Inside GarageBand ’11

Rob Beattie
12 April, 2011
View more articles fromthe author

GarageBand is simple enough for anyone to start using almost straight away, yet packs enough power to keep more serious enthusiasts happy. This version includes new features that take it even further into the realms of pro-level home recording while still preserving that friendly face.

Last issue we looked at the new lessons and tutorial features, now, we’ll be talking you though the streamlined interface, which makes common tasks like recording, navigating round your song, setting loop cycles and using the metronome easier. Then we’ll go on to have a play with the collection of seven new amp/speaker combos and five additional stompboxes that will have guitar players reaching for the volume knob.

1. Getting started GarageBand ’11 it looks pretty similar to the previous version. The biggest difference is in the Lesson Store, where – as we saw last issue – there are 22 new genre-based lessons. Now we’re going to go to the main program and check out those interface changes. Click Open an Existing File to continue.

2. Transport controls On opening the song, you’ll notice that the transport controls have been reorganised. The Record button has been integrated into the main panel, the Rewind and Forward buttons moved to the left, and the Go To Beginning button placed next to the Play/Pause button. The Cycle button’s disappeared.

3. Cycling song sections Oh, no it hasn’t. Instead, Apple’s moved it to a new position on the other side of the LCD display at the bottom centre of the screen. It works the same though – click it to reveal and position the yellow bar that marks the start and end of the region you want to loop as you practice or record.

4. Keeping time Next to the Cycle button there’s a new control for an existing feature – the Metronome. This is the little electronic ‘tick’ that you can turn on or off when you’re recording to help keep yourself in time. The Metronome is still available from the Control menu, but the button is more convenient.

5. Locking tracks GarageBand ’11 has new, simplified Track Headers. By default, the program doesn’t display the Track Lock button any more – this is a useful feature that protects a track from being overwritten accidentally. It’s still available, though; to display it, just open the Track menu and choose Show Track Lock.

6. Recording simplified Earlier versions of GarageBand had a Record Enable button that you had to activate before clicking the main Record button to ‘arm’ the track. The result? Perfect takes that never actually got recorded because people forgot to do it. Now, you simply click a track to select it and then click Record.

7. Monitoring recordings GarageBand used to just display its monitoring controls at the bottom of the Track Info pane. Now you can also control monitoring for electric guitars and other real instruments from the Track Header itself. Click to toggle it on and off or Control-click to open the menu.

8. Types of monitoring Software instruments are automatically monitored; real instruments have a monitor button in the Track Header – it’s automatically on when recording a guitar, for other real instruments it’s not. The three tracks here show a software instrument (no button) an electric guitar (button on) and a vocal track (button off).

9. New guitar rigs GarageBand ’11 has a lot of love for guitarists, offering seven new amps and five new stompboxes. To try one, create a new guitar track and when the Clean Combo loads, open the drop-down menu above it and choose Sunshine Drive. (If you see an instrument change warning here, just click Continue.)

10. Editing a rig The beauty of these rig presets is they do the hard work for you, not just picking the amp settings but also adding effects – in this case Overdrive and Delay (though that’s currently switched off). If you’re not entirely satisfied with the sound just use the mouse to adjust the various amp knobs until you are.

11. Editing rig effects Click the Edit button at the top right of the Track Info pane to reveal the controls. These handle effects like the Compressor and Noise Gate, which can be applied to individual tracks. Try some of the presets by picking one off the drop-down list or roll the pointer over the icon to open the manual controls like this.

12. Choose another amp. Close the Manual effect window and then click the Done button. Roll the pointer over the amp and speaker stack and then use the left and right arrows to cycle through the different amps to find another of the new models and try that out. This is the Stadium Stack.

13. Adding effects pedals Click the Edit button again but this time click somewhere on the empty floor, next to the Overdrive and Delay pedals. GarageBand displays three empty slots and opens a window underneath showing all available pedals. Drag the Heavenly Chorus pedal up and drop it into position.

14. Working the pedal Click Done and then click the Heavenly Chorus pedal. The knobs, footswitch and rocker switch work just like the real thing, so have fun! You can alter the sound by clicking Edit again and dragging and dropping your pedals into a different order or clicking them to turn them on or off. Click Done to finish.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us