iLife '11: Use the GarageBand Master Track Controls - dummies

iLife ’11: Use the GarageBand Master Track Controls

By Tony Bove

Using a separate track for each instrument and vocal performance is necessary in order to create the best results with your sound when recording with GarageBand in iLife ’11. However, controlling all these tracks at once is also necessary.

As in the military, you must follow the chain of command for volume controls: The General is the master track, which has controls that define the uppermost volume of all tracks, and turns on the crucial reverb and echo effects for all tracks. You can also control the volume for all tracks with a master track volume curve, and turn on other useful effects that work across all tracks. Every song has a master track — usually hidden, until you explicitly show it.

Controlling the master volume in GarageBand ’11

To control the volume of the overall song and to add effects to the entire song, show the master track by choosing Track→Show Master Track, which appears at the bottom on the timeline as the last track, with the heading Master Volume.

The master Volume slider (to the right of the LCD at the bottom of the GarageBand window) controls the volume for the entire song. To adjust the master volume, setting the upper limit for all tracks, drag the slider to the right to raise it or to the left to lower it.

Setting the master volume curve in GarageBand ’11

The master track gives you the opportunity to control the volume with an automation curve for all tracks in a song so that you can be precise and set fade-ins and fade-outs affecting all tracks.

To define the master track volume curve, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the Master Volume option by clicking the rectangle next to Master Volume in the track header.

  2. Click the horizontal line to establish points in the line, and then drag each point to define a curve.

    Set the volume curve for the master track.
    Set the volume curve for the master track.

You can set effects for the master track that work on the entire song. Select the master track and click the Track Info (look for the i) button to open the Info pane for the master track. The Browse tab in the Info pane offers presets for master track effects; you can choose Rock in the left column, for example, and then choose Live Gig, Rock Hi Fi, or LA Rock.