Best iPad music apps

So you've got an iPad, and you're musically inclined, what now? How can you turn your new shiny Internet tablet into a device that lets you enjoy or make music? And can you really do something constructive on it?

We've scoured the 3500 iPad apps available (mid May) on iTunes to see what's on offer when it comes to music. Yes there are plenty of iPad music apps out there, yes some of them are for die-hard music professionals only, but the ones below, we feel, are the best on offer for those interested in music rather than completely and totally living and breathing it. 

We've tried, tested and reviewed all of the following iPad music apps ourselves, rather than just guessing whether they're good or not. Prepare to deafen your friends, as well as enjoy some great tunes along the way.

Air Guitar HD

Want to play the guitar, but only have your iPad? This just might be the app for you.

Air Guitar HD is fairly basic in its remit, but then it's also free. You get a guitar, six strings and five frets to strum to your heart's content.

The app works like any regular guitar, although holding it will make people think you've actually got a banjo so be warned.

Worth the 5 minutes of giggling fits as you try and replay those guitar classics.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 7/10

 

Magic Piano

Put simply, this will let you convince people you can play the piano (albeit on your iPad) without you actually having to learn any musical notes.

Admittedly you've got to have some rhythm, but once you've worked out whether or not you have - and chances are you will have if you're reading this - then you can play a selection of tracks by tapping on the screen at the right time.

Songs include everything from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to more advanced tracks like Clair de lune.

There's a solo mode (kind of like Freestyle), duet so you can play with other iPad users from around the world, and a chance to watch other people make beautiful music.

In all, it's a beautiful app that will make you want to play a real piano and learn more tunes. If you've got any musical bones in your body, this is one to download.

iTunes: Link

Price 59p / 99 cents

Rating 7/10

 

Shazam

Some 75 million users already swear by it and now you can find out what the devil that song on the radio or TV is too.

Shazam for iPad is virtually identical to the iPhone offering, but merely has more room to play thanks to the bigger 9.7-inch screen the iPad sports.

That means more space to read about the bands you've requested information on, and basically a better experience all around.

Once you've tagged a song, you can see if it's available in iTunes, look at similar tracks by other artists that you might also like and check out artist release data too.

If you're feeling social you can share the song you've tagged with Twitter, Facebook, or email it to someone, handy.

If you're just bored, you can see the Shazam chart that tells you what other people are searching for and therefore find the tune that you like, but have no idea what it sounds like.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 9/10

 

Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD

While many will say that Pianist Pro is the better app, it's also considerably more expensive than this free offering, and besides both, while letting you create some music, won't replace your grand piano.

As a free offering, therefore, it's good for a bit of fun, giving you two keyboards to help you bang out some of your favourite tunes.

Basic isn't really the word for this, but it will quell your urge before you part with your cash for something better.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 7/10

 

Tap Tap Radiation

If bashing mindlessly at your iPad with your finger to a rhythm is your kind of thing then Tap Tap Radiation is the iPad game for you.

Here the idea is to touch the circle, as a flying orb lands within it, in time with the music. The more times you do that the more points you get and the more you'll feel proud about yourself, just as if you've actually achieved something with your 20 minutes of spare time. iPad users are treated to a further 30 free songs from the in-app store and you'll be able to buy further tracks (Lady Gaga 6 track pack is $2.99 for example).

Back to keeping it cheap and you get to play with the game or "Freestyle", which means you do all that tapping for no points - fairly pointless if you ask us.

The tracks probably won't be recognisable to you if you like chess or the quieter things in life, but it doesn't involve killing anyone so you should still be able to get the grasp of things very quickly. Be warned - we did experience a couple of crashes, suggesting this is an app that might need an update if you don't want to be disappointed mid gaming session.

iTunes: Link

Price Free

Rating 6/10

 

WunderRadio

While the iPad offers you a chance to listen to your own music via the Apple iPod app, you can't listen to radio like you can in iTunes on your desktop.

Wunder Radio is the answer. Offering you over 36,000 radio stations from around the world; you can search the database, select to have it give you the stations nearest you thanks to your GPS position and even tune into police and rescue scanners from around the world (yep there is a fire happening right now in Hoboken, New Jersey).

Once you've found the station you are after you can add them to a favourites list while also setting the streaming qualities and whether or not you want it to automatically turn off after a set amount of time.

If the station supports it you'll also get the songs they are playing, with the option to buy them through iTunes, although it's worth noting that this doesn't work for every station or every song.

Streaming quality is excellent.

iTunes: Link

Price: £2.49 / $6.99

Rating: 8/10

 

Soundrop free

Raindrops keep falling on my head... That's what you'll be singing after playing with this simple but mesmerising iPad app.

The concept is simple. A constant stream of balls flow out of an outlet down the page. You draw a line under the flow and when the ball hits it sounds a note. The greater the fall the higher the note and so the cycle begins repeating the sounds you make until you either go mad or enter a trance.

With such simplicity this is great fun, albeit only for a couple of minutes, but is good for keeping the children quiet as you teach them the properties of cause and effect.

Lovely, but of course pointless.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 9/10

 

Lucky Voice Karaoke

Anybody who's visited a Lucky Voice Karaoke bar will immediately feel at home with the company's iPad app, 'cause that's its major selling point; it's at home. Instead of having to get up in front of a bunch of admin assistants and the one accounts guy that nobody remembers inviting, your own dulcet tones can be restricted to the comfort of your own abode thanks to this simple yet ingenious portal to over 8,000 licenced songs. It works just like normal Karaoke - the words light up on screen in time with the music - yet, because it's on an iPad, it can be handed around from singer to singer. As it uses the device's in-built Internet connection to both search for and pluck songs from the cloud, you can pretty much guarantee that there's something for everyone.

Certainly, there were very few songs that we couldn't find and immediately sing. The Lucky Voice app is a free download, and once you've signed up you'll have access to 10 free songs. All the other 8,000 plus tracks can be previewed for 30 seconds, but to play the full versions, you need to subscribe to Lucky Voice Home, or buy song credits. Prices range from £3.99 to £49.99, but considering that you're likely to only use the app properly when you've got a bunch of friends around, we don't think that £3.99 is too steep for 24 hours worth of unlimited use - get them all to chip in. Read More

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 8/10

 

Baby Decks

So you think you're a DJ then? Chances are if you do you'll want to get Baby Decks, a miniature DJ turntable desk in your iPad.

Coming with two turntables, you can crossfade, increase the pitch, the volume, and the balance, on both decks independently to make your busting tunes.

But this is no toy app suitable for only your kids. It's actually a fully functional, if not basic turntable that we will no doubt see club DJs and wedding DJs touting soon (okay so it's not that good, but it is good fun).

Bundled in the box (so to speak) are a couple of sample tracks to get you started, although the feature you're more likely to use is the ability to upload your own songs and samples to the application via a Wi-Fi connection and an Internet browser.

Controls are all done via your fingers, including scratching your way to the next bit of the track and the only downside we can see is that you can't record in app, but we've been told by the developers they are working on it.

iTunes: Link

Price: £14.99 / $24.99

Rating: 7/10

 

Sound Hound

A competitor to Shazam, Sound Hound has the added bonus of letting you hum your tunes to see if they can be recognised.

Besides humming, there is a voice search feature that works like Google Voice Search and you can of course share your searches, tunes etc with Twitter, Facebook and email.

Those who need prompting as to what they should be listening too can check out the "What’s Hot", "Underplayed", and being newly "ID’d" and then when they've found the artist they want, can get further information like artist details, videos, and sometimes lyrics.

The free version in the UK only gives you five music searches a month (voice searches are free which means you can hum all you want, however in the US there is a paid-for option that will hopefully be coming to the UK shortly.

iTunes: Link

Price Free

Rating 8/10

 

iPod

Yep you've got a fairly decent music player on your iPad already in the guise of the iPod app.

Here the bigger screen is used to show you more details about the tracks you are listening to, but not much more. Yes, you get the ability to listen to Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and arrange Genius Mixes, see album art, and search all that via Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres, and Composers.

Basic, but then you aren't really expecting to put this in your pocket like you do your iPod are you?

iTunes: Pre-installed

Price: Free

Rating 8/10

 

TabToolkit

TabToolkit is a guitar tablature and music notation viewer that lets you see how tracks are played out so you can learn the moves to your favourite songs.

Off the bat you'll get a handful of tracks to listen and watch, and although they are pretty basic - Star Bangled Banner anyone? - they do give you an idea of how it all works before you go about importing your own sheet music. 

The app supports Guitar Pro, Power Tab, PDF and text formats as well as providing playback tempo control, and a metronome.  

The app is a perfect fit for guitarists and musicians of all skill levels looking to learn.

iTunes: Link

Price: £5.99

Rating: 9/10

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