Reducing the volume of a track in Garageband

Isn’t it amazing how a company can create polar opposite experiences – magic and distress.

At the same time that I was watching the magic of the new Apple watch during the Sept. 12th keynote, I was cursing the time I was spending trying, through trial and error, to reduce the volume of a simple audio track in Garageband.

It should be simple, and since it is Garageband it doubly should be, but it isn’t. The first course of action is always a Google search but nothing I found applies as they have changed the interaction design of the app. so many times over the years people can’t keep track.

Volume control at the master level and track level doesn’t work (it doesn’t appear to function as a real mixer). Gain is for input but it sometimes worked with an already existing track but other times didn’t. When Gain works it’s from a massive change, fine tuning results in no discernible difference.

So after an hour of stubbornly trying to effect change I gave up, downloaded Audacity, and created the effect I needed in 4 minutes.

Later, after a required cooling off period I found the required controls staring at me in the face in the mix menu. Generally, in desktop software you should have 3 ways to perform an action, as an ex: to delete a file on the desktop you can drag it to the trash, select and then go to the file menu and select move to trash, or right click on the file to move to trash. Garageband does not follow this heuristic and for the context I was in, listening to a keynote and doing what should have been a mindless task, brought about frustration.

I’ll be spending more time these coming months editing audio for a podcast and for our app. Perhaps it’s time to venture outside the Apple software ecosystem and try something that offers basic controls that fit my mental model of how audio software should work.

/end complaint