There’s a new star in the house and with the 4-track sitting in the corner, dusty and unused, GarageBand has come along and moved straight into the spotlight.
After never getting into using the old 4-track, hoping that there was another way around studio costs and trying to find engineers that ‘shared the same vision’, GarageBand has made the whole recording process more efficient and has allowed me to be more creative than any time before. One of the best things about using GarageBand is that infamous ‘C’ word: Control. I’m doing things now that I would never have imagined a few months ago. The thought of using GarageBand was at first intimidating considering I had never ‘engineered’, however once the software was downloaded, the ease of use was amazing. Everything is right there in front of you. Basic enough for the beginner and yet challenging enough for the experienced engineer to keep their interest.
The freedom to use what seems like limitless tracks is refreshing and with a simple interface like the M-Audio MobilePre USB, plugging in a mic, guitars or midi keyboard is pretty straightforward.
The effects were okay in the beginning with version one, but as someone who likes to play with effects on vocals as well as bass and guitars, after awhile, I was wanting more. And what happened next?
GarageBand 2 was released.
It didn’t take long before the software was installed, and after opening up version two, on the surface things didn’t look too much different form version one. For those who might be concerned about losing any previous mixes from the first version, no need to worry. Everything was still intact after the installation.
The first thing I had to check out were the new effects. There are some mouth watering additions for the vocals like Epic Diva and Vocal Reflection. The guitar and bass also have some new effects like English Channel, Glam and New Nashville for guitar and Deep Reggae, Seventies and Studio Direct Box for Bass. The loop additions are also a welcome site as is the built in tuner.
GarageBand 1 lacked the ability to record more than one real instrument at a time. With the new version, you can record up to eight real instruments simultaneously! You can also change the tempo and key of recorded instruments, as well as lock tracks to avoid accidental changes.
As great as GarageBand 2 is, there have been some frustrating moments and glitches along the way, such as some distorting of tracks and even with 1 GB of memory, functioning has slowed down while adding more tracks to a song. But just as in version one, there are ways to optimize the system to prevent sluggishness, that you can find in GarageBand ‘help’. Also, there’s a friendly community over at the GarageBand discussion group: http://discussions.info.apple.com/. Usually if there are problems, you’re not the only one having them. Whenever I’ve gone there for support, I’ve been able to resolve any issues by searching through the recent discussions, and the one time I did post a question, someone was quick to respond.
At this early stage, I am still getting to know GarageBand 2 and am looking forward to using the other new features like timing and pitch enhancement and the displaying of musical notation.
If you want to hear what we’ve done using GarageBand 2, go to The Babylon Cowboys website and listen to ‘Reflection’. For the direct song link go to: http://www.thebabyloncowboys.com/reflection.mp3.
Jenny May is one half of The Babylon Cowboys. Together with Dave Tommo they are holed up in Oxford, England recording their new album on Garageband 2. Check out their website and blog for regular updates of their progress.