GarageBand '08, by Apple

Posted: 28-Apr-2010

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice Vendor: Apple Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Shari Jackson Class: MULTIMEDIA

Overview

If you are looking for a personal recording studio, GarageBand (part of iLife 08) provides everything you need to be a professional. The program allows you to compose a song using the computer keyboard or connected instruments, record a song from connected instruments and virtual instruments, arrange, edit, and mix a song to create a professional quality CD or podcast. A composition can also be printed to provide sheet music. The program also allows you to build a virtual band by selecting from songs and instruments, including selection of your own part in your own band. The program allows the casual user with an interest in music and sound engineering and the professional to produce quality music scores and sound recordings. The musician and composer can become proficient in recording, composing, arranging, recording, and mixing to produce professional quality music scores and sound recordings. The software is comparable to other professional, and more expensive recording studio offerings and the iLife 08 user interface is easy to learn and use.

Requirements

  • Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 processor
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)
  • Mac OS X v10.4.9 or later
  • 3GB of available disk space
  • DVD drive for installation
  • QuickTime 7.2 or later

Price

Packaged as part of iLife '08, $79 from Apple Store.

Installation

Insert the iLife 08 install disk and click on the install for a standard install and follow the installation instructions. It took about ten minutes.

Before You Begin

I recommend accessing the Apple GarageBand tutorials on the Apple site. There are a lot of features, especially for mixing and arranging that may require some adjustments on what you may have used before. All of them are easy to use, but some function differently with regard to the keyboard actions. If you’re familiar with sound engineering and recording, you may still need a tip about how the controls work in this product.

Personal Recording Studio

Although you can use the software without any other tools, the recording studio supports a keyboard and instruments, either virtual or USB connection through the Mac audio input. You can turn the monitor on with a guitar or vocals to hear the music through the speakers. You can record multiple instruments for a band at one time if you have multiple input sources.

Music Compostion

GarageBand is a music composition tool that supports recording, engineering, composing and arranging songs. GarageBand provides easy to use interfaces with a variety of options for using the personal recording studio software. Features include professional quality recording tools for virtual or audio input instruments, one at a time or the whole band. Tutorials walk the user through the phases of creating, editing, arranging and producing a CD.

Magic GarageBand

GarageBand provides a virtual on-stage band to add to your composition or recording, or to just have fun choosing the songs from a variety of styles and instruments.

Producing a CD

Once you’re satisfied with your song, you can package it to import to iTunes as well as produce a professional quality CD in standard or MP3 compression.

Producing a Podcast

GarageBand provides the functionality to produce a Podcast with narration, music and pictures.

In Use

When the application is first launched, the window is shown below.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 1

To compose a song, click on Create New Music Project.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 2

Complete the information in the box by typing in a file name, selecting the tempo, signature, and key. Then click on Create.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 3

The new project interface opens with a Grand Piano track and the keyboard. The metronome is selected to assist your timing. When you click on the record button in the lower menu, you can start moving the cursor and clicking on the notes. Click on the record button to stop recording. There are toggles in the LCD window to change the viewing options.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 4

To add another track select the instrument from the track info and record again. You can start the recording at the beginning of the first track to have a multiple instrument recording.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 5

You can add another track for grand piano and chose to use the keys on the keyboard, which was easier to use than the cursor and first keyboard especially to get the tempo right.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 6

For the musical score, you click on the edit icon (scissors) on the lower left of the screen and the lower portion shows the musical score for a particular track. You can change the track by highlighting another track in the upper window. You can select notes and change the note type by selecting a new note type from the lower window on the left of the musical staff.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 7

There are a variety of loops that can be added to enhance the recording, or you can build your own. Click on the loops icon between the add track (+) and the editor (scissors) to view the loops window. The lower window shows the selection for loops. I selected bongos, tambourine and shaker. The software modifies the original loop to match the tempo of your song.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 8

The loops may be short, or continuous throughout the song. I highlighted the loop and drug it to the track area. The product adds the track and then allows you to drag the short loop to the length of your recording.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 9

To use the arranging features of the product, I selected View Arrange Track and added regions, Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2 and Verse 3.

Garageband '08 - Screenshot 10

I decided to add the chorus after each verse, so I held down the option key and dragged it between Verse 2 and Verse 3, and after Verse 3. I have no recording, composition or sound engineering background, and I was able to product a relatively interesting recording in about an hour. I was delighted by the results of my efforts using this software. I didn't have to plan ahead, and I had a lot of fun trying different tempos and instruments. I have no experience with other software for this functionality, so I don’t know how easy or hard other products are to use. However, the functionality in GarageBand is comparable to even the most expensive products. The Apple interface is easy to learn and use, and the tutorials are excellent. I am short on experience and knowledge of sound recording, so I probably took the more difficult approach and wasn’t as efficient in using the product as I might have been. Even at that I was pleased with the ease of use and the results.

Support

Apple provides tutorials and helps with the product. The helps are searchable and provide quick tips and guides to walk through steps to do all of the taks in GarageBand. There is a lot of information on the Apple website about iLife and GarageBand specifically to further improve a user’s experience with GarageBand which includes expansion packs, Jam Packs, of loops and professionally recorded vocals and instruments to enhance your songs.

Summary

GarageBand (part of iLife 08) provides everything you need in a personal recording studio, including arranging, mixing, editing as well as recording. The program allows you to compose a song using the computer keyboard or connected instruments, record a song from connected instruments and virtual instruments, arrange, edit, and mix a song to create a professional quality CD or podcast. A composition can also be printed to provide sheet music. The program also allows you to build a virtual band by selecting from songs and instruments, including selection of a part in the band for the user.

The program allows the casual user with an interest in music and sound engineering and the professional to produce quality music scores and sound recordings. It is simple to use so that any casual computer user could record or compose a song and professional mix, arrange, edit and product a CD of highest quality in a short time and with no music or sound recording experience.

Pros

  • Professional music recording and composition in a short time
  • Standard Apple interface with the appropriate tools for recording studio features
  • Tutorials that walk through recording and compostion features
  • Several awesome instruments, loops, songs to enhance your personal music project

Cons

  • If you can’t play an instrument or use a piano keyboard, you may have severe limitations on using the composition and recording featuures

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice