Garageband for Home Recording

Back in the early 2000’s before Garageband if you wanted to make a demo or record your own album, you were still limited to using 4 track tape recorders, the CDRW/DAT versions were still quite expensive and a trip to the studio costed at least a few hundred dollars. Once you had something mixed and mastered you were looking at maybe a thousand, quite a big investment really so you really had to want/need to do it. 

Garageband changed the world

Then Garageband came a long and changed all that, fast forward to 2020 and nearly everyone is producing content from podcasts to video to whole albums, all from their own homes using a laptop and high-quality audio interfaces, that were once prohibitively expensive and only available to professional studios. It’s no secret that Garageband is the tool of choice for getting professional results easily, without headaches or complexity that throttles the creative process.

But Garageband for Productivity

The Maco-sphere or Apple-system is an expensive realm where the limitations are at best annoying, the barefaced built-in obsolescence and proprietary nature of most everything from cables to managing your own content, border on a monopoly and once imprisoned it is VERY hard to escape. If that’s legal then it probably shouldn’t be. But, undeniably, some of the software, because it is created to be intuitive and efficient, does really improve your work flow and productivity, by not getting in the way. With Garageband, Apple have effectively removed the complexity that could otherwise create option paralysis, allowing artists to quickly get the job done. 

GarageBand for Windows

Garageband for Windows. If you are here then you are probably asking one of a few questions.

1. Is there a version of Garageband for Windows?
2. I don’t have a MAC, how can I use Garageband?
3. Can I install Garageband on Windows?
4. Is there an alternative to Garageband for Windows?

If you are a musician, podcaster, trainspotter, bird watcher etc. new to recording the answer to “how can I do it simply?” is typically Garageband.

If you don’t want technology to get in the way of your creativity then Garageband is one of best answers. 

Apple had the right idea when they made Garageband, it’s very simple to use and produces professional results, but like most Apple software apart from iTunes, it is only designed to run on Apple products. Unfortunately, there is a price for cool and it’s been increasing exponentially for years.

Is there a version of Garageband for Windows?

No, there is not. Garage band is Apple software designed for Apple products, there are no Android, Windows or Linux versions of it.

I don’t have a MAC, how can I use Garage band?

If you have an iPhone or an iPad then you can use the iOS version of Garageband for free, just download it from the AppStore. You can connect most bus powered standards compliant audio interfaces to an iPad, iPod or iPhone using the camera dongle (pro tip: why not purchase a third-party dongle that allows you to charge at the same time) check with the interface manufacturer to make sure that it is compatible.

Can I install Garageband on Windows?

By using a virtual machine like VM Ware you can install OSX on a virtual machine in Windows and run Garageband on it. I don’t recommend this, Virtual machines are clunky at the best of times and using peripherals attached to the host machine can only create latency hell.

Is there an alternative to Garageband for Windows?

Yes see later posts for my top tips

GarageBand for PC

Whether you have used GarageBand or not, it’s doubtless that you’ve heard of it, which is why you are here! Many famous musicians use it at their musical notepad because of its simplicity and quick results. So what can you do if you only have a PC?

Well there are ways to get GarageBand installed on a PC, but they involve degrees from MIT to get it up and running, which pretty much negates the simple to use/does what it says on the box vibe. Luckily for you some pretty smart software engineers have recognized the appeal of GarageBand and have implemented its goodness into software for the PC.

There are a few, but by far the closest implementation is Mixcraft from Acoustica, so much so that it has already earned the nickname GarageBand for Windows in DAW circles. Of course it can’t be 100% identical for copyright reasons, but with just a few function name changes and a slightly different design it is as close as you can get without ending up in patent court!

But here’s a little secret, there are many things that Mixcraft can do that GarageBand can’t. Over the last few years Acoustica have worked tirelessly to incorporate many of the functions that you’d expect to find in high end DAW software like Logic or Protools at a fraction of the cost. In the last version (7), for example, they have fully implemented Midi so you can use Mixcraft with a huge array of controllers.

So, while it is easy to use Mixcraft as a musical notepad, when you need a little bit more meat with your potatoes then you aren’t stuck with buying more software to handle it. With GarageBand you need to buy Logic Pro to complete the full DAW experience. Mixcraft also works with all the VST plugins that the elder statesmen of DAWs run. If you think you might need more in the beginning, it’s probably a better idea to buy Mixcraft Pro as it comes with many extra plugins including mastering plugins (Ozone from isotope and industry standard) and some really cool virtual instruments like Acoustica’s own Pianissimo (a really cool grand piano) or their implementation of the Moog.

Do Famous Musicians use Garageband?

There’s no doubt that Garageband is the musical notepad for musicians worldwide, but do famous musicians and producers use it too? Yes, they do and for good reason, it’s actually really amazing how good first takes are, so wouldn’t it be great to record it simply so that it could quite easily end up in the final mix of a hit record? Once you’ve over thought a part or done it over and over again, quite often the spark that made it great is gone. Also, when you are surrounded by the best gear that money can buy, option paralysis and what I like to call super shine can take the edge off what should be raw and edgy.

Take Oasis for example, Noel Gallagher can afford the best equipment that money can buy, but remember a lot of what he wrote that went on to become mega hits were written in a shed on a building site or in his bedroom. Fast forward to their last album ‘Dig out your soul’ and Noel says “I had my own fully functioning recording studio with an EMI II desk and a really cool Neve desk. But I kind of got sick of it because the demos were starting to sound better than the records. We actually do our demos now in Gem’s bedroom on his little GarageBand computer”. 

Back in 2005 Trent Reznor released Nine Inch Nails single ‘The Hands That Feed’ as a Garageband project, essentially as a creative experiment, encouraging fans to ‘experiment, embellish or destroy’ the track. Ever since, you can download stems for nearly any NIN track, starting a trend which has changed the music business. 

Radiohead, following NIN’s example, acknowledged Garageband as the default musical notepad by releasing two of their tracks from their album ‘In Rainbows’ to be remixed by fans. If you downloaded all of the stems for Nude or Reckoner, you were given access to complete Garageband projects for the songs. The ground breaking move where fans chose what they paid for the album coupled with access to Garageband files to remix tracks cemented Radiohead as not only sonic innovators but also as mavericks of the music industry.

Snow Patrol are also well known for their reliance on Garageband. Singer Gary Lightbody, had put together around 220 demos in Garageband for their album ‘A Hundred Million Suns’ while on tour, “I’m on Garageband everyday just making noise”. 

As a tool for getting ideas down in a useable format Garageband is the choice of many bands and producers. Producer Oak Felder levers Garageband to facilitate the creative process by using it as a communication tool with artists like Ariana Grande and Alicia Keys to express their musical ideas without having to explain them in words. 

Joe Trohman, guitarist for ‘Fallout Boy’, relies heavily on Garageband to bounce back ideas with singer Patrick Stump, the great thing is that because the demos sound good it’s easier for other band members to write parts knowing what the end result will likely sound like.

So as you can see, it’s not just hobbyists that use Garageband, the intuitive workflow is also invaluable to multi-million selling artists too.


GarageBand for PC alternatives

So you have heard people gushing about GarageBand or you have used it yourself and love it… But what if you have a Windows PC?

GarageBand does not work on PC’s period (and that is the final answer). There are articles and videos all over the net telling you that you can (believe me I tried), these are simply not true, mostly hoaxes and in the worst cases trying to get you to damage your computer. So beware, you have been told! do not waste any more time on it. GarageBand is a MAC only deal and will always be.

But all is not lost, there are alternatives to GarageBand for Windows and some are REALLY close in design and function (so close I wonder why they haven’t been sucked into patent disputes!) and I am going to walk you through them.

Over the next few weeks I am going to talk about Mixcraft, Cubase Studio, Cakewalk SONAR and Acid Pro, so check back for detailed reviews of how they compare to GarageBand. First up here's an idea of how they each look in comparison to Garageband.

User Interface

Garageband for Windows Alternatives

Clearly, Mixcraft is the stand out closest to GarageBand in this department, but looks are not the only thing we will be taking into consideration. Stick around for the detailed reviews and final assessment.

Why GarageBand?

So what’s all the hype about? In case you haven’t heard, GarageBand is the ubiquitous musical notepad for musicians worldwide. The reason is simple, like most thing’s Apple, it’s just very very (did I say VERY?) easy to use.

During the creative process the last thing you want is your recording software getting in the way of your creativity, which is why GarageBand was designed from the ground up to be intuitive.
Lets face it, most of us just want to get our ideas down without requiring an MIT degree to get the job done.

So what if you don't have a Mac? Or you want to use your work laptop? Or you Mac died (mine did) and a Windows PC is way more affordable? Here is why you shouldn't buy a Mac just to run GarageBand