GarageBand '11: what's new?

Apple has announced and released iLife '11, which means that GarageBand '11, the new version of the company's easy-to-use DAW, is now here.

As usual, the update adds several features that will be useful to music producers and others that will attract players and 'hobbyists': let's take a closer look at what's new.

Flex Time

Dripped down from Logic Pro and Express 9, this technology enables you to move, stretch or shorten specific parts of an audio file. It can be used either to correct mistakes made in recordings (which you might argue is a pretty good thing in a DAW that's going to be used a lot by musicians who are just getting started) and also for more creative applications.

Groove Matching

A new tool that enables you to extract the groove from one of the tracks in your project and apply it to any or all of the others. This being a GarageBand feature, the implementation is simple: just make a Groove Track out of the track with the groove you want to use.

Guitar amps and stompboxes

More Logic goodness: there are seven new guitar amps (bringing the total up to 12) and five new stompboxes (giving you 15 in all). These can be mixed and matched, giving you a range of tone-shaping possibilities.

GarageBand lesson

New Lessons… and How Did I Play?

Since the launch of the Learn To Play features in GarageBand '09 Apple hasn't exactly bombarded us with new Lessons, but there are now 22 new genre-based Basic Lessons for pianists and guitarists. Each one also features a glossary, while guitarists can make use of the Chord Trainer.

The How Did I Play feature looks like it's been inspired by Guitar Hero, SingStar et al: as you play though a Lesson on your keyboard, you'll be able to see how well you're doing via coloured notes on the stave, light-up keys, a progress bar and a performance meter. You'll even get a score at the end, the theory being that you'll then challenge yourself to better it and become a more competent player in the process.

Summary

On the music production side, GarageBand '11 looks more than ever like a mini Logic. It still doesn't have the mixing and effects features that would enable you to create truly 'pro-standard' productions, but the inclusion of Flex Time and Groove Matching will give users a taste of the power that Apple's full-on DAW has in its locker.

On the playing side, Mac-owning guitarists now appear to have a pretty good virtual rig at their disposal right out of the box. It remains to be seen how effective the new Lessons and How Did I Play features are.

We'll bring you a review of GarageBand '11 as soon as possible. For more details, go to the Apple website. iLife '11 costs £45 and ships with all new Macs.


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