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Garageband For Windows - What To Look For In A Garageband Alternative For Windows
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I would be fabulously wealthy if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if there's a version of Garageband for Windows. Garageband is a much-lauded music software program developed by Apple. It was first released in 2004 and though it has undergone several iterations in recent years, its reputation for making music production simple, accessible and inexpensive to users is unparalleled in the consumer market. Unfortunately for all those musically-inclined PC users out there, Apple does not make a version of Garageband for Windows.

So. That's the bad news over with.

The good news is that there are a number of rather savvy Windows developers out there who identified a gap in the market and dove into it. This article will provide an overview of what to look for in viable Garageband for Windows alternatives for PC users.

A Garageband for Windows alternative, by definition, must meet the basic criteria that make Garageband such a desirable program. These are:

  1. Affordability: Garageband is a part of Apple's iLife '11 suite of applications (also includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb), which retail as a bundle for US$49. Cost-wise, that's pretty hard to beat, so our alternatives must be competitive on the wallet.
  2. Simplicity: If you need to read a 50-page manual to lay down a drum track or add a live effect to your vocals, then it's not Garageband. We're looking for music software that's intuitive to use, so a good hour of messing about in the program should be enough to get you familiar with all the basics.
  3. The Fun Factor: Let's face it, one of the best things about Garageband is that it's quite addictive. You look at your watch and suddenly realise you've been mixing tracks for the past four hours but it only feels like 20 minutes. That's because it's fun to use, and things gets downright magical once all your tracks start pulling together.
  4. Multi-track Recording: This allows you to record different sounds on different tracks - for example a drum beat on one track, a guitar on another, lead vocal on another, and so on. It means you can individually edit each track, and keep building more tracks until you get the sounds you want.
  5. Built in Beats and Loops: While it's cool to record and create your own sounds, having a library of built in, pre-recorded, royalty-free sounds helps to create a more professional backing sound very quickly. Instead of having to make from scratch a grooving guitar riff, a jazz bass-line or a jungle beat, the ability to grab one from a built-in library is part of what makes Garageband so sweet.

So what software programmes out there meet all these Garageband for Windows criteria?

There are several that come close, but two main contenders that beat out the competition. These are Mixcraft by Acoustica, and ACID Music Studio by Sony. Both easily meet all five of the essential Garageband for Windows criteria listed above, and would make excellent additions to the software collections of any aspiring music producers.


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