After the Book Came Out: More GarageBand

Apple sprung a fairly significant update to GarageBand on users Wednesday, and the included changes should appeal to both home recording enthusiasts and more dance-music-oriented fans.

As shown in the feature image for this article, the update adds multi-track recording to the app. While this feature may not appeal to those who just play a single instrument at a time (or those who only use software instruments), the possibilities for using GarageBand as anything more than a sketchpad for Logic or the Mac-based GarageBand become a little more clear:

GarageBand Multitrack

The bass amps that came with it make the app a little more appealing to me as well. Before, GarageBand’s simulated amps left quite a lot to be desired. They’re still not up to the standards of more fully featured simulators like Bias FX (no real bass-specific effects, either), but they’re better. They’re also more inline with offerings from Logic Pro.

The really fun part comes in the Live Loops section, which brings basic Ableton Live functionality to GarageBand. Things like individual loops, synced start and stop, and scene-like capability all come standard in this update:

GarageBand Live Loops

Again, not as full-featured as the Mac-based counterparts you could take advantage of, but the fact that this comes standard as part of the app makes it particularly compelling. Apple offers the standard loops you’d expect and parcels them out in genre-specific packages like EDM and Hip-Hop, but you can also record or load your own loops, samples, and even songs (obviously targeting budding DJs). An included FX window inserts common dance-oriented effects like filter sweeps, stutters, repeats, and scratching as live touch options. Just swipe across the effect to activate it. These effects work with the loops or any other recorded audio, so I had stutters, reverses, and other effects working on my bass playing in real-time at a touch of the iPad screen. The only thing I miss is immediate MIDI access to these controls (still researching at this point, but I’d love to get my Guitar Wing working with this).

The Virtual Drummer addition (one of my favorite Logic Pro features) also brings a ton of value to GarageBand – use similar settings to the Mac-based counterpart to add drum tracks that range from simple to intricate rock, trap, hip-hop, EDM, and more types of beats. You don’t get a ton of flexibility and sample control, but you get a decent start to demo or write songs.

These changes obviously bring the GarageBand app more in line with the features offered by the computer-based Logic Pro and GarageBand apps, but the iOS part of the family just became a more independent member of the group. GarageBand moves from a simple recording sketchpad to a decent live performance tool for instrumentalists, DJs, and all manner of musicians in-between. Not bad for a free app.

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