How Can I Record on an iPad?

By Nicole Vulcan

Apple's iPad tablet has a myriad of functions, but among its limitations, as of May 2014, is the lack of a native audio recording application. If you're not particularly concerned about quality, you do have one native workaround, but when that's not going to work for you, you'll need to consider one of the many apps available through the iTunes store. By downloading an app particular to your needs and then adding some other quality hardware, you can put together a top-notch recording.

Onboard or External Microphone?

Perhaps the first consideration you'll need to make is whether you'll be satisfied with the internal microphone on the iPad, or whether you require a more refined sound. If you're recording for a professional purpose, chances are you'll want to invest in an external microphone. You'll find plenty of options of microphones that connect directly to the iPad through the older 30-pin port or the newer Lightning port. Keep in mind that using that port means you won't be able to charge the iPad at the same time, since those ports are also the power ports. In terms of sound quality, also consider the location. A large, open room will produce more echoes and a generally more low-quality recording than recording in a smaller room or a padded studio.

Music Recording

If you want to record music, choose a studio recording app for your iPad. Apple's native option is GarageBand, which allows you to record up to eight tracks and then mix them together as you see fit. You can also add canned sounds such as guitar and bass to your tracks. GarageBand is free. Other options that offer similar features -- albeit ones that might cost a few dollars -- include Music Studio, MultiTrack DAW and Blip Interactive NanoStudio. These apps tend to hog a lot of storage space, so your best bet is to choose just one and then store your recordings in the cloud. For this type of recording, a quality pair of headphones with a mini-pin jack connector -- compatible with the iPad's headphone jack -- is another essential item.

Voice or Interview Recording

If you want to use the iPad to record voice notes or to record spoken interviews, you could opt to use GarageBand or one of the other studio recording apps. Those are viable options for people who are creating podcasts or conducting radio interviews, but since they consume a lot of memory, a simpler voice recording app may be a better option. In the end, only you can decide if the quality is acceptable for your purposes. Apps include CaptureAudio, which allows you to type notes as you record, Recorder for Dropbox, which allows you to save your audio files directly to Dropbox, and Voice Memos for iPad, which allows you to record at the same time as you use other apps.

The Native Workaround and Other Video Options

The iPad does have one native app that you could use to record without having to download any other apps: the video camera built into the camera function. Simply select the camera app from the Home screen and then select "Video" from the capture options along the side of the screen. Other video recording apps are also available for iPad, including Apple's iMovie, ProCamera and Camera Genius. The advantage of downloading one of these apps is that you'll typically get more options for adjusting the exposure and other settings than you would get with the iPad's video camera feature.