Using an iPad with GarageBand is a fun and convenient way to create music or work on your audio production skills. The iOS version of the app works really well on an iPad, and the touchscreen capabilities are nice.
There are a handful of different iPad models currently available, and it’s good to know which of these is best for GarageBand if you are looking to buy a new one. That way, you can match your iPad to your needs or preferences regarding audio production.
I’ve been involved with the music industry for over a decade and have worked in several recording studios and bands. I have first-hand experience using GarageBand and many other DAWs over the years. I’ve also used several different iPads.
This post will explore the best iPad for GarageBand. I’ll break down some pros and cons of several iPad options to help you figure out which one might be best for your needs in the studio. My goal is to help you make an informed purchasing decision.
Let’s get started.
- An iPad can be a great tool to use with GarageBand, and the iOS version of the app comes preinstalled on any iPad model you choose.
- A smaller iPad with fewer capabilities can be more convenient if you want to travel or don’t require it other than for music production.
- If you use an iPad for many purposes, you might want a larger model with more features.
- The iOS and macOS versions of GarageBand are slightly different from one another.
Is GarageBand better on an iPad Pro?
Using GarageBand on an iPad Pro can be better if you want a larger screen and better overall performance. But you can still use the app very effectively on almost any iPad model you want. But iPad Pros are typically regarded as the best all-around option.
Is an iPad worth it for musicians?
An iPad can be a great tool for musicians to utilize. The devices can be useful when recording music with GarageBand or reading sheet music while playing live. There are many other potential functions it could serve.
Is iPad GarageBand good enough?
GarageBand for iPad is not typically regarded as professional-level audio recording software. While you can make basic recordings and get decent quality within the app, you aren’t going to make commercially viable recordings with it.
What Makes the Best iPad for GarageBand?
You should keep several factors in mind when choosing the best iPad for GarageBand.
The display size of an iPad is an initial consideration to keep in mind. A larger display will be easier to see and use, which can be a big benefit for beginners. A smaller size is easier to travel with and also will be more affordable.
If you plan on making a lot of recordings on your iPad, you should consider getting an iPad with a lot of recording space. The more space you have, the more projects you’ll be able to keep on your iPad without using the cloud or external devices to access them.
The higher-end iPad models will give you increased capability and performance compared to the basic options. With more capabilities, you will be able to perform more complex tasks, which might be useful when using GarageBand.
Most musicians are on a budget, so cost is another pretty important factor to keep in mind when choosing the best iPad for GarageBand. Higher-end models that are more capable will be more expensive, and older or less capable options will be cheaper.
The Best iPads for GarageBand Reviewed
|Best Overall||iPad Pro|
|Best for Travel||iPad Mini|
|Best Budget Option||iPad 9.7-inch (Renewed)|
|Best for Beginners||iPad 10.9-inch (10th Gen)|
1. iPad Pro
- Latest and greatest iPad with the most capabilities from a technical perspective.
- Large, 12.9-inch screen makes seeing and using GarageBand very accessible.
- Up to 2T storage options (with several smaller options as well)
- M2 Chip and plenty of other features.
If you want the best of the best in terms of performance and features, the iPad Pro is the best iPad for GarageBand. This model represents the most advanced and capable iPad to date, which can be very useful in the studio.
At first glance, you’ll quickly notice the 12.9-inch screen. This large size makes using touch-screen compatible apps like GarageBand a breeze, and it also makes it very accessible when playing virtual instruments within the app.
The storage possibilities are also pretty sweet with the Pro. You can choose up to 2TB of storage if you want to record a bunch of GarageBand projects and keep them all on your iPad. The M2 chip also makes this option super fast and powerful.
There aren’t too many downsides to the iPad Pro, but its price is certainly one of them. This is a very expensive iPad and is far from a budget option. If you want to save money, look elsewhere and choose another option on the list.
My Verdict: The most powerful and largest iPad to date. It has a fast processor and plenty of storage capacity to handle your GarageBand recording needs. Expensive, so not a good option on a budget.
2. iPad Mini
- Small size makes it easy to travel with, so it is an ideal option for road musicians who want to use GarageBand.
- Up to 64GB storage capacity, which isn’t huge but is enough to store some GarageBand projects and all the apps you want to use.
- 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display for authentic colors makes it easy to use GarageBand on a smaller screen.
- Comes with landscape stereo speakers, which are decent if you don’t use headphones.
The iPad Mini is a smaller iPad that works very well for anyone who wants to use the tablet on the go. Despite a smaller size, the Mini still delivers everything you need to work and record with GarageBand effectively.
This model comes with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display that makes colors vivid and easy to see. So even though that’s quite a bit smaller than the Pro, you can still easily control GarageBand or anything else.
The iPad also has landscape stereo speakers for decent playback possibilities if you don’t use GarageBand with headphones. I always recommend using headphones, but knowing you have decent speakers is a nice touch.
Some downsides of this one are that you can only get up to 64GB of storage capacity, which isn’t that much. If you end up recording a lot of GarageBand projects, there’s a good chance you’ll need to store them on a separate device or in the cloud.
My Verdict: A small but still mighty iPad that will easily run GarageBand on a smaller display. Has some limitations with storage capacity and overall performance, but that shouldn’t be too big of a deal for the average user.
3. iPad 9.7-inch (Renewed)
- Renewed option gives you quality performance at a more budget-friendly price.
- 9.7” retina display for excellent clarity and definition.
- Apple A10 chip for decent performance.
- Good middle size for travel and viewing.
If you are on a budget or just don’t want to spend that much money on an iPad to use with GarageBand, check out this renewed iPad 9.7-inch. This model gives you decent performance without breaking the bank, which is always nice.
The iPad has a 9.7-inch Retina Display, a good size between the Mini and the Pro. You can see everything crystal clear on it, and you shouldn’t need to worry about squinting to see all of the controls in GarageBand.
This one also features an A10 Fusion processor, which is a decent chip that gives you plenty of performance to run GarageBand effectively. It’s not as fast as the new options, but it’s still plenty capable of allowing you to record quickly.
A renewed device does not come with as many benefits as a brand-new one, other than a much lower price. You don’t get the option of Apple Care or other warranties, and this device is somewhat dated for future use.
My Verdict: Good option for the money, but there are definite drawbacks to using a renewed option. It probably won’t last as long as a brand-new iPad, and you have limited storage capacity and overall performance.
4. iPad 10.9-inch (10th Gen)
- Good overall performance and capability make it a solid option for beginners.
- Approachable price tag also makes it a good entry-level iPad.
- Up to 256GB storage capacity gives you plenty of storage for your music projects.
- 10.9-inch display makes it very easy to see and use when creating music or using virtual instruments in GarageBand.
The iPad 10.9-inch (10th Gen) is the best iPad for beginners who use GarageBand. This very capable device comes with a relatively approachable price tag, making it a good entry-level option for musicians or producers.
The 10.9-inch display is large enough to allow easy access to all the touch-screen instruments and control within GarageBand but not too big to be difficult to travel with or transport. That makes it easy to work with GarageBand or any other app.
This iPad also features an A14 Bionic chip to give plenty of performance and speed when writing or recording new songs or just exploring what GarageBand can do. Up to 256GB of storage is also a nice feature, allowing you plenty of room to save things on the device.
This model isn’t as fast as the iPad Pro, and if you want the best performance, the A14 chip is not as good as the newer M1 or M2. I also wish you could get a bit more storage capacity here, although 256GB is decent.
My Verdict: Approachable option for beginners thanks to a large screen, decent performance and storage, and lower price. Not the most technically capable option, but still a good option to explore if you are learning GarageBand.
An iPad is a great tool to use to help you learn how to use GarageBand, and the iOS version of the app has many touch-screen capabilities that are fun to explore. If you want an easy way to make and record music, an iPad with GarageBand is a good way to do that.
All of the iPad models listed here will work well with GarageBand. They are all a little different from one another in terms of size, cost, and performance, so take the time to learn about each one and make a decision on which is the best for you.
Have you used GarageBand on an iPad or for any other music creation? What do you like most about these devices for that purpose and why? Let me know in the comments below.