The best tablet for music
As the music industry continues to evolve, the tablet has become an essential tool for musicians. Whether you're using it for notation, recording, live sound or as an instrument onstage, it's easy to integrate a tablet for music into your current workflow. There are many useful apps available for them, from virtual synthesizers and effects to utilities such as metronomes, guitar-chord finders and tuners.
One versatile tablet option for music use is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. This series has the functionality of a laptop with the portability of a tablet, making it ideal for many different uses, from the stage to the studio.
What to know before you buy a tablet for music
Assess whether you’re using your tablet as an instrument or effects unit onstage, keeping it in your bag for notation or lyrics or taking it to studios and venues, as well as if you’re keeping it at your desk alongside your Digital Audio Workstation to use for music production. Depending on your needs, consider the size of your screen. Tablets range in screen size from about 7 inches to just over 12 inches. Many larger ones have kickstands for desktop use, and smaller ones fit easily in a backpack for travel.
Especially if you're using your tablet for more demanding tasks such as recording music or running virtual instrument or effects apps, you'll need a processor that can keep up. Processors for tablets range in speed from 1.8GHz to about 2.48GHz. Apple's newer processor series is measured by slightly different standards, but they're generally at the higher end of this range.
Tablet for music features
Most tablets offer at least 32GB of storage and may offer expandable storage. Cloud storage options vary depending on your operating system and storage plan. If you're using your tablet for recording music and planning to save files locally on the tablet, you want at least 64GB of storage, since recording session files can often take up a few gigabytes of space.
Just like a computer, tablets require RAM to multitask between programs. Generally, tablets have at least 2GB of RAM with some models offering options up to 16GB. The more RAM you have, the better and faster your tablet is able to process tasks. If you're using your tablet onstage as an instrument, you'll probably want at least 8GB of RAM.
Tablet for music cost
Tablets for music range in cost from about $100-$1,650, the upper range being that of the Apple iPad Air and iPad Pro series, depending on configuration.
Tablet for music FAQ
What apps are available for my tablet for music?
A. Apps for tablets for music range from utilities like metronomes and guitar tuners to recording software. You can also run virtual instruments like drum machines and synthesizers. If you're mixing live sound, there are remote apps available which work with your mixing console and PA system. If you're using your tablet as an effects unit for your musical instruments, you can download many different effects plug-in apps, from guitar and bass amp simulators to studio effects such as compression and EQ.
What accessories can I use with my tablet for music?
A. This depends somewhat on your operating system, but generally tablets allow you to use Bluetooth accessories such as headphones, external speakers, keyboards, trackpads and mice. If you have the latest Apple iPad Pro or Air, you can also use the Apple Pencil. If your tablet has a headphone jack, you can get a variety of adapters to split your audio signal to other instruments. If your tablet has a USB port, you can get adapters which allow you to connect to audio interfaces for recording, or to MIDI keyboards or interfaces.
Which tablet for music should I get?
Best of the best tablet for music
Microsoft Surface Pro 7: available at Amazon
Our take: The largest of the Surface Pro series can be configured with as much RAM and storage as most laptops, making it a helpful tool for musicians, especially for music production.
What we like: Comes with a kickstand so it fits easily on your desk. 13.5 hours of battery life.
What we dislike: Heavier than most tablets at 1.74 pounds. Includes Windows 10 Home as opposed to Windows 10 Pro edition.
Best bang for your buck tablet for music
Amazon Fire HD 10: available at Amazon
Our take: For less than $200, this tablet is a great option for simple tasks such as writing music notation and lyrics, music practice apps and general web browsing.
What we like: Supports up to 512GB of external storage via MicroSD. 12 hours of battery life.
What we dislike: Only comes with 2GB of RAM and a 2-megapixel camera.
Honorable mention tablet for music
Apple iPad Air: available at Amazon
Our take: For musicians who already use Apple products and want to easily integrate a tablet for music into their workflow, the iPad Air offers many of the same features and benefits of the iPad Pro at a lower price point.
What we like: Fast A14 processor. Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard folio compatibility. A 12-megapixel camera.
What we dislike: The battery life is slightly less than other tablets. Depending on the configuration, it can be expensive.
Adrian Wengenroth is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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