LMMS vs GarageBand

LMMS is a free, open-source DAW that allows users a lot of flexibility and freedom if they know how to write code and want to customize their audio production tool. GarageBand is a free entre-level DAW for beginners. 

These two options are fairly different, and beginners will appreciate GarageBand’s easy and intuitive interface. But LMMS is more capable from a technical perspective, which is a significant benefit. 

My name is Donovan, and I’ve been making music for decades. I love to write, record, and produce as often as possible and have worked on and off in the music industry. I also have experience using GarageBand and LMMS. 

This post will look at LMMS versus GarageBand to give you a head-to-head comparison of the two DAWs. I’ll provide you with all the essential information you need to understand which of these better suits your preferences in the studio. 

Let’s get started. 

Quick Comparison

Ease of UseNot highly user-friendly and lacks an intuitive interface. Beginners might struggle to work with the DAW at first, while more experienced users should be able to handle it. Very easy to use with one of the most intuitive user interfaces. Simple design and layout are good for beginners. 
Professional Capabilities Good DAW for cross-platform composition. Beat and bassline editor is functional and well-designed. Not too many professional capabilities as it’s designed as an entry-level DAW. Limited mixing and mastering functions. 
Features/Functions 16 built-in synths, drop-in plugin support, open-source functionality, good editing tools. Basic recording and editing features. Software instruments help to create music. 
Expandability Open source design allows for lots of expandability, mainly if you write code. Works with many interfaces and equipment. Can connect to interfaces and instruments, though not as expansive as more pro-level DAWs. 
LimitationsCan be challenging to learn for beginners. Not as functional if you can’t take advantage of the open-source design. Only available on Apple devices. Professional-level limitations, especially with mixing and mastering.  

Detailed Comparison 

Here is a close-up look at LMMS versus GarageBand to give you a solid understanding of which might be the best choice for your home studio. 

1. Ease of Use

When you are looking for a DAW to use in your home studio, it’s a good idea to understand how easy or difficult it might be to use. This is especially important for beginners who can get easily overwhelmed by unfamiliar tech. 

LMMS is relatively easy to figure out if you have experience working with other DAWs, but it can be a little more challenging for beginners to pick up the basics. It’s not the most complex option, but it’s also far from the easiest. 

Much of this has to do with a less-intuitive user interface, which poses some challenges when setting up a basic recording session. Things aren’t laid out in a completely straightforward fashion, which means it can take time to figure out. 

GarageBand is exceptionally user-friendly and very easy to figure out for beginners. It’s designed as an entry-level audio production tool, and Apple did an excellent job of keeping things functional but approachable. 

This is one of the main reasons GarageBand is such a well-known and widely-used DAW. It’s an excellent choice for beginners to use because you can get started with a recording project in a manner of minutes. 

Beginners might still be able to figure out how to use LMMS effectively, but it’s likely to take a lot more time than with GarageBand. So if you want to choose the easiest option out of the two, GarageBand is the way to go. 

Winner: GarageBand 

2. Professional Capabilities

LMMS and GarageBand are not often used in professional recording studios. They simply aren’t quite as capable as more popular options such as Logic Pro X and Pro Tools, which working musicians and producers prefer. 

But LMMS probably has more professional capabilities in the long run than GarageBand. And much of this has to do with the open-source nature of the app. LMMS can become a solid workhouse for you if you have the skills to write code. 

LMMS does have pretty solid composition tools that you can use in a professional capacity. You can learn how to structure a project and complete basic editing tasks within it, which are tools you’ll need to take your skills to the next level. 

GarageBand is not built to be a pro-level DAW, so it doesn’t have the capabilities you’d want or need with that in mind. You can still make basic recordings with it, but you will hit roadblocks when you want to dive into more complex projects. 

Still, GarageBand can make a great learning tool if you want to develop professional skills. It may not be able to help you create commercially viable music on its own, but it can help you learn the skills needed to get there. 

If you want to build a professional-level home studio, you most likely won’t want to use either of these options. They can help you develop your skills and create audio projects, but you’ll want to upgrade to get to a pro level. 

Winner: LMMS

Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac

3. Features/Functions

No matter which DAW you choose to work with, it’s always a good idea to know what features and functions it will provide before you start using it. This will enable you to use an option that best suits your needs. 

Both LMMS and GarageBand come equipped with all the basic functions you need to make and edit audio recordings. You can set up a project quickly, use software instruments or connect other equipment to get started with your projects. 

LMMS provides a simple interface you can use to compose music easily and is a solid tool for mixing, sequencing, and automation. Once you have the hang of this interface, taking advantage of its features is very accessible. 

LMMS includes built-in 64-bit instrument support, so you can use a wide variety of sounds within your audio projects. It also comes with 16 built-in synthesizers, giving you some great options to explore no matter what type of music you like to create. 

GarageBand gives you a basic recording platform that makes it easy to record and edit small-track projects. It also has project templates and a Quick Help feature that are good tools for beginners to take advantage of. 

You can also use several software instruments in GarageBand to write and record music without connecting to external devices. This is another feature that simplifies the process and helps people with limited or no experience start creating quickly. 

Winner: LMMS

4. Expandability

If you want to record complete records or run a functional recording studio, you’ll need to ensure that your DAW is expandable to meet these needs. Musicians and producers use a lot of external equipment right alongside their audio production tools. 

One of the coolest things about LMMS is its open-source design. This makes it nearly endlessly expandable if you can write code because you can create any tool or feature you want. Getting this with a free DAW is also pretty amazing. 

LMMS can also connect with many interfaces or instruments so that you can record all sorts of music with it. It’s not as expansive as some other top production apps, but you still get many possibilities. 

GarageBand can also connect to external interfaces and instruments to give you expandability options. You’ll need to ensure that whatever interface you use is compatible with your Apple device, but there are many options there. 

I also like that there are many interfaces out there that cater to music production on Mac or iPhone. If you enjoy using Apple products, this is a definite advantage of GarageBand. And much of this equipment is very easy to use. 

The open-sources status of LMMS stands out with expandability in mind, and if that factor is one of your priorities, then it’s the option to choose over GarageBand. But if you want to stick with Apple products, you still get decent expandability with GarageBand. 

Winner: LMMS  

5. Limitations

The features, functions, and expandability of a DAW can help push your projects forward and expand your creative horizons. But every DAW also has limitations you need to be aware of so they don’t hold you back.

If you don’t have any experience working with DAWs or the skills to take advantage of an open-sourced app, then LMMS has some definite limitations. It’s not as easy to use, so it can be challenging for beginners to figure out. 

And if you aren’t skilled with writing code or doing that in a way that affects a DAW, the app’s limitations might also outweigh the benefits. LMMS also won’t provide the same pro-level experience as top-rated options. 

GarageBand also comes with a few significant limitations, and the first one is that the app is only available on Apple devices. You can only use it on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, not with any other system or device. 

There are also plenty of limitations with GarageBand regarding professional capabilities. As an entry-level audio production app, it doesn’t have the ability to let you entirely produce a song, let alone an entire album. 

LMMS and GarageBand are both good tools for making and recording music, but you need to realize their limits to utilize the things they offer. 

Winner: Tie

6. Price

Putting together an entire home studio can be expensive. And if you are trying to start a professional recording studio, the price increases even more. That’s why you need to know the price of any DAW you choose to use. 

The good news here is that both GarageBand and LMMS are free. You don’t need to pay a single dollar to get either of them, which is why they are both worth exploring to see which works for you. 

Since they are free, you can try them out without worrying if it’s a good investment or not. If you don’t like using them, you can move on to another audio production app without losing money. 

Winner: Tie

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a solid free audio production app, both LMMS and GarageBand are worth exploring. GarageBand is better for beginners and only available on Apple devices, but it’s a great learning tool. 

LMMS is cool because of its open-source design that allows for a lot of customization and expandability. It’s still not quite one of the best DAWs out there, but it’s a very capable free option to explore. 

Have you use LMMS and GarageBand? Which do you like better for audio production and why? Let me know in the comments below.

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