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The recording studio isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean amateur or traveling musicians can’t benefit from a lightweight studio that can go everywhere. Enter the tablets. The devices you use to check in food trucks and read the New York Times have become more and more powerful. And with that extra power comes the ability to do more than swipe cards or read books. Now you can also create and save music.
With an endless sea of aftermarket components (like iRig) and applications (like FL Studios), along with the additional space and faster processors, the tablet has truly become the modern musician’s multi-tool. From iPads to Surface Pro, check out our list of which tablets get the most heat. Because sometimes inspiration hits on the way home from class or somewhere near Bakersfield between San Francisco and Los Angeles. With a tablet handy, you can turn your bedroom or tour bus into a mini recording studio.
The iPad Pro was an obvious choice for a roster of powerful tablets. With a 12.9-inch display and Apple’s most powerful chip, the A12X, this tablet is a beast that can and will handle anything you throw at it. We listed the model with 256GB of space, but if you plan to keep this thing for years and use it to store tons of data, Apple actually offers a version with 1TB of memory.
But the Pro offers over a ton of space. For one thing, the Pro has Apple’s latest Liquid Retina display, giving you a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels at 264 pixels / inch. That is, the display is impressive. But for a musician, the most important quality of this tablet is the engine, and the A12X chip that drives this iPad performs five trillion operations per second, according to the manufacturer. Needless to say, if Mark Foster could record and edit songs on his phone, imagine the possibilities with Apple’s latest Pro.
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
If you’re looking for a tablet that works like a laptop, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 might be the option for you. Acting as the latest in the Surface Pro line, this tablet offers a variety of customization options. The base model starts with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. However, we prefer a model with a bit more storage (256GB to be exact) as creating and saving takes up quite a bit of space. Microsoft offers its Surface Pro with the Intel Core i7, but that super-fast processing will cost you around $ 300 extra. While we’re all for faster speeds, the i5 is no slouch and can handle your FL Studio sessions very well.
The biggest win for the Surface Pro, however, is battery life. According to Microsoft, this tablet should last all day with regular use, and 13.5 hours of video playback. Since production and recording requires a fair amount of battery, you can expect it to last closer to the 13 hour mark. But even at 1 p.m., the Surface Pro significantly outlives the iPad Pro and iPad Air. And if you add the keyboard accessory, you can turn your Surface into a laptop on a whim.
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Samsung’s entry into the powerful tablets section comes in the form of their Tab S4. The S4, while not quite as powerful as the Surface Pro or the iPad Pro, still offers an impressive amount of storage and power for the price. Their 256GB model is what we’re featuring here, although you can upgrade the memory to 400GB with the purchase of a microSD card. Plus, it’s almost the lightest option on our list, behind the iPad Air by 0.06 pounds.
This S4 is equipped with a 10.5 inch screen, a display resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, Android Oreo and a very fast Quad-Core processor for recording and making music. While not the most powerful, it’s good for a musician on a budget. The S4 also comes standard with Samsung’s S-Pen, a nifty little device that lets you write and draw on your tablet as if it were a Moleskine notebook. If lyrics tend to come to mind on the road, this is a great device to have by your side.
4. Apple iPad Air
While the Pro brings a lot to the table, the all-new Air is a serious contender in almost every category for a forward-thinking music tablet. Storage-wise, the Air comes in a 64GB or 256GB model. And compared to the Pro’s 256GB model, an Air of the same size would save you over $ 300. The Air also has Apple’s A12 chip with Neural Engine, which is the second highest level of chips Apple has in production today (the highest being the A12X found in the iPad Pro). .
What all of this means for music production and musicians is that the iPad Air has plenty of memory and power for a great price. It can run applications like GarageBand, Cubasis and FL Studios with great ease and it’ll cost you less than the Pro. Plus, the Air is almost 40% lighter than its Pro counterpart, so if your goal is to be truly mobile while recording or playing along with songs, that’s a solid bet. If a lightweight tablet with a beautiful display and one of the most powerful chips on the market is your envy, it’s worth considering.
One last remark:
You’ll notice that in this roundup, we left out any mention of tablet speakers. It was on purpose. While many of these options offer awesome tablet speakers, they are nothing compared to a good pair of headphones or a good bluetooth speaker. And if you use these devices to create songs (or listen to music), then don’t use the built-in speakers. Get a pair of headphones if you’re alone, or connect to a Bluetooth speaker if you want to share your work.