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Using Native Instruments Software Synths with Apple GarageBand

Our faithful user, B.J. Morgan, has authored an awesome tutorial on the topic of using software synthesizers sold by Native Instruments with Apple's GarageBand software. Many users have wondered how it might be possible to add professional-quality software synthesizers to their Apple GarageBand repetoire, and this tutorial provides the answer. Native Instruments offers several professional-quality software synthesizers that are sold to be used with a number of high-end audio recording programs. With B.J.'s excellent tutorial, we'll show you how to use these great software synths with your GarageBand compositions. To learn more about Native Instrument's products, see the Native Instruments software synth products page. To read B.J.'s tutorial click "Read More."
This is a no-frills, straightforward guide to creating and organizing Native Instrument's software synths within GarageBand. If you have any questions regarding the content, please e-mail me at bj (at) promotetheband (dot) com.

Organizing Your Presets

Before launching GarageBand, we'll want to do a little housekeeping. This step isn't necessary, but I like to keep my Native Instrument presets separate from Apple's Software Instruments.

First create some folders (one for each of your Native Instruments). You can name them "Hammond B4" or "Pro-53" (whatever meets your fancy). I'll call mine "NI B4", "NI Battery", and "NI Pro-53" that way they'll all be in the same alphabetical location.

Now place your new folders in the following location on your hard drive:

My Computer > Library > Application Support > GarageBand > Instrument Library > Track Settings > Software

This allows GarageBand to store our NI presets in a separate category. NOTE: Currently, GarageBand will not recognize any directories past this one, so don't put any folders within your Native Instrument category folder.

Did you get all that? If not, check out a QuickTime movie of this process:

Creating Native Instruments Presets

Creating NI Presets it relatively easy. In a new or existing project, create a software instrument if none are available. It doesn't matter what the instrument is, as we'll be modifying its properties shortly.

Once you've created the Software instrument, select it and get the track info. This can be done by typing Command-I or selecting "Show Track Info..." under the "Track" menu item.

Expand the "Details" information at the bottom of the Track Info Window. To access our Native Instruments, we want to use the pull down "Generator" menu and select our particular Native Instrument. [See Fig 1, below.]

Now click on the "Edit..." icon (designated by a pencil). Our Native Instrument interface comes up. At this point we can select our preset, but there is one outstanding issue that makes this a bit of a challenge...

See the large block of graphic "empty space" at the bottom of our Native Instrument console? This unacknowledged bug makes it so that we can't click directly on our GUI elements to manipulate them. Instead, we'll have to click slightly below (about 50-70 pixels) each element to change settings. [SEE Fig. 2& Fig. 3, below].

Once you've selected your preset, close the Native Instrument console window. At this point we can assign Effects, Custom Icons, Echo, Reverb and the like to our Native Instrument.**

If you created a folder to organize your NI presets, navigate to it in the Track Info window. Select "Save Instrument" and name your NI preset whatever you'd like (HINT: It's a good idea to name it after the actual preset on your Native Instrument). [SEE Fig. 4, below]

You can set up the rest of your Native Instrument presets the same way. The Pro-53 has over 500 presets and the B4 has about a hundred or so. So have fun!

**NOTE: I've been having trouble using the B4 FX and Pro-53 FX on Software Instruments. For some reason, I get no audio when I apply these effects to instruments. [SEE Fig. 5, below] The best solution is to avoid using these effect on your Software Instruments.

Now, how about a QuickTime movie of this process:

I hope that this information is helpful. If you have comments or question, please e-mail me at bj (at) promotetheband (dot) com, or leave a comment here.

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