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iPad Music Production: GarageBand
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Recording with microphones


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iPad Music Production: GarageBand

with Garrick Chow

Video: Recording with microphones

So far we have seen how to play GarageBand's Touch instruments as well as how to connect real guitars to your iPad to play through GarageBand's amps. Now if you're playing an instrument that doesn't have its own connection port to connect to an amp, maybe you are recording an acoustic guitar, or a trumpet, or a violin, you can put a mic on that instrument and then connect that mic directly to your iPad. Now as I touched on earlier, there is a world of accessories out there for connecting all types of devices to your iPad. Again, check out the course in this series called Inputs, Mics and MIDI for more information about connecting devices to your iPad.

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iPad Music Production: GarageBand
2h 48m Beginner Sep 11, 2012 Updated Aug 02, 2013

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In this course, author and musician Garrick Chow reviews GarageBand for the Apple iPad—an inexpensive yet powerful app that allows you to record and edit music with both real and virtual instruments. The course begins with a tour around the interface, examining the instrument and track views. Garrick demonstrates how to play both touch instruments and Smart Instruments, as well as how to connect and use real instruments and microphones. Garrick then explains how to build, record, and edit a song from scratch, and how to then export and share your music with iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, email, and with other devices.

Topics include:
  • Selecting instruments
  • Setting up a song
  • Playing touch keyboards and drums
  • Playing Smart Instruments
  • Using real guitar amps
  • Working with loops
  • Recording instrument tracks
  • Editing MIDI tracks
  • Importing audio files
  • Exporting songs to multiple locations
Subjects:
Audio + Music DAWs Music Production iPad Music Production Virtual Instruments
Software:
GarageBand
Author:
Garrick Chow

Recording with microphones

So far we have seen how to play GarageBand's Touch instruments as well as how to connect real guitars to your iPad to play through GarageBand's amps. Now if you're playing an instrument that doesn't have its own connection port to connect to an amp, maybe you are recording an acoustic guitar, or a trumpet, or a violin, you can put a mic on that instrument and then connect that mic directly to your iPad. Now as I touched on earlier, there is a world of accessories out there for connecting all types of devices to your iPad. Again, check out the course in this series called Inputs, Mics and MIDI for more information about connecting devices to your iPad.

In terms of microphones, you'll find microphones that have been designed specifically to connect directly to the iPad. You can use standard microphones that use the standard XLR cable. In this case, I have a USB computer microphone connected to my iPad via the Apple Camera Connection Kit. Now once the microphone is connected to the iPad, there is no rule saying I couldn't open say the Guitar Amp and start recording my voice through one of the guitar amps to create a super over-processed voice. But if I'm looking to create a completely dry unprocessed voice, I am going to want to use the Audio Recorder.

The iPad automatically detects the input you're going to be using for your recording. Notice it says here Tap the Record button above to start recording using an external USB audio interface. So it knows I have a microphone connected to the dock connector right now. Now if I unplug that for just a minute, it immediately switches over to using the iPad's internal microphone. So you could record with the built-in mic on the iPad though I really wouldn't recommend it because it's not that great for capturing things like vocals or music. So I am going to go back and plug this back in.

Like working with the guitar amp, you can go to Input Settings here and choose to turn the Monitor on if you want to listen to what you are doing, but I only recommend doing that if you have headphones plugged in. Otherwise you're going to be monitoring your sounds through the iPad's built-in speaker which might go right back into your microphone and cause some feedback. So I recommend leaving that off if you don't have headphones plugged in. Of course if you're going to be recording vocals over music you already recorded, then you are definitely going to want to have the Monitor turned on and headphones plugged in. Depending on the device you're using, you may see a Channel selector here, so you can choose to record either the Left Channel, the Right Channel or in Stereo.

I am going to leave my Left Channel selected. Also depending on the device you're using, you may see this Input Level slider here. You will want to use this to set the level of the audio that's going into your iPad. So for instance, if I were going to be speaking, maybe I am going to be doing a podcast recording, I want to hold the mic about where I am going to be speaking at and then I want to continue to talk as I move this slider to increase or decrease the amount of input. I want to try to keep it away from hitting the red like you're seeing there. So I'm going to keep it right here with my speaking voice and I'm just going to adjust that a little bit.

Now we do have the option of using the Automatic setting to have it automatically set the level for us, but I don't usually trust that as much as setting the level myself. So it looks about right. Now you can also just monitor the VU meter here, this enormous meter here on my screen, and again, I will just pick the mic here, you just want to make sure that you're not quite hitting the red as you're talking. So you either want to adjust your distance from the mic, or your input level, or possibly both. And that's pretty much all the setup you need. Now if you are recording straight vocals and not singing to a beat, you might want to come into Settings and make sure Metronome is turned off, so you don't hear that constant beat as you're speaking.

So I'm going to keep that off. And now I can just tap Record to start my recording. (male speaking) And when you are done, just tap Stop and now you can see that I've recorded a region, let me switch over to the Track View, and there is the recording I just made. Let's go back to the Recorder. You'll also notice when I stop recording, I now see these different effects here that I can apply to my recording.

Now in order to listen to this I am going to have to unplug my microphone because this particular microphone has a headphone jack in the back, and you have to monitor your output through that microphone. So I'm just going to unplug that, since we have a jack plugged into our headphone jack here already. So let's give this a lesson. (audio playing) So that's the dry setting, meaning this is completely unprocessed, there are no effects on this particular recording. But notice we have these different effects we can choose from. Now some of these are kind of cartoony, we have the Chipmunk, the Robot and the Monster, just roll this back and you can hear what those sound like.

(audio playing) Now depending on the project you're working on, you may never use effects like that, but you might find effects like Small Room and Large Room useful to create a different sense of size in your recording. For instance I'll choose Small Room, roll that back. (audio playing) Try Large Room. (audio playing) So both of those add a little bit more reverb to your sound to give it a sort of larger quality.

You might have also noticed that each of these effects have their own sliders to adjust their settings. For Chipmunk, we have the Compressor and Pitch, for Robot, Phaser and Chorus, Small Room, Compressor and Original Volume, and so on. So you can really play around with these effects a lot until you are recording sounds exactly the way you want it to sound. Now once you've made one recording, you can continue recording on this track or even re-record on it with the effects already applied. So if I wanted to make a recording with the Chipmunk voice going live into my iPad, I could to do that, but I generally recommend against doing that because some of these effects are pretty processor-intensive, especially Chipmunk and Robot and Monster, and they may cause a little bit of latency.

So my recommendation is to record everything without any effects applied, then apply the effects afterwards. You might have also noticed that these effects are nondestructive, meaning when I apply an effect, it doesn't permanently alter or damage my recording. I can always go back to the dry version of it and start from there again. So now that you know how to record with a microphone, that pretty much completes the picture. We can now record pretty much anything whether we're recording something out of the air, a real guitar or using GarageBand's Virtual Instruments. And again, do be sure to check out the course in this series called Inputs, Mics, and MIDI for a lot more information on how to connect all types of devices to your iPad.

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