While music creators have long awaited GarageBand for Windows, Apple seems to have no intention of ever letting that happen. For now, you'll definitely need a Mac. But that doesn't mean you can't use GarageBand alternatives for Windows 10 if you're a Windows user and don't want to switch systems.
None of the alternatives are exact replicas of GarageBand, but they're still powerful music creation, mixing, and editing tools. Some are even free or offer free versions, making them well worth trying out.
LMMS, which was once Linux MultiMedia Studio, is an advanced music editor that's completely free. The open-source software is compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows.
If you're new to music editing tools, there is a bit of a learning curve. However, once you learn how the tools work, you'll be able to take full advantage of the many features, such as:
- Compose, sequence, and mix music
- Using the Piano Roll Editor for creating chords, notes, and patterns
- Use built-in effects, beats, and instruments
- Importing Hydrogen and MIDI files
- Support for MIDI instruments or typing keyboard
- Boosting functions with plugin support
- Numerous effects, such as distortion, reverb, and bass enhancer
- User-defined and computer-controlled automation
Since it's free, you have nothing to lose. But you'll find you can turn ideas into reality and customize your music as much as you want.
Also read: How to Create a Short Song in LMMS
Audacity has long been one of the more popular GarageBand alternatives. Like LMMS, Audacity is a free open source tool. It's compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It's not quite as powerful as GarageBand, especially with a lack of built-in instruments and sounds.
However, it more than makes up for that by letting you record sounds from audio recordings, microphones, and mixers. You can easily record tracks and upload them to Audacity for editing, mixing, and more.
There's support for multiple file formats, both when importing and exporting. You can even combine multiple files into a single project. There aren't as many effects included, but enough to edit your work to studio quality. Plus, you get to do it for free and you can speed up your workflows with keyboard shortcuts.
Also read: How to Fix Bad Stereo with Audacity
If you don't want to download anything, Audiotool serves as one of the best GarageBand alternatives. It's all online and accessible from your browser. This also means it's cross-platform.
One of the main benefits is your work is always available, no matter what device you're using. As long as you're online, you're ready to create and mix. Not only can you use the thousands of available samples, but you can also upload your own instrument and vocal recordings.
The mixing and editing boards are fun to use. The retro look makes them more user-friendly. The best part, though, is it's easy to for users to collaborate on projects since everyone can work from anywhere at the same time.
You'll find plenty of support and a growing number of samples to use thanks to an active musical community. With so many tools and instruments, it's a good idea to go through the tutorials first. And yes, all of this free.
4. Soundation Studio
Soundation Studio is the only option on this that also has a premium version. For small, personal projects, the free version may be all you need.
It combines some of the best features of all the previous GarageBand alternatives for Windows 10, such as:
- Wide range of audio effects
- Selection of instruments, such as drum machines and synthesizers
- Over 20,000 samples and loops
- Create directly in your browser
- Powerful mixer and editor
As you may imagine, the free version is incredibly limited. In fact, you can only work on up to ten projects. For full features, you'll have to pay $6.99/month. There is also a variety of premium sample packs and sound sets you can buy. Try out the free version first to see if it's a good fit.
Bonus: More Premium GarageBand Alternatives
If you're looking for something more powerful, you'll likely need a premium alternative. These range drastically in pricing, but if none of the above meet your needs, the price may well be worth it.
REAPER offers hundreds of high-quality effects, support for many third-party plugins, MIDI support, and advanced mixing. A personal license is $60, while a commercial license is $225.
FL Studio is one of the more advanced digital workstations. Among premium options, it's one of the closest GarageBand alternatives. There are even mobile apps for on-the-go creation. There are numerous effects, samples, tools, and automations. Pricing ranges from $99 to $399.
If you're looking for a full recording studio on Windows 10, Mixcraft may be the answer. It supports multiple audio formats and includes numerous effects, loops, beats, and automations. It even works well for live performances and you get video editing, too. Pricing ranges from $99 to $199.
While most of these are compatible with Linux, too, there are also great music editors to try if you're a Linux user.
Images credit: Wikimedia Commons/Igor
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