Quick start guide

1. Playing on the keyboard and pads

You can adjust the size and position of the keyboard by making a slide or pinch gesture anywhere on the menu bar. This also works in the Tracks screen.

  • Select the instrument of your choice from the Instruments screen and adjust the attack/release faders to change the fade in/out times.
  • Back in the Keyboard screen, tap the "..." button on the right to toggle the LiveTools menu. It contains a switch for the pitch bend wheel (and filter wheel on the iPad) and assignable chord buttons.
  • The blue pads button switches to chord pads if you selected an instrument, or drum pads if you selected a drum kit. The pad edit mode allows you to rearrange, add and delete pads, and to assign different chords or drum kit samples to each pad.
  • In the keyboard view on the iPhone, tapping the keys button brings up a menu for switching to 2 keyboard rows, changing the key labels, and a keyboard map which allows you to position the keyboard with a single tap. On the iPad, these buttons are always visible.
  • Go to the Effects screen and play around with the reverb and delay settings. Adjust the reverb type and size to simulate a specific room. High quality reverb sounds better but may introduce playback stuttering on older devices. Many synths sound great with a delay set to 1/8 and dotted.

2. Recording a song

Follow these steps to create a song from scratch.

  • Open the Projects screen and tap the New button to create a new project.
  • Double tap the Beats folder, find a beat of your liking and double tap to load it.
  • In the Tracks screen you will see one or more tracks containing the beat you just loaded. If it's too slow or to fast, tap the tempo button to change the tempo and signature of the song.
  • Select the empty track (or tap the "+ MIDI" button to create a new one), then go to the Instruments screen and select your instrument of choice.
    Note: The Keyboard and Instruments screens always apply to the active track, so make sure that your new track is selected.
  • In the Keyboard screen (or maybe you switched to pads), tap the record button, wait for the counter to hit 1.1 and start playing. Hit the record or the stop button if you’re done, or hit the undo button right away if you made a mistake and want to re-record.
  • Switch to the Tracks screen to review what you just recorded. To repeat your melody or beat, tap the bar editor button in the upper right corner, select the bars you just recorded and tap the repeat button in the bottom menu several times.
  • Switch back to the track editor and tap the "+ MIDI" button to create a new track. Repeat the previous steps to record something on this track.
  • Let's assume that your song has a duration of 20 bars and you want to start recording at bar 10. Go to the Tracks screen where you’ll notice 2 markers on the ruler. Move the left marker to the 10th bar and recording will always start from there. Tap the loop button to loop the area between the two markers indefinitely.
    Hint: Enable the loop button prior to recording to create a loop. You can even add tracks and switch instrument to record a complex loop in one go.
  • Tune the reverb in the Effects screen, try out the delay effect and maybe play around with the other effects. Adjust the limiter's gain fader so that the decibel meters barely hit the red areas for the loudest part of your song.

Save and share your project: (Unavailable in Music Studio Lite, only available in the full version)

  • To save your song, tap the Save button in the Projects screen and enter a song name.
  • Select your song in the file list and tap the Export button. Choose AAC to create a compressed audio file which you could share via email, Dropbox, iCloud Drive or SoundCloud. You can also export to WAV and share it with other apps on your device via AudioCopy. Or export to MIDI to create a .mid file which can be opened with DAW or music notation software on your computer.
  • iTunes File Sharing (or the WiFi Server) can be used to transfer your song (or any exported file) to your computer. It is recommended that you regularly backup your songs (.xms files) this way.

3. Audio tracks and recording

There are 4 ways to fill an audio track:

  • Record with a microphone or any iOS compatible audio interface. Song and metronome playback and input monitoring are available during recording.
  • Import a song from your iPod library
  • Import an existing audio file. Supported formats: wav, mp3, ogg, AAC (m4a)
  • AudioPaste from other apps on your device

Note that an audio track can only be linked to one audio file. Opening another file in the wave editor will link it to the selected audio track. Editing in the wave editor always changes the original audio file in the Audio folder, unless you tap the "Save as" button to save it under a new name. This improves the workflow by not having to save and type filenames every time you change an audio file.

Follow these steps to add an audio track to your song:

  • Go to the Tracks screen and tap the "+ Audio" button at the bottom of the track list, which will open the wave editor.
  • In the wave editor menu, tap either the record button for microphone recording
  • or the Open button on the right, which will present you with the other options. You can use iTunes file sharing or the WiFi server to copy audio files from your computer to the Audio folder in Music Studio. Audio files can also be opened from Mail and Safari directly with Music Studio.
  • Use the bottom menu in the wave editor to select and modify parts of the audio file.
  • In the Tracks screen, the track you just created has been filled with an audio region.
    Tip: Double tapping an audio track takes you right to the wave editor.
  • Switch to the bar editor to move, duplicate, repeat, quantize or delete audio regions. In other words, the bar editor treats audio regions as if they were notes.
  • If you want to load the song in Music Studio on another device, in addition to the .xms file all the .wav files used in the song need to be present. To simplify the transfer, a song can be exported as a zip file which contains the .xms and all the linked .wav files from the Audio folder.

4. Writing notes

Notes can be drawn and edited in the piano roll editor, where they are represented as blocks.

  • In the Tracks screen, tap the "+ MIDI" button to create a new (MIDI type) track.
  • Double tap the track or tap the Edit button to enter the piano roll editor.
  • Tap the Draw button and select the desired note length. Move the crosshair and tap OK to draw a few notes. Tap the OK button in the lower right corner when you’re done.
  • By default, all notes are selected and every edit operation will modify all notes. Draw a rectangle over the notes to select a few of them, then try out the buttons in the bottom menu: move, duplicate, length, velocity (volume), quantize and delete.
  • The undo button in the top menu is handy if you made a mistake. To redo, tap and hold the undo button for 2 seconds and tap Redo.

4.1 Quantization

It’s very hard to play in perfect timing. Notes you played on the keyboard will often be off by a fraction of a beat, that’s where quantization comes in handy. It’s best to try out different quantization parameters (1/8, then 1/16, maybe 1/32) and hit the undo button if you are not satisfied with the result.

4.2 Red notes

Congruent notes, i.e. notes that are placed at the same position and have the same length, are displayed red in the piano roll editor. In most cases they are unwanted and should be deleted because they result in the note being played back with increased volume.

4.3 Tip: Legato

If you want a melody sound legato, increasing the release time in the Instruments screen is often faster than changing the length of all notes.

5. Performance considerations

The more complex your song gets, the more processing power Music Studio requires. This can lead to audio stuttering on older device, which can be counteracted. These factors have the most impact:

5.1 Polyphony

Lower the polyphony in the general settings. While a 2013 device can easily cope with 32 or 128 voices at a time, a 2009 device would have to be restricted to playing no more than 16 voices simultaneously in order to prevent stuttering.

5.2 Reverb quality

Set it to low on older devices, and to high before you export a song to wav or AAC format.

5.3 Release time

In order to keep the polyphony low, reduce the release time of the tracks as much as possible on older devices. For example, an guitar playing a fast riff with 1 second release time can drive up the polyphony to 32 or 64. Lowering the release time to 0.1s has a positive impact on performance with almost no impact on quality, depending on the music of course.

5.4 Animations

Disabling the animations in the general setup can improve the performance. The setting Continuous playhead movement should be enabled only on last generation devices.

6. External Hardware

This is an overview of most of the external audio and MIDI hardware supported by Music Studio.

Note: Always check if the hardware you are going to purchase is compatible with your iOS device and its Lightning or Dock connector, and with the iOS version installed.

6.1 Audio recording accessories

Music Studio supports all class-compliant (CoreAudio compatible) audio interfaces made for iOS devices.

6.2 MIDI hardware

There are 4 ways of utilizing Music Studio's MIDI input & output:

  1. Apps that are CoreMIDI or Virtual MIDI compatible
  2. Keyboard controllers made for iOS, like Line 6 Mobile Keys or iRig Keys models.
  3. MIDI interfaces made for iOS
    Connect the interface's MIDI IN port to your keyboard’s MIDI OUT port, vice versa.
    Music Studio supports all CoreMIDI-compliant MIDI interfaces made for iOS devices, for example:
    * Yamaha i-MX1
    * Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer
    * iRig MIDI
  4. Apple USB adapter (iPad only)
    There's a Lightning to USB adapter for new devices and a Camera Connection Kit USB adapter for the dock connector on older devices.
    USB keyboards with low USB power requirements can be directly connected to the adapter.
    Alternatively, MIDI-to-USB adapter cables can be used to connect any MIDI keyboard via Apple's USB adapter to the iPad.