HOW TO ADD VSTS/PLUGINS TO GARAGEBAND.
This is a tutorial process essay I wrote for a garageband class. It's not much, but can show you how to use garageband to its fullest capabilities.
Garageband is an audio production program that comes installed with every Mac computer. Professional companies from all around the world use it to easily create high quality voice and music for commercials, movies, and much more. When used correctly, Garageband can be an extremely powerful tool. Most audio producers think that Garageband is more of a beginner's tool because it seems to have limited features with built in lessons and tutorials to teach people how to use and play instruments. Sure, it can really help get people started in the audio production world, but with proper usage the possibilities are endless. Built in editable instruments and Audio Unit support are two important and overlooked features in Garageband. When these features are fully mastered, Garageband can be used to create some amazing tunes. Go ahead and start a new Garageband project
Garageband has a large selection of pre-set editable midi instruments available. They can be found by clicking the "I" icon at the bottom right corner of the screen. Once you click the "I" icon, a panel will open up right above it containing a list of instruments such as "Pianos and Keyboards," "Guitars," and "Synth Basics." When you click one of these instrument categories, you will see a list of specific instruments related to that category open up right next to it. These instruments are all very nice and already open up possibilities for audio creation.
Next to the "Browse" button at the top of the instrument list is a button labeled "Edit". This button allows full control of each instrument, creating an interface that allows the user to unleash their full musical creativity. Each instrument has a range of adjustments including reverb, filtering, and treble reduction. All you have to do is click an empty slot under the "Effects" window, or click the icon underneath the "Sound Generator". By default, it already has a Compressor added. Try experimenting with every instrument and effect. They can be very powerful for creating handcrafted sounds.
Built in instruments with thousands of sound combinations might seem nice and all, but that doesn't compare to the fact that Garageband allows the user to incorporate additional features in programs known as "Plugins" and "Audio Units". Known as a VST on a PC, Audio Units can be used to create an extremely wide range of effects and sounds, expanding on what Garageband has to offer. Virtual synthesizers, modulators, oscillators, and distortion effects are just a few on a large list of items available. There are literally thousands of Audio Units and Plugins that can be used to create millions of sounds. Knowing how to put them into Garageband can be very helpful. Since Garageband is for the Mac, most audio units and plugins are free. There are multiple websites that carry them along with a truck load of other helpful virtual audio tools. HitSquad is my personal favorite website for downloadable content.
Once the plugin or audio unit is found, make sure to read the users manual for that specific tool. Most of them time it will have a ".component" or ".vst" file extension and have a white block icon with a green "X" on it. Normally this icon should be dragged into the Components folder or VST folder located inside the plugin folder in the audio library. Don't worry, it is very easy to install. It's all just dragging and dropping a file. After it is dragged and dropped inside the designated folder, restart Garageband.
Every VST and audio unit will have a different interface. Some might be complicated while other might be easy as pie. Reading the users manual is an important and helpful step before processing onto using the tool. When ready, open Garageband, start a new project, and click the instrument name underneath the "Edit" tab. It should say something like, "Piano," "Guitar," or "Trumpet." When you click the instrument name, a list of audio units and instruments will pop up. Select the audio unit you just installed and the instrument icon should change. The audio unit or plugin that is being used is acting just like an instrument, so the same basic editing rules apply. Simply click the instrument and all of the options for editing it will appear. For me, I am using the "Magical 8-bit Plugin" to create some neat Atari sound effects.
Now all that is left to do is to hit the record button. Open up your virtual keyboard by pressing shift, apple, and the "K" key and start recording by pressing the red, circular button If you do not want to use the Garageband virtual keyboard, then you should invest in buying a MIDI keyboard that you can plug into your computer. This way, you can play the keyboard as you do a piano and record everything your playing right into your computer. There are hundreds of midi keyboards to choose from, some that have their own built in plugins and VST's for creating sounds as you have learned how to on Garageband. For now, it is much easier to use the virtual keyboard. If you get interested in buying a keyboard, go down to your local Guitar Center and ask for assistance on choosing the best keyboard for you. Do your research, and you should be able to find a fantastic keyboard, or even a synthesizer.
By mastering these techniques, Garageband can be taken to a completely different level. With practice, you can master its tools and create ear candy music. Remember to take it one step at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself with to many plugins at once. Learn how to use each one, one by one. If you get to complicated to quickly, you will find yourself face to face with a lot of windows with hundreds of knobs and buttons that confuse you. You should learn how adjusting certain things effects the sound you are trying to produce. It is all about experimenting and practicing. Once you fully understand how to create sounds, you will be able to make some great synths and beats. Good luck, and spread the word about how Garageband is a great program to use.
Not the best written tutorial in the universe, but it get's its point across... I guess. :p