What is GarageBand?
GarageBand is a well-known music software. It enables users to create music or podcasts, with a wide range of tools at their disposal. It’s one of the older music softwares out there, and it has developed a cult following over the years. It’s versatile, functional, easy to use, and affordable. You can purchase a one-time license for $4.99. (Read: dirt cheap.) The only downside? It’s an OS X exclusive. If you are running a Windows computer, you’re probably not going to be able to use this one.
Don’t worry, though. GarageBand is pretty great, but it isn’t the only music software out there. I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best GarageBand alternatives, keeping GarageBand’s core values in mind while doing so. If you’re a musician or a podcaster, you’re not going to want to miss this one.
5. trakAx PC
trakAx is a full-fledged media editor, which means that it can be used for both video and audio. In my opinion, this is an advantage, although I can see why some people would be annoyed that their audio editor is being bogged down by video-related features that they never use. traxAx doesn’t go quite as in-depth as its competitors, and it’s not as easy to use, either.
The interface, in my opinion, is kind of ugly, and overly-simplified. However, it gets the job done for a good percentage of audio tasks that you may have. Seeing as this is primarily a video editing program, however, you should seriously keep in mind that audio updates are few and far between compared to video updates. If more time were dedicated to improving the music aspect of this software, it would be higher on this list by a few spots. They have all of the right tools, but they’re just not using them the right way.
trakAx is super budget friendly, with the full version only costing $34.99. This is a pretty great price, and it’s one of the best on this list when you consider that you’re buying the 100% complete version. Other software here may have “standard” editions that are comparable in price, but you’re also able to purchase much more expensive versions that are bundled with more samples or features. Unfortunately, though, you’re definitely getting what you’re paying for, and the overall user experience isn’t particularly sophisticated.
4. FL Studio
FL Studio is a music software that is on-par with GarageBand in terms of prestige, being used by many well-known musical artists, like DeadMau5 and Afrojack. Don’t be intimidated, though. It’s surprisingly kind to beginners, with a vast array of customization options, allowing the experience to be as complicated or as simple as you would like it to be. FL Studio is often recommended to young, inexperienced musicians who are serious about pursuing a music career.
I would hope that you would be serious about purchasing FL Studio, considering how expensive it is. Yes, although it matches GarageBand pound-for-pound in most arena (and even surpasses them in others, offering superior stability and MIDI-out compatibility) it comes at a great cost. You can buy the most standard version of this software for $99, which is pretty steep for most people. However, FL Studio also offers a free trial version, which is mostly functional, but not ideal. Aside from a reduced library of included samples, the most dramatic limitation is the inability to reopen saved projects. This may not be a big deal if you’re desperate, but it cripples the functionality of the overall software.
Overall, FL Studio is a really fantastic program. Still, it’s the most expensive software on this list. One of the greatest draws to GarageBand is how budget-friendly it is. You can jump into it without really knowing what you’re doing, and you can do it with a clear conscience. You don’t really get that luxury with FL Studio.
The first time I saw Soundation, I was surprised by how similar it looks to GarageBand. It seems as thoughits general functionality, as well as its designed, was heavily inspired by it. Soundation is an amazing software that manages to be both substantial and easy to use. Unlike the other software on this list, it doesn’t even require a download. You’re able to use Soundation from your web browser, which makes it very easily accessible.
Soundation has pretty much every audio editing feature that you would ever need, but my favorite part about it is its payment model. They give so much power to the consumer, which is refreshing in today’s world. You’re able to choose from very distinct license tiers, which enable you to unlock just what you need, without paying for anything more. Most software companies have two licenses: free and premium. In premium, you can do everything. In free, you can’t do everything. Soundation has four tiers, with the last two tiers offering both monthly and yearly subscription packages. The cheapest paid subscription is $19.99/yr, and the most expensive is $99/yr.
You may have figured out while reading this that every person could have different needs when looking for a GarageBand alternative. Maybe you just want something that you can goof around with every once in a while. Maybe you’re a full-time DJ, and you need a serious tool that you can in your work. A lot of software tends to cater to one or the other, but Soundation has something for everyone. It’s a very consumer-friendly way of doing business, and I respect the heck out of it.
If you’re a penniless artist, you’re probably miserable at this point in the list. “All of these are too expensive!” you cry. “I don’t want a free trial, I want a fully functional software!” Dry those tears, my friend, because this one is for you. LMMS is a completely free, open-source software, aimed at Windows and Linux users. And it offers a level of quality that I haven’t really seen in a completely free software before. LMMS goes in DEEP, and it’s intimidating.
True, this software doesn’t hold your hand like some of the other paid options on this list might. They give you everything you need, give you a kick in the pants, and tell you to figure it out yourself. For some, this may be a deal-breaker. However, LMMS, like everything else, becomes much easier to use with practice. The more you grow used to the complicated interface, the better it becomes. It’s just a matter of dealing with that awkward early period, when you’re fumbling through menus and options.
Luckily, LMMS is a very popular software. It’s used by a lot of aspiring and independent artists, and some ofthem make really quality work with it. This popularity means that if you have any trouble, there’s almost certainly someone out there who can help you. From forums to YouTube tutorials, there are plenty of resources available to help someone who is struggling to use LMMS. If it weren’t for how great the next software on this list is, LMMS would almost definitely be on top. Aside from the learning curve, it’s hard to find something that’s so quality for so cheap.
You may have not heard of this one. Reaper is less-popular option when compared to LMMS, but I think that it beats out LMMS in terms of ease of use. Yeah, you have to learn it a little bit, like with every other new software, but it’s nowhere near as complicated as LMMS. You’re getting an experience that is much simpler, without ever feeling watered-down. Reaper is stronger in LMMS’s weakest areas, which is why it gets the top spot on this list.
Reaper offers all of the features that you would hope to have in a music software. If you can’t find something that you’re looking for, they have over 300 plugins that you can install to customize and enhance it. Just because it’s inexpensive, doesn’t mean that you’re getting an inexpensive experience. Reaper feels like a professional software, and it handles like one, too. I can say with certainty that it’s the most powerful for the cost on this list.
Now, the question of payment. Reaper is an usual form of software, in the same category as winRAR. With Reaper, you’re able to use a free trial of the software. This free trial is completely unrestricted, and nothing is changed from the premium version. You have a 60 day limit before this trial runs out. When the trial runs out, the only difference is that a window will occasionally pop up, asking you to purchase the software. This exact same thing happens in winRAR. Basically, you’re getting a software completely for free, but you get a pop-up ad every once in a while.
Reaper is definitely worth supporting, though, and at $60, it’s not that bad in terms of price. However, if you can’t afford to purchase it, but LMMS is too complicated for you, Reaper is the perfect fit. It’s an affordable, professional, and functional option. Sound familiar? It’s pretty much as close to GarageBand as you’ll be able to get on Windows, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for their next Windows music software.