- What are the best groovebox apps for making music?
- Are there any groovebox apps that work with Ableton?
- Are there any free, reliable groovebox apps?
Groovebox apps are designed to give you the tools to compose and perform beats from your mobile with a few simple touch commands. But are there any groovebox apps reliable or powerful enough to build full live performances? And if so, which groovebox apps are the best options to check out first?
We’ve compiled a brief hotlist of our 5 favorite groovebox apps. These selections have been made to suit various preferences, functional requirements, and budget tiers.
What Are The Best Groovebox Apps?
Our top pick for the best groovebox app is Grooverider. An amazing app for fans of classic groovebox hardware devices. This app has a synth-heavy library for harder styles of EDM.
A close second is KRFT by Studio Amplify. An incredibly unique and playful GUI ideal for stimulating out-of-the-box creativity.
And finally, the BeepStreet Drambo. A very cool modular system that allows for a dizzying amount of sound manipulation options.
Our list of the 5 best groovebox apps is as follows:
1. Grooverider (Our Pick)
- Attractive, responsive touch interface.
- Very cohesive, applicable stock sounds and instruments.
- The recent update includes AUV3 compatibility
- Only available to iPhone and iPad
- Sounds are mostly limited to the harder EDM genres like Techno and Tech House.
Dmitrij (Jim) Pavlov is one of the most predominant workhorses leading the charge behind groovebox app technology. His most consistent and developed app – Grooverider GR-16 has been around for nearly a decade. The latest installment of Grooverider hosts many features that were in the original, as well as a few vital, user-requested updates.
Grooverider operates using a classic step sequencer as its primary arrangement tool. The 128-note step sequencer can have various sounds applied to each pad. A 16-channel mixer allows you to make basic level and stereo treatments to your arrangement elements. Each pad allows for up to 32 voices of polyphony, assignable insert effects, and some variable parameter automation.
The center of the GUI houses the primary play/stop functions and is very well-spaced and responsive, which is ideal for live performances. This section is also home to all the sample editing and layering functions that come with Grooverider. Anyone familiar with classic analog groovebox interfaces should find it easy to navigate Grooverider in a live setting.
Grooverider’s most impressive feature is the additional synth engine in the user interface. The Grooverider synth engine allows for two fully independent oscillations to be tweaked, modulated and blended for a broad scope of sounds that are perfect for EDM production.
There is also a very healthy selection of Send and Master Effects on hand, including standard devices like reverbs and stereo delays. Filters, as well as less conventional units like a Decimator and Vinyl Break.
For all its functionality, Grooverider’s sound palette does feel slightly outdated and is mostly focused on making synth-heavy EDM. However, suppose you’re looking for a seamlessly simple way to chain together ideas for this type of music. In that case, Grooverider is well worth the try.
- Unique and stimulating GUI.
- Very healthy for generating creativity.
- Reliable sound library to suit a variety of music preferences.
- User devices lack vital labels or information
- Not the best device for live performances
If you’re a fan of tactile, visually driven interfaces, you will love the concept behind KRFT. The groovebox app opens to reveal a blank canvas, upon which users create square-shaped cells in various shapes that represent arrangement and composition sequences. Cells contain loops, which can be formed into cubes for variation.
These cubes can then be compiled and arranged to create entire scenes for live performance sequences that can be triggered in real-time. Imagine a simpler version of Minecraft, only your building blocks are pieces of midi or audio.
Drafting a new square on the blank canvas in KRFT’s GUI opens up a list of compositional options. Opening the square reveals a menu where users can either record loops, load loops from sample packs, or compose using one of the stock virtual instruments.
The only deal breaker with KRFT is the lack of information on each instrument effect unit. Each device has adjustable parameters, but none of the control knobs have labels. Instead, you’re left to use your ear and intuition while making adjustments, which can often be confusing when switching between devices.
However, the overall user experience with KRFT is unmistakably immersive and fun. Even if it might not be the best option for a live performance, it is great for stimulating creativity.
3. Korg Electribe Wave 2
- The powerful, versatile wavetable synth engine
- High level of parameter control compared to other groovebox apps.
- Fast, fluid user interface.
- The GUI is too advanced for beginner producers or passive creators.
- The limited scope of genres in the sound library.
The Korg Electribe is an incredibly powerful and versatile analog groovebox device and is widely used in the EDM world for both composition and live performance. The Electribe Wave 2 is an iOS version of this wonderful machine, and Korg has managed to squeeze a fair amount of the hardware unit’s functionality into a single app.
Everything you need to create and adjust beats on the Electribe interface is within a few quick touches. There is no deep menu diving and cluttered layout, and all primary composing tools are within the main interface window.
Electribe’s GUI features a classic 16-step pad for the sequencer, as well as an on-screen keyboard for dialing in melodic or chord arrangements. The sequencer also has quick access to a groove function that instantly adds randomized velocity to your sequences for added dynamic.
Wave’s greatest strength is its powerful wavetable synth engine. Users are treated to a myriad of waveform options in this section, each with some very distinct and exciting modulation properties. The on-screen spectrum visualizer provides stunning real-time feedback on your modulation choices and is very useful if you’re unsure of modulation adjustments you make during playback.
Wave 2 also has a motion sequencer that adds various degrees of modulation to your wavetable creations or drum loops for startling sonic results. The wavetable engine and motion sequencer are prime for anyone who makes harder modern styles of EDM like Future Bass or Techno.
Possibly the most fun and unique performance feature on Wave 2 is the inclusion of a touch-screen Kaoss-Pad that gives performances a very distinctive and effective dynamic.
4. BeepStreet Drambo
- Great modular concept and design
- The user interface is both easy to understand and gentle on the eyes.
- The p-Locks function allows for a more enhanced workflow than certain competitors
- Workspace can become cluttered with extensive arrangements.
- Not the best app for beginner producers.
Drambo is the lovechild of long-time app developers Beepstreet, who has made a name for themselves by churning out incredibly attractive and fun music-making experiences.
Drambo combines the traditional approach of groovebox workflow with a few modern touches in possibly the classiest-looking user interface on this list.
The Drambo GUI centers itself around a 16-pad, 128-note sequencer. The sequencer pads are laid out in a horizontal 8 x 2 configuration, with the last four pads doubling as auxiliary commands during looping or live performances. Each assignable pad comes with a generous amount of automation options, and the sequencing pads can also be used to play live rhythmic or melodic ideas.
What sets Drambo apart is the modulation system that drives its sound design. Drambo lets users compile modulation chains using drop and drag commands to generate sounds or place effects on any sample or MIDI loops. There are over 120 modules on Drambo, so the capacity for creativity is very healthy and gives considerable longevity.
However, it’s the live performance area of Drambo that falls a bit flat. So much attention has gone into the creation end that the performance element feels neglected. Using the modules during live performances can become quite a cluttered process, and it’s usually best to use Drambo’s P-lock system to secure the state of your devices while moving around.
Avoiding this habit can cause havoc on your session, especially if you’re not accustomed to modular synths and other devices.
5. Groovebox by Amplify
- Free to use
- Constantly updated Soundpack database
- Seamless integration with Novation Launchkey controllers
- Stock devices come with limited user control.
- You have only 8 tracks to work with in total.
Groovebox by Amplify might be one of the more well-known apps on this list, thanks mostly to its commercial appeal and complimentary sound palette. Groovebox has a free version, but experienced producers will opt for the Pro package with some essential devices and virtual instruments, such as the full version of the RetroBass and Minimoog synths.
Groovebox’s GUI has a wonderfully simple and effective color-coding system that makes it very easy to keep track of any ideas or adjustments you generate. There are only 8-tracks to work with on Groovebox, which many producers should find pretty limiting. Each track allows you to either program or sequence rhythmic and melodic ideas using various means.
The virtual instruments on Groovebox come with very responsive and attractive touch controls. iPad users should especially enjoy the layout of the on-screen keyboard, which has more than enough spacing and control for a comfortable live performance.
Every instrument in Groovebox comes with a set of distinct parameter controls, although it should be noted that many of these controls are lost when switching from the iPad to the iPhone version.
Groovebox’s functionality takes a major step up when used alongside any Novation Launchkey controllers. The app automatically midi maps your Launchkey once connected, and laying down simple ideas in this configuration is a fun and effective novelty. It’s also possible to export your Groovebox sessions to Ableton if you wish to do some deeper dives into your mixes and arrangements.
What it may lack in arrangement capacity, Groovebox more than makes up for with its sound library. Even the free option has enough stock samples and instruments to generate studio-quality sounding ideas.
Groovebox has a massive exclusive sound pack library, with a diverse range of styles and genres to suit various musical tastes, including EDM, Hip-Hop, and Ambient or Experimental.
There’s a broad scope of music-making tools and resources scattered among the apps listed above. While there’s still a lot of development needed to find a groovebox app that can compete with any sort of reliable hardware, these groovebox apps can offer you a compact and fun replacement in the palm of your hand.
Selecting the best groovebox app for you will come down to various factors, including preferred workflow, mobile compatibility, and budget requirements. You can use the list above to match many of these considerations, and it’s highly recommended that you try as many groovebox apps as possible before settling on a final decision.
Can I use my Groovebox app for a live performance?
Yes, but this also depends on your requirements for live performances. While Groovebox apps can perform most of the primary functions of classic analog hardware devices, they still have a while to go before they are as dependable and powerful. However, if your composition and performance ideas are relatively short and basic, there is certainly a place for a groovebox app in your toolkit.