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Wednesday
Nov022011

Review: Apple GarageBand for iPhone and iPod Touch

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

When Apple released GarageBand for the iPad 2, it was one of those applications that really argued the case that tablets could indeed be used for content creation and not just mere content consumption devices. After all, anyone with enough time and a smidgen of musical inclination could create original music. Now available for the iPhone and for the iPod Touch, GarageBand is a scaled down on-the-go studio for your pocket.

GarageBand on the iPad is a stellar music creation app and while limited in the iPhone version is still a compelling app for $4.99, we like to think of it as a collection of apps. The piano, guitar and sampler instruments alone are well worth the price of admission. 

GarageBand also allows users to plug in a mic for voice recording as well as a guitar which can use the app as an effects box. This are pretty advanced features considering that just a few years ago, you needed a number of gizmos to get analog instruments into a computer and now you can do it with the device that fits in your pocket.

GarageBand for the iPhone and the iPod Touch also permits users to combine up to eight tracks and can export the song to GarageBand for Mac or Logic Pro for further tweaking and these can be shared via email as well.

Most of the virtual instruments are easy to use even for complete novices and GarageBand also offers various ways to play with the instruments. For the piano, keyboard and even the drum interfaces the small size of the iPhone or iPod Touch is a bit of an issue, specially for users with large or chubby digits.

The experience on the iPad is superior because of the options offered by that larger screen and better realized interface but the iPhone version can keep one busy for hours and there's a feeling of achievement after putting together a piece of music, even if it isn't all that great.

Serious musicians can still work out ideas with the iPhone version of GarageBand and we know friends with multiple i-devices will soon set up impromptu jam sessions and GarageBand is great for this as well. With enough time and talent, one could produce something awesome with this app.

The interface and feel of the instruments is generally responsive, playing the piano with sensitivity or banging on the keys does give variance in sound that surpasses a lot of the competing instrument simulators we've tried which feel wooden and overly processed.

Now, if only we could get Siri to drop a couple of freestyle verses over our phat beats, then GarageBand would be perfect.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

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Reader Comments (1)

As a serious songwriter and musician working exclusively with the iPhone, I have been particularly impressed by the relative playability of the instruments on the little screen. The guitars work well although more fx and strum variations are required. The sound quality is very good too. The shortcomings are as follows - the lack of a proper mixer; there are too many novelty fx for voice and not enough flexibility to develop your own preferred mic set up; 8 tracks are nowhere near enough (nanostudio for example let's you have 16). Overall I have mixed feelings - it is entirely possible to create passages of rich, textured music on this app but it is crying out for a smarter and more flexible means of export (ACP!) and obviously some route for imports. In other words, it isn't comprehensive enough to be your musical hub on the iPhone nor co-operative enough to slot seemlessly into your existing workflow. However, it can be done with a bit of patience and ingenuity! The clocktoys will be using GB in some upcoming tracks on Soundcloud. It's going to be a blast!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPete Plural (the clocktoys)

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