Recording Basic Audio on a Mac with Garageband

Recording Basic Audio on a Mac with Garageband
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Recording your own audio on your Mac is as simple as writing your name. Well, almost.

Thanks to the user-friendly program from Apple called Garageband, artists, podcasters, and just casual consumers in general can create their own audio recordings.

There are a variety of tools to use as your audio input. The most basic way is just recording right through the built-in microphone that comes with all Macbooks and iMacs. The other way is purchasing a USB or Firewire M-Audio device which can be found at places like Guitar Center or online at Musicians Friend. An actual microphone or instrument is then plugged into it.

Whichever method you choose results in the same easy process. The first thing to do is open Garageband and give your file a name by clicking on Create New Music Porject. Here you can also choose to change the tempo, signature and bpm (beats per minute).

Once the file is given a name, Garageband will open up to its main interface. The first thing you’ll see is a track with the grand piano and possibly a keyboard in the center of the screen. The keyboard in the center can be closed as it will not be used for basic audio recording. Also click on the toolbar at the very top and click Track>Delete Track to start off fresh and clean without the grand piano track.

You then want to go into Garageband>Preferences>Audio/Midi and make sure that the input source is either your USB M-Audio (mine is called Fast Track) or the Built-In Microphone.

Once that is chosen you’re one step away from recording!

Click on Track again and Create New Track. A window will pop up asking if you want a software instrument or a real instrument, choose real instrument.

A track will appear and you should see your voice transmitting in the little bars under Mixer. If you double click on the track, the track info will pan open on the right of the screen. Here you can choose to make the input source come out in either stereo or mono. There are two options for Mono. “Mono 1” will allow the vocals to come out evenly in both speakers. Mono 2 is used with your M-Audio device and a standard guitar cable. It will produce even guitar sounds through both speakers when Mono 2 is chosen. Stereo is the default setting and it will play your voice a little more out of the right speaker then the left, so I just choose to have it even with the Mono 1 setting.

You can also toggle monitor off and on. When it’s on you can hear your voice through the speakers in real time as you speak. It is recommended that you wear headphones though if using this option.

You are now ready to record your first audio track!

All you have to do is click the red record circle at the bottom of Garageband. 

*Note you may want to go to the control pull down at the top and turn off the metronome or just hit Cmd+U.

The track will begin to record and you can just speak or belt out your favorite lyrics as you wish. When you’re done recording press the play button to stop. Push the play button again to play what you just recorded.

That’s it!

If you want to share your work just go up to “Share” and select Send Song to iTunes and it will place it there for you automatically.

If you want to spice up your recording a bit try messing around with the vocal effects under the Track Info section on the right of the screen.

Recording really is simple with Garageband. Feel free to go beyond just recording and see what else you can do with this fun and powerful application. It’s a great program for simple recordings.

Be sure to checkout the video tutorial associated with this article as it will give you a visual guide to work with. Good luck and sing your heart out.


Input Setup

Garageband Key Options

Toolbar Guide