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iLife '04: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Chapter 27. Real Instruments (Live Audio)

GarageBand is actually three programs in one. It’s a loop-building program that lets anyone build great-sounding compositions, even with no musical training. It’s a MIDI sequencing program that records whatever you play on a MIDI-compatible keyboard, guitar, or drum set. And now, as you’re about to find out, it’s also a digital multitrack tape recorder that can record live sound.

The beauty of GarageBand is that lets you layer these recordings on top of tracks that you’ve built using its other tools (like loops and MIDI performances), and play all of it back together at once. The creative possibilities that result are mind-blowing—and make possible a world where Joe Nobody, a guy with a great voice but no money, can produce a studio-caliber demo CD in his living room.

The Setup

GarageBand can record live audio from two kinds of sound inputs: microphones and direct line inputs (from electronic instruments like guitars and keyboards, audio interface boxes, and mixers).

The Microphone

To record singing, acoustic instruments, or the world around you, you’ll need a microphone.

Note

Some acoustic guitars have built-in pickups. If yours does, you don’t need a microphone; you can plug the guitar straight into an audio interface, as described next.

This mike can take any of several forms:

  • The built-in microphone on Mac laptops, iMacs, and eMacs. The drawback of this approach is that you might also pick up the Mac’s own fan sounds, and the quality isn’t quite ...

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