iLife 11 • Garageband: The Podcaster’s Crippleware

It’s harsh but there simply no other to describe what Apple’s Garageband means to podcasters and other producers of audio programming then to slate is it as Crippleware.

The term “crippleware” is sometimes used to describe software products whose functions have been limited (or “crippled”) with the sole purpose of encouraging or requiring the user to pay for those functions (either by paying a one-time fee or an on-going subscription fee).

Why am I being so critical of iLife’s 11 latest refresh of their home recording application? For one they have geared to solely towards music creators and not audio producers. Sure they still have a Podcast item selection in the New project window, but apart from adding the podcast track to the top of your project it literally does nothing more to the behaviour of Garageband to help you.

The biggest issue I have with Garageband is that it expects to you to be able to lay down a perfect track of audio without making any stumbles, coughs, or ums. Especially if you are conducting and interview in person or over Skype. The edit controls for multi track recording seem to have lifted out of Logic and not from SoundTrack Pro like they should have been. Performing the simplest cross track splicing task that producers have been making since the early days of Syntrillium’s Cool Edit Pro (now Adobe Audition) are impossible in Garageband without invoking keyboard gymnastics and multiple mouse clicks. Yes, that’s right the holy grail of audio editing for voice over tracks is called the Ripple Delete and you can’t use it in Garageband. Usually, you would simply highlight a section of audio over multiple tracks, an offending word, a cough, an awkward pause and then perform a Ripple Delete to remove the section from all tracks and then shift the rest of the audio over to become flush with where the initial selection point was. In other words cutting the audio out and stitching the two resulting tracks back together again: a Splice. I used to do these with tape reels all the time. In Soundtrack Pro, this is done with [Shift]-[Delete], In Audacity it’s the default [Delete]. However in Garageband the sequence goes like this:

  1. Select both Tracks, drop markers where you want the edits to be made, since you cannot make the edit in MultiTrack Mode.
  2. Now select the first track.
  3. Highlight the area between the two edits.
  4. Then delete it.
  5. Now drag the second half of the track back to the first marker point.

[REPEAT FOR ALL TRACKS]

Delete and Move is simply not available in Multitrack editing mode where it's most useful

Now I must confess that by simply explaining what the Ripple Delete is and how it can save you hours and hours of editing time, should be enough to invoke the strongest emotional reaction from even the most novice editor out there. Five steps including key presses and mouse gestures reduced down to one keystroke? I know its completely ridiculous and if that was not bad enough, you have to make sure your highlights are all made on the lower half of the track or else you will invoke the Evil Bastard that is Flex Time!
REALLY?!?!

If I’m in podcast project mode, Flex should never even exist! Ever! If your show ran over by 5 minutes, make some edits or live with it, but speeding up and slowing down the cadence of your interview will only piss off your listeners. It serves no purpose.

Adding the podcast feature to Garageband only serves the purpose of infuriating enough would be producers into trolling the forums and looking for magic keystrokes or applescripts that are performed by default in the open-source editors Audacity which is only a small download away on any platform. Or up-selling true Apple Fanboys to Final Cut Pro or Logic Studio. Most podcasters will opt for Final Cut Pro with the hopes of one day producing a video podcast. Because unless you can play an instrument or fancy your self a record producer, there is nothing else in Logic Studio for you then the same SoundTrack Pro that is bundled in Final Cut Pro. And of course you can’t buy Soundtrack Pro on its own, that would be way too easy. So you’re either going to have to edit all of your audio in Audacity and then build your enhanced audio file in Garageband, manually inserting chapter marks and all the other media info or pony it up and get the Pro tool you really don’t need.

By its very definition, this is what we call Crippleware. It sure does feel like Garageband is being solely developed as a replacement amp and tape deck for 13 year old guitarists and keyboard players. There is no other way to explain the obvious omission of the Ripple Delete, the ability to properly select audio over several tracks or the fact they you can’t disable Flex Time once when in podcasting mode. I was really hoping that Apple would finally give audio producers some of the basic features in Audacity with all of the powerful filters and loops included in Garageband. Especially, since Adobe is about to release an OS X version of Audition, the evolution Cool Edit which has become the industry standard editor in the Windows world. It really seemed like a move Apple would be sure to make. But Apparently 13 years with Marshall Stack envy are a bigger market than all the Podcasts in iTunes…

8 comments

  1. You can not perform “Delete and Move” on multiple track, you can only do it in single track mode once you have already split the tracks. in fact there is no way highlight multiple tracks in Garageband. I have added a screen shot of the Delete and Move issue to the post.

  2. I just stumbled onto this because I’m getting my ass handed to me by “flex-time”. I thought I clicked a mystery button or something. This is nuts! It’s kind of sad, but I have Adobe Soundbooth CS5, but have put off using it, because Garageband worked fine and was simple. I’m going to jump into Adobe, put off releasing my podcast, and abandon Garageband 11 forever. Wow, what a piece of crap.

  3. Trace,

    Forget about the Soundbooth CS5, it sucks more than Garageband. Get the beta version of Adobe Audition instead. It is a real thing of beauty and has a very small footprint for the app and the files you are editing. It’s even kinder to your hard drive then Audacity, which is a good editor, just a little fugly and fiddly.

  4. Highlight multiple tracks in Garageband by clicking and holding your mouse, then draw a selection rectangle for the tracks you wish to select. Want to move them? Just drag them where you want. Easy.

  5. This issue is not in making the delete portion of the edit. the problem is with Delete and Move, in other words snapping the tracks back to the edit point in order to avoid dragging one track after the other. GarageBand simply was not deigned this way.

  6. I just “upgraded” from GB9 to GB11… and I am super fucking pissed off. Pardon my french but really, this is infuriating. I don’t want this stupid flex crap while I’m editing my podcast. I keep clicking on it and warping my voice and ruining it, then I have to control Z back until it is fixed again.

    In regards to ripple delete, you can do it, it is a bit convoluted though. You have to make a selection, split it (you can just click on the selection in the audio region to split it) then you click up above  in the track section and press control delete.

  7. I totally agree that Flex sucks, I’m still trying to figure out why it is on by default when selecting Podcast as it truly has no possible use in a podcasting other than novelty. 

    As for Ripple Delete, convoluted is not the proper word. It’s just not the two step mouse select and keyboard command that it should be like in Soundtrack, Audition and even the free Audacity.