GarageBand Review – Apple’s Freeware Ultimate Music Studio Masterpiece
Hi to all my readers, so here is my take on one of the worlds best apps ever. I mean ever. This awesome app is great for every level of music lover, from beginners, (that includes 2-year olds to 90-year-olds) and for students to professionals. In fact, in the right hands, this app will make any professional into a budding Jean Michelle Jarre or Tangerine Dream.
Now for all the millennials among our readers, Jean Michelle Jarre is French musician that led the way forward for creative Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) music. Tangerine Dream was a German electronics band, which pioneered electronic music way back in 1967! Yup, even before the electronic calculator or watch.
Digital Audio Workstation
Apple’s GarageBand is a free DAW. This means it is free to all Apple users and comes in a nifty iOS package that provides access to the world’s most powerful and versatile smartphone DAW. This means that all Apple users get to become great composers for free. Thumbs up for Apple.
Let’s start off by stating that Apple is a world leader in the design; they should be, they invented the first ever Mac and created the worlds first real windows style GUI which was copied by Microsoft about two centuries later. Apart from great app designs, Apple is a great device designer and innovator, and that is exactly what they did with GarageBand.
To be honest, a full review of this app with all its features would most probably fill a 300-page book. So instead of going into all of its functions and features I will concentrate on some of the core elements, describe a few of the functions, and leave the rest for you to find out.
What makes this DAW GUI so amazing is its simplicity. Add to this the depth you can reach within each section, and then you start to realize how much it has to offer.
1st stage is the entry screen; if you don’t have any recorded tunes, you get the initial swipe screen that gives you11 screen s to choose from. These screens are:
Keyboard, where you get to choose between a Smart Piano, an Alchemy Synth., A Sampler and a More sounds option.
- Drums, includes a smart drum, acoustic drums, beat sequencer and more sounds.
- Amp, which includes a clean, distorted, bass and more sounds.
- Audio Recorder, where you record voice, instrument and yes, more sounds option
- Strings, which includes the Smart Strings, Notes, Scales and more sounds
- Bass, this has Smart bass, Notes, Scales and more sounds
- Guitar, which includes Smart guitar, Notes, Scales and more sounds
- World, this has two instruments, a Pipa and an Erhu, and yes more sounds option
- Drummer, which gives you Acoustic, Electronic, and more sounds
- External, where you link up to your personal instrument
- Sound Library, which has all those “more sounds.”
Note that each screen leads to another screen full of options.
The Smart Piano screen gives you a keyboard to start with. However, you can change that into a key scale player. There are a plethora of options including arpeggio, timer, sustain, autoplay preset melodies, song setting, and track controls. You can also select from a long list of instruments ranging from a grand piano to a whirly or soul organ as well as a long, long list of synths, FX, and their famous Others.
You can record tracks, edit them, erase them, move them, align them and just play around with any number of tracks from all their instrument options. The more you delve into this app, the more you realize that this is that famous iceberg tip, you see 10% and the remaining 90% is under the surface. Actually, with this app, it’s more of a 1% to 99% ratio.
At its core, GarageBand uses Virtual Studio Technology (VST) This means you can plug in any electronic instrument to the platform and directly feed it with music. Or, you can use the DAW to create music using their instruments.
Once your music is tracked and ready for manipulation, the true power of this platform comes into play. The effects and sounds of this app are actually very good when compared to most other DAW’s. Sure, it’s not a top-level professional system, but for what you pay for (which is nothing) and what you get. Well, let’s just say that in the hands of an artist, this could create some top 40 hit music sound winners easily.
As with all Apple products, this is a highly optimized system, utilizing memory and storage space to the best possible levels of confidence. On the con side is the lack of certain editing and modifying features, as well as playing versatility, but again, when you consider what is being offered and how it is being given, this app is a knockdown winner in most fields.
Essentially, GarageBand is an app for fast music compilation, it is not meant to create in-depth masterpieces, but to generate exceptional sounds for everyday use. It can be a great accompanying DAW and VST for traveling musicians seeking a fast and compact system for churning out jam sessions in the back of a car.
This is also a great app for students that want to start learning how to play, and how to use different digital musical instruments, as well as the basics in synthesizing sounds and mixing.
The sound library comes with an amazing and vast selection of instruments, presets for voice and guitars, drummer and percussionists and more.
Create with or without an instrument.
Just plug in your musical instrument or use the instruments in the app. Start to create sounds; you can even add pre-set loops and use nearly human sounding drum sessions.
Once you have created a loop, you can drag and drop it into the mixer. You can arrange your sounds any way you like, and also add preset sounds from the library.
Plug n. Tear up.
You can plug your guitar into the app, and then pick out of a load of amps, cabinets, and stomp-boxes.
Design your dream bass
You can customize your bass tone, mix and match it with any number of amps. You can also change the location of the mic (digitally) to create different input methods.
GarageBand features Drummer; this is a virtual session drummer that follows along with your song, you can choose from 6 genres, 28 drummers, and three percussionists.
Shape your sound
If you decide to use the software instruments, then you can use the smart controls and create any number of alternative sounds with that one instrument.
Powerful synths and shape-shifting controls.
Take any of the 100 EDM and Hip-Hop synth sounds. All synths use the Transform Pad Smart Control; this lets you morph and tweak sounds any way you like.
You have up to 40 40 different genres‑based on lessons to choose from, and you can play and get instant feedback. It’s a great app for learning and improving your skills.
Versatility in Power
This app lets you mix up to 255 audio tracks, giving each one a specific name. You can then edit the tracks in the studio mixing screen.
The app provides you with tons of finishing touches, ranging from twiddling with equalizers to setting different decibel levels and compressions, and much more.
Sharing your Music
You can share your music via Apple Music Connect, perhaps save it as a ringtone, or even release it as a possible hit in the iTunes library.
You can store your music in the cloud, which means you have access to it from any device, anywhere and at any time.