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Microphone Month

iOS Update: iPad 3/Music Apps

Welcome back the “iOS Update.” The big recent news on the iOS front, of course, is the new iPad 3. What does it offer? Is it worth the update? I made the move from an iPad 2 (my wife is now enjoying that much-loved and much-used device!) to an iPad 3 and have been very happy with my decision. The new iPad offers a couple of major enhancements. First of all, the Retina display is simply stunning. For any app (or movie) that can display with true high definition, it’s an eye opener! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Likewise, the new 5-megapixel camera is a nice step up. But for musicians, perhaps the biggest improvement is 4G LTE support. It’s much faster, and with more and more data flowing through the air to your iPad, faster is definitely better!

Transferring from my old iPad 2 to my new iPad 3 was completely painless. You can do it by either backing up your data to the Cloud or saving it to iTunes on your computer. I chose to do both for extra security. Then, I connected the new iPad to my Mac and restored everything to the unit’s memory. It took just a few minutes and went off without a hitch. The only thing I had to do was input a couple of passwords, and I was back in business. After ensuring that everything I needed was on the new iPad, I reset my old one to its au natural state and set it up for my wife. Easy!

All of my apps work perfectly on the iPad 3, as do the myriad accessories that seem to accumulate around here with astonishing speed. (My motto: you can never have too many iOS toys!)


I mentioned in the last installment of the “iOS Update” that my iPad had become a central part of my musical life, a comment which engendered numerous questions from readers about which apps I consider essential. With more than 200,000 apps out there to choose from, it’s impossible to try them all. The apps described below do the job for me. Some are free, and some cost a few bucks, but they’ve all proven to be essential for me on both my iPad and my iPhone:

MyLyricBookMy Lyric Book — This one gets used for rehearsals and gigs with my band. You can load in lyric sheets for your songs, in PDF or other formats, then organize and display them on your iPad. You can even link each lyric sheet to the appropriate song in your iPad’s MP3 library, and program a metronome for it. When it’s time to gig, you can create set lists that link to all the lyric sheets. With your iPad on a stand onstage, you’ve got your own inconspicuous teleprompter.

iRealBiRealB — I’m not a jazzer, but I am trying to broaden myself to include that style in my playing. A Real Book is essential for working on all the standards, and this one loads right onto your iPad. It comes empty, but there are thousands of downloadable songs available in many musical styles. The chord sheet is displayed, and the app will play it for you with decent-sounding backing tracks. However, equally important, you can create your own songs, and iRealB will play them back too. I’ve built up a nice collection of my own tunes for various purposes, and I use iRealB for practicing all sorts of things, including playing through changes.

MetronomeMetronome Touch — I use this metronome constantly for practicing scales, arpeggios, and other exercises. I love that I can set up different time signatures and accent patterns. It looks cool, and it’s easy to access the on-screen controls with a guitar in my hands. When I’m using the app, I put my iPad in an IK Multimedia iKlip, right by my music stand.

AudioToolsAudioTools — I use an SPL meter all the time when mixing. How else are you going to stay in that Fletcher-Munson-approved 85dB volume range for ideal hearing? This one also has a variety of other useful audio-measurement tools that you can choose to purchase and turn on if you need them — it’s a full suite of, well, audio tools.

NotabilityNotability — Not a music app, but one of my favorite organizational tools. At its most basic, it’s a note-taking app. But it can do so much more! I keep many different running notes on song ideas, gear items, to-do lists, rehearsal notes, studio notes, session notes, notes for classes I teach, reminders, idea/brainstorm logs, and much more. You can record audio, draw in and imbed graphics, export PDF and RTF files, sync with other devices, e-mail notes… we’re talking deep. This one truly is essential for me.

GarageBandGarageBand — I have a lot of music-making apps (we’ll be covering them in an upcoming “iOS Update”), but I always come back to GarageBand for sketching out  ideas. It’s fast, simple, friendly, fun, and surprisingly powerful.

SweetMagsSweetwater Publications — Okay, blatant plug here, but why not keep a copy of Sweetwater’s ProGear gear encyclopedia with you at all times? Plus, you can also have instant access to back issues of SweetNotes. Definitely keeps my gear lust simmering at all times!

That’s it. Tune in next time for much more iOS mayhem!

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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