My night (and day) with Garageband on an iPad

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Curmei, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Curmei


    Dec 29, 2008
    Not sure if this is the proper place for this... please move, or let me know, if it is not.

    This is very long, so may not be worth anyone's time to read... but, I felt that I had to get this off my chest, and since Apple won't allow me to email them, I have to wait until after work to call them, or have them call me. So, thought I would post here.

    As a disclaimer, I am not anti-Apple. We have seven Apple devices in our house, and I use Apple products for work, every day. Also, I loved Garageband on the iPad - why I bought the iRig yesterday. I prefer Android for my personal devices, and Garageband on the iPad made me angry that Android has just ignored the music market to this point. But, as you will see below, my love of GB on the iPad came to a grinding halt over the last 24 hours. I am a bit pissy right now, so end the below saying that I am moving on, but honestly, I will take another stab at thing tonight - depending on how my call with Apple goes.

    If anyone has run into these issues, and has some suggestions, I would love to hear them.

    * As a somewhat-related aside, the song I was recording was using my Ultracure VI. I had promised to post something months ago, and finally got around to it. Another reason why this was so frustrating.

    ** And, finally, apologies if anyone is offended by my use of some language. Because of how I was brought up - in heavily Catholic Boston - or, the people that I hung around with, that is how my brain thinks, and I just documented it. If it offends anyone here, I will change those few words.

    First, the error.

    After spending a couple hours recording a song using Garagaband on my iPad, I laid down the final guitar track - plugged into the iPad with an iRig HD - and hit the stop recording button. The app crashed - no error displayed, it just went away. I thought, “Well, this isn’t good,” and tried to restart it. It would appear to be trying to load - messaging that it was “Loading My Song 2” and then would disappear. Again, no error.

    Tried this many times, without ever getting beyond the experience above.

    My first thought was that I had run out of memory. The iPad isn’t new to me, but using it for this sort of thing is - I am a Cakewalk/Windows user, generally. So, I checked and saw that I still had about 12GB available. To be safe, though, I removed programs that I wasn’t using, and any files that were not needed. None of this helped resolve the problem, but things _felt_ cleaner now...

    I did some research online and found that some folks were able to get things going again by turning off wi-fi. No dice for me. Same behavior.

    Some users were able to get back by allowing Garageband to reset itself. In the Garageband settings, this function can be turned on, so I tried it and - success! - the app started up and there were all my songs again. Happy days!

    Well, happy until I tried to launch My Song 2 and the app disappeared again. I restarted the app, and it did start up again.

    I tried other songs, and all worked as expected. I tried My Song 2 again, and the app disintegrated.

    At this point, a bit worried that I had lost my track, but still not frustrated. This is a puzzle, and we can resolve it. We need to just get those 1s and 0s into a new environment, and see if that helps. Maybe I was using some VSTs that require a bit more processing power than the iPad possessed, and getting it into a “real” computing environment will sort things out?

    Nice idea, I guess, but this is where I started to get frustrated.

    First, I tried to play by the rules. I could see the song listed on the My Songs page, so I could just share it. I hit Edit, and then Gmail and thought that I was on the way to checking things out on my Macbook. But, once it started to process, GB crashed. I went through the other share options, and same deal. Looks Ok, then nothing.

    There has to be a way to just access the file system and grab the data, right? Wrong. Well, technically, partially wrong. I found programs that would allow it - some more accepted than others - but, why did I need to use some workaround to do this? I just want to grab the file and email it to myself. I would even be happy to FTP it somewhere on a commandline, if need be... But, Apple doesn’t want this to happen. I get it - control the environment, control the experience, and minimize pain across the userbase. I got no issue with that line of thought. However, why not - at least - build in some type of workaround so those of us who want to take an extra step or two can do so? Ok, I will give you the security argument... fine.

    There must be some way to do this, though...

    iCloud - yes! That seems like it would work. I did my research, I can just turn it on, and then connect my devices and the data will move over. Great. And, please forgive me for all those demands and questions above. I was just getting frustrated and not thinking straight. Of course, you had already considered this and figured out a way to workaround my old way of thinking - and, of course, being Apple you made it intuitive and straight-forward. Right?

    Well, I got iCloud turned on. I set it up so that documents and data would be backed up, and Garageband was included. Simple enough. Now I just need to set up my Macbook, and connect the two. No problemo.

    Macbook - on.
    iCloud - on.
    Data settings - set.
    Bluetooth turned on both devices - check.
    iPad connected to Macbook via Bluetooth - connected.
    Data transferring - nope.

    Hmm... Maybe it has to do it via iTunes.

    iTunes running - check.
    Data transferring - nah-ah.

    Ok. This is annoying... Ah, wait, I see. It won’t do it via Bluetooth. That security thing again, I guess. Ok, guess I have to get up off my butt and go get the cable so I can hardwire them. Seems a bit odd in 2013 to have to do this, but hey - what do I know? I don’t work for Apple.

    Devices connected via cable - check.
    iTunes running - check.
    Devices seen - YES!
    Data transferring - think again, sucker.

    WTH!!! Now what did I miss? “Google, tell me what to do here.”

    Ok, some other setting had to be turned on so that the apps would display and I could then choose the songs to transfer. At this point, I don’t remember what that setting was, or I would list the steps here, so that others who come across this would know what to do. But, it was after midnight when I was doing this, and it is now lunch time, and I just don’t know. I did, however, get the apps to display. Great.

    Now, I just need to click on it, and the songs will display on the right side of the window. Ok. Click. Nothing. Why is it still showing my iPad’s home screens on the right side? Jesus Chr... Oh, wait. I am in the wrong section. Just need to scroll down. Cool. There is Garageband. Now, just click and choose the songs to transfer...

    No songs. What the hell? This should not be this difficult. Google - can you help? No. Ok. Let’s see. iPad. Garageband. My Songs. Maybe I need to share them? Try this one - it was working fine. Share via iTunes. Select. Hey! There it is. Woo-hoo!!!

    But, when I was trying to share the other song, it crashed Garageband. Is that going to happen again?

    No - hey, look at that!?! I can share and it shows up as a file I can transfer. Cool.

    Transferred a few songs over, and then had the idea that since this sharing was working, maybe it would open now. Maybe the issue that I was having before has resolved itself? Nope.

    At this point, I had the songs on my Macbook and I was happy. Only 45 minutes or so of figuring out how to do this, but it’s a new process for me, and learning takes time. I’m just a child that needs some training up at this point. I’m Ok with that.

    Start up GB on my Macbook. Select file to open - the one that was crashing the app on the iPad, and... Great. Now I need to update Garageband so it is compatible. Fine. Update the friggin’ app. Please do it quickly.

    287MB download! Christ, are you updating it, or adding a new level? Whatever. I will go get coffee to try and stay awake, while you do that.

    Done. Good.

    Ok, select file to open. Open, and... what is Illegal Text Block? Click Ok.

    Why are you telling me Illegal Text Block again? (Can someone say PC LOAD LETTER?)

    Click Ok.

    Ah, looks to be converting/loading/whatever it needs to. Just a couple more seconds, and... Awesome. File cannot be opened. Wonderful. Man, there really is nothing like the Apple experience.

    Back I go to Google. Search for Illegal Text Block. Looks like someone else has seen this, but it’s after 1am, and I have to work tomorrow, so off to bed I go. Will continue this battle later.

    The next day... (Well, technically, just later in the same day...)

    Lunch time. Think that I will spend some time trying to resolve this issue - best I can. Some more searching. More people that have had this problem - seems to be quite a few, actually. I don’t usually post to support forums, but I wouldn’t mind posting my experience, and getting alerts when other users post, or Apple responds. Just gotta log in...

    Ok, need to choose a username. I’ll go with the usual. Submit. Error. What did I screw up now?

    Everything looks Ok. Maybe I just need to choose a different username? Ok, here is one that I am sure that no one else has... Another error. Ok. Now I am getting annoyed. What you are telling me doesn’t make sense:
    "An account utilizing this email address already exists. Only one account per email address is allowed on Apple Support Communities."

    And, I am not the only one seeing this - it has been going on since, at least, January 2012:

    Hey - look at that. Lots of people seeing this when trying to log into the support area. This one guy seems to have resolved it. Just update your Apple ID password, and then it works. No problemo.

    Password updated. Logging in...

    Caution symbol and the great messaging - An Unknown Error Has Occurred. No idea what that means. But, it looks like I am logged in, so just going to ignore it. If I haven’t been diagnosed, then I am not really sick, right?

    Ok. Now it won’t let me click through to the board that I was just on. When I click the link to the thread, I end up on the login page. When I try to log in, I get the Unknown Error Has Occurred message.

    Lunch is half over, and I haven’t even come close to a resolution.

    Fine. I will just contact them. Cool - chat option. Anything to not have to interact with another human being, in the flesh. I’m so modern and progressive!

    Ok. Click that. And... Really!?! You have to have the serial number for me to continue? Well, I don’t bring my iPad to work with me. I have no idea what the serial number is. Maybe I can just enter nonsense and... well, I guess not. Must be valid. Great.

    Well, I think, what would be best for both of us at this point, is if I just return all of your things and we should just go our separate ways. It’s not that I don’t like you, and we still need to be friends (I can’t get by at work without you), but from a personal standpoint, I just find you to be too much work, and a bit unstable. And, I know, it isn’t you - it is definitely me. Most people wouldn’t be asking this much of you. I am just a bit high-maintenance myself when it comes to these things, and we both just have very different ways of going about things at this point.

    So, I do wish you well. I know that things have been a little rocky on the financial front, and the latest legal stuff doesn’t help. I just really need something simple and stable in my life at this point. Everyone told me that you were it - I wouldn’t have to spend hours fussing over things to be happy. That’s why I made the investment that I did. And, I don’t regret it - I just think that we’re not really a match right now.

    You look great, but it just doesn’t click when we are alone together.
  2. Curmei


    Dec 29, 2008
    Update on this, for anyone interested... The good:
    - I have successfully recorded multiple multi-track recordings without error
    - The app has not crashed since that first night

    The not-so-good:
    - Was not able to recover the recording that crashed. Ended up deleting it and moving on
    - Apple was unable to help with the corrupted data, or with my account being screw-y. The login issue is known, but not resolved. I can create a new account if I want, but I would prefer not to have more personal info in the system, if I can help it. I understand that it may be affecting a small number of people and be a low-priority bug, but this type of code/database problem looks amateurish to me- especially for an image-conscious company like Apple. Will give it a little time and see if they can resolve it

    Overall, though, I am still impressed by how powerful the setup is- iPad, Garageband, iRig HD. I was going to go Apogee, but did not see one that worked with the latest iPad, without the adapter. Not a big deal, but I lose things that aren't attached. So far, no quality issues, in my uneducated, ruined-hearing opinion. For capturing ideas on the couch or in a hotel room, you could do much worse.

    Still pisses me off that Google isn't doing more on this front. Not that I want to see Apple do poorly or anything. Just that my phone and main tablet are Android, and if I am sitting on the couch and need to type something, I break out the chromebook. Work is all Apple, but outside work, I bought into Google. In the studio, I am still on Windows... Looks like I am stuck with multiple platforms for the foreseeable future :)

    Anyone interested, this is recorded on the iPad. The video is my drive to work. Instruments are all VST, except the Ultracure VI. That is run directly into the iPad, and using modeling for amplification and effects.

    The playing is terrible, but it is all just one take, to capture the idea... All I wanted this setup for.
  3. what i got from this is.... don't buy apple products
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    The video came out fine tablets are still underpowered to do any serious recording with you get a simple riff while on the road and want to put it down quickly I love Garageband on the Ipad anything serious I use windows.
  5. Curmei


    Dec 29, 2008
    Hopefully, that is due to my playing :)

    For all my complaining, I still think - for this specific use - this Apple setup is the best option right now. I have used standalone recorders, and they work great, but do not give all the options for creating music that the iPad does. A laptop would be just as powerful, but not quite as portable. I also find that I like the touch interface, though that is getting common with laptops now.

    If you don't like Apple, I am not trying to change minds. Nor will I try to - I am not converting my studio to Apple, and not giving up my Google environment for other personal uses.

    If the setup wasn't so damned good, I wouldn't have been so pissed off - both that it crashed, and that I can't do this on my chromebook.

    Like every other platform, it isn't perfect. For me, though, I will continue using it till I come across something better. The Windows tablets may be great for this, but I am not ready to invest in that side of the MS world yet. I need to see them stick with it and build out another generation before I get into those waters.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    The second or third generation may be the trick like you I'm still waiting
  7. acekryxffk


    Apr 18, 2013
    Agree! I don't like apple products, i would rather buy android product, more cheap, feeling good!
  8. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    People buy Apple products because they simply work. Yeah right. ;)

    (And to not start an Apple vs something-else war, I own and use an iPod, an iPhone and an iPad. I just don't buy into the Apple hype and fanboyism, the products are by no means perfect. When they do work as intended they are great, but when they don't you're really left without a paddle up the proverbial creek. I've had my share of both software and hardware problems).
  9. Curmei


    Dec 29, 2008
    I don't disagree with people who say that Apple has issues - like all OSes. As I mentioned, day-to-day, for personal use, I am Chrome and Android, for the most part. Unfortunately - and one of the things that annoys me about Google at this point, is that there is nothing that comes close to Garageband on the iPad right now (that I have seen). I can break out my Windows laptop and hardware interface, and have a more powerful set up, but for sitting on the couch in a pair of sweatpants and coming up with ideas, I have yet to find anything as simple and powerful as this setup.

    I have worked with technology long enough to know that products and fads come and go - new companies will take what the last titan did and expand on it further (or take it in an entirely new direction). I wish I had competition to choose from, for this specific use, but I just don't see it right now.

    This is another idea, done completely on the iPad - audio and video recording, mixing, and video production. Don't judge it based on the playing/artistic merit - I am no Scorsese (nor am I a Geddy Lee - hell, I'm not even a Krist Noveselic). But, the entire project - not including the driving - took about an hour from idea to posting to Youtube. Still screwing with the Ultracure - three tracks of the bass VI with some programmed drums and sampler.

    I'm not trying to compete with pros with any of this, but to do something like this inside of an hour to share with friends is amazing to me.

    If folks have a good alternative, please let me know. I am always interested in trying new things, and competition is lifeblood for technology.
  10. Curmei


    Dec 29, 2008
    To be clear, my last post doesn't absolve Apple of responsibility for the crappy first experience I had with this equipment, and their support site. However, to be fair, since then, I have not had any problems - on the iPad/Garageband end of things. I still can't successfully use their support site. I have feeling that it will be a very long time before they consider that bug a priority.
  11. I bought Garageband for my iPad but I haven't dared use it for
    anything significant. I don't trust it. You have kind of
    confirmed my belief that tablets aren't built for complex
    programs like Garageband. That's why they have laptops.

    Unlike phone/tablet operating systems, real operating systems
    have the means and all the tools you need to manage your data.
    I think it is bass-ackwards to require an iCloud server 1000 miles
    away to move your data around.