Logic Express or GarageBand?

I’m in the process of transferring posts from the GarageBand Meetup Singapore blog to here. Decided not to maintain that blog, since the group is largely defunct.

The meetup group didn’t really take off. Few people I know are interested in remixing. Or those who play/ sing/ compose aren’t really into recording their own stuff. But the blog will still be there; it just won’t be updated. The GoogleGroup is still available for people to join, though the last time anyone posted messages was back in Oct’09.

Anyway, I’m reading this post about whether to get Logic Express or GarageBand and Jam Packs. The question from Jason, in Mar’08:

I’m currently deciding between Logic Express 8 or GarageBand 4 + 1 of the Jam Packs, and am leaning towards the latter because I think I will get more loops and software instruments at a cheaper price? Do you have any advice that might tip the scale to Logic’s side?

(Incidentally, its now Logic Express 9 and GarageBand is probably two versions up)

Out of curiosity, I decided to tackle Jason’s question. To see how I would respond, given what I know today.

I’ve been using GarageBand extensively since then. Not Apple-qualified, but confident enough to do show-and-tell with ease, plus share mixing and mastering tips and tricks. I’ve tried upgraded versions of GarageBand, and I’ve bought a World Music Jam Pack. Three days ago, I bought and installed Logic Express 9 (pictured on the right, below).
GarageBand & Logic Express

Jason asks for reasons to tip the scale towards Logic Express, so I’ll give it to him.

Get Logic Express, because the difference in cost is just under SGD$40 but you’ll get more from your money’s worth in terms of the Logic Express software instruments, effects and features.

First, let’s talk about cost.

  • Logic Express would cost you only SGD$39 more, compared to buying a GarageBand upgrade and a Jam Pack.
  • GarageBand comes with the Apple iLife suite, which means you have to buy an upgrade for iLife. That’ll set you back by SGD$78. Add the cost of one Jam Pack (I’ll take the high end price of $SGD201), your total cost is $SGD279.
  • Logic Express costs SGD$318.
  • Your price difference is SGD$39.
  • Even if you decide to get only the Jam Pack (in which case you can wait till you get a new Mac, with the latest OS and iLife suite), you’ll be forking out SGD$201 already. For SGD$100 more, you’ll be getting a heck of a lot more from Logic Express.

Which brings us to features. I’ll start with the loops/ instruments and features in Logic Express. You’re getting a lot more than the default list in GarageBand. Just consider the piano instruments. GarageBand ’11 has maybe 8 or 9 (the additional ones you see are from my extra Jam Pack):
GarageBand '11 - Pianos and Keyboards

Now let’s look at Logic Express’s default list: I count 22 piano instruments alone. There’s the “Acoustic Pianos” and “Keyboards” folder, with various sub-folders:
Logic Express 9 - software instruments library Logic Express 9 - Acoustic Pianos Logic Express 9 - Electric Pianos

That’s only the pianos. Here’s a screen shot of the Logic Express Software Instrument menu, with the right pane showing the expanded list of Logic Instruments:
Logic Express - Software Instrument Library

There’s more: here’s the EXS24 Sampler interface:
Logic Express - EXS24

Here’s a video that better illustrates how the EXS24 Sampler works:

OK, with that video you’re probably thinking, “Woah woah, feature-overload!”

That’s what I felt too. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. Learning how to make the best use of Logic Express will take time too. That’s the point, right? Getting your money’s worth?

What I’ve discovered with Logic Express is that while I could get the same MIDI track editing features in GarageBand, it’s a lot more efficient in Logic Express (i.e. less repetition, get the same work done faster). Believe me, it makes a lot of difference. Plus, Logic Express has a better set of Mastering tools (I’ll save that for another post).

In summary, Jason’s question suggested that he’s looking for value-for-money. Seems to me Logic Express is a good choice in this case.

If Jason is reading this, would he be convinced? :)

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9 thoughts on “Logic Express or GarageBand?

  1. Well, after using almost all prime versions of Cubase and Ableton I find, at least as a guitarist, they are complete overkill unless you use it extensively. I use all those bells and whistles only as a pastime every year or so. As a teacher and performer I never felt a necessity to really use those versions other than for diversion. I used Ableton for 3 gigs. The only thing useful were the time triggers which are only in the expensive version. Garage Band has plenty of features and tweaks. Cheers:)

    • Yes, that’s true. GarageBand is good enough for most, I’d imagine. I find that I’m progressing beyond just recording guitar riffs and since I mix and master for my band, Logic Pro does have certain advantages. But if shelling out the moolah is an issue, GB is certainly sufficient as you pointed out.

  2. have been using GB for 2 years but I always feel it falls short slightly when I’m trying to create music – I use for composing instrument/track heavy orchestral pieces so I think Logic is the way to go for me. Having said that, GB has been the perfect learning tool for experimenting with all the production features and was free with the mac, so I suggest give GB a go for bit and if you’re left wanting more, then upgrade, particularly if you’re thinking of making music in this way as a potential career – well, I’ve not yet been into a professional studio that uses GB anyway, so that must be a clue!

    • Hi, seems to me if you already have Logic, you should upgrade Logic rather than GB. As for Mainstage, I’ve never used it but i understand it’s more for “live” performances and you want to replicate the DAW mix and settings. Can’t quite compare.

  3. Thanks for quick and timely advice. Didn’t mention, I’ve been using GB for the past few years solely to save short melodic ideas. Recently, I’ve wanted to arrange these simple melodies into fuller arrangements. Any site suggestions to learn how to arrange?

    • Hi J.D, I’ve not come across one single site that comprehensively shows you how. I looked up these sources: Youtube (you have to sieve out for relevant ones) and books. So far, books (like the Dummies series) seem best in terms of depth and coverage. There should also be some books on using the Apple iLife suite, and you’ll find the chapter on GarageBand. If your local library subscribe to ebook databases like Safari books, see if you can find relevant titles.

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