GarageBand 10 Transition Report (Spoiler: It is very disappointing)

Apple released GarageBand 10 on Tuesday. The new interface is very nice, and I was thrilled to see it get the update it’s been needing. I was so excited with the announcement that I literally jumped up and down with joy.

I’ve been using GarageBand for over 9 years, since version 1.0 came out. I’ve used it to produce thousands of professional tracks, and three full length albums. GarageBand has always struck a great balance of ease-of-use and professional features that allow you to create truly pro audio.

I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with the new GarageBand 10, but it does seem that many of the pro features have been dumbed down or removed all together. This was very disappointing to me. However, the more I look around, the more it seems that I’m finding some of these old features again — they are just in a different area of the program. Many are still missing altogether.

I do think the GarageBand 10 update is nice, but it definitely feels like a 1.0 product, and I really hope Apple releases an update soon to bring back certain features and fix some very annoying bugs.

Pro Features in GarageBand 6 vs. GarageBand 10

The big thing that makes GarageBand so great is its support for 3rd party plugins. GarageBand 10 still supports Audio Unit plugins, however there are some caveats and compatibility issues. We will get to that in a moment.

Another great feature of GarageBand is the ability to create and fine-tune a software instrument using one of the many sound generation modules. For example, in GarageBand 6 you could make a new software track, pick the sound generation module, and then fine tune it. Here I am adding a new synth track to my project in GarageBand 6:


And here I am editing the parameters of that synth module:


This allowed advanced granular tuning to get exactly the sound you were looking for (within reason).

In GarageBand 10, it appears we no longer have this option. We can load presets, and change a few of the same parameters using the Smart Controls panel, but we cannot change the sound module, and it appears we are missing some of the settings we used to be able to adjust.

All we can do in GarageBand 10 is select a preset from the Library:


We can no longer choose whether we want an analog, digital, swirl, sync, or other sound module. If there is a way to do this, I haven’t figured it out yet. This is the first disappointing thing in the new GarageBand 10. No advanced editing of software instruments.

Custom instruments you’ve made in previous versions of GarageBand (by dragging samples to the onscreen keyboard) no longer seem to load in GarageBand 10. This is a HUGE bummer, as I’ve made quite a few custom sample/dub instruments. When trying to select them, I get this error message:


Another huge drawback of the new GarageBand 10 is any old projects you try to open will not retain their plugin settings. Let me clarify. Here is a project I loaded from GarageBand 6 into GarageBand 10. This project employs heavy use of plugins. When opening and playing the project, the plugins are clearly loaded, and the song sounds the same as it did in GarageBand 6. HOWEVER, when I try to view/edit/disable the plugins, they simply do not show up:


You can clearly see the Smart Controls show that this track is using the TH2 guitar plugin. However, nothing shows up in the Audio Units section — I cannot see the plugin on the track, I can’t disable it, and I can’t make changes to the plugin settings. This is a huge huge backwards compatibility issue and is probably my biggest gripe with the new version, other than the fact that many plugins do not seem to load. Making changes to the Smart Control knobs does nothing to change the sound of my track. Not very smart…

The other big gripe I have with the new version is that it kills compatible with tons of plugins. In fact out of 20 or so plugins I personally use, only 5 seem to be working on GarageBand 10:






The following plugins do not work:

Ozone 3 and Ozone 4 (confirmed with Izotope, they have no plans to fix this or release an update, which is very lousy of them)

CamelSpace and CamelPhat confirmed not working. They’ve responded and say they are working on a fix. That is good news at least.

Guitar Rig 2, 3 and 4. I have not heard back from them yet on whether they will be updating their plugins to work or not. I will update this post when I hear.

TubeTech and TubeDelay plugins do not work on GarageBand 10. No reply from them either.





Other Missing Features & Annoyances

Podcasting features seem to be completely gone. I’ve never used them myself, but I know many folks used GarageBand to produce podcasts, and these missing features are a big bummer for them as well.

I cannot seem to find the Ducking feature in GarageBand 10.

Fine tune editing of the other amps is gone (Bass Amp, for example).

When selecting a software instrument, everything is now split up into New GarageBand, Logic, Legacy, plus each and every jam pack. This makes quickly sampling and selecting a drum kit, for example, a nightmare process! I have to scroll left and right and left and right and move back and forth over and over again just to find the kit I want! There is also no way to only show user created sound instruments like there was in GarageBand 6. This is a mess!




All in all I am very disappointed in this update!

I was so extremely excited to see the refreshed interface and new drummer features, along with other new features and improvements. I was jumping up and down and couldn’t wait to download. Now, I find myself incredibly let down by this “update”. Yes the UI is new and pretty. And that’s about it. To recap:

• Cannot open old GarageBand projects that used any plugins at all

• Cannot edit our software instruments

• 75% or more of old plugins simply refuse to load

• It is a nightmare to find the software instrument you want, because they are all split up and doubled into dozens of folders that make no logical organizational sense.

• Can’t use your custom software instruments/sampler instruments

There is probably a lot more that has been removed or dumbed down, but because of these huge limitations out of the gate, I can’t even really use the software at all. I will continue to use GarageBand 6, and hope that point release updates to GarageBand 10 will fix these issues. I really hope this isn’t becoming the normal for Apple going forward — dumbing down their software to a point where it’s almost unusable, and incompatible with its own previous versions.

I will update this post if I learn any more.