Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) have existed for quite some time on desktop machines. Logic Pro, Digital Performer and Pro Tools are just a few DAWs that are used in the daily workflow of audio professionals.
But now, thanks to the iPad, the digital audio workstation has officially become mobile. Say hello to creating pro-level music with the iPad.
Few would argue the iPad has transformed the way people experience and engage with media. However, there have been some who have questioned its value as a real-world work tool. This has been particularly true for applications that create audio media.
With the help of the USB camera kit, musicians can connect nearly any MIDI controller keyboard to their iPad. In fact, Apogee Electronics offers, alongside a stellar line of professional audio interfaces, a guitar input for the iPad.
This changes how musicians create and work. Basic project tracking and sketching of arrangements can be accomplished on the iPad.
I used to carry around a MacBook Pro and an audio interface to sketch audio projects. Now, I carry my iPad and haven’t looked back.
In walks GarageBand for the iPad. OK, some may say even the desktop older brother is not really a full-fledged DAW, but I say otherwise. A great deal of hip-hop and pop producers use GarageBand to start audio projects. Garageband is dead simple to use, so naturally musicians who want technology to take a back seat to the creative process are going to use it.
Open up GarageBand on your Mac and search for the loop “Vintage Funk Kit 03.” Slow your tempo to about 90 beats per minute and you have the drum set used in Rihanna’s Umbrella from the Good Girl Gone Badalbum.
These Apple loops are royalty-free and can be used in any type of audio and video project without owing a cent to Apple for licensing.
Many other artists use Apple’s royalty-free loops to start major studio projects. Call Usher and ask him what his producers use. If they don’t say GarageBand and Logic Pro, they’re lying. Usher’s Love in This Club was built with the “Euro Hero” family of Apple loops.
Admittedly, GarageBand for iPad is somewhat limited in the number of tracks that can be created in a project. Aside from this limitation, GarageBand for iPad is not only fun, but can be a fantastic tool for musicians and composers.
Apple released an update to GarageBand (current version 6.0.2) that allowed you to import GarageBand Projects from that iPad into the desktop version. You can now continue projects that are created on your iPad on your desktop. More importantly, Logic Pro can natively open GarageBand projects and further edit them.
It is quite simple to send your GarageBand for iPad project to your desktop. Simply press the button in the lower-left corner of the My Songs window to send the project to iTunes. Once the project has been sent to iTunes, you can drag the project to your desktop from the Apps tab for you iPad in iTunes (you can also choose a save location by selecting the Save As button). Any files that are available to transfer to your computer are located under the File Sharing section of the Apps tab.
Once the GarageBand project has been saved to your desktop computer it can opened be opened in GarageBand. When you open the project in GarageBand, you’ll be prompted to download a compatibility update for GarageBand that essentially installs the software instruments from GarageBand for iPad on your desktop Mac.
Many people do not know that GarageBand projects can be opened in Logic Pro. In a way, there are actually three levels of Logic – GarageBand, Logic Express and Logic Pro. It has been rumored that GarageBand was built on the source code of Logic Pro (originally written by eMagic in Germany. Logic used to run on Windows, too). I am not going to speculate if they share the same source code, but file compatibility has certainly been built into Logic Pro to accept files from GarageBand.
If you have Logic Pro installed on your machine, you can open the newly copied GarageBand project. Within Logic Pro, choose File > Open and navigate to the the GarageBand for iPad project that was copied from the iPad.
Logic Pro handles project media in a slightly different manner than GarageBand. The main difference is that Logic Pro creates project folders that hold all of your audio and media content. GarageBand attempts to simplify the file management for end users by saving files as packages. Essentially, all of the audio and media folder is nested inside of a bundle that, to the end user, looks like one file. In actuality, it is a grouping of multiple files. You can test this by right-clicking on the GarageBand file and choosing “Show Package Contents.”
After opening the GarageBand project in Logic Pro, you should save the project as a native Logic Pro project. Choose File > Save As from the Logic Pro’s menu bar. Choose a save location. It is important to include assets when saving this project. THis will ensure that all audio added to the project will be placed in the project folder.
Now that you have your GarageBand project in Logic the real fun can begin. You’re not bound by the limitations of GarageBand for iPad and GarageBand for Mac. Not to say these are not great applications, but they certainly do not possess the same caliber of audio creation tools.
There is only one drawback to this workflow – you cannot export a Logic Pro project back to a GarageBand project. As you might have guessed, this is because Logic Pro possess a number of tools, software instruments and editing tools that are not available in GarageBand.
GarageBand for iPad is a wonderful first step into the future of mobile DAWs. It will be truly interesting to watch the evolution of the way we create and engage music on mobile devices.