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Troubleshooting GarageBand: Performance issues

Troubleshooting GarageBand: Performance issues

Performance issues Ted Landau offers his experience with poor performance using GarageBand, even on relatively speedy G4 systems: "After playing with GarageBand for a few days, my first recommendation is this: Make sure you have the power to use this monster!"

"I first installed GarageBand on my old 500MHz Power Mac G4. It quickly became apparent this would not do. I could add a few tracks, but when I then tried to lay my own track on top using GarageBand's built-in keyboard, the keyboard would not respond properly (e.g., when I let go of a note, the note remained playing for several seconds; the next note selected would not play at all).

"So I shifted to my PowerBook 1.25 GHz G4. GarageBand did significantly better here. But even here, a song I made using 5 tracks overwhelmed the program. I got different messages at different times. Initially, I got a message that referred to using too many resources for the processor to handle. On another occasion it claimed that my hard drive was too slow.

"Although a faster hard drive might help a bit, I suspect adding more RAM would help more (by reducing the frequency of accessing the hard drive). However, I believe the major culprit is the processor. In fact, if I watched GarageBand's CPU% in Activity Monitor, it would spike to over 200% (despite a theoretical limit of 100%!). It also said that the program was using over 160MB of RAM!

"Apple' GarageBand Tips Web page acknowledges the potential for problems:

'The maximum number of Software Instrument tracks your songs can have depends on the amount of RAM memory installed in your computer."

'The triangle at the top of the playhead changes color to indicate the how much of your computer?s processing power GarageBand is using. The triangle changes from white through orange to red as the processor use increases. Adding more tracks, and adding more effects to instruments, can increase the demands on your processor.'

"Having more than one note play at a time on a track also increases the processor load.

"What Apple's Tips page does not state is how quickly you can exceed the limits imposed by your Mac's memory and CPU.

"Bottom line: Anyone with a Power Mac G4 can get GarageBand to run and get all its features to work. If you really intend to use it to create your own music, however, you'll either have to keep it simple (e.g., keep the number of tracks to a minimum) or make sure you have adequate horsepower (a G5 with at least 1GB of RAM could easily be required)."

Resources
  • GarageBand Tips
  • More from Late-Breakers