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Nov 17, 2012

How to use and edit GarageBand’s built-in audio effects

by Freddie Harrison

Learn how to add some magic to your music using GarageBand’s advanced audio tools and apply some incredible effects to your tracks in a matter of minutes.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - SidebarGarageBand - Audio Effects - MainSo, you’ve figured out the basics of GarageBand – you’ve used software instruments to record some sounds, you’ve hooked up a USB mic and laid down some vocals – what’s next? The fun really doesn’t stop there. In fact, once you delve into the world of GarageBand’s built-in audio effects, that’s when the fun starts.

For starters, effects aren’t all about drastically changing the sound of every instrument you record, they’re also there to subtly lift certain sounds above the rest of the mix and make for a truly amazing track. What’s more, you can even add your own third-party effect plug-ins if you really want to get advanced. It’s far easier than you might think and can help make your sounds stand out from every other GarageBand-produced track. If you’re not already feeling inspired to get involved with effects, follow our guide, we’re pretty sure we can convert you in no time at all!

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step-by-Step

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 1

Step 1: In the info

To bring up any track’s effects rack, ensure it’s selected in the arrangement and click on the Info icon in the bottom-right. Finally, hit the Edit tab.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 2

Step 2: Ditch the defaults

Each track in GarageBand has two default master effects – Echo and Reverb. In most cases you’ll want to dial them down or even turn them off completely.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 3


Step 3: In the bank

To add a new effect to your track, click on an empty effect bank in the Info pane and select one from the drop-down list to add it in.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 4

Step 4: Tweak it

To adjust how an effect sounds, click on its icon next to the effect name. This will bring up the effect’s customisable settings window.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 5

Step 5: Make it easy

For a quick effects set up, select a preset from the drop-down list in the settings window. GarageBand will do all the hard work for you.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 6

Step 6: Go third-party

GarageBand provides support for third-party Audio Unit effects. These are widely available to download online, with some great options even free.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 7

Step 7: Seal the deal

Restart GarageBand to ensure the effect is added. Once you’ve done this, they should appear under the Audio Unit Effects list in the Info pane.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 8

Step 8: Break the chain

Every effect is ordered in a ‘signal chain’ which dictates in what order they affect the sounds. To move effects, drag the three dots next to their icons.

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Step 9

(Click on the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

GarageBand - Audio Effects - Annotated

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    • Andre Brook

      I have been in touch with Quentin Bradley of and confirmed that in the next few months he will dedicate a tutorial on the ideal order of effects in GarageBand. Putting one effect before another in the wrong order can have a detrimental effect on the overall sound of your project. Stay tuned to his website as it is one of the best sources of info for GarageBand.