Recording

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So, you want to record your singing and mix it with the karaoke music. Excellent! Perhaps you want to upload your finished production to your website or http://www.singersshowcase.com

Recording with GarageBand

This article touches on doing basic audio effects in GarageBand (reverb is a 'must' to make your voice sound better)
Note: there's a troubleshooting section below, after the Details section

General overview / concept (quick-start)

  1. plug in a mic and earbuds (see below for explanation)
  2. Change the song to your key in kJams
  3. Export the on-screen lyrics and audio to a single (QT) file
  4. Switch to Garageband: Import the file; play on-screen lyrics / music while you...
  5. Record your voice on a separate track
  6. Play with the mix (audio effects, including reverb on the vocal track; balance the music and vocals)
  7. Remove video track (on-screen lyrics) so that you can export a single audio file to mp3

Details

Note: These instructions repeatedly use the term 'track header'. This is what one looks like in GarageBand:

gb_track.png

  • plug a Microphone into your computer (sound in, or USB or whatever) or use your built-in iSight as a mic until you have time / funds to get a real mic
  • to make your vocal track sound its best, plug in ear buds or cheap headphones (the kind that sit on top of your ears so you can still hear sounds in the room). This way, the mic doesn't pick up the music over your computer speakers, and we end up with the ideal situation of two separate tracks (music and vocals). This is critical for keeping the two tracks separate and for making your voice sound better when you mix it.
  • Choose your mic. Go to System Preferences -> Sound -> Input. I like ANR off. (note: for GarageBand to get the change, you quit GarageBand then re-launch)
  • Change the song to your key in kJams (you get better tonal quality if you don't have to strain to hit the notes. This is why professional singers always sing in "their key")
  • Export the on-screen lyrics and audio to a single (QT) file
    1. kJams Preferences -> Exporting -> Apple TV
    2. File -> Export -> QuickTime
    3. Quit kJams if you want to free up some RAM
  • Import the file to Garageband: (New Project.) Tempo, Key, etc. don't matter. Delete the Grand Piano track (Track menu). Drag your new QT file to the GB window.
  • Play on-screen lyrics and music in Garageband (space-bar starts and stops)
  • Record your voice on a separate track
    1. We don't want to fuss with the metronome. Turn it off in the Control menu.
    2. Create a new track with the + button, lower-left corner. Real Instrument. No Effects is fine for now--you can add them AFTER recording!
    3. To bring the playhead back to the start of the song, click the "beginning" button (two buttons left of the Play button)
    4. The Record button is just left of that. It's show time!  :-)
    5. Put on the ear buds
    6. You should see the karaoke on-screen lyrics in a small pane
    7. Adjust your Mac system volume (on your keyboard or in the menu bar, etc.) to a low-ish level so you can hear the music in your ear buds, but can also hear yourself singing (not in the ear buds). I personally prefer this method over the Monitor feature due to the latency and echo.
    8. Don't worry too much about the Recording Level -- you can adjust it after recording. Just get it "close enough". (Too low is better than too high. Red lights should only be flashing on your few loudest notes of the song)
    9. Space-bar stops recording. Flub up on singing? Delete button removes your vocals. "Take 2!" (or 5 or 10 in my case.) Or you can add additional vocal tracks and keep the best one. In that case, there are two buttons in each track header to know about: Mute and Record.
  • Play with the mix. You can change most of the sound without re-recording (audio effects, including reverb on the vocal track; balance the music and vocals). This is why we troubled with earbuds!
    1. Be sure your vocals track is selected.
    2. The effects are in the pane in the lower right. If you don't see it, hit Command-i (track info)
    3. You can play with the presets, or just go straight for the Details triangle and add some Reverb. 30% is a good starting point.
    4. To balance the vocals and music (independent volume levels), drag the slider in each track's header.
    5. Don't worry about small background noises in your vocal track. They will be drowned out by the music track.
    6. Visual EQ is the place to adjust for the tinny sound of an iSight mic. Boost the bass, cut back the other freq's.
  • Export single audio file to mp3
    1. Delete the Movie track (on-screen lyrics)
    2. Share menu -> Export Song to Disk (If it says Export Movie, see previous step)
    3. You probably want MP3.
    4. If you have a file size limitation at the web site, play with the Audio Settings -> Custom -> Bit Rate until your file size is appropriate: 96 kbps sounds fine, 64 is not so good, 128 is excellent, 160 may be overkill
    5. Before clicking Save, change the file name (this is to avoid a bug in GarageBand. See below for info.)

Troubleshooting

I can't see the on-screen karaoke lyrics!

  • Click the Movie Track header.
  • Still no video? Click the Details triangle to hide the Effects and make room for the video pane.


Export of MP3 from GarageBand goes through 2 of the 3 tasks, but no "Converting" task, and no file is exported!

  • This appears to be a bug in GarageBand. In the last step before exporting, it asks for a file name and has a default name. Change it.


The iSight mic not working with GarageBand!

  • Quit GarageBand
  • Go to System Preferences -> Sound -> Input


GarageBand is recording my vocals OVER the music track!

  • Undo (multiple levels).
  • See the Little round button on the far left of each track header? It is red to indicate which track will record when you click the Record button at the bottom.

Recording with SoundFlower, kJams, and GarageBand

  1. install SoundFlower or LoopBack
  2. run GarageBand
  3. in the GarageBand -> Preferences -> Audio/MIDI:
    1. for "Audio Input", pick "SoundFlower (2 Ch)"
  4. plug a Microphone into your computer (sound in, or USB or whatever)
  5. run kJams
  6. in the kJams Audio Prefs:
    1. select your correct microphone port for audio input
    2. select SoundFlower (2 Channel) as your audio output
  7. start playing a playlist for testing
  8. Back in GarageBand
  9. delete the template track
  10. make a new real instrument track and turn ON the monitor, you should now hear your song playing
  11. tap the microphone, you should hear it too
  12. press record and ditty around for a minute, stop recording
  13. go back to kJams and stop the song (command period)
  14. go back to GarageBand and verify your recording works
  15. when you're satisfied with your recording, export it to iTunes
  16. Burn the disc in iTunes