Audacity vs. Garage Band

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Zaklog the Great
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Post by Zaklog the Great »

I'm a relatively new Mac user. I, of course, have Garage Band; it's included. But I'm already familiar with Audacity, and the switch to Mac doesn't change that program much.

So here's my question to other Mac people: Are there any significant advantages to GB that would make it worth my time learning it rather then continuing to record with Audacity? If so, what?
DeRamos
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Post by DeRamos »

(As a disclaimer, I use Pro Tools as my digital audio workstation [DAW], but I've dabbled in other DAWs over the years.)

GarageBand, while a powerful entry-level program, is essentially the entry-level version of Logic (Express and Pro). If you can imagine eventually pushing GB to its limits and possibly moving on to Logic, then it will be worth it to learn GB.

On the other hand, Audacity will likely remain free and open-source, without any elitism of multiple software versions. :D

Wiki has about a paragraph each on the limitations of each one:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garageband#Limitations
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audacity#Limitations

I guess it comes down to whether how much MIDI (virtual instruments) you want to dabble in versus real instruments and mic'd (and line-in) audio, among other considerations.

I hope this helps!

Cheers,
Ryan
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Great Plains
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Post by Great Plains »

I've used both. I was a long-time Audacity user before switching to Mac. I'm not thrilled with the Mac interface limitations that Audacity suffers from, so I tried Garage Band.

But I didn't have much luck with it because it lacks, as far as I can tell, the tools needed for the close-in waveform editing and a "spectrum" view.

It seems more geared for the final editing of all the various elements of a podcast (music, sound effects, voice overs, etc).
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kayray
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Post by kayray »

I am no help here -- have tried both and don't like 'em. Audacity is ugly and GB is confusing :)

I use SoundStudio, which is $80 but really really really easy to use for both recording and editing. If your LibriVox addiction gets really serious, you might want to try the demo.

http://www.freeverse.com/apps/app/?id=5012
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beeber
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Post by beeber »

I began with Garageband, but quickly found it too clumsy for editing a voice file. (Great for recording music and assembling multiple tracks in a song; however, for a solo voice recording, there's no need for multiple tracks.)

Audacity is easier to edit, but easier still is Twisted Wave. Scrolling back and forth, zooming in and out ... all that is much easier. And it has a setting to automatically seek "zero-crossings" when editing, whereas Audacity requires you to tell it each time you want to find a zero-crossing.

OK, I know that may sound like an obscure, geeky technical point, but let me explain. When you're selecting bits to cut or paste, you want the ends of the selection to be precisely at a point where the wave crosses the "zero" line; otherwise you will often get a "click." You can try to do that visually in Garageband, but you have to be zoomed way in to have any hope of getting it right. Audacity allows you to press "Z" each time you select something to make the cursor jump to the nearest zero crossing. (Actually, I found it often annoyingly jumps in the wrong direction.) Twisted Wave lets you set this as an automatic preference, which can be quickly turned off if you had some reason to really want to do without it. This allows for easy editing at a high degree of precision. For example, if you realize you've made a distracting mouth noise -- a saliva click -- right in the middle of a word, you can usually find it and surgically remove it in a flash with Twisted Wave, without leaving any audible artifact behind.

The whole interface also feels (to me) fresher and more "professional," but that may just be me.
One final comment, however: Audacity -- the 1.3.7 Beta version -- has absolutely (well, at least in my experience) the best noise-cleaning function to be found. Twisted Wave has no built-in noise-cleaning. The "noise gate" in Garageband is a crude tool. I've tried the more expensive programs, including SoundSoap, which is supposedly a dedicated noise remover, and I've found that nothing -- nothing -- compares with the ease and success of what Audacity does for noise removal. So what I do now is:
1. Record initially in Twisted Wave or Audacity. (Doesn't matter which, but it saves a step if you start with Audacity.)
2. Use "noise removal" in Audacity, to clean out any background noise (computer hum, for example).
3. Then export that cleaned file to Twisted Wave and settle in to do whatever editing is needed.

You can download a demo that's fully functional for 30 days at http://twistedwave.com. After that it's US$79.90.
stevenrushing
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Post by stevenrushing »

I have used GB and Audacity, and never really liked either very much. I use Wiretap Studio. It has a 30 day demo and costs $70 full price although I have heard that you can email them and haggle, really!

http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/wiretap/
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RuthieG
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Post by RuthieG »

stevenrushing wrote:I have used GB and Audacity, and never really liked either very much. I use Wiretap Studio.
Wiretap is only available for the Mac, though.

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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky »

Zaklog the Great wrote:I'm a relatively new Mac user. I, of course, have Garage Band; it's included. But I'm already familiar with Audacity, and the switch to Mac doesn't change that program much.

So here's my question to other Mac people: Are there any significant advantages to GB that would make it worth my time learning it rather then continuing to record with Audacity? If so, what?
As a long-time Mac user and audio recorder, I would suggest this: If you want to stick with free software, go with Audacity for recording audiobooks, unless you're willing to part with $79 for SoundStudio.

Garageband will work, but it is very cumbersome to do the editing for long recordings. It just wasn't designed for that. Make no mistake - I love GB and use it whenever I want to use effects or need a multi-track editor. But I wouldn't use it to record and edit an audiobook chapter. If you only plan to do short stories it might be OK, but again the editing will be a hassle. I've made a mess of things with recordings done in SS3 and then imported into GB for FX. Believe me, it's easy to do. I love GB for what it can do, which is like no other software, but I wouldn't rely on it as my only DAW.

I'm not a fan of Audacity. I have it installed, but don't use it except as a trouble-shooting tool for others. As Kayray says, it has an ugly, clunky interface, plus it is very crash-prone. But between the two for this purpose, I'd stick with Audacity. Save often. If you're willing to pay for it, SoundStudio cannot be beat for audiobooks. I've tried everything, and I always come back to SS.
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