GarageBand turns your iPad, and iPhone into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio — so you can make music anywhere you go. And with Live Loops, it makes it easy for anyone to have fun creating music like a DJ. Use Multi-Touch gestures to play keyboards, guitars, and create beats that make you sound like a pro — even if you’ve never played a note before. Plug in a guitar or bass and play through classic amps and stompbox effects. Use a Touch Instrument, microphone, or a guitar and instantly record a performance with support for up of 32 tracks. Use the new Sound Library to download additional free instruments, loops and sound packs. Audio Unit Extensions in iOS 11 allow you to play, record and mix third-party instruments or effects right into GarageBand. And then share your song with friends and family.
Live Loops. Make music like a DJ
• Use Multi-Touch to tap and trigger a Live Loop cell or group of cells
• Get started with templates or build your own grid from scratch with Apple Loops
• Create custom loops by recording directly into a cell using any Touch Instrument
• Use Remix FX to perform DJ-style effects
• Tap record and capture your performance
Play your iPad, and iPhone, like a musical instrument
• Play a variety of musical instruments on the innovative Multi-Touch keyboard
• Play and record using the Alchemy synth*
• Build grooves inspired by classic electronic drum machines with the Beat Sequencer
• Download free instruments, loops and sound packs for GarageBand with the Sound Library
• Capture any sound and apply studio-class effects
• Recreate legendary guitar or bass rigs using virtual amps & stompboxes
• Use 3D Touch to play keyboard sounds with polyphonic aftertouch**
• Record performances from third-party music apps directly into GarageBand using Audio Unit Extensions***
Drummer for iOS
• Add virtual session drummers to your song who take direction and play realistic grooves
• Choose from acoustic, electronic drummers and percussionists****
• Each character provides their own sound and the ability to create over a million realistic grooves and fills
Sound like a virtuoso with Smart Instruments
• Play an entire string orchestra using Smart Strings
• Perform with Chord Strips and autoplay using any keyboard instrument
• Groove with a variety of Smart Basses using upright, electric, and synth sounds
• Strum chords or trigger autoplay patterns on an acoustic and electric Smart Guitar
Create a song anywhere you go
• Record, arrange and mix your song with up to 32 tracks using Touch Instruments, audio recordings, and loops*****
• Record multiple times over any song section and choose your favorite using Multi-Take Recording
• Use professional mixing effects, including Visual EQ, Bitcrusher, and Overdrive
• Recording, mixing and exporting a song can be done at 24-bit audio resolution
• Trim and place musical regions exactly where you want them to play
• Automate the volume and record the movement of controls on Touch Instruments
• Add comments or lyric ideas to your song with an integrated notepad
Share your songs
• Keep your songs up to date across all devices using iCloud Drive
• Create custom ringtones and alerts for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch
• Share your songs using email or Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud******
• Remotely add new tracks to your Logic Pro X project from your iPhone or iPad via iCloud
* The Alchemy synth is available on iPhone 6 or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4.
** Polyphonic aftertouch is available on iPhone 6s or later.
*** Requires compatible third-party Audio Unit Extensions apps from the App Store.
**** Requires free download from GarageBand Sound Library.
***** Multitrack recording requires a compatible third-party audio interface.
****** Sharing to Facebook and YouTube requires iMovie.
GarageBand is complete iPad music studio with comprehensive set of instruments (including electronic and acoustic drums, bass, guitar, strings, piano and synths) expandable with Inter-App Audio apps and Audiobus-ready apps.
Compatible with: iOS 8.0 or later, iPad 2+ or later, iPhone 5/5/6+, and iPod touch
Main Features: “Smart” Instruments, Sampler, 32 tracks maximum
- Great expandability with hundreds of Inter-App Audio and Audiobus music apps
- Ability to export to GarageBand for Mac and Logic
- Wide range of included instruments
- No MIDI output to control external apps
- Included FX are pretty weak and limited (just delay and reverb)
- No comprehensive mixer window
For a long time now, Apple’s GarageBand has been the iPad DAW of choice for many electronic music producers. And with good reason. Its uncluttered interface allows users to easily navigate and audition sounds quickly. Hobbyists and novice users will take to it like a fish to water. There are over 250 high quality instruments to choose from and they sound amazing. In addition to that, GarageBand for iPad offers 5 ‘Smart Instruments’: Drums, Strings, Bass, Keyboard and Guitar. This feature will make you sound like a professional player on any instrument. I found the 32-track sequencer to be adequate with basic editing options, but good enough to get ideas out of your head and onto a listening platform. However, I have only scratched the surface of what this powerful app has to offer. Let’s take a closer look.
When GarageBand opens, it takes you directly to a browser where you can choose an instrument. The icons are large, represent each instrument category included in the app and makes it a breeze to select an instrument with a touch. Then it opens to that instruments’ interface on which you will find controls specific to that instrument along with the transport at the top center of the UI and other useful options. You could actually hit record at this point and start hammering out ideas. However, I suggest that you take a tour around the app and try different instruments and the options they offer. Just to the left of the transport is a button with little blocks on it that will take you to the timeline where you can edit your recording. Touching the keyboard icon to the left of the timeline button will take you back to your instrument. Aside from the various instrument interfaces, the timeline is the only other window offered in GarageBand for iPad.
Instruments & Sounds
This is definitely where the app shines in my opinion. All of the instruments I tried out sounded great. The acoustic instruments are surprisingly realistic and have a few different articulations relevant to each particular instrument. The synths are warm and full. Each one has a pitch and mod wheel, but unfortunately not even one ADSR envelope and you are basically stuck with just a simple cutoff filter and resonance knob for most of the synths. GarageBand’s ‘Smart Instruments’ offer clever options for playability, giving you the choice of triggering one of the 4 included phrases for each instrument via the apps chord strips and ‘AUTOPLAY’ knob, or by touching the ‘Notes’ button (usually revealing the fret board) and playing in parts yourself. You can also switch between different instruments in the same category without stopping the sequencer while using a ‘Smart Instrument’. Handy features there for sure, but if you decide to switch to an instrument in a different category, the sequencer stops automatically which can be a pain once you get a groove going. Hopefully in a future update, Apple will make it possible to keep the sequencer running until the user wants to stop it.
At best, the sequencer is decent but easy to navigate as well. It has very basic controls for editing: copy, paste, delete, loop, split, rename and edit. Touching the Edit tab takes you inside of your recorded part and allows you to drag notes around. The sequencer is the only place in the app where you can access all of the included Apple Loops and drag them right into your session. This sequencer is good sketching out your ideas, but it could benefit from more features like automation for example.
End of the day…
GarageBand has great features and is a powerful iPad DAW. Sure, it’s lacking a few helpful features but it’s hard not to try it out at this price point. It’s definitely good enough to sketch out song ideas before you finish them in your desktop/laptop DAW, or even to trigger sounds from in a live setting. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.