Capturing Audio And MIDI On The Cheap

Apple’s GarageBand

Fig. 8. GarageBand Track window

It’s $4.99 in the Apple app store. I mean, really, that’s the cost of a bottle of water at the NAMM show. The user interface is amazingly elegant, and in true Apple tradition, very intuitive. It accepts MIDI and audio input from all the devices previously mentioned, but runs a bit slow on my first-gen iPad when using Alesis iO Dock. Perhaps it’ll run better on iPad 2. Running GarageBand out of the dock greatly improves its performance. (Fig. 8)

Fig. 9. GarageBand Smart Guitar window

You can create tracks using the “Smart” instruments, which even made me a little bit of a guitar player, which I’m not, or input your performance from an external MIDI instrument, like electronic drums. I hooked up my electronic drums to GarageBand with a MIDI interface and immediately was able to trigger one of the virtual drum sets. It was so easy. GarageBand, which runs on the iPad and the iPhone, makes creating music fun. It’s probably the best five bucks I’ve ever spent. (Figs. 9 and 10)

Fig. 10. GarageBand Drum Kit window.

On the downside, you can only export your project as either an audio file or a GarageBand file. The latter you can open up in GarageBand on a Mac, thereby unleashing more powerful editing and production tools. If you want to capture and export a MIDI file, you’re out of luck. (There is a workaround for this using a program called midiO once you have the project running in GarageBand on a Mac, but it’s kind of cumbersome.) Perhaps Apple will allow for the export of MIDI files in a future version. 

If you have any questions, concerns, rants, or diatribes about this article, feel free to contact Mike Snyder directly through his Web site at

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