GarageBand 09 First Impressions

Just finished installing iLife 09, and there are some bright spots.  I’d say iPhoto is the best new thing, but GB got a fresh coat of paint, and we’ll examine some observations here….

INTRO SCREEN

Totally revamped, and offers a template chooser approach, well beyond what it used to.  Not unlike Logic’s project startup screen.

LOOP BROWSER

I can see why they wanted to put it in the vertical format, which matches every other app that uses loops.  I can even see how it’s more contextually related to the info panel (which it now shares space with) than the precision editor (which it used to share space with).  But lots of people who use loops are going to be confused by this move.

FEATURES

Haven’t tried lessons yet, but that looks like a big part of the new feature set.  So far I’ve noticed a nicer compressor (threshold control – wow!), some new guitar amps, and a far more descriptive/slick interface for adding effects.  The “Effects” versus “Sends” labels really make me happy to see – novices need to learn about signal chain stuff like this.

THE LOOK

GarageBand is the most different-looking program in this year’s iLife, and could signal some upcoming changes in Mac OS X, but I’ve got to say the inverse chrome is killing me right now.  The wood is still there, but there’s something just off about the color scheme.  It’s like it inhabits a strange nether-region between the iLife and Prokit UI  (prokit prefers darker internal view, while iLife tends to favor darker borders and lighter internal).  For all of the great UI improvements, there’s something more intimidating about this look and I wonder how a beginner would react when seeing it.  I’ll have to try it out on some novices at conference.

P.S. Kudos on the glassy iPhone-style shading on the loops.  Very nice and very GarageBand.

Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.

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