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Expand your library with Audio Units

Bolster your options by downloading and customising extra sample libraries from the internet

GarageBand comes pre-installed with some great sounds that can be used across a range of genres and styles, but there comes a point when you need more. Upgrading to Logic Pro is certainly an option, but there are ways in which you can grow your sample library without having to shell out £139.99/$199.99.

GarageBand is compatible with Audio Units – plug-ins that enable you to use sounds other than Apple’s in your projects. While there are lots of premium options that can be downloaded and installed, you may be surprised at how many free ones you can get. While finding Audio Units on the internet is relatively easy, getting them to play nice with GarageBand can be a bit trickier. Read on to find out how to do it.


1 Enable AUs

Before hunting for AUs to use, you need to make sure they’re enabled in GarageBand. Open the app, then go to Preferences>Audio/MIDI. Tick the Effects: Audio Units checkbox.


2 Download units

Search for AUs on the web, then download one you want to use in your projects. Depending on the plug-in you’re using, the installation process will differ, so follow the instructions.


3 Copy .component

Occasionally you may have to manually place a .component file. Put it in your ~/Library/Audio/ Plug-Ins/Components folder and GarageBand should recognise it.


4 Software Instruments

Open your GB project, create a new Software Instrument and click the Smart Controls button at the top-left. Click the ‘i’ in the Smart Controls window to open the Audio Units menu.


5 Instruments

There are two types of AUs: instruments and effects. To use an AU instrument, click the Instrument button in the AU menu and go to the one you wish to use. You can edit its sound.


6 Effects

If you’ve downloaded an AU effect, you can use it with any of the other software instruments in GarageBand’s library. You can combine more than one for a more experimental sound.


7 Recording

With your AU set up, you can start recording. The MIDI data is captured as normal, so you can change an AU instrument while listening to a project and it’ll keep the same notes you played.


8 Editing and bypassing

To edit an AU’s settings, hover over its button and click the slider icon. To remove it, click the arrows and select No Plug-in. To bypass the effect, click the power button.


9 Live audio & loops

You can also add AU effects to live audio tracks as well as Apple Loops. Try importing a pop song and see how you can change the way it sounds using Audio Units.