Useful Tips for Recording Music on the go (Mobile Recording)


Sometimes, it is hard to gather inspiration for new music inside the confinements of your bedroom. When you are outside, inspiration always strikes when you least expect it. Here are tips to be ready to record anything whenever or wherever you are

To record music on the go, you will need an iPhone or laptop, a midi controller, a mobile audio interface, USB mic condenser, and headphones. All the gadgets you will need will fit inside your backpack.

THE ESSENTIAL GADGETS

The essential gadgets you are going to need when recording music on the go is an iPhone or a Laptop, and Headphones. Although you could have more gear with you, if you are making drafts that you will, later on, edit in the studio, an iPhone and headphones will be enough.

iPhone

I have played around with the iPhone 6 plus since the year it came out. I have discovered a lot of the possible ways you can use it as a powerful recording tool.

An iPhone has fantastic features, and it is capable of recording quality music. By using apps like GARAGEBAND, iMPC PRO 2, and KORG GADGET 2, you can use your iPhone as a convenient and compact recording device.

An iPhone isn’t just good for recording but suitable for playing live instruments too. If you have an iRIG or any other mobile audio interface, you can record guitar parts and vocals straight to your iPhone.

Connecting a midi device is possible with an iPhone. With a powered USB hub, you can power up to 3 devices using an iPhone. To learn how to connect a midi device to your iPhone, click here.

PRODUCTS

APP FEATURES DESCRIPTION
GARAGEBAND (FREE) *Full-Blown DAW

*Over 40 instruments

*Amp Collection

*Vocal Effects

*Loaded with HQ samples

*Inter-app audio

*Midi Compatible
This app is a full-blown DAW better than most paid or free apps in the app store. This app is capable of doing what your computer software can do and more.
IMPC PRO 2 (Price: $8.99) *MPC style workflow

*iMPC University

*FREE sample packs

*Use as a live launchpad

*Midi compatible

*Fully assignable pads and knobs
This app is an MPC style DAW.  You load up the pads with samples and record by sections. It has a and futuristic user interface that is very pleasing to the eye. Using this app with the iPhone, you get minimal to zero latency.
KORG GADGET 2 (Price: $19.99) *Easy to use DAW

*Multi-tasking

*Midi Compatible

*Advanced midi options

*Over 40 iconic virtual instruments including Synths

*Drum machines

*External effects

*Guitar effects    
KORG is well-known for its keyboard and synth products. Now, they’re conquering the virtual instrument market by releasing this fantastic app. It features over 40 of KORG’s most iconic sounds in one app. The user interface on this app looks gorgeous. Like GARAGEBAND, this app can be a full-blown stand-alone DAW or an excellent live instrument.

HELPFUL TIP:

When using your iPhone for recording vocals, you can adjust the noise gate in GARAGEBAND to filter unnecessary noise. The mic of the iPhone itself sounds good too.

I am amazed that Steve Lacey, one of Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s producers, uses an iPhone for creating beats, and it sounds nice.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are an ideal iPhone for recording because it was the last of the iPhones that still have the headphone jack. This phone is the first iPhone that has 3D touch technology. The 3D touch allows you to unlock more features the iPhone apps can do.

LAPTOP

If you do not have an iPhone, you can bring your laptop if you are planning to record outdoors. The only reason I suggested the iPhone is because it is much smaller.

Most of the time, you have a phone with you, but if you like to work remotely for inspiration, a laptop is always a better choice. The processing power of a computer is better than most phones. An iPhone can match a MAC or PC in terms of recording music on the go.

A good thing about bringing your laptop to record remotely is that it has all of your favorite DAWs you usually use for recording music.

MIDI CONTROLLER

A midi controller is an excellent addition when recording remotely. It is much easier to create melodies when you get the feel of playing an instrument. If you are used to midi mapping, you probably wouldn’t need one of these.

But some people prefer to record the music by playing the notes first then quantize the midi output later. If you are one of those types of people, then having a midi keyboard or controller is essential for mobile recording.

You can connect most midi controllers to your iPhone and laptop. A midi controller is easy to carry because you don’t need to plug them in. Midi controllers are powered via USB and your device, either an iPhone or laptop.

Some Midi controllers are battery powered and have Bluetooth connectivity for more convenience.

PRODUCTS

PRODUCT FEATURES DESCRIPTION
AKAI MPK MINI MK II (PRICE: $89) *25 velocity-sensitive keys

*Eight fully assignable trigger pads with two banks

*16 fully assignable knobsFour user programs

*Octave switch
Modulation and pitch joystick

*Free software included
The Akai MPK MINI has incredible features like most analog synthesizers. Most beginner and intermediate producers use this product for creating music or recording live music.
NOVATION LAUNCHKEY MINI (Price: $89) *16 fully assignable, LED indicating trigger pads

*25 velocity-sensitive keys

*Eight fully assignable knobs

*Free Software included  
The Launchkey Mini is an excellent choice for more electronic-driven music. It is a combination of a midi keyboard controller and Novation’s Launchpad. 
KORG MICROKEY AIR 25 (Price: $99) *25 velocity-sensitive keys

*Pitch and modulation joystick

*Bluetooth connectivity

*USB compatible

*Free software included
The KORG Microkey Air 25 is a more compact midi keyboard controller than the previous ones mentioned. Its Bluetooth features make it easier to use remotely. The device can connect to an iPhone effortlessly. 

HELPFUL TIP:

All the products mentioned above are compatible with the iPhone and apps suggested. Bluetooth midi devices seem to be more convenient, but the downside is you have to replace the batteries. The batteries last about a month. Some Bluetooth devices can be powered via USB if you run low on batteries.

MOBILE AUDIO INTERFACE

The music you create can sometimes be guitar-driven, but you don’t have to worry. There are mobile audio interfaces that are compatible with iPhones. You can record vocals with a condenser mic, and guitars directly to your phone.

PRODUCTS

PRODUCT FEATURES DESCRIPTION
APOGEE JAM (Price: $159) *Connect guitars and bass to iOS devices, Mac, and PCA clear signal for better quality recording

*USB inputHeadphone jackLED indicators for precise level adjustment

*Works with most iOS audio apps

*Little to zero latency for monitoring and recording
Apogee Jam is one of the best mobile interfaces right now. It is small and compact so you can record live audio wherever you are. This device is seamless and will work well with iOS devices. I suggest iOS 10 or higher for better results.
IK MULTIMEDIA iRIG PRO (Price: $150) *High-definition 24-bit audio sampling rate

*iPhone 7 or higher ready with a built-in headphone jack

*Volume and gain control

*Volume and gain LED indicator to avoid sound clipping

*Includes lightning cables (no adapters required)

*Ultra-compact
The iRIG Pro is going with the flow of technology by including all the necessary ports and plugins so you can use it with your iPhone straight of the box. Its HD audio compares to some of the best audio interfaces used for computers. The iRig Pro is Ultra-compact for mobile use.

HELPFUL TIP:

Don’t settle for the iRig 1st or 2nd gen. They are useful for drafting or practicing via a mobile device, but they can’t record high bit rate audio. The more top-end mobile audio interfaces are the way to go.

HEADPHONES

Headphones are essential when recording music remotely. It would be difficult to hear your audio clearly with the laptop or iPhone’s built-in speaker.

HELPFUL TIP:

Don’t forget to bring your headphones when you are on the go. It is one of the essential gadgets needed for recording, especially outdoors. In-ear earphones or air pods will work too. If you have an iPhone 7 or higher, you may want to use Bluetooth headphones because the phone no longer has a headphone jack.

This is one of the things that I got upset about the new iPhones. With new iPhones, you can only connect either a midi controller or your headphones.

I don’t recommend the lighting splitters because it compromises the devices connected and may not function properly.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

TRAVEL LIGHT

The products I suggested are mostly mobile and compact. You can fit them inside of your backpack. Despite being easy to carry, these products can record audio with fantastic quality.

PLAN TRIPS

If you just got inspired to write music on the spot when you are not in your studio. You can record audio tracks with your iPhone alone.

On the contrary, songwriters and producers like to take vacations to write music on the beach or in a cabin. The equipment mentioned above is essential when you want to write remotely.

CONCLUSION

Technology is your friend right now because nowadays, you can do almost anything with your mobile devices. You can record a full song or even a full-length album using just your iPhone. With these modern gadgets, the possibilities are endless.

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