When adjusting the effects in Garageband, you'll discover three different types in the Smart Controls: the delay, the reverb, and the ambience. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe ambience control is actually a bit different from the reverb setting, in one crucial way. \n\n\n\nWhat Does Ambience Do in Garageband? \n\n\n\nEssentially, the Ambience effect in Garageband creates a three-dimensional sound on the track through the use of a very short reverb. It also makes the sound appear thicker, wider, and more atmospheric. \n\n\n\nThis is in contrast to a reverb, which, at its maximum setting, sounds very long, as if the sound is coming from a very large and very long room. \n\n\n\nIf you increase the reverb to its maximum setting, you'll notice that it sounds like the music is being played in a very large room, but if you turn that all the way down, and instead, turn up the ambiance control, it sounds like a different type of reverb: a shorter reverb, that creates somewhat of a three-dimensional sound, effectively thickening up the sound and making it sound more "ambient." \n\n\n\nIn other words, the ambience control is for any sound where you want it to continue sounding dry, but just a little bit of a 3D quality to it, with a thicker and slightly more ambiguous sound. \n\n\n\nHow Is Reverb Different From Ambience? \n\n\n\nAs I briefly mentioned above, reverb simulates the natural sound reflections that would come with a particular type of room. \n\n\n\nExplained in another way, if you can imagine yourself hitting a snare drum in a church, the reverb is the way the soundwaves from the snare drum travel throughout the church, bouncing and crashing off the pews, the walls, and the glass windows. \n\n\n\nFor instance, if you take a look at all of the available pre-sets and settings of a reverb plug-in, you'll notice they typically come with different kinds of rooms, like a church, a big room, a hallway, or a nightclub. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nA reverb, in contrast to the ambience, will have a long reverberating sound, rather than a short one. Moreover, most reverbs that have a variety of controls provide a parameter that determines how much the sound "decays." \n\n\n\nIn other words, when the source of the sound stops making that very same sound, there is a certain amount of time that it takes for the sound to stop reverberating throughout the room. \n\n\n\nThe decay, essentially, is the time that it takes for the sound to finally stop making noise. \n\n\n\nGo ahead and experiment with the reverb and ambience controls in Garageband and see what you come up with. \n\n\n\nTypically, I add ambience and reverb to many different types of tracks, including guitars, vocals, snare, and more. \n\n\n\nUsing Ambience on Vocals \n\n\n\nIn the case of adding ambience on vocals, I might add just a little bit on to them, just to create somewhat of an atmospheric sound, for instance, I'll set it to around 4-5 on the knob. \n\n\n\nYou can see what that looks like in the image below: \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt's important not to over-do it when it comes to saturation plug-ins because they tend to have a multiplicative effect. \n\n\n\nUsing Ambience on Guitars \n\n\n\nRecently, I created a song using two different nylon string guitars, with one panned to the left, and one panned to the right. Both guitars have the ambience setting adjusted to around 3 on the knob. \n\n\n\nYou can check it out in the image below: \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nUsing Reverb, Delay, and Ambience\n\n\n\nIn my article on how to make Garageband instruments sound more professional, I explored how the use of these three plug-ins can actually improve the quality of your music by a significant margin, and I stand behind that point of view. \n\n\n\nHow you want to set up these plug-ins depends on your own style and taste, so it's up to you to experiment with each one individually. \n\n\n\nDelay is different from the reverb and ambiance controls because it actually controls the echo of the sound, rather than just the way the sound waves are crashing around in a specific type of room, like the way the reverb does.\n\n\n\nWhen used as a trio, a lot can be done to an instrument to make it sound a lot more interesting and fun. \n\n\n\nOther Uses of the Ambience Setting \n\n\n\nBass Guitar \n\n\n\nThe ambient setting can also be used for the bass guitar, but more as a thickening agent, rather than as an effect. \n\n\n\nFor instance, if you find that the bass tone is a bit dry, you could increase the ambient setting by just 2-3 notches on the knob, and see what that does for the tone. \n\n\n\nSimilar to the use of the chorus effect, it can thicken up the sound just a little bit and bring it forward in the mix.\n\n\n\nAmbience Makes It Sound More 'Stereo' \n\n\n\nI also find that the ambient function has the effect of spreading out the soundwaves a little more across the stereo image. \n\n\n\nIn other words, if you have a bass-line panned to the center without any ambience on the track, the sound has the appearence of being right in the center of the speakers\/headphones. \n\n\n\nBut if you crank the ambience, it has the effect of spreading the sound waves across both headphones in a more even way, rather than just having it right in the center. \n\n\n\nIf you want to see what I'm talking about, open up a new project file in Garageband, and use the stock instrument that comes up: the classic electric piano. \n\n\n\nIn the Smart Controls at the very bottom, crank the ambience with your headphones on and play a few notes. \n\n\n\nNow, go ahead and turn the ambience setting all the way down and play a few notes. You'll notice what I mentioned above. \n\n\n\nAnother small addition it makes to the sound is a very, very, short echo that lasts literally a millisecond. \n\n\n\nIf you're confused about the terms "stereo" and "mono," understand that "mono" just means the music sounds like it's coming through just one channel. \n\n\n\n"Stereo," on the other hand, sounds like it's coming through two different channels, often described as "left and right." \n\n\n\nI have a whole other article on mixing in mono and why it's important. Make sure to check it out at this link here. \n\n\n\nYouTube Video \n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=oULlTQPkdVM\n\n\n\n\nConclusion \n\n\n\nAll-in-all, I would argue that the ambience setting functions essentially like a very short reverb, creating somewhat of an ambiguous three-dimensional effect that's more defined, thicker, and more atmospheric, in contrast to the reverb, which controls the type of room in which the sounds reverberate. \n\n\n\nI hope this answered your question. \n\n\n\nWhen it comes to audio, it's somewhat challenging to explain what a particular effect actually does due to the fact how one interprets the sound is entirely subjective.