The highly regarded GarageBand comes to iPhone and packs a punch for music lovers. Previously an iPad exclusive, Apple has condensed the app with giant potential to become easily accessible from your pocket. The possibilities of this full-featured recording studio are endless, with options such as playing your choice of digital instruments to developing a signature sound with the built in sampler. Going too much into depth of how this incredible app works would read more like a manual than a review, the list is just that long. Here is a few of the impressive details:
• Perform on dozens of musical instruments on the innovative Multi-Touch keyboard
• Use the Sampler to create an instrument from sounds you record, then play them on a keyboard
• Tap chords to instantly create keyboard grooves with the Smart Keyboard
• Strum chords on acoustic and electric Smart Guitars, or trigger fingerpicking patterns for popular chords
• Drag drum instruments onto a grid to create your own beats with the Smart Drums
• Arrange and mix your song with up to eight tracks using Touch Instruments, audio recordings, and loops
• Trim and place musical regions exactly where you want them to play
• Use the Mixer to fine-tune each track’s volume – solo or mute any track, or adjust pan, reverb, and echo
• Export your song and add it to the iTunes library on your Mac or PC
There is a bit of a steep learning curve before getting started but after a bit of searching and experimenting to get a handle on the interface, I was off to the races trying to create my own musical arrangements. For anyone familiar with multitrack recording you should have no problem getting the hang of the ins and outs of GarageBand, but for beginners, the many options for both instruments, and settings required to tweak your instruments, could be a bit daunting. But don’t be afraid of the goods the app has to offer. There are multiple versions of drum kits, guitar sounds, keyboards and basses that will allow you to build your own melody and get started on a new musical composition.
One of my favorite of the many musical options is the ability to plug your guitar in directly to the amp and record straight to your phone. You can recreate legendary guitar rigs with the included 9 amps and 10 stompbox effects. If you feel the midi based keyboard system is a bit lackluster, this option is a life saver. It allows you to play your own song and not be limited to the guitar sounds and samples included in the app. There is also the ability of recording your own samples as well as your voice using the iPhone’s built in microphone. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with this function as the mic in the phone leaves much to be desired as far as quality, but it is a plus for convenience.
Another valuable addition to the app that is the drum sequencer. Like most drum machines it can be a bit difficult to master but the Smart Drum option allows you to create drum loops using multiple drum kits and machines. It uses a roll of the dice/random generator that can be adjusted by speed or complexity, just not by individual drum notes. Definitely comes in handy when you need a quick beat to record, but I wouldn’t expect a ton of personalized drum beats to come out of it. You can however choose from the over 250 professionally prerecorded loops as a backing band to instantly create a song.
The icing on the cake is the customization features. Each track can be placed precisely and volumes and effects adjusted and added, giving you the ultimate personalized composition. What’s even more fabulous is the sharing capabilities. Email your song or upload it to iTunes. Better yet, send your project to your Mac and continue refining it in GarageBand there! Pretty convenient for the Apple enthusiast.
While this is certainly a solid app with a ton of bells and whistles to try out and experiment with, the serious musician may be a bit limited by the options available. With that being said, everyone else will find a lot of usability in the app even if it’s just to capture a fleeting bit of inspiration that you hope turns into your next bit hit. The recording studio software has certainly come a long way, and what’s even better is it’s price tag. GarageBand is a universal app and a must have for the creatives at heart. It is currently $4.99 in the App Store.