10 Best GarageBand Plugins for Professionals 2020

Known for its multi-functionality, GarageBand is one of the most popular software among the audio blogger community. And it is not just GarageBand’s versatility but also the fact that this virtual audio recording studio is an easy-to-use tool. GarageBand for Mac OS comes loaded with a hefty number of plugins and effects that you can use to shape your sounds and mix your projects to a professional level. You can easily access the said plugins by clicking on the virtual GarageBand amplifier and opening up the cabinet. Each music effect has several variations to it. A simple example would be the Clean tone effect. GarageBand provides over 100 different clean tone effects. To name a few, they are A-List Clean, Ballad Clean, Clean power, Custom Studio Clean, Creamsickle Clean, Designer Tweed Clean, HeadRoom Clean, etc. Most users find the plugin that they are looking for in GarageBand itself. However, the best thing about GarageBand is that you can easily install various audio unit plugins. If you are looking for a particular plugin effect that GarageBand does not already have, you can simply import the plugin of your choice and drag and drop in onto the project that you are working on. The following list is about 10 best audio unit plugins that you can easily install and use in GarageBand.

Why do we need GarageBand Plugins?

Although GarageBand is filled with several types of synths, effects, guitar amps, etc., there is no such thing as too much when it comes to making better music. Plug-ins are those bits of software programs that can be installed as add-ons and employed in supporting a specific function. Similar to many other digital audio workstations, GarageBand allows the installation of plug-ins to make the experience of audio recording better.

Some best Plugins for GarageBand-

  1. iZOTOPE: First up, we have an incredibly powerful yet intuitive audio unit plugin called the iZOTOPE. This plugin can be downloaded for free from the iZOTOPE website. The team behind developing this plugin are the same guys responsible for industry-standard plugin for in the box mastering called Ozone. The audio plugin comes with a tool called the vocal doubler. It is designed to enhance your vocal recordings by giving it a significant volume and bass boost. The overall effect created from the plugin doubles the power of the vocals and goes a long way in increasing the richness of the sound. The interface only comprises a slider so it is not difficult to work your way around it either.

  2. FilterJam: This audio unit plugin has been designed and developed by a company called AudioThing. It works like magic when it comes to enhancing or highlighting certain sections of your song. The knobs also assist in editing and mixing. FilterJam is a multi-band resonant filter that has a big knob for adjusting frequency. The other knobs dedicated to mixing are Emphasis, Gain, and Mix. When it comes to synth sounds, these effects take up a crucial role in adjusting the brightness or depth of the tone in question. Alongside vocals, this audio unit plugin proves very effective in balancing stringed instrument sounds.

  3. Phazor: Developed by Adam Szabo, Phazor is a fully customisable phaser effect that emulates the effect found in the popular Virus Synthesizer. The plugin has a 6 stage all-pass filters controlled by an LFP with spread and feedback controls. When it comes to CPU usage, Phasor takes up as less memory space as possible. So, if you want to use several layers of this plugin to create a mixture of effects, you can easily do so.  Some of the knobs that come with this plugin are Frequency, Pitch, and Spread. The Depth control adds richness to tones.

  4. AbleTunes Drive Knob: The AbleTunes Drive Knob is a simple music effect that adds heavy distortion to the track it is applied to. It is mainly used to add a great deal of bite to percussion loops as well as drummer tracks. Especially the drum kicks can be heavily ramped up by increasing the drive. The throbbing effect that it produces is commonly used in the rock and metal genres. Designed by AbleTunes, the Drive knob is one of the three free audio unit plugins that are widely used by composers and music producers around the world. 

  5. AbleTune Attack Knob: Another one of the three Attack AbleTunes audio unit plugins that can be downloaded and installed into GarageBand for free is the Attack knob. It works as a stereo transient shaper that affects the attack section of a waveform. Suggestive from the name, this effect mainly caters to the highest points of a sound wave by adding some punch. This effect can be best noticed when used on stringed instruments but is conventionally used on drum loops. If you want to experiment with this plugin, try using it on stringed instruments to give them an extra push to the front of your mix.

  6. AbleTune Space Knob: The Space knob is the last of the three AbleTunes audio unit plugins. It is not as complicated as the other two knobs and simply adds room reverb when the knob is twisted clockwise and vice versa. As the knob controls reverb settings, it can be used with tracks and audio recordings of all kinds. If you want to understand the dynamics of the plugin, you can try twisting and turning the knob on a simple acoustic guitar track. The Space Knob, when used together with the Attack and Drive Knobs, creates a unique effect that is much needed for your song to stand out of the box. There is no perfect combination that you can refer to. You need to cater to the requirements of the song to create that symmetric balance.

  7. LABS: LABS is recognized as one of the best plugin software for any digital audio workstation including GarageBand. It started as an experiment with sound waves to generate unique effects by Spitfire Audio. What started out with just one synthesizer and produced sleighbell sounds has been transformed into 23 virtual instruments. Some of them include modular piano, synth pads, dulcimer, pedal pads, etc. LABS has been used by Hans Zimmer, one of the greatest music composers alive, in several of his projects. The richness and depth of sound are incomparable.

  8. Synth- PG-8X: If you are looking for a classical synthesizer that has all of the retro tunes and styles in it, this is your audio plugin to go to. The PG – 8X was essentially developed to simulate Roland keyboards and music style. The 80s and 90s funk, rock, and blues tones are the most used ones of this plugin. Along with tones comes a huge virtual mixer that allows you to transform the music you are making. Right from pitch correction to reverb to treble and audio gain, the PG – 8X synth has it all and much more. It also focuses a great deal on the richness of the tone to make sure it is thick and deep enough.

  9. Clap Machine: The Clap Machine lets you create a live audience within a few seconds literally by turning a few knobs. This audio unit plugin finds a lot of use outside of the music industry as well. American sitcoms in the 90s extensively used this feature to input audience claps after every punchline. The clap machine is also used sometimes when editing recordings of live shows by top artists to give the audience a volume boost. The four knobs attached to the plugin’s interface are Attack, release, volume, and reverb. You can also produce finger snap sounds that are extensively used in acoustic numbers.

  10. PitchProof: Pitch proof is a Digital Whammy Pedal used by guitarists (both lead and bassists). Suggestive from the name, the main function of this pedal is to control the pitch of the audio. Developed by Aegean Music, this audio-plugin can be downloaded for free from the Aegean Music website and imported onto GarageBand. A simple correlation to understand this effect is the pitch bend slider of a keyboard. You can create extremely funky beats and sounds by pulling up and stretching out the pitch of an audio track. The two knobs present on the interface are Blend and Detune. While the Blend option mellows down the tone, the Detune knob completely distorts the pitch. It might seem bizarre to put in effect in practice but accidental notes are essentially a culmination of intentionally playing off-tune notes in a song.

How to install plugins in GarageBand?

Plugins can be easily installed in GarageBand from several websites. Here are the steps to install a plugin:

  1. Click on the MAC AU file and download the zip version.
    Keep the downloaded file on the desktop to be able to drop it into the library later.
  2. Once the download is complete, double click on the Zip file.
  3. Now go to ‘settings’ on the top left-hand side, and click on “GO” on your computer’s home screen.
  4. During this part, press-hold the “options” key on your keyboard to bring up “library” in the drop-down menu. 
  5. Next, find the “audio” folder in the “library”. Open up the “Plug-ins” folder within and double click on the “Components” file.
  6. This way the downloaded plugin is on your home screen, and you can simply drag and drop the component into the “Components” file.
  7. The new plug-in can be found in the Smart Control’s plug-in settings in GarageBand. However, before that, restart your computer, to ensure the downloaded file opens up easily.
  8. Once the computer restarts, open up GarageBand.
  9. Go to the Smart Controls to see the installed plug-ins.
  10. Click on the Available plugins, to see all the newly-installed plugins. 

Plug-IN Conclusion:

GarageBand plays a very significant part in the making of a musician. Using all these plugins provides help to accelerate the artists in their goals. Best of all, most of these plugins are available online free-of-cost, with few exceptions. Where beginners can use the free versions to learn the skills, professional podcasters and musicians use paid plugins on creating some of the most excellent work with the Mac apps curated to significantly extend the possibilities of your Mac. With so many options readily available, you can create a place for yourself in the audio blogging or music industry.

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