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All about......
Audio Units

Are you curious about AUs?

Curious about Hey Yous? No, not Hey You, AU.

Okay what's an AU? It's an Audio Units Plugin, part of Mac OS X's Core Audio system level plug-in architecture which allows developers to write plug-ins in a single format which any OS X application can use ...

Huh? Oh, scary geekspeak, sorry.
All that you really need to know in regard to what an AU is can be simplified to: It's the kind of Plug-In that GarageBand uses.

Why would I want or need one of these Plug-In thingies? Excellent question, they allow GarageBand to do things that it can't do "right out of the box." You can add New Effects, or even New Synths, and there are hundreds of these available as Commercial, Shareware, and even Freeware releases.

Where can I get some of these Freeware AUs?
Here are some sources:
  1. One of the largest makers of Audio Units and other GarageBand plug-ins is AMG.
  2. MDA-VST: Which contrary to its name has over a dozen AU plugins includung Amp Sims, Detuner, Delay, Comperssor/Limiter, and more
  3. MacMusic.org: a HUGE list of Freeware, Shareware and Commercial Plug-Ins.

Audio Unit Image 1 Audio Unit Image 2 Audio Unit Image 3 Audio Unit Image 4
The GarageDoor Image Gallery

How do I install them once I have them? I'm not very computer literate. Then you're going to like this, simply drop them into your Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/ folder

My what/where folder? Oh, still too geekspeak, huh? Okay, trust me this is simple. Make sure GarageBand is not running. Go into Finder and open a new Finder Window. Open your Hard Drive Icon. Open your Library folder. Then open your Audio Folder. Then open your Plug-Ins folder. Drop the .component file that you downloaded into the Components folder. You have just installed an AU Plug-In.

So how do I use it now that I've installed it? Well that depends on the type of AU it is. For now let's stick with the two most common types, an Effect, and a Synth.

To use an AU Effect click the Audio Units 1 button to display Track Info. If the Details triangle is facing towards the right Audio Units 2 , click on it so that it points down.
It now displays the effect settings:               Audio Units 3

Click on either of the effect PopUp menus   Audio Units 4

And your newly installed AU Effect will appear somewhere in the popUp list. The list is sorted alphabetically, so where it sits in the list depends on its name.
This is what my list looks like:       Audio Units 5

All the plug-ins below AUSampleDelay are AU effects that I've installed on my System.

Once you select an Effect, you'll likely want to tweak (Geekspeak for "Change") its settings. After an Effect is selected in one of the two popUp menus the Audio Units 6 button becomes enabled. Clicking this icon brings up the controls for that Effect. What these controls are will vary wildly from one effect to another for two main reasons:

First, different effects would obviously need different sets of controls. For example, you're not likely to see a "Room Size" control for a compressor, but you might for a reverb or echo.

Second, since these are generally written by many different people with many different ideas, the entire look of a plug-in is bound to be radically different, from bizarre, to radically cool, to simple and functional. Here are some examples:
Audio Units 7                       Audio Units 9
Audio Units 8                       Audio Units 10

The other type of AU Plug-In that you're likely to run into, and may want to use, is one of the many Synth Plug-Ins that are available. Using these is very similar to using one of the Effect AUs.
And finally click on the Generator PopUp menu. Audio Units 11

Audio Units 12

You should find the Synth you've installed under the Audio Units Modules section of the popUp menu

Once selected, much like the Audio Units 6 button for Effects, the Audio Units 6 button for the synths lets you tweak the settings of your Synth. Much like the Effect Plug-Ins, each Synth is likely to look radically different then any other synth.
Here's an example of what daHornet looks like:     Audio Units 13

Once you have the settings the way you want you can play the Synth with your MIDI Keyboard, the onscreen keyboard, or even Musical Typing in GarageBand 3.

...................And there's your crash course in Hey Yous, errr, I mean AUs.
© the GarageDoor 2010

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