Audacity vs. GarageBand

David Wilson
2023-04-20 19:43:00 • Filed to: Video Editor Software Reviews

When seeking free sound production software, you will come across one of two main contenders since they are stable programmes, with regular updates, a wide range of support materials and lots of plug-ins. They are namely Audacity or GarageBand. This is one of the biggest battles in music production software since both are free, and provide numerous features. Therefore, you may wonder, which is better; Audacity or GarageBand. Both have been used by thousands of successful musicians to create all kinds of music. Therefore, this article will provide you with adequate information to determine; is Audacity better than GarageBand or vice versa?


Audacity is a piece of sound-editing software that is known for being an open-source tool that you can acquire free of charge. It offers cross-platform compatibility such that you can use it in Windows, macOS, and other Unix-like systems such as Linux and BSD. One of its interesting features is Beat Analyzer feature. It enables you to make the beat of a particular audio slower or much faster, without affecting the overall quality of sound. According most users Audacity has a less user friendly interface compared to GarageBand. However, it still attracts numerous users because it is fully features and more of a professional audio editing suite. Consequently, Audacity appears better than GarageBand because its effects are applicable in a certain section, whereas the latter must apply across the entire track.

Another interesting Audacity vs. GarageBand comparison is that the former can work with audio sample rates that are higher than 48 kHz and export true AIFF files, whereas the latter cannot. Additionally, Audacity also allows sample editing, importing of raw data, noise removal, pitch change, and tempo change, whereas GarageBand does not. Therefore, it is worth noting that Audacity is better for deep, detailed editing of audio and is best for editing audio pieces longer than an hour. It is also somewhat more robust in terms of disk usage and preserving under high CPU loads. It cross platform abilities allow you to easily share Audacity projects between Windows, Mac OS and Linux machines as well. Although it doesn't support MIDI recording, it can import MIDI and editing and exporting MIDI is slowly being developed.


Main Features

  • It records and plays back sounds- Audacity records live audio through the microphone. It then plays back the sounds through scrubbing and MIDI playback, as well as roll and punch recording, and a time recorder that schedules when your recording begins and ends for the unattended recordings.
  • Video Editing- It edits videos by cutting, copying and pasting various parts to achieve the perfect recording. It also provides unlimited levels of undo for you to correct mistakes during the editing process. It also provides modern multi-track audio software that comes with navigation controls and audio file manipulation, and zoom and single track edit. Does amplitude envelope editing as well.
  • Cross-platform operation — Audacity works effectively on multiple platforms, namely on Windows, macOS, and other Unix-like systems such as Linux and BSD. The software provides a similar graphical user interface on several different operating systems through the wxWidgets software library.
  • Digital effects and plugins- Audacity comes with a large array of digital effects and plug-ins and uses Nyquist, a Lisp dialect, to write additional effects.
  • Importation and exportation of various formats- Audacity imports and exports formats such as MP3, AIFF, WAV and Ogg Vorbis, as well as all file formats that libsndfile library supports. Using optional libraries it also supports other formats like AC3, WMA and AAC, among others.
  • Noise removal- Audacity can take away the noise in case you record sounds in a noisy area. It can also amplify or reduce the volume through manipulation of pitch, speed and tempo.

Pros and Cons



price is reasonable, but mostly free

less user friendly interface

core product is 100% free

Has a learning curve

a powerful music production tool

does not support MIDI recordings

allows for more flexibility and fine-tuning of tracks

doesn't come with any pre-recorded material

Numerous audio tools

effects can be applied to a certain section

allows sample editing, importing of raw data, noise removal, pitch change, and tempo change



Like all other Apple products, GarageBand provides you with an incredible user friendly experience. The majorities of Mac users are able to master multiple features, including GarageBand's audio recording, podcasting and audio editing, within just a few minutes. GarageBand also features MIDI recording, whereas Audacity does not support it. More Audacity vs. GarageBand comparison is seen in the strengths of GarageBand, which appear to be more than Audacity's. For instance, it has a more intuitive interface that makes it easier to handle loop sequences and multiple splices. GarageBand also comes with a wide variety of pre-recorded loops and synths and excels with its simple video scoring and chapter creation in podcasting.

GarageBand is, therefore, better for beginners because its simplicity make music and sound production fun. New artists do not have to struggle since it requires little to no configuration or customization of settings. What's more, the exporting features make it easy to share as well as mix down audio projects without downloading additional codecs. As part of the iLife group of apps, it also works well with other multimedia created in OS X. However, its limitation to Mac computers is quite disadvantageous to many people because many cannot afford these computers due to their high price. For those that can use GarageBand, it is a fully equipped music creation studio inside your Mac, meaning that it comes with a complete sound library that includes instruments, presets for guitar and voice, and an incredible selection of session drummers and percussionists.


Main Features

  • Audio recording- GarageBand can record and playback multiple tracks of audio. It offers the ability to record at both 16-bit and 24-bit Audio Resolution, but at a fixed sample rate of 44.1 kHz. It also contains built-in audio filters that use the audio unit standard to allow the user to enhance the audio track with various effects, including reverb, echo, and distortion amongst others.
  • Virtual software instruments- GarageBand comes with a large selection of realistic, sampled instruments and software modelled synthesizers. They are useful in creating original compositions or playing music live through the use of a USB MIDI keyboard that is connected to the computer.
  • Guitar features- GarageBand not only comes with standard tracks, but also allows guitar-specific tracks that can use a variety of simulated amplifiers, stomp boxes, and effects processors. You can connect the guitars to Macs using the built-in input, which requires hardware that can produce a standard stereo signal using a 3.5mm output, or a USB interface.
  • MIDI editing- using GarageBand you can import MIDI files and utilize the offered piano roll or notation-style editing and playback. As soon as you comply with the MIDI Standard, you can edit many different aspects of a recorded note, including pitch, velocity, and duration. You can adjust duration manually through the piano roll or in the score view and play rhythms through the software instruments, or create them in the piano roll environment
  • Music lessons- GarageBand has the ability to download pre-recorded music lessons from its Lesson Store for guitar and piano. It contains two types of lessons in the Lesson Store: Basic Lessons, which you can download for free, and Artist Lessons, which you must purchase. In both types a music teacher presents the lesson, which is in a special format offering high-quality video and audio instructions.
  • Additional audio loops- GarageBand also comprises of an extensive array of pre-made audio loops that you can choose from with the option to import custom sound loops. There is also an additional loop pack that is purchasable via the App Store and all loops have an edit and effects option.

Pros and Cons



It is entirely free since it comes embedded in Mac computers

Limited to Mac computers

Easy to use

Highly dependent on Apple for functionality

open source

effects can only be applied across an entire track, rather than to a certain section

smaller learning curve

supports MIDI recording

Receives major updates on a two to three year timeline


Whether you are a beginner or professional in podcasting or recording music, will definitely come across these free audio editing suites, Audacity or GarageBand, especially if you own a Mac computer. GarageBand is already embedded in the new Macs as part of the iLife package. Audacity, on the other hand, is a cross-platform, open source audio editing program that you can download for free. If you are wondering which is better between Audacity or GarageBand, use the above review to make a wise decision. Nevertheless, the best option for you depends on your needs and preferences.