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Getting the most from Apple\'s Garageband

Published: Wed February 16, 2005  News Feed

GarageBand lets you easily perform, record and create your own music. Whether you’re an experienced or aspiring musician. Or just want to feel — and sound — like a rock star. With the new version of GarageBand, you can even record multiple tracks at the same time. Sing as you play the guitar, harmonize with your best singing bud or jam with the band, and GarageBand will record every note. And when all your tracks are in place, you can view them in full music notation and take advantage of new GarageBand features to enhance the tuning and timing of your recordings.

If you’ve tried Apple’s GarageBand, you know just how easy making music can be. Dolphin Music can supply variety tools that help you get the most from your GarageBand experience, including USB MIDI keyboard controllers, audio interfaces, microphones, audio monitors, and loop libraries. Here’s a look at how to choose and integrate these tools to create your own private recording studio.

Audio Interfaces

Most Macs have line-level inputs and outputs that work with devices such as stereo receivers and computer speakers. Bringing signals into your computer from sound sources such as guitar, bass and microphones poses a different problem. The first thing you’d notice is that the connectors don’t match. You’d also find is that their audio signal is too weak. That’s because these unpowered devices require preamplification in order bring the signals to line level—another benefit of our external audio interfaces.

Monitoring and Latency.

There are other benefits to having a professional audio interface. Simple stereo computer audio circuits and audio cards typically lack the capability of letting you hear what you are recording while you’re listening to something else.

Also, all digital audio circuitry has an inherent processing delay between when a sound goes into a computer and when it comes out—a phenomenon known as latency. This latency creates an audible delay that can take the fun out of recording.

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MIDI Controllers

While GarageBand lets you work with loops with only your mouse and computer keyboard, you’ll need a MIDI controller keyboard if you want to actually perform your software sounds the way you would play a piano or synthesizer. A controller has no sounds built into it. Instead, it controls an external sound source such as your computer. This means that instead of having to buy expensive hardware that generates sounds, you can do the same thing with an affordable controller and software.

In the old days, you needed a MIDI interface to bridge the gap between a controller keyboard. Most new MIDI controllers feature built-in USB-MIDI interfaces so you don’t need the middleman anymore. MIDI signals go directly from the controller to the computer and back via a single USB connection. Most models even derive their power directly from the USB bus to keep connections simple and provide easy mobility.

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If you want to record voice, acoustic instruments or real-world sounds, you’ll need a microphone. There are two popular classes of microphones on the market: dynamic and condenser. Dynamic microphones are primarily designed for stage use, and are typically less expensive. Condenser microphones are more sensitive, are designed primarily for studio use and need power (called phantom power) from an interface, preamp or mixer in order to function.

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Reference Monitors

Most consumer speakers are made for the average person to listen to pre-recorded music. When you’re actually making the music yourself, you need to hear every nuance. That’s why professionals use audio reference monitors that produce the entire sonic spectrum accurately to help predict what mixes will sound like on other systems.

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Sound Libraries

One of the great things about GarageBand is the ability to mix existing loops together to create music of your own.

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