There are more than a handful of stops between one end of the spectrum (free) and the other (Emagic’s “Logic Pro” audio application.
Starting with “Free”, each Mac comes with iLife, that suite of applications for photos, music, DVDs (if you have a Mac with a SuperDrive), movies, and music creation. The music creation application is called GarageBand and it will do a great job creating audio, mixing sound music in multiple tracks, adding special effects, and much more.
Did I mention that GarageBand is free?
Audio, either voice, music tracks, or both, can be exported directly to iTunes, imported into iMovie, and used in iDVD or iPhoto.
It could not be much easier to create quality audio, music or voice or both, using just these basic applications from Apple.
At the other end of the scale, there are even more choices and more capabilities. Apple bought the premier computer audio company, Emagic, a few years ago. Their Logic audio application is used extensively to record and mix commercial music CDs, movie soundtracks, and much more.
It’s expensive. The whole Emagic suite for Mac OSX will push you near to a grand ($1,000), but you’ll be able to load Logic onto your Mac and instantly be competitive with the best sound production studios in the world. That assumes you know something about music and sound.
In between, Apple also has the Final Cut Pro suite of tools for video and audio production.
SoundTrack (as part of Final Cut Pro, or as a standalone audio production application) is like GarageBand on steriods. There’s not much you can’t do with SoundTrack.
Even Final Cut Pro contains a great audio mixer with sound effects.
What if you just want to create an MP3 from a CD, add a few effects, and send it to a friend via email (I recommend that you don’t send a full CD cut in AIFF format, as that could easily run 50-megabytes in size; not an easy download for a friend using dial up email; he or she won’t be your friend much longer.
So, what do you do?
Take a look at another application for Mac audio—plenty of features, and it’ll do a few things the free applications don’t.
One in particular that caught my eye, my fancy, and some of my money is an application that’s been around awhile on Mac OS 9, and is available as a dependable, stable application on Mac OS X.
Now in version 3.7.2 for Mac OS X, Amadeus is an excellent audio, audio editing, audio enhancing application. Amadeus uses Apple’s “core audio” in OS X, therefore, has access to standard effects.
Need to edit audio, cut out pieces, insert others? Amadeus handles it with ease and at a price point substantially less than BIAS’ Peak audio application. Basically, you can “cut and paste” audio wave forms to create whatever your heart desires.
What about simple things, like importing and exporting to MP3? Amadeus has you covered there, too. It will import CDs, raw audio, MP3s, MP4s, and more.
Of course, you’re limited to unprotected AAC files, so you won’t be able to import and edit an audio file from the Apple iTunes Music Store unless you burn it to MP3 or AIFF first, then bring it into Amadeus. That’s a few extra steps you’ll have with all audio applications.
Why use Amadeus? Editing (cut and paste) of audio is quick and efficient. Adding special effects takes seconds on an iMac or a G5 (much faster on a G5).
Amadeus is steady and dependable. You can also try it out for free (go to VersionTracker.com, and enter a search on “Amadeus”). I tried it out, liked it (because it imports and exports MP3 files with ease), and I bought it.
The interface is clean and simple and intuitive. Compare that with GarageBand or BIAS Peak. You’ll be up and running within minutes.
Price? $30. High compared to “free”. Low compared to anything else.
Service? Quick and responsive. I misplaced my registration number and had another one within hours.
Updates? Regular. Runs on Jaguar and Panther.