M-Audio has a new application called Session that they’re trumpeting as a Windows-only answer to GarageBand. In a story at Digital Trends (formerly Design Technica), M-Audio’s consumer group VP Tony McCall says the new app will bring some of GarageBand’s accessibility to Windows computer music newbies:

“Apple’s GarageBand has done a wonderful job of bringing consumer music-creation to the Mac market. As a result, there’s a huge contingent of users who are hungry for a PC-friendly solution, and M-Audio’s Session software is exactly what those users have been waiting for.



Here’s the problem: from what I can see from the just-posted Session product page, the program looks like a mediocre clone at best, hacked together to vaguely resemble GarageBand but without any of the polish, a bit like the import clones labeled “IPOD” in big letters. Confusing, additional icons mar the interface. The loops browser is built into the track view, making it more difficult to navigate loops. And, at best, what Session aims to do is to simply copy the GarageBand interface, rather than think creatively about what beginning musicians might want. Ironically, GarageBand hasn’t necessarily been the runaway hit some initially predicted: while the application has been popular with newcomers, it’s proven difficult to convince new musicians to use a computer for music, even with a great app.

That said, Session does make a certain amount of sense. As a freebie, it’s a great deal: you get 2GB of loops, 260 instrument presents, effects, and a basic editing interface. All of this ships with M-Audio’s FastTrack interface, so it means a hobbyist musician can spend US$100 (street) and get some basic stuff to start working. And that’s a good thing.

But to claim beginning Windows users don’t have other choices is simply not true. They have quite a number of superb audio applications from which to choose, ranging from Cakewalk’s Home Studio, Music Creator, and just-announced Kinetic 2, plus the longtime Windows favorite FL Studio (Fruity Loops). In fact, if anything, Cakewalk has too many entry-level options; I’d really like to see them create a single, perfect version of Home Studio and market the heck out of it. But their options start at just US$30, so budget isn’t really an issue. And the equally-affordable FL Studio regularly makes Mac users jealous. (And that’s not easy to do.)

Of course, what Session really is is a simple application M-Audio can bundle with one audio interface. (And you won’t be able to buy it any other way, not even by buying other M-Audio interfaces.) But, from the standpoint of getting new people to make music with computers, I think it’s the wrong strategy. I’d rather see creative, new approaches to music making for beginners than clones. GarageBand is a nice app, and this “homage” is certainly a compliment to that, but it’s just one solution. There are other ways for beginners to get into computer music, some of which may be more compelling for some users, depending on their tastes. And with programs like Kinetic, FL Studio, and even the affordable lite versions of Reason and Live fitting the bill quite nicely, the last thing I’d say is “I wish there were a GarageBand rip-off for Windows.”

  • http://myspace.com/photocopiedpaperbacks tristan

    Another difference: This M-Audio clone isn't going to come already installed on every Windows user's computer, whereas Garageband is already there to use for any new mac users. Whether or not this is a good thing, I don't know. Sure, a there's a lot of people thinking their "loop-compositions" are amazing, but it also probably made some people get into computer-based music production who wouldn't have normally.

  • Adrian Anders

    You forgot about Mutools Luna
    http://www.mutools.com/
    Bram Bos Tunafish
    http://www.brambos.com/
    n-Track Studio
    http://www.ntrack.com/
    Multitrackstudio
    http://www.multitrackstudio.com/
    Magix Music Studio 10 Deluxe
    http://site.magix.net/index.php?id=13224&no_c

    All under $100, all perfect for the beginning musician.

  • Adrian Anders

    Furthermore, Session doesn't seem to be a plug-in host. Even the free Kristal Audio Engine (http://www.kreatives.org/kristal/index.php) can do better than that.

    Also, while it's in pre-release beta, Cockos Reaper can be downloaded for free here:
    http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

    It does WAY more than Session, and it's free!

    How's that for a slice of fried gold?

    ATA

  • http://dubbing-in-tokyo.blogspot.com Chris_B

    Wow, M-Audio cranking out more mediocrity? Whats next? Roland making drum machines?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, I'm all for copying the competition if you can improve on them or create something that's useful to people. Apple did that with GarageBand when they copied (and improved upon) design features in ACID. M-Audio has done that with some of their hardware. But Windows is overcrowded with options, if anything.

    Thanks, Adrian, for the exhaustive list (we should do a roundup)! Mutools Luna is a good example, and the quite-nice CMusic version is included with each issue of Computer Music — along with a healthy suite of plug-ins and regular tutorials in the magazine. Cover price is US$15 in the US, but that's not bad for a DVD full of software.

    Tunafish is one of the most elegant and simple hosts I've ever seen, maybe worth comparing to GarageBand. Some of these others are a little rougher around the edges, but the important common factor is they give the beginning user room to grow. Not to mention, I'm not entirely convinced something like Session will really make it easier for a beginner to get started.

  • http://stereoroid.com stereoroid

    I'd add another to the list of better-than-this audio packages: <a title="Mackie Tracktion" href="http://www.mackie.com/products/tracktion2/splash.html&quot; rel="nofollow">Mackie Tracktion. OK, it's not as loop-oriented, more streamlined and less hand-holding. But it's cross-platform (PC & Mac), does everything from a very well laid out single screen (no dialog boxes!). Best VST handling I've seen. Not very expensive either, nowhere near the price of the big ones, but just as capable.

  • http://www.musiccomposer.com mediawest

    garbage band is really acid v3. acid v5 or 6 is light years ahead of the mac software.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Stereoid, thanks for bringing up Tracktion! I think it's a really exceptional choice, in fact, for certain people. I really love Ableton Live for its Session View, looping, and built-in instruments and effects. But if what you wanted was the simplicity of the Live interface but only needed to record sequences and tracks, Tracktion would be about perfect.

    And yes, ACID 6 definitely wins over GarageBand on features. I think GarageBand's simplicity still makes sense, though, for some users; people do respond to it.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » More on Session, M-Audio’s GarageBand Clone for Windows

  • Dextro

    They should make it FREEWARE cause we have nice freebies to deal with!

    So who cares about another host…

    Make it free guys…

  • Michael Donn

    Well it comes free with Mac so I completly agree with the previous post!!!

  • zefif

    Garage band is not intended to fight against Acid 6.

    This is not the same target, first one is free, second one is not.

    If you want a MacOs equivalent to Acid 6 you may have a sight to Logic Express or Logic Pro…

    http://www.apple.com/logicpro/

  • Knaps

    Kids these days expect everything to be free *rolls eyes*. Be realistic. Just because some guys are disrupting the market by giving stuff away for free doesn't mean that nobody should ask money for software. Creating software = a serious job = deserves to be paid for. Do you work for free?

  • Nobody

    Question: Does it really work that well? Or would you rather just buy mac OS X Tiger for $109 at http://www.buy cheap software.com? (That's with shipping) And dual-boot it with a windows machine.

  • bdog

    THSI IS A GREAT IDEA!!! do u know how many people are looking for a garageband for windows!!! every chat room i look at is like Garageband for windows! they need to make it more popular so people are liek DUDE garageband for windows…LETS GET IT!!!

  • bdog

    ONE PROBLEM! tooooo much money….. no-one is going to spend like 129 dollars on some cloned thing for windows. other companies will probably come out with better things than garage band for free

  • joshua gattshall

    i am totally fine with the windows garage band but i think it should not cost any money for people.

  • garageband4win

    that would be cool if there was garage band for windows because then it would make music a lot easier for all user of windows and macinctosh!!

  • lexi

    GARAGE BAND FOR WINDOWS?? AMAZING!! LOVE IT!!!!!!!

  • http://www.saeedbazmi.com saeed

    i need some prograam like garage band for window

    how can you use the sounds from your computer

    and you play wiht your midi composer

    and you record it Direct

    if some knows something a bout that

    please let me know

    Thanks…

  • guitarssalve

    Garage band for windows is amazing man, it looks pretty good, but i dont think it will happen, if you got a great pc you should try to emulate a mac OS in your windows and use the garage band, I think that would be the easier way… but I open to any other words, so if got another program that does the same or almost the same as Garage Band plz contact me!

  • http://www.myspace.com/masterprtzl MasterPrtzl

    Hey, this looks cool and all but i'm a broke musician and need a substitute for garage band for free- if anyone knows of any decent free programs, please send me an email at masterprtzel@yahoo.com – it would be a huge help!

    Ive used garage band and its simple, thus i love it – im not sound engineer so yah, simple is great!

  • http://www.rajomac.com Raj

    Is there any program that actually has pre-programmed tracks like GarageBand? GarageBand was great because it had so many different tracks already in it for people who wanted to create cool loops but were really not musicians. I'm looking for that but so far I cannot find such a program. FruityLoops has something similar but that is a highly involved program with much more control of each little piece, I don't necessarily need that much control.

  • gil

    same here MasterPrztl if you guys find a progam like that email me too at Millag2136@aol.com please.

  • dom

    garage band comes with all kinds of effects and instruments that u can use with the keyboard. can u do this with the sessions software?

  • http://www.fabvoices.net Ahawes

    Does Session and Acid 6 both provide on board instruments that can be played with a keyboard controller like GB? How does the editing features of Session compare with GB? What did you mean when you said Sessions was free but ended up around $100 street?

    Thanks

  • jrod

    can you use your keyboard on your computer as a piano like on garage band? thats whati really want. could someone email me a program thta can do that? bigjstyle@gmail.com

    thanks

  • T-Dubble Dub

    stinky kaakaa

  • roy
  • Creeping Death

    Copies are crap, only the original Garage Band Rock!!!

  • WOOP COME ON MA CRU

    Init mon

    This is ok but i think mac uses procise movement and strong realistic sythethsieres (etc…techinical instruments) Blah blah…(lol) but it would be good for windows

    :)

    MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  • And

    hey

    i am in need of help badly.

    all i would like is a garageband style program, with synthesisers and instruments built in already, which can be played through the normal computer keyboard and recorded..

    i am struggling to find such a program and now believe i am quite useless.

    many thanks to anybody who can help

  • GARAGE BAND FAN

    Can you get it for a normal windows pc?

  • MusicFAN

    Has anyone found a driver or app. that makes the IControl (By M-audio)work on awindows PC!

    Thanks Aric

  • http://myspace.com/cartelsmusic Mark K

    WELL I JUST BOUGHT THE PROGRAM, SO I CAN HAVE IT ON MY PC LAPTOP, IT IS NOT GARAGEBAND BY FAR

    NO VIRTUAL KEYBOARD (YOU MUST DOWNLOAD THAT SEPERATLY) Many crashes and errors occur (Mac rules) and im not sure but you cant edit you midi

    notes like raise their volume and move them around

    and so on,If this is true this programs sucks and i will burn it (im a pro producer and i use garageband and logic) and i love them I was looking for a good clone but I dont know yet I have to spend some more time and figure it out

    The free Instruments are cheesy not pro

    for that you must buy third party programs like

    Symphonic Orchestra, Korg legacy and such im not sure if i can use those with m-audios Session

  • Chip

    y doesnt some one come up with a pettition(or watever) to get apple to make garageband work for windows all i see is people wanting it for windows…i want it for windows…if they make it then charge a small price for it then they could make some profit instead of giving it free to mac users only…

  • mistawaffles

    they should give this crap away 4 free

  • kkidd

    well the software is free…it comes free when you purchase some maudio hardware, so for 96 bucks you can get a usb producer condenser mic w/ sessions software…same for the fasttrack hardware…i got my sessions when i purchased the producer usb mic(which works well btw)…I was surprised with how easy it was to actually record and mixdown a song. Ive used several progs in the past, but thier was a steep learning curve…so i stuck with kristal audio, because it was free and easy….Sessions is much better, although there are some options which are missing(such as fade in). The only real problem i have is that it doesnt host vst plug ins, but, I can still record on kristal and just import the track to Sessions if i need a certain plugin. If you are a serious musician this isnt for you. But for a home studio like mine, its a definite compliment to my gear.

  • Alex

    I absolutely love the software…using to mix an independent album by my band right now. The only downer is it was a total pain in the ass to find a proper driver to install the software. I bought for FIFTEEN DOLLARS at best buy. You can't beat that price for something of this immense quality.

  • dave

    I also tried this when I was looking for a GarageBand for windows but in the end Mixcraft was what came the closest for me. I found that Mixcraft had much better sound quality, with less latency when using the ASIO codecs. The m-audio versions feels similar, but obviously quality of audio wins over cosmetics every time!

  • http://garagebandinsturments isaiah

    i want to make a beat

  • PENIS

    nst nst nst nst