If you have little to no experience with music recording software you may find Apple’s GarageBand the easiest interlude to a full blown DAW like Logic Studio, Pro Tools, or Digital Performer. While some find the mixing environment of Garage Band a little lacking, its a major step above using a direct audio recording program like Audacity. GarageBand permits multitrack recording, has various plugin/production effects, and is compatible with a decent amount of recording gear for Mac.
A major advantage to GarageBand is the initial cost (either free of $79 with iLife). For what you get, it’s an incredible deal. Not only can Garage Band function as a recording and sequencing tool, it features its own production suite and great quality sound for any music or podcast. You may not want to record a symphony, or your 10th studio album with the program, but it will certainly handle podcasts, demos, and early music recording projects.
There are a cacophony of audio interfaces, microphones, and other recording equipment for Apple Mac. Many of these will function with OSX and GarageBand to record high quality audio. Usually if you are looking to start your own Mac recording studio, you require more than one microphone preamp or instrument input. Generally this means obtaining an audio interface or digital mixing console. Since there are so many available interfaces with differing inputs and bit-rates (generally related to price) it is difficult to determine the best interface for starting a Mac music studio. Entry level recording gear from M-Audio, MOTU, and PreSonus (among others) can deliver stellar results without breaking the bank. However, a device from DigiDesign or Apogee certainly will deliver better audio, you will just be nearly doubling the price for that quality.
While Apple’s fan base and product image is built around creativity, one must not totally discount the usefulness that PC has to offer. Both operating systems may use the majority of DAWs and home recording equipment available. Many of the professional level applications (Pro Tools and such), feature comparable functionality in both iterations.
While Apples come stocked with Garageband (and the rest of iLife) for creating home music programs, it packs a heavier initial price. On average Mac cost allot more that PC equivalents. Even today, the base Mac still requires around $1000 to take home. This means a larger price-tag, but it also allows you to run Mac or Windows as you operating system.
One advantage to PC is extension capabilities. While PCs offer the ability to swap soundboards and other parts, the majority of hardware in Mac is factory set. This means if you already have studio PC equipment, it may not function with a Mac.
The antithesis of this is true. While PCs are very expandable in the hardware department, factory stocked they commonly fall a little short of recording machine. This means finding not only hardware, but software for recording. If you get a Mac, you are ready to begin recording immediately (through the internal speaker that is). Combined with an interface and some mics, and your studio is ready to go. While you are able to achieve a much more tailored and custom studio with PC, you will spend allot of time gathering resources, which you could spend making music.
Check compatibility of existing gear. If you already have software and equipment for recording, it would be best to make sure your computer will function with it. Mac can run the majority of DAWs and other music production software (Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, Nuendo), but lacks the functionality to many recording apps (Sonar, Audition) and some popular DAWs.
Check compatibility. If you work with others using Macs, or PCs, it would probably be best to ensure your recordings may play on their machines (and vice-versa). A few years ago this may have restricted which computer you would choose. Now, file conversion allows allot more compatibility.
It is important to remember that sound wise there is no best option. The audio recorded on a Mac is equivalent to that recorded on PC. The main differences is in usability. If you are more comfortable with one system over the other it is probably best to stay with what you like. If you have little to no experience with computers, or recording it would probably be easiest to begin with a Mac. While they may be more expensive, Macs are much easier to use and are stocked ready to begin recording (you just need to supply the gear).
It is really a very simple process of downloading and installing Soundflower (a free audio utility) and LineIn (another free audio app). First you must enable Soundflower (ch2) as the audio input and output of Skype. This is done within the audio preference pane in preferences (accessed via the Skype menu). Then on must select Soundflower (ch2) as the input for GarageBand (make sure to lead the output as built in audio). Next, you must then enable your mic (built in, audio line in, or audio interface) as the Input in the LineIn Application. The output should be set as Soundflower (ch2).The system preferences should remain with built in audio for output, and whatever input you are using (built in or otherwise) to record properly. There is also a Pass Thru button you enable in LineIn.
Once you have the correct settings, you should then have no trouble tracking live audio of your Skype conversations. With GarageBand's convenient editing and publishing features you should have no trouble uploading a podcast or creating a mp3 archive. If you have latency issues (developing an echo or delay), select minimum delay when playing instruments live (small buffer size) in the Audio/Midi settings. These utilities should function with most other sound recording software for Apple Mac, assuming it has editable settings.