Collaborating with a Mac user

As a dedicated Windows/n-Track user, I know nothing about Mac’s. (The computers, not the guy who’s helped so many of us here!). But, I have friend with an iMac. We have played music together for years, and he has come to my place and recorded many times. He is having a hard time getting around, and we’ve been talking about ways to collaborate by using his iMac and my WinXP setup.

We would like to do some tracking at his house. We would record some basic tracks on his iMac, export them to a CD-R, then I would take them to my studio and finish them up with n-Track. He knows nothing about his computer, only reading email and surfing.

I know this may be a little off-topic, but does anyone have any suggestions for a low-priced (maybe free???) multi-tracker for the Mac? Also, can a Mac export sound files as .wav so I can import them into n?

This is just in the talking stage right now, but if we can do it, it would be great for both of us! Thanks in advance.


garageband is as simple and free as they come with the mac.

Garage Band is Mac’s multitracking software package which comes free with OS X. Although you’d have to export it to AIFF (export to I-tunes), you can then convert it to a wave file and import into N-track.

I’d bet that’d be a pain in the butt, going from tracking to mixing, but the price is right.

what clark_griswold said.

–a day late, and a dollar short.

Free? Look around (they list Mac >and< PC software.)

If you get CubaseSE for $99 it comes with BOTH Mac and PC versions on one disk with a simple password to activate them - no dongle like SL or SX - and does unlimited MIDI and up to 48 audio tracks. It’s a steal (I know, it’s not N, but I bought it while we had the early problems with N4.0 and it’s a kick-butt program…)

of have him send you AIFF files and use dbpoweramp to convert them…

I suggest you have a look at GarageBand which is part of the iLife suite. Have a look here:

He may already have a copy of it in fact.

I have only a tiny bit of personal experience with it but it has gotten many good reviews for a low $ program and it’s pretty user-friendly. I was able to do some rudimentary tracking with it pretty quickly.

There are of course plenty of more expensive alternatives; all the big names have Mac versions, the biggest is exclusively on the Mac! But I think GarageBand will fit your needs perfectly.


Wow! 6 replies in 10 minutes.

Now if only you folks would help me with my MIDI question . . . ???


sorry…no midi, no cry…

Audacity is a “sort-of” multitracking proggie that can run in both platforms (yeah, it´s more an Audio Editor, but can do the work with some effort in the multitrack area)

In WWII, they used to shoot collaborators. :(


Thanks for all the replies, guys! I was thinking about Cubase SE, but garageband sounds like it might be just what the proverbial doctor ordered.

His iMac is 2-3 years old, and he probably has never even looked to see if he has the iLife suite. I’ll try to get over there and poke around on it a little.

And, Sceptic, if anyone ever hears what we come up with, they may want to com and shoot us for being offensive to the ears! :D

I just wish I could talk him into a Windows box! Then life would be simple.

Thanks again,



It’s not complicated. If he is comfortable with the Mac and you are comfortable with Windoze, then you CAN co-exist and get this done. Don’t get too hung up on platform

I think both platforms are able to manufacture Broadcast wave files…
You might consider some editor that will work in both machines…
n-Track works in Windows… I don’t know what software for a Mac… Mabey Pro-Tools free… I don’t know…

Just adding… $0.02 post your resolve… Can you??


Hi Bill and all,

I haven’t had a chance to get back to Jerry yet, but I took a look at the iMac G4 manual to familiarize myself with it a little. I’ll keep you posted on the progress and the resolutions as they occur. This might take some time though, so dont’ look for it in a week.

First obstacle - there is no line input on the thing. That means firewire or USB. I’ll probably recommend a Studio Buddy or maybe that little Alesis mixer with USB out. Any suggestions on that? He’s not gonna be happy about spending a couple of hundred on hardware and software and all.

Software is still up in the air. I’m looking at Audacity for the Mac. What about Pro Tools Free? Is that still available?

This is gonna be a good learning experience for me. All I need is the time!!


If he is running OSX then PT free is out. OS9 only. Don’t forget about Tracktion by Mackie…cross platform. Could be the ticket, yo…

For interfaces, check out some of the USB offered by M-Audio. They work well with OSX. They also now offer a ProTools version that works with some M-Audio interfaces. But now you are talking firewire and more money.

If he really wants to get by on the cheap, have him look into the Griffin iMic. It’s a USB “line in” if you will…for like $35



That little thingy looks perfect. For $35, he’ll undoubtably go for it, and I can bring little Berry over and away we go!!

It will evidently allow the iMac to record at 48K 16bit. That should be fine for what we’ll be doing. Even if it’s limited to 44.1, I can handle that.


No problem. That iMic should get you going.

Again, check out tracktion…even version 1…it will do you well for cross platform

iMic will only do 16/44.1 (ditto for GarageBand).

GB is way cool, though – great for the beginner. Unfortunately, they dumbed it down a bit more than they should have. But still, Audio, MIDI, and loops support, with a very good set of built-in FX and softsynths. Can’t hardly beat it for $50 (or bundled in, sometimes), especially on a Mac.

Audacity is fine for recording just a dub part, but it’s not very good at mixing and handling FX. The good thing about Audacity is you can run it on both Mac and PC, so you can help him more easily. But if you can get together, you’ll get GB figured out pretty quickly. It has a good forum, too. (More dumb questions there than here, and a bit less expertise there than here, but still pretty good.)

Did you look very carefully at the iMic? Except for a small number of units, G4’s come with a line input. The first few snuck out the door without 'em, or something like that. It’s kinda hard to see, just a little hole at the far right of the line of connectors on the back of the plastic blob (looking at it from behind). IIRC, that is.