The inclusion of a drum kit in GarageBand hasn’t stunted the development of drum apps for the iPad. In addition to several called simply “Drums,” there’s “Drums!,” “Drums!!,” “Drums!!!,” and innumerable other variations. I’ll focus on the free ones, for both iOS and Android.
Ratatap Drums Free (iOS)The developers went to town to make the feel of these 15 drum kits just right. A harder tap on the screen makes a louder sound, just as it should, and hitting different parts of the drum or cymbal produces a slightly different noise.
The different kits range from standard rock and jazz sets to a simple pair of congas and an array of 12 electronic pads. You can adjust the touch sensitivity and reverb, play along with your iTunes music or a metronome, and record and share your epic solos.
A $1.99 upgrade removes the advertising and lets you assemble your own custom kits from all the available drums. Ratatap Drums Free
S4 Rhythm Composer (iPad)Much more of a drum machine than a playable kit, this app gives you the controls to customize and save your own 64-step drum patterns. While your loop is playing, you can adjust one of five effects as well as resonance and cutoff filters. Each of the ten pieces of your kit has its own editable volume, pan, attack, decay, and tuning too. Best of all, even though it’s free, there are no ads displayed.
S4 Rhythm Composer
Drums HD (Android)No, I’m not ignoring Android here. Lower latency on iOS devices means developers tend to gravitate there when it comes to musical instruments, which need to respond instantaneously (or as close as possible).
Some clever programming sets this app apart. The relative lack of lag and five available kits make it a good choice for performers or practicers. As for recording? Well, not so much. Sorry. Drums HD
My Drums (Android)While the latency issue is somewhere between nonexistent and annoying depending on the exact Android device used, My Drums has enough innovative functionality deserve a download. In addition to eight pressure-sensitive drum pads, this app includes ten kits, a sampler for recording your own drum sounds, a clip recorder for sharing your beats, and MIDI control of virtual instruments over WiFi.
The same developer also has a MIDI-over-WiFi 12-channel mixer and a bunch of other music apps. My Beatbox has a good interface but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be able to keep a consistent tight beat, at least on some Android devices. My Drums
iSnare Practice Pad Lite (iPad)I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this app, since it was actually made by the mobile app development company I work for. It’s designed as a drum practice pad, with a single snare drum in the center of the screen for finger-tapping and a number of drum rudiments to learn. While it’s not a full kit, the sound quality is certainly good enough for performance, especially if you’re going for a marching band sound.
iSnare Practice Pad Lite
Author: John “jaQ” Andrews is a musician and writer for a mobile app development company. This series on musical instrument apps includes articles on drums, guitar, keyboard and sequencer.
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