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After GarageBand, where next?


JPJ
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So during lockdown #1 (yes I'm that old) I decided to get to grips with recording my bass, mainly as a self-improvement tool, and to get over the stress I go under every time the record light goes red. I made use of the inbuilt GarageBand on my Macbook Pro and surprised myself with the results, especially when using the clone of the Avalon DI. 

However, I now feel that I've gone as far as I can go inside GarageBand and feel I need to move on to a more fully featured DAW if I am to continue to develop my skills. The logical step (see what I did there?) appears to be to purchase a copy of Logic Pro, but before I treat myself for Christmas, is there a better option I should be considering?

 

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While I am sure there will be a number of people recommending Reaper, if you are already familiar with GarageBand and like the way it works, then Logic is by far the best upgrade for you. Reaper may be technically free, but the amount and quality of the bundled plug-ins is not a patch on those that come with Logic. You can quite easily cover the £199 cost of Logic just by considering what additional software you may need to buy to get Reaper up to the same level of functionality you are already getting from GarageBand.

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Logic....You've already done a bit of an apprenticeship with GarageBand. Like BRX has already said, after the initial financial layout, it will be quite a while before you get Gas, or indeed the need for 3rd party FX plug-ins and synths. Logic is pretty well stacked with excellent tools for the job.

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The only caveat to Logic is that you are locking yourself into the Apple eco system in terms of hardware as well as software but if you are ok with that then Logic is the .. err ... logical choice. Logic Pro does come with a 90 day eval these days so you can give it a whirl without any commitment:

 

https://www.apple.com/uk/logic-pro/trial/

 

Reaper and the likes of Bitwig all run on Windows, Mac and Linux although if you end up purchasing additional Reaper plug-ins then they not be so accomodating of Linux. 

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8 minutes ago, Gramski said:

The only caveat to Logic is that you are locking yourself into the Apple eco system in terms of hardware as well as software but if you are ok with that then Logic is the .. err ... logical choice.

 

I really don't see what the problem is. I've always been of the opinion that you pick your computer based on the software that you want to run on it. When I bought my first Mac it was because I needed to run Quark XPress which back then was the premier page layout programme (nothing else came even remotely close) and was Macintosh only.

 

Yes there are alternatives to Logic out there, but unless all you are ever going to use your DAW for is a digital multitrack tape recorder, none of the alternatives IMO are anywhere as near as cost-effective. And besides the OP already has a Mac.

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2 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Yes there are alternatives to Logic out there, but unless all you are ever going to use your DAW for is a digital multitrack tape recorder, none of the alternatives IMO are anywhere as near as cost-effective. And besides the OP already has a Mac.

 

I certainly agree to a large extent although I've tended to try and ensure that I don't lock myself into one eco system when there are other equally viable options out there for which the total cost of ownership for what I want to do is considerably less expensive.

 

Everyones view of what "considerable" equates to in the previous sentance will be different and my definition has changed as I've had different commitments \ famliy responsibilities \ jobs over time. I appreciate that the OP has a Mac today ... if they buy Logic Pro then they'll need a Mac for as long as they want to use that software and directly use those skills ... and they'll have to budget for upgrades of Logic Pro ... I chose Reaper as it does what I want at a price I can afford. Everyone's mileage on this will differ based on what they want to achieve musically, their wider requirements for other software \ other requirements they have of a laptop and their budgets.

 

Each DAW has a relatively long evaluation period so ideally I'd look to understand what someone wants from a DAW and evaluate a few of them to see which workflow works best for them. They could be using the software for the next 5 to 10 years so a few months to choose wisely is probably a good investment of time rather than just defaulting to what seems obvious now. At the end of the day they are just a tool to get a job done. Have fun with whatever is chosen.

Edited by Gramski
quick grammar update.
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Personally I think once you've invested more than a few months (or at least done a serious project) in a particular DAW you are pretty much tied in for as long as you are going to be be making music using your computer. I ended up with Logic (in the early 90s) because that was what my songwriter partner of the time was using and it made total sense for us both the be using the same program. Left to my own devices I would have most likely gone for Opcode Vision and a couple of years down the line found myself having to start from scratch with another DAW after Gibson bought up Opcode and subsequently killed off all their software.

 

And from that PoV Logic is probably one of the safest DAWs to be using since is is extremely unlikely to be discontinued or sold by Apple; and because it is tied to the Macintosh platform tends to far more stable than the competition. If you want an indication of just how badly software can fare once a closed system is "opened up" just look at the decline of the once mighty ProTools...

 

Also Macs tend to last a long time. My "studio" MacPro is from 2010 and cost me £600 second hand a couple of years ago (it replaced another second hand MacPro that cost £350 and which I sold on for only slightly less than that!). The MacBook Pro that runs the backing for both of my bands when they gig is almost 10 years old and was £700 new as an EoL model. Also if you don't need to, there's no real need to upgrade software. I'm only running the latest version of Logic, because upgrades to my Macs for my day job (where I earn the money to be able to make music) meant that the previous version no longer worked. If my Macs were just for music, I'd probably still be running Logic 9 (or maybe even 8). And finally the "upgrade" cost of Logic has never been cheaper. I recall the days when I paid close to £300 just to upgrade the MIDI sequencing part of Logic and the "Logic Audio" extension upgrade was an additional £200. Compared with that current price is a bargain.

 

Finally how cost effective the various DAWs are depends on what you require them to do. If all I wanted from a DAW was a glorified multitrack audio recording device and mixer, then Reaper would do the job admirably for free. However to replace the various plugins that I use regularly which come for free with Logic with 3rd party versions for Reaper would be in excess of the £199 that Logic currently costs.

 

Edit: I have been looking at swapping to Presonus Studio One since the "Show" version of the DAW suits the way I use software for gigs far better than Logic or MainStage (which ought to be the obvious choice for me). Unfortunately the change-over is providing far more complicated than I envisioned, at I may well continue to use Logic even though isn't as flexible for running a live set simply because the new learning curve is too steep.

Edited by BigRedX
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Thanks all for the advice and I guess it has reinforced what I always suspected; that the move to LogicPro is next on the cards for me.

I’m really a fan of the Apple eco system. I moved to Apple when I set up my own business back in 2012 as I was tired of the overhead of running the Microsoft alternative. In the last ten years I’ve only owned two MacBook Pro’s (the first one is still going strong after a hard disk change), and I think I’d have probably doubled that had I stayed with PC’s. I have to use a Surface Pro for my current consultancy job, and whilst it’s a lovely piece of kit, it’s still no match for Apple. 

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I think it depends on what kind of production work you intend to do, if it's going t be a lot of EDM stuff, Logic and Ableton are very good straight off the bat as they had a wealth of synths and samplers built in that are very good indeed, Logic is a fine audio recording and editing DAW too.

 

If you need to record a lot of audio and edit/manipulate it then mix it, Logic and Protools would be my choices, with Reaper as an interested third.

 

Honourable mention to Universal Audios Luna, which is proving to be excellent but lacks support for the Avid surfaces currently, you also need UA's hardware to join that party.

 

You'll find Logic and Abelton have a very good set of built in effects and play well with a wide range of hardware and plug-in suites.

 

Protools is still my go to system as it works exactly like a recording studio would, and I really like the elastic audio editing system and the fact it's still the only DAW with sample accurate delay compensation for plug-in latency. It's very expensive if you're not making money out of audio though.

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Personally I wouldn't bother with ProTools unless you are collaborating with an existing ProTools user and expecting to make serious money out of your recordings.

 

The iLok copy protection system is beyond flakey, and ProTools' parent company Avid appear to stumble from one poor CEO and financial crisis to another. 

 

The only thing keeping it going is the inertia of the established user base built up from the days when it was the only serious proposition when it came to recording and manipulating digital audio. Plus these days when new users have never used a traditional multitrack tape recorder and mixer, the familiarity of the user interface that mimics this system is far less important.

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Just now, BigRedX said:

Personally I wouldn't bother with ProTools unless you are collaborating with an existing ProTools user and expecting to make serious money out of your recordings.

 

The iLok copy protection system is beyond flakey, and ProTools' parent company Avid appear to stumble from one poor CEO and financial crisis to another. 

 

The only thing keeping it going is the inertia of the established user base built up from the days when it was the only serious proposition when it came to recording and manipulating digital audio. Plus these days when new users have never used a traditional multitrack tape recorder and mixer, the familiarity of the user interface that mimics this system is far less important.

 

I'm so old I started with 1" 8 track...! Protools makes sense to me. I'm not seeing any flakiness in the iLok system, it's been rock solid for me over the years, and it protects revenues and quality from the developers, alternatively I've always found Waves licensing to be an absolute pig, and the number of systems I've had to flush pirated Waves plug-ins out of to solve issues is high.

 

Yeah, protools is pricey, yeah you need the expectation of revenue, and certainly the company can be problematic, but the phase accuracy of the aux's and the plug-in delay compensation is essential, even mixing in Logic doesn't yield that level of accuracy, and their hardware integration and S series surface capability is second to none, thanks to EUCON. Sure, it works great with Logic and Abelton too, that's the point of it.

 

I'd really like ARA support for Melodyn, and if Luna ever picks up EUCON support (it won't) I'll seriously consider switching, I really like the console emulation UA have got going.

 

Horses for courses, Logic/Abelton/Reaper etc. are all capable and are often brilliant, but for me none of them offer what Protools does. Obviously YMMV.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In case it hasn't been mentioned already: You can open all of your Garageband projects in Logic. You'll have access to all the same effects, loops and channels that you had in GB, but you'll be able to continue adding to the project without having to rebuild anything.

 

Interestingly, sometimes I like to write something in GB so I don't get overwhelmed with "option paralysis", then open the project in Logic when I am ready to do so. A change of scenery isn't necessarily a bad thing at times!

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I kinda like the simplicity of GB, I've used Cubase and Reaper in the past and enjoy their advanced functions but I get more music done with the (slightly) limiting features of Garageband, I'm just messing around not doing anything serious mind, maybe I'm slowly regressing and will eventually go back to using Cubasis on an Atari ST 😃

 

 

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GarageBand is essentially the "Demo" version of Logic.  When you open Logic for the first time, it's in a simplified version that's not too dissimilar to GB.  But as you get to know it, you can then go into the file menu (Logic Pro>Preferences>Advanced>Enable complete features) to open the whole thing up.

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