Review: BeatStudio For iOS.

  • April 11, 2011 1:08 pm

Creating music 10-20 years ago was a more complicated, time consuming, expensive process. Modern technology has drastically simplified such things as well as lowered the cost to music creation. The most perfect example that immediately comes to mind is Garage Band for the iPad. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s robust yet simple. Example: The indie band “Ultramods” created an entire album using nothing but an iPad 2 and GarageBand. But Garage Band is hardly the only app available to iPad (and on a broader scope) and iOS users looking to expand their digital music horizons.

Today, we’re going to look at BeatStudio, an app created by Frontier Design Group (GuitarStudio and iShred) and see just how useful it is in bringing your musical creations to life. Hop inside for the full review…

Design & Features

Immediately upon firing up Beat Studio for the first time you’re launched right into a screen full of instruments. Along the top (from left to right) you’re presented with a menu button followed by play, record, and a “forward/next” arrow for a birds-eye view over different instrument layers.

If you’d like to back up a bit, the menu button is the place to go. From here, you can select several different categories to edit and fine tune: Songs, Layout, Backing, Timing, Help, Lock Menu.

Songs: Selecting the songs menu will bring you to a list of pre-recorded, full songs. With the various editing controls, you can edit and rearrange the various instruments and layers as you see fit, ultimately turning it into your own creation.

Layout: Layout is a basic user interface for editing and rearranging your instrument grid.

Backing: Allows you to pick the mood for your tune: Blues, Folk, Reggae, Rock.

Timing: Speed up or slow down the tempo of your song as well as enable/disable a metronome. You can also configure sub-peat (off-beat) volume and frequency.
We’ll admit that the first couple of uses took a bit of getting used to menu navigation as it can be slightly confusing.

Creating Music

We’ll admit that we’re not professional musicians on any level, real or software based. Nevertheless, we found Beat Studio to have an above average learning curve initially. We chalk it up to the non-descriptive navigation buttons located at the top of the app and various menus. If you’re a beginner to this type of software, this is something you’ll definitely want to think about.

With that said, once getting acclimated with Beats Studio’s way of doing things, we found creating music and beats to be quite fun and fairly robust. Hopping back and forth between menus while editing instruments and layers isn’t too terribly difficult to pick up. Because of the simplicity and robust nature of the app, you can spend anywhere from five minutes to five days on a project as every single beat can be tweaked. Understandably, complex songs will require time-consuming editing. But that’s the cool part. You can do all of that on the iPhone/iPod Touch with no need of firing up the ‘ol desktop computer.

We’d post some of our own creations for you to hear, but again, we’re not musicians. And it shows. Believe us when we say we’re doing you a favor by not sharing our elementary abilities…


BeatStudio retails for $2.99 in the app store. Is it as good as Garage Band? That question is sort of comparing apples to oranges as Garage Band is currently unavailable for the iPhone. Nevertheless, if such a comparison were to be made, we’d say Garage Band is more user friendly and fuller featured. But considering Beat Studio is your only available option between the two, we can easily say you won’t be disappointed. Also take into account that Garage Band is a designed to create all pieces of a band. Beat Studio is for percussion and percussion alone. In reality, a comparison to Garage Band isn’t really fair or correct.

With that in mind, we admit that we like Beat Studio. Whether it’s time to kill 5-10 minutes or you’re looking to create a full-length beat of your own, Beat Studio provides the tools readily and fairly easily at an affordable price.


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Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets for three years now and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors. I'm always up for a good conversation, so feel free to drop me a line!