The Best Tablets For Music Production

Best Tablet For Music Production

Let’s liberate your creativity in new ways with the best tablet for music production.

Quick answer: Apple iPad Pro is the obvious winner here, especially if you’re already an Apple user.

But what you’re not an Apple user? Any Windows based options here? Of course! Check out the Microsoft Surface Pro 7.

Back in the day, producing music requires spending hours in a huge studio with bulky machines. Fortunately today, all you’d need is a capable tablet, no bigger than a restaurant menu.

But some tablets are better equipped to deal with the demands of music production. In this list, we’ll take a look at a few more options.

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Top 5 Tablets For Music Production

  1. Apple iPad Pro
  2. Microsoft Surfасе Prо 7
  3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
  4. Apple iPad Air
  5. Dell Latitude 12

Music Production Tablet Reviews

Apple iPad Pro

Apple iPad Pro

Pros:
  1. Top-of-the-line feel
  2. Blazing Apple M1 chip performance
  3. Long battery life
Cons:
  1. Some apps are not optimized for the use of a trackpad
  2. Pricey Magic Keyboard
Compare price @ Sweetwater / Amazon

The iPad Pro is arguably one of the best tablets you can buy if you want to replace your laptop for music production. Its Apple M1 chip makes it the fastest tablet on our list, making it a powerful tool both for live performances and production. Its cursor control, mouse compatibility, Magic Keyboard, and even an ultra-wide camera makes it a veritable workhorse.

Best Specs and Features

The new iPad’s best feature is its revolutionary Apple M1 chip which makes it a cut above the rest, even over the Surface Pro 7, its fiercest rival. The chip can perform up to 11 trillion operations per second.

But aside from the chip, the iPad has eight gigabytes of memory, an extra GPU, and better thermal architecture, leading to an efficient and consistent performance even under intense usage.

The Liquid Retina display also gives the iPad’s screen the sharpest images. The display also emits 559 nits of brightness, making it effectively brighter than Surface Pro X’s 417 nits. The added boost to the sharpness and brightness can prove to be important in dark and crazy situations, such as in a live stage.

Another nifty feature that can add a new dimension to your music game is the new LiDAR scanner which allows users to set-up augmented reality apps instantaneously.

User impressions

With its impeccable performance, long battery life, and great display, most users have given the Apple iPad a thumbs up.

However, some users expressed gripes over its 1-meter USB-C charging cable which they deem as too short for their liking. This may be another tactic by Apple to make you buy the longer 2-meter cable.

Our impressions

We believe that the iPad Pro can be a great option for music production and live performance. Although you may encounter some problems when producing due to its tablet-style interface, performance-wise the iPad Pro can easily handle most run of the mill VSTs.

However, it is also among the priciest options. Even the accessories such as the Magic Keyboard can cost a fortune. The new iPad may not be a good option for those with a limited budget.

Bottomline

Apple’s iPad Pro delivers as Apple’s flagship tablet and may be one of the best iPad for music production a music producer can have. That is if you have the budget to spare, of course.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surfасе Prо 7

Pros:
  1. USB-C compatible
  2. Wi-Fi 6 ready
  3. Significant performance improvement from Surface 6
Cons:
  1. No Thunderbolt 3
  2. The thick screen bezel looks dated
See price @ Amazon

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 came out in 2019, but the company’s flagship 2-in-1 tablet manages to hold its own even today. Available in several configurations, Surface Pro 7’s top-notch touch response and improvement in the Type Cover’s touchpad have improved user interactions.

Surface Pro 7 is powered by 10th Gen Intel technology. The cheapest configuration, usually priced at under $800, has an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage. On the other hand, if you got a couple grand to spend, the has a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. That does not include the Surface Pen and the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover.

Best Specs and Features

Its 12-inch, 2736 x 1824 display gives the Surface Pro clear visuals, perfect both for work and play. It is supported by integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics.

The heart of this machine is the 10th Gen processor. This powers up the tablet for intense multitasking and a smooth experience with most DAWs.

If you buy Pro 7 with the Signature Type Cover, you’d be able to maximize this tablet’s full potential. Producers who are used to working on a laptop will feel at home with the Surface Pro 7’s generous 4-inch-wide touchpad.

User impressions

Surface Pro 7 receives a lot of praises for the improvements it’s made but they are generally unimpressed with its visual design. On the critical side, others note that it is a step back from Surface Pro 6 in terms of battery life, only lasting 7 hours and 52 minutes of Wi-Fi use. 

Our impressions

Despite its limitations, Surface Pro 7, especially its more expensive configurations, can be considered as among the best tablet for recording music.

However, if you are planning on doing a long set (4 hours or more set), you might want to consider bringing a charger. Surface Pro 7 does not fare well in battery duration compared to the other heavyweights in this list. Don’t be mistaken, its battery life is still within the ballpark of most laptops and tablets.

Bottomline

Surface Pro 7 is a solid tablet for music production especially for those looking for compact 2-in-1 options.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Pros:
  1. Rich and vivid display
  2. Easy to use 2-in-1 transformability 
Cons:
  1. Occasional performance lags
  2. Clunky Dex software
See price @ Amazon

Another awesome 2-in-1 choice in our list, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S4 is a 10.5-inch tablet that can instantly transform into a semi-ultrabook. Boasting excellent battery life, a handsome 2560 x 1600 sAMOLED screen, and a chic S Pen, this Galaxy Tab is another great option for producers wishing to work low key.

Best Specs and Features

Galaxy Tab S4’s display is its most obvious asset. The colors have that signature Samsung Galaxy saturation (which you either love or hate).

It is powered by a Snapdragon 835 octa-core chipset, a 4GB RAM, and a storage going from 64GB up to 400 GB of microSD depending on the variation. These are more than enough to power up mobile versions of Ableton or FL Studio.

We are also impressed with the integration of a desktop mimicking software called Dex and its second-screen capabilities. This makes the Galaxy Tab S4 a true 2-in-1 tablet.

User impressions

Most users enjoyed the Galaxy Tab S4’s 2-in-1 nature as well as the introduction of the Dex software.

Some are disappointed with its high price and the responsiveness of the touchscreen. Some apps also seem to crash randomly, especially video messaging apps such as Hangouts Meet.

Our impressions

However, we encountered several limitations. For instance, the user interface on the Galaxy Tab S4 doesn’t feel as smooth as its competitors. The keyboard cover also doesn’t include a trackpad. Thus, you need a Bluetooth mouse and a keyboard to have a real laptop experience. On top of that, touch detection in Dex mode can be a bit off at times.

We also noticed that the software has problems with resizing windows, a problem that can be rooted in its hybrid user interface. These micro-lags can be anxiety-inducing especially when working with a heavy project. This, along with the occasional app crashes, is the S4’s weakest point. Nonetheless, we believe this can be fixed at the software level with updates and more reliable mobile apps.

Bottomline

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S4 is another great tablet that can transform into a laptop. While generally solid in terms of performance, we found some inconsistencies with the design. This can still be fixed with better Dex software to smoothly accommodate tablet and laptop interfaces.

Apple iPad Air

Apple iPad Air

Pros:
  1. Solid performance
  2. Better Wi-fi and 4-G connection speed
Cons:
  1. Low battery life
  2. Expensive accessories
See price @ Sweetwater

Now on its fourth generation, Apple’s iPad Air is the leaner sibling of the iPad Pro. Now with a smaller bezel and larger screen real estate, iPad Air delivers the same deluxe power we all expect from an Apple tablet.

Best Specs and Features

Powered by an A12Z processor and eight CPU and graphics cores, the iPad Air is well ahead of other tablets in terms of speed. It scored 12,331 on the Geekbench GPU Compute benchmark, almost 20 percent higher than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra on the Geekbench Multicore standard.

The iPad Air has a 10.9-inch, 2,360-by-1,640 screen. This proves to be crucial when working on live sets or crowded projects on a DAW. Working on the Cloud has never become as easy with a tablet now that the iPad Air has Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. It also has better LTE and Bluetooth chipsets which can be beneficial if you are using Bluetooth controllers and accessing project files from your Cloud.

User impressions

Battery life on the iPad Air is inferior to other tablets. PC Mag did a test where they streamed a YouTube video on Air. The tablet lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes which is shorter than the older models.

Our impressions

Casual usage is smoother and faster on this iPad compared to their Windows counterparts. Booting up is faster and apps crash less often. This may be attributed to the long-revered integrity of Apple’s software than the hardware components under the hood, but it is still worth mentioning.

However, getting the iPad Air can easily cost a fortune, especially if we include the accessories. For instance, the second-generation Apple Pencil goes for over $100. The indispensable Magic Keyboard is a lot more expensive at around $300 bucks at the time of this writing, than other great third-party keyboards. We’ll leave it up to debate whether these products deserve their price tags, but one thing is for sure, these Apple products are worth saving for.

Bottomline

The iPad Air is evidently an awesome tablet for music production. If you are used to working on Logic, adding an iPad Air into your current set-up will feel natural. But you have to consider battery life and your pockets if you plan to invest on this device.

Dell Latitude 12

Dell Latitude 12

Pros:
  1. Superior, laptop-like connectivity
  2. Backlit keyboard
Cons:
  1. Pretty pricey
See price @ Amazon

Known for manufacturing a solid line of laptops, Dell has fully dipped its feet into the tablet game. Their high-range ultrabook/tablet hybrid, the Dell Latitude 12, is a solid addition to Dell’s impressive inventory.

Best Specs and Features

The Dell Latitude 12’s engine is an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor. It has 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD class 40 for storage. The cheaper base model has a Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory, and 128GB SSD storage. All models can handle low to medium loads and multi-tasking.

Its 12.3’’ inch screen is a tad wider than most tablets. The extra screen real estate makes it an ideal machine for dealing with interface-heavy DAWs.

The Latitude 12 leans heavily into the laptop realm by including a healthy variety of ports for maximum connectivity. These include two USB-C ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a SmartCard reader, a microSD card and micro SIM card slots, and an NFC hot spot.

The optional backlit keyboard is also a surprising but welcome feature. While most 2-in-1 tablets seem to have keyboards only as an after-thought, the Latitude 12 keyboard can be well integrated into a complete laptop set-up. The backlight is perfect for low-light live performances.

User impressions

Many users compare the Latitude 12 to the Surface Pro, for a good reason. It demonstrates almost the same design philosophy. A few found the auto-deploying kickstand cool. This feature keeps the Latitude 12’s sleek look.

Performance-wise, the Latitude 12 is a first-class contender. It lasted more than 10 hours in PC Mag’s battery life test, bested only by the Surface Pro by a small margin.

Our impressions

Among the 2-in-1s in our list, Latitude 12 fares excellent from performance to the overall design. However, with a price ranging from $800 to under $2,000, the Latitude 12 is pricey.

Nonetheless, we think Latitude 12 is a perfect option as a versatile music production tool. The multiple ports retain laptop-like connectivity, a crucial parameter for music producers who depend on multiple connected devices.

Bottomline

With its top of the line specs, slick design, and versatile connectivity, Latitude 12 is one of the better music tablets out there.

What do you think of our list? Do you have other candidates for the best tablet for music production? We’d love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences.

Tablet Buying Guide for Music Production

Specs and features to look for

To assess these tablets, we’d be looking at processors and the overall ability of the tablets to handle DAWs and VSTs. We will also check ease of control, compatibility with music-related apps, and connectivity with controllers and instruments.

Knowing what you want to achieve

So you’re thinking of using the tablet for music production. What exactly do you plan to do with it? Do you intend to use it as a live module for your live sets, or do you want to use it to control digital synths? Your kind of work will significantly determine the specs, design, and build quality you should be looking for.

Tablets are more compact but generally less powerful than laptops. Therefore, if you plan to replace a laptop with a tablet, you should first have a stripped-down and efficient system. Think with this system in mind and look at the holes you need to fill rather than buy an expensive tablet that does not fit your needs.

What’s your budget

Most tablets in this list have variations based on several key parameters. Some of these are processors, RAM, storage, and accessories.

A high processor and RAM means smoother performance. This makes working and performing on a tablet a much more pleasurable experience. You also lessen the risk of crashes. You don’t want to lose hours worth of work because you scrimped on your budget. Having high storage is also crucial to music production especially if you juggle multiple projects at the same time. It pays to get the one with the highest storage possible to minimize the hassle of transferring files once you reach your limit. However, you can save a bit of money if you choose to ditch the accessories. For instance, the Apple iPad does not include the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. You can buy cheaper alternatives or simply stick to a more minimalist set-up.

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