In today’s praise and worship music, pads are becoming somewhat of a standard. Pads enable us to create ambiance, minimize “dead space”, and even add fullness to songs. Pads are like unlimited sushi restaurants; once you’ve experienced them you never want to go without them!
Not all of us have a dedicated keyboard player that can play pads exclusively. Some worship leaders at smaller churches may not have a keyboard player. That’s when apps like Pads Live and AutoPad are a great substitute.
Both of these apps enable you to do one thing: Play various ambient pads/sounds in any key you’d like. Obviously…your main limitation is that both of these apps play the same chord you select the entire time. Because of this limitation, these apps are really only intended to be played at a low volume for buffers and adding fullness.
These limitations aside…Pads Live and AutoPad are pretty great for their intended use.
The question is, which one should you use?
When it comes to price, AutoPad is the winner by a landslide. At this moment you can buy it on the iOS app store for $2.99. That’s less than the fancy coffee I bought this morning. Though Pads Live is technically free…you only get pads in the key of D. In order to unlock the ability to have all keys in Pads Live, you will have to pay $14.99. That $14.99 gets you one sound. If you want all their sounds, you can purchase the standard bundle for $79.99.
Like many companies, Pads Live has adopted a “freemium” business model. To be candid, at a price this high I don’t think they could have sold this app sight unseen like AutoPad. I get it…but I HATE that type of business model. To me it’s like giving someone a car for free and then charging them if they want to add an engine, wheels and tires. Despite how much I hate this type of model…many services and goods are priced like that…so it is what it is.
Regardless, AutoPad is the clear winner in terms of the price.
Both of these apps are really easy to use. Despite them being setup very differently, you can quickly learn how to navigate in just a few minutes.
Unlike AutoPad, Pads Live is designed to be setup ahead of time before your set. Doing stuff on the fly with Pads Live would be a little more challenging if you were leading by yourself. I REALLY like the Pads Live Playlist approach in this regard. It makes me feel more at ease to hand this off to another musician or even my audio guy to run. You can even name each song which makes its operation almost idiot proof. I would be a little hesitant to hand off AutoPad to someone who was not as musically minded due to the fact they need to know what key to press for each song.
Despite not having a playlist feature, AutoPad gives you the ability to adjust some of your EQ parameters and even add reverb. On top of this, it does already come with multiple loop sounds too. Both apps let you adjust crossfade.
Pads Live and AutoPad at their core have a good set of unique features. For this I give them a tie.
Sound – Pads Live
When I used AutoPad first…my initial reaction was “nice sound”. When I tried Pads Live, the “nice sound” from AutoPad quickly turned into “okay”.
Despite both apps doing the exact same thing, Pads Live made me feel like I actually had a dedicated pads player that was playing with me. This is because Pads Live uses actual recorded loops of someone doing more than just sitting on one chord. You can hear the gradual changes and subtleties of a real player in it. I don’t think I can stress how much of a difference this is.
Pads Live is the clear winner here with its superior sound paired with the changes and subtleties. However…you and a couple audiophiles may be the only people that notice.
Which should you get?
Personally, I’ve found AutoPad to be best for when I’m a lone ranger on stage and Pads Live to be better suited if I wanted to pass it along to someone else to control. Though Pads Live has a better quality of sound, the reality is most of your congregation won’t hear it. The other thing I’ve yet to mention is the fact that many churches are running loops and click tracks. Because of this…you may end up only using these apps for just buffers in-between songs.
Ultimately, these apps are not designed to be anything spectacular. Depending on the scale of production at your church, they are simply there to help you fill a void or add additional fullness in your worship sound. Because both of these apps cost less than the price of a mic cable…you might as well just buy both of them and be done with it.
Seriously, they are each awesome in their own way and will add to your worship sound.
BONUS: You can plug a bluetooth receiver into your intended channel to have a wireless experience with these apps. If you’re already leading with a guitar wirelessly…this could be a huge benefit for you!