Garageband vs FL Studio Compared: Which is Better?

Digital audio workstations help people create excellent music and have professional-quality recordings without having to work too hard for it. The two of the most popular options you have right now are GarageBand vs FL Studio.

What are the main differences between Garageband vs FL Studio?

  • FL Studio is geared towards creating electronic music, whereas GarageBand is best suited for live recordings.
  • FL Studio has recently introduced a Mac version on top of its Windows software, whereas GarageBand is for Macs only.
  • If you’re a professional music creator, especially if you’re into creating hip-hop and dance tunes, then you’d like FL Studio more than GarageBand. Apple’s DAW is a good way for beginners to get into music creation and recording.
  • GarageBand gives you an excellent sound and instrument library, which makes FL Studio’s range of effects and sampled instruments sound rather outdated.

Spotlight on GarageBand

If you’re a musician or if you work with audio tracks, one of the reasons to get an Apple device such as a mac, iPhone, or iPad is GarageBand. This digital audio workstation makes it easier for you to record podcasts or create music.

Main Features of GarageBand

GarageBand allows you to record different audio tracks. You will be able to sequence your recordings and play them back later on. There are audio filters that you can use to enhance your recordings with a variety of effects.

GarageBand has professional-quality effects and filters, including echo, distortion, and reverb. Technically, you can record audio with resolutions of 16- and 24-bit, but the sample rate will be fixed at 44.1 kilohertz.

MIDI Editor

You can use GarageBand to edit MIDI files. And it’s not just basic editing, but also giving your comprehensive and complete control with your music.

For MIDI editing, some things are not included in GarageBand that you can easily find in other digital audio workstations. You might also have a difficult time loading a MIDI file that was created or changed using GarageBand using another program.

Music Lessons

GarageBand allows you access to music lessons, making it easier for you to learn the guitar or piano. The more exciting part is that there is content here that allows you to learn the song from the artist himself or herself.

These Artist Lessons lets you learn Angel with Sarah McLachlan, Love Song with Sara Bareilles, Apologize with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, and Ordinary People with John Legend, among many others.

Other Features

  • Jam Packs, which are add-ons for the program
  • MainStage 2, which gives you more than three dozen built-in instruments

Virtual Instruments and Simulated Tracks

Like the name says, you get a variety of samples from different instruments, including a range of synthesized sounds. Using a MIDI keyboard connected to your device, you can use these virtual instruments for your own music.

These include acoustic guitars, hard rock guitars, piano, bass, drum kit, and other instruments.

This video shows you what you can do with virtual instruments.

GarageBand also has tracks that are for guitar sounds. These features mimic the sounds of amplifiers, effects processors, and stompboxes.

GarageBand: The Bottom Line

GarageBand is one of those software that can make recording music a whole lot easier. It comes free when you buy a Mac. One side advantage of GarageBand is that it makes it easy to learn how to play a guitar or piano.

But even if you want to stick to music creation and recording, you will love GarageBand. It also doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out with audio recording, or you’re a professional with years of experience, there are a lot of features for you to like.

GarageBand offers you thousands of audio loops, libraries, and effects that allow you to started quickly and create professional-sounding audio clips.

You also get full control over your recordings, with smart controls that allow you to enhance and get better sounds in real-time. You have access to a track mastering tool that allows you to control everything from EQ to limiting, to mix compression

The Good

GarageBand has a Mac, iPhone, and iPad version, which pretty much give you the same features. Plus, you can keep your music files on the cloud, with the program silently uploading everything in the background.

Some people note that the user interface is easy on the eyes. It’s probably one of the best-looking interfaces you’d see on DAW. But more than just the aesthetics, you will love how intuitive it is to use where everything you want to use is a breeze to find.

And if you’re using it on a touch display, you will love being able to control things easily, as if you’re on a physical mixer. What’s more, this program has enhanced tuning, or autotune built-in.

Lastly, GarageBand works seamlessly on Apple products, a company that is known for using the best components. Performance is fast, and to be honest, you can take an iPhone’s internal microphone and use that to record with GarageBand. The resulting recording will still sound excellent with minimal noise.

making music


GarageBand only has a 44.1-kilohertz sampling rate, which means that it takes 44,100 samples for each second. According to this site, 48 kilohertz is the standard for today’s audio sampling.

If you submit audio files that you worked on using GarageBand, there is a chance that they will need to be resampled. Resampling can take time and may introduce noise and other artifacts into your audio.

What’s more, you’d be up-sampling to 48 kilohertz, which means that there is more chance to screw up the audio quality.

No MIDI-Out and What’s Lacking

GarageBand also doesn’t allow you to use external MIDI instruments. You might also have to rely on real-time modulation, foot control, sustain, and pitch bend because the support for MIDI keyboard knobs is very limited.

Lastly, for those who are using GarageBand on their iPhones and iPads, the programs take a lot of space. There is no way for you to delete some of the loops and instruments to clear up your storage so even if you never use them, they’re just there.

Then Comes FL Studio

FL Studio is a powerful DAW that allows you to create music with ease. It’s currently available for Windows and Mac users.

Features of FL Studio That You Should Know

FL Studio’s user interface is very functional and easy to read. You can scale it however you want, even when you’re working with more than one monitor. If you have a touch display, you can do multi-touch operations.

The interface is divided into sections.

  • The Browser has all your project files, presets, audio clips, instruments, and everything you need to work.
  • The Channel Rack has active sound generators.
  • The Pattern lists down the clips that you are using
  • The Playlist is where you make your arrangements

Other things on the interface include the:

  • Meter bridge
  • Mixing console
  • Piano roll
  • Step sequencer

There are those who like the interface for being modular. When you need a tool or do something, a window opens. You can also customize everything to your heart’s content, making it easier for you to compose music.

What’s more, FL Studio’s Playlist now holds up to 500 tracks, arranged by track groups.

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Music Creation

More than anything else, FL Studio is a great choice for people who like professional-sounding tracks. Hip-hop and electronic dance music producers will like the Patterns.

This feature allows you to create loops, breakdowns and builds. You’re working with short clips rather than lengthy songs.

You can also enjoy multiple time signatures. You can add markers to your Playlist and individual Patterns, allowing you to change the time signature.

Instruments and Sounds

FL Studio comes with several instruments. But out of the box, you will have limited choices with what they have.

There is also a fine selection of effects plugins that would probably be enough for most users. You’d love Convolver and other delay tools. Or perhaps tinker around with Riff Machine or Graph Editor.


FL Studio comes in four versions:

  • Fruity
  • Producer
  • Signature
  • All Plugins Bundle

If you only need the core features and functionality, you can go for the Fruity edition. But to enjoy the full audio features and more plugins, you can choose between the Produce or Signature versions.

If you’re really serious about producing music, then the All Plugins Bundle will be your best bet with its complete range of effects, instruments, and everything Image-Line has to offer.

The Bottom Line on FL Studio

FL Studio has always been an excellent DAW for those who like to create their own music.

However, it might not be a good choice for a DAW if you want to record live music or vocals.

What You’d Like

FL Studio has a long list of features and capabilities. But highlights of these features are the visible automation that makes your audio files easier to manipulate, as well as the loops and patterns that allow for breezy MIDI creation.


FL Studio doesn’t provide you with a score editor, which you’d need if you’re doing music notations. You will also find FL Studio annoying when you’re trying to record audio clips.

Also if you’re used to using other DAWs, the interface of FL Studio can be quite confusing at first. You will need to reorient yourself as you use it. For instance, you cannot double-click a project name to open up a file. You will need to right-click on your mouse to do this.

You might also not like the number of popups that appear when you use this program. Some features may not be available on the Mac version.

Comparing FL Studio and GarageBand

When comparing FL Studio and GarageBand, you can draw parallels from other types of software. GarageBand is the DAW version of Canva, popular online software that allows you to create posters and graphics easily. Meanwhile, FL Studio would be the Adobe Photoshop of DAWs.

Or you can think about GarageBand as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, while FL Studio would be Final Cut Pro X. That is to say, GarageBand is a software that is aimed at consumers that allows you to create music without sweating about it. You don’t even have to be an expert music producer.

FL Studio allows you to do a lot more, with a greater degree of control and more features to play with.

So how do you decide?

If you’re using a Mac, GarageBand will be the better option for you as FL Studio is rather new to the operating system and does have some features that are not available just yet. Of course, if you’re on a Windows machine, then you are out of luck: you have no choice but to use FL Studio.

GarageBand is easier to use than FL Studio, but that kind of simplicity has its drawbacks. You don’t get as many features with GarageBand as you will with FL Studio. However, you can find tutorials and invest some time learning the software and it will pay off because you can produce professional-quality tracks.

FL Studio can cost a lot if you want the whole shebang, while GarageBand comes free with your Mac and less than $5 when you use the mobile app.

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Are there any alternatives to both GarageBand and FL Studio?

Because GarageBand and FL Studio are both excellent DAWs that can help you create music easily, it’s difficult to imagine that one would go looking for something that can offer them more.

The thing is there are several alternatives that you can consider. For instance, if you like the range of effects, features, sounds, and clips offered by FL Studio, but you have a Mac computer, you can check out Apple’s other DAW: the full-feature Logic Pro X. You might also check out Cubase.

If you’re collaborating with others or just want a greater degree of control for your music, then Ableton Live will be a good idea.

Another DAW that’s worth the look is Studio One 2. This is a paid program that has a generous free edition. Even when you pay nothing you still have a lot of functionality to work with, save your projects, and don’t have a lot of restrictions.

This makes it a good alternative to those who like to use a free DAW to test it out to see if they’d like it. Or those beginners who are still trying to learn before shelling out money.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You ask we answer. Here are your most common questions about DAWs, GarageBand, and FL Studio.

Question: How do you choose the perfect DAW for you?

Answer: Digital audio workstations help you have an easier time creating music, and there are a lot to choose from. How do you choose the perfect DAW?
There are several factors:


• Some DAWs like GarageBand comes free with your Mac. Others are open source and allow users free use of their software. Others can be pretty costly but may have more features and functionalities that others are not offering.
• The perfect DAW for you would be the one that you can afford. You can get free to use DAW software that delivers everything you need to get your job done. Or you can pay to have better support levels, a thriving and helpful user community, or just have the instruments, loops, and other features that you need.


• A lot of the digital audio workstations that are available now have a lot of features in common with each other. Most DAWs have the same plugins, instruments, piano rolls, tracks, and effects.
• Check to see if your chosen DAW has all the things that you need and go for it. Another thing to check is the integrations and compatibility that the DAW offers. If you can find one that can run native to the operating system you’re using, then that’s a good start.

Layout and User Interface

• Because a lot of the features are the same, sometimes people decide on the perfect DAW based on the user interface or layout of the program. Some people base their decisions on which DAW has a more intuitive interface, while others like a more customizable interface.
• Still, others will like to work with a DAW that opens up a window or tab that would list all the instruments, actions, and loops that are relevant to the project that they are working on.

User Community and Support

• There are DAWs that come free with a good offering of features and sounds. But they usually have not much in way of customer support. Others may not have a good online community of users.
• You should also check if there are excellent tutorials on your chosen DAW. These tutorials and how-to videos will help you learn more about how to do things with your chosen DAW.

Question: Is there a difference between working on a DAW on a computer and a mobile device?

Answer: Some people would like to work on their music everywhere, which is why a good DAW or music creation app on an iPad is an excellent idea for them.  For instance, an iPad now already has external USB storage and multi-window features, as well as enough processing power to make things fast.

However, in reality, working on an iPad can be filled with problems.  Frequently, the apps might not work with each other all the time. Sometimes, the iPad senses a USB connection to your instruments, but it doesn’t receive the sound.

An iPad or tablet will not be able to handle multiple environments. If you have two apps running simultaneously, like a guitar app and a DAW, you can expect things to be unreliable.

Looking into the two versions of GarageBand, the one for Macs and the one for iOS, you would see some differences as well.

• Mac version has a master track that allows you to adjust the master volume, fade, and other settings. 
• The Mac version has more automation.
•You cannot customize the look of GarageBand on an iPhone or iPad.
•You can disable auto normalization on the Mac version.
•When you’re working on a Mac, you can use any USB device with it.  You might not have an easy time plugging in an audio interface or just about any device that needs drivers installed on your iPad.
•The iOS version has merge tracks, making it easier AND faster for you to mix anywhere from one to 720 tracks.
•You can access Alchemy Synth on the iOS version, which isn’t available on GarageBand Mac.
•The iOS version gets regular sound library packs updates.
•The iOS version allows you to create music or trigger things using only the touchscreen, no need for a separate MIDI keyboard.
•You will need to spend anywhere from $30 to $65 on a lightning-to-USB cable adapter when you’re working with GarageBand iOS.

This Pete Johns – Studio Live Today podcast goes into more detail about the differences between GarageBand’s iOS and Mac versions.

GarageBand vs. FL Studio: Which Is Better?

As far as DAWs go, FL Studio gives you the works, allowing you to create complete tracks, enhance them with effects, add loops and clips, and save your new song. It comes with lifetime updates and more features than you would use. You can never go wrong with FL Studio.

However, don’t dismiss GarageBand just yet. This free software for Mac users can hold its own and can even augment FL Studio’s weakness in live recordings. So while we’d recommend FL Studio for most music creators, we’re also recommending GarageBand as a secondary DAW.

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