machine pad.
Each machine comes with a virtual keyboard to create the tones and tons of effects, parametric equalizers, and sequencers to modify the songs. The app is a heaven for electronic musician, but for traditional ones like me, it’s a bit overwhelming.
The ability to save and export is disabled in the otherwise fully functional free demo. The full version is available by purchasing an unlock key.
6. FL Studio
FL Studio is a multi-track recording studio on the Android devices. It’s also available in the PC version. It comes with 133 high-quality instrument, drum kits, and sliced-loop beats, each with configurable settings. There are also tons of effects such as Limiter, Reverb, Delay, EQ, Amp, and Mix; plus 99 track sequencers and intuitive editing options.
The sessions come with multiple undo and redo for all editable screen. And the app allows you to import and export midi files, also share your songs via email or Dropbox.
FL Studio offers high-quality, battery-friendly audio engine that makes sure that the app uses device’s battery juice as efficient as possible. However, the music latency will depend on your device processing power.
7. Audio Evolution (free Demo available)
Audio Evolution is a complete digital audio workstation – another multi-track recording studio with a similar approach to Walk Band, but designed for more advanced users.
You can record external audio such as your singing, or live musical instrument playing, using your device’s microphone or additional external microphones for a better result. In addition to the built-in piano roll, you can use an external midi keyboard to record your song.
Audio Evolution also comes with a midi sequencer, import audio and midi feature, the ability to use samples and loops, unlimited undo and redo, to name just a few. And you can export your song as high-quality audio or the compressed web-friendly version.
As the name suggested, this app relies heavily on loops in music creation. There are tons of loops available that you can mix using a multi-track mixer.
8. J4T Multitrack Recorder
If you are looking for more simple music making application, then J4T Multitrack Recorder might fit your bill. This app is a simple 4-track recorder, built with songwriters in mind. It’s designed to capture song ideas, demos, and sound-sketches quickly and easily, anywhere and anytime those muses decide to pay a visit.
You can do jam sessions accompanied by previously recorded loops. There are many effects that you can apply to your tracks such as Fuzz, Chorus, Delay, Equalizer, Reverb, and Phaser. You can also share your creation via SoundCloud, Google Drive, Gmail, Dropbox, and other supported platforms.
Four tracks might seem a little limited compared to other apps that come with tons of tracks, but sometimes limitation brings out the creative side of you.
9. G-Stomper Studio (free Demo available)
G-Stomper Studio is a full-featured music production tool that is highly optimized to do electronic live performances. It comes with step sequencer based drum machine, analog modeling synthesizer, polyphonic and monophonic step sequencer for melodies, a piano keyboard, 24 drum pads, effect rack, and many more.
It allows you to export the file as WAV and MIDI to be used in another music creation apps, and use SoundCloud to share your creation with the world. The learning curve is a bit steep but with patience it totally worth the effort.
There are many Android music creation tools, but only a few of them worth the try. If your favorite GarageBand alternative apps are not mentioned here, please share them using the comment section below.