Technical notes index


Time has moved on since I originally wrote this, and I don't have the more recent versions of either program: so I can't guarantee that the process will still work. However it's worth a try because Cubase LE's mixing facilities are way ahead of Garageband's.

I was using using GarageBand and Cubase LE or LE4. GarageBand was better for me for recording the initial MIDI, using its own instruments plus QT Instruments and Sound Fonts; but Cubase had an on-screen mixer with fader automation, so that you could make and adjust your mix in realtime and it would remember the fader settings and movements.

The is the procedure I used:

  1. Record all the MIDI and any real instruments. Don't bother with effects and only do a rough mix so you can tell what's going on.

  2. When you're happy with the tracks, click the padlock icon on all of them to lock them. Press 'play' and wait while the machine locks the tracks. Stop play and save the project.

  3. Quit GarageBand. Find the project file. Right-click on it and choose 'Show package contents'. Inside the project is a folder called 'Freeze Files'. Copy all the files out of this into a new folder and place it where it is convenient for Cubase to be able to access it.

  4. The files have code names. You can't drag them into Cubase LE as they stand for some reason (I think they are 32 bit so that might be why), but you can with LE4. If you open each in an audio editor such as Amadeus, identify them, and save them with the track title you can then drag them into Cubase LE.

  5. Open a new Cubase project: you don't need to create any empty tracks. Drag the newly saved tracks into Cubase and they will appear there. Now you can add effects and have the advantage of the fader-based automated mixing.

It's all a little complicated, but though you can do automated level changes in GarageBand by 'drawing' in the automation track, it's fiddly and becomes a nuisance if you have a lot to do. With the faders you can do a decent mix, then automate any changes quite easily and hear what's happening as you do it. 

Cubase LE was bundled with some hardware such as mixers, but is not fully compatible with Apple OSX Leopard: if you have LE you may be able to get an upgrade to LE4 by contacting the maker of your hardware. I have used the above processwith LE and LE4,  and it may well be possible to get it to work in the full version of Cubase or other similar programs.

Roger Wilmut