If you’re often on the go trying to catch up with your music production, you might find that Chromebooks are a great solution. Until a few years ago, these small notebooks were considered too low in quality and too limited in functionalities to support music production. However, today they could really be a smart addition to your music production arsenal!
You can produce music on a Chromebook, using either Android or web-based apps. While you can’t run professional DAWs on Chromebooks, apps such as Soundtrap let you get your work done. These apps are usually also compatible with Mac OS and Android, so you can easily synchronize your work.
Producing music on Chromebooks might not be the best option for professional musicians who need the highest-quality sound. Still, it can be an excellent solution for aspiring artists who need some extra support when away from their main music production station
Read on to find out all you need to know about using Chromebooks to create your music!
Can You Make Music on a Chromebook?
Making music on a Chromebook isn’t impossible. However, since you will need to make some significant compromises, it’s only a viable solution for artists who need to record on the go. You will ideally use your Chromebook as a support system for your main music production setup.
If you know something about computers, you know that Chromebooks have limited functionalities compared to a Mac or Windows screen. Nonetheless, you can produce and record music directly on your Chromebook with the right tips and tools.
Chromebooks are notebook-like solutions that use the Chrome OS operating system. At its core, this operating system is an upgrade to Linux, and it is known to be safe and stable. This operating system is handy if you’re looking for a low-cost solution that might not support many functionalities but does a few well.
While Chromebooks have been the go-to option for many professionals and students looking for a lightweight solution, they also have their downsides and limitations. So, before attempting to produce music on one, you need to understand what they can and can’t do.
When making this investment, note that you also need to invest in compatible keyboard controllers and audio interfaces for your Chromebook.
Running DAWs on a Chromebook
A DAW—short for digital audio workstation—is an essential tool for music producers. Before investing in a Chromebook, you should be aware that you can’t install, download, or run most professional DAWs on a Chromebook. These include:
Ultimately, unless you find music production options on your Web Store or Google Play Store, you can’t run them on your Chromebook.
In the past, one of the solutions to this issue was to enable the Linux mode. However, not even this trick can be enough for your Chromebook to support complex music production software.
Mac OS and Windows OS support the CPU-heavy signal processing necessary to run DAWs, but not Chrome OS.
That doesn’t mean you’re hopeless, though! While the hardware on a Chromebook might not be powerful enough, cloud-based solutions are gaining momentum and becoming increasingly viable. So, you may soon be able to produce music on your Chromebook the way you do on your Windows PC.
Producing Music Using Soundtrap
Several applications are compatible with Chromebooks and can be used for music production. However, the best one is Soundtrap, which offers the following features:
- Multitrack recording
- Midi editing
- Amp modeling
- Drum machine
- Automation and auto-tune
- On-screen keyboard
- Music production in the cloud environment
- Collaborative production process options
- Working offline (although you need an internet connection to download the app and save your work)
- It works on several platforms and is compatible with several systems, including Linux, Chrome OS, Mac OS X, Windows, and Android.
Check out my Complete Guide to Building a Home Recording Studio.
How To Make Music on a Chromebook
There are two main options to choose from when deciding to create music on a Chromebook: Play Store apps or web-based software. Since most of these options are free, if you aren’t sure about the best way to produce your music, you can check several different alternatives.
Here’s a rundown of the main options:
Music Production Apps
To run Play Store apps, whether free or paid, you’ll need to invest in one of the latest models of Chromebook.
Unlike web-based apps, Android apps are designed to run on smartphones and tablets. However, thanks to Chromebook’s latest updates, you can use them on your notebook as well.
Still, not all of these apps will automatically be accessible on your Chromebook. Some may not also be optimized for Chromebook.
While web-based apps are generally better for creating music on your Chromebook, Android apps have one significant advantage: they can work without an internet connection! If you’re using your Chromebook to compose and record music on the go, you probably can’t count on having a stable Wi-Fi connection.
In this case, these apps are handy for recording, mixing, and editing your work before transferring it to your main editing workstation.
Some of the top Android apps you might consider are:
If you prefer to work entirely on the cloud, you might consider web-based applications rather than Android apps. Since cloud-based apps are always accessible from your browser, there’s no need to download or install anything—you can access them at any time and make the most of it while all your progress is saved on the cloud.
The primary advantage of working on the cloud is that you’re not bound to a single device. For example, you can use your Chromebook for most of the production process and then complete the track from your PC workstation at home. Moreover, you don’t have to install anything on your devices. All you need is a modern browser like Google Chrome.
Depending on your requirements, there are many web-based applications to create and edit your music. Some of the most popular ones that are perfectly supported by your Chromebook include:
Is Producing Music on a Chromebook the Right Option?
Chromebooks are not the first choice for musicians and artists looking for affordable machines to produce their music. As we have seen, it’s entirely possible to use web-based and Android applications to make music on the go. However, doing so also involves several compromises.
Firstly, the audio might not be the one you wish to be. Secondly, you might need to invest in equipment that is specifically compatible with a Chromebook.
Bear in mind that all the information above is also valid primarily for the latest Chromebook models, which support more music production apps. If you have an older model, you’re probably out of luck!
Naturally, if you’re looking for a side workstation that you can use on the go without having to move your entire home setup, it makes sense to invest in a Chromebook. You can find a great experience below:
However, if you’re picking this notebook as your primary way to produce and edit music, you should be fully aware of its downsides before committing.
It’s possible to produce music on a Chromebook if you’re fine with having limited functionality and making a few compromises. Firstly, it might be harder to find software for your music production. Indeed, Chromebooks don’t allow you to download or use any DAWs.
However, you can find compatible web-based and Android applications to create and store music. If you use cloud-based options, you can synchronize them with your iOS or Android device. However, make sure your interface and other music production devices are compatible with Chromebooks before investing in this kind of solution.