GarageBand for iOS is quite a beast for what it is. It’s like a full studio within a $5 iOS app. It works really well, too. That’s not to say it is a full-featured package. It will do the job for some simpler tracks, but users who are accustomed to software like Logic Pro may want a bit more. The good news is that GarageBand for iOS can work directly with Logic Pro. You can import a track you built on your iPad to Logic, and it will keep everything you did. That’s very cool.
1) Find a good audio and MIDI interface. We have one by Griffin called the StudioConnect. It’s, in one word, wonderful. It will set you back about $150, but it’s worth the price if you want to up the ante on your iPad music production (pictured above).
It has audio out, a volume control, a gain control, audio in, and MIDI in and out. One of the things we really like is the large volume knob. It’s easily accessible. The only thing it doesn’t have is a microphone input and phantom power. That can easily be remedied with an XLR to 1/4 adapter, which according to this link will set you back about 66 cents on Amazon. Any RadioShack should carry one, too.
If you need phantom power because you are using a condenser microphone, then you will want a pre-amp. The good news is that if you already have a home studio, you likely have one of these laying around. If not, you can find a fairly cheap one on Sweetwater (note: Sweetwater has the best customer service I’ve EVER dealt with. They personally emailed me and called me to ask me how my new speaker stands were working out for me.)
2) Find yourself some monitors or headphones.
If you’re looking for something that’s low-cost and portable, we’d suggest these Samson MediaOne powered monitors. They are about $100 on Sweetwater. The important thing is that you find something that is powered. If they are not self-powered, you will need an amp, and that would mean that your studio is no longer portable.
However, we would recommend headphones. There are quite a few out there, but since you are likely just going to be recording with this, these Sennheisers should be more than adequate. Again, if you have a home studio already, you likely already have headphones. In a pinch, whatever headphones you have will do.
3) The Midi Controller
We are going for portability here. This means you may want to sacrifice some function. That’s okay, because your fancy MIDI controller can sit at home with your main setup. Just look up a few compact midi controllers. The best way to go is to find something that works with both USB and standard MIDI ports. This is because the StudioConnect has MIDI in rather than USB.
Now You Have What You Need
Excluding the actual instruments (such as a guitar, bass and microphone) and cables, you are now set to record. GarageBand is pretty straightforward, and you can play in beats and melodies by using your MIDI controller. We will often do this on the road. Perhaps lay down a simple drum track or a bass track through MIDI on GarageBand for iOS and save it for later. Keep in mind you can also record those audio tracks thanks to the audio in on the StudioConnect.
When You’re No Longer on the Road
Sometimes an idea comes up while at a hotel or away from the home studio. We use GarageBand to quickly jot it down, so to speak. When that’s done, we can save it for import to Logic Pro or GarageBand for Mac later. We use Logic, so GarageBand for iOS was the obvious choice for recording on our iPad.
Here’s how to import your GarageBand for iOS tracks to Logic Pro 9 – link.
GarageBand for iOS: