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Discover Logic Pro

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Sorry if I disappoint the Trekkies Google has sent this way, but this article isn't about learning Vulcan philosophy - it's about Logic Pro, a digital audio workstation which is part of Apple's music production suite, Logic Studio. If you're a Logic fan, let us know why in the comments.

This article was previously published on the AudioJungle blog, which has moved on to a new format in 2010. We'll be bringing you an article from the AudioJungle archives each week.

Logic Pro costs around USD$500 and is currently at version 9. It only works on Macs, so if you're a Windows user your interest may start to wane. If you're a Mac user, though, this is definitely one to look at.

This is our fourth article in the series "Exploring Digital Audio Workstations". If you've missed the earlier articles, you can find them here:

So lets get into Logic.

History and Background

Logic started life as a MIDI sequencer. Its precursor was a pattern-based MIDI sequencer for the Atari ST called Notator, created in the 80s by a company called C-Lab. At that time, Ataris reigned the digital audio world, and Notator was a popular program with good reviews in the press.

Then Cubase came out. It's track-based sequencing became very popular, and Notator's usage waned. Notator's programmers decided to fight back, so they left C-Lab and formed their own company, called Emagic. In 1993 they released a new competitive sequencer called Notator Logic, which worked more the way Cubase did. In time the software became known as just Logic, and Windows and Mac OS versions were produced. Logic became very popular.

In the early 90s Logic added the ability to record and mix audio in its tracks. Computer were not yet powerful enough to record audio in realtime, so special sound cards or DSP cards were used to achieve this. By the mid 90s, Logic was able to record several audio tracks using Emagic's Audiowerk interface.

A major change happened in July 2002 - Apple acquired Emagic, and shortly afterwards dropped the Windows version of Logic, firmly making it a Mac product. Software company acquisitions can be major upheavals, often signaling the beginning of a downhill slope in a software product. In this case, though, most people seem positive about the change, and believe that Apple have brought a new lease of life to Logic.

Then in 2004, Apple brought out their flagship audio product - Logic Pro, which consolidated 20 different Emagic products into a single juicy package. At the same time they released Logic Express, a scaled down product. Around the same time they created GarageBand - based on Logic - to include in their iLife software. My kids play with it regularly.

In 2007 they released Logic Studio, and audio suite including Logic Pro. Logic's features were enhanced, and also its ease of use. Thankfully at this time they also discontinued their copy-protection dongle. Earlier this year, version 9 was released.

Logic Features

Most DAW programs share a lot of features in common. Sometimes the differences are very subtle, but they're there. If you have discovered anything that sets Logic apart from its competitors, let us know in the comments.

Apple's New in Logic Studio page lists the following features:

Flex Time

Flex Time is a collection of features that lets you manipulate timing and tempo quickly and creatively - editing without all the cutting.

  • Flex Tool
    The Flex Tool lets you push audio around with your mouse by clicking and dragging anywhere on the waveform.
  • Audio Quantize
    Just like a MIDI sequencer, you can conform the timing of an audio region to a musical grid, or to the feel of another track, instantly correcting a performance.
  • Editing drum tracks
    Use Slicing Mode with drums and you won’t compromise a single attack. Edit across a set of grouped multitrack drums and everything stays locked perfectly in phase.
  • Varispeed
    Slow down or speed up an entire multitrack project effortlessly, whether you want to try out different tempos or take it slow while you play a difficult solo.
  • Flex Modes
    Whether you’re editing a solo vocal, a rhythm guitar, or multitrack drums, Flex Time has a mode designed to give you the best results.
  • Speed Fades
    Add turntable-style starts or stops with precision.
  • Tempo Import/Export
    Now the audio you import can automatically conform to the tempo of a project you’re working on. (And the other way around.)

Production Tools

New production tools allow musicians to tackle any part of the recording, editing, and mixing process they want.

  • Selective Track Import
    To transfer setups and track content between projects, simply select the individual components you want to import on a track-by-track basis.
  • Expanded take folder editing
    Access to your important edit tools and Flex Time features — right alongside Quick Swipe comping.
  • Drum Replacer
    Now you can replace or double less-than-perfect drum tracks with triggered samples in just a few clicks.
  • Convert to Sampler Track
    In one step, turn an audio region into a sampler instrument with a MIDI track to trigger it. Then you can modify and resequence the part.
  • Bounce-in-Place
    Makes effects rendering much quicker and easier, whether you’re bouncing a single region or an entire track.
  • Notation and chord grids
    Create guitar tablature or detailed scores using a library of more than 4000 chord grids (or your own custom grids) and new ornaments for hammer-ons, bends, and more.
  • Jam Pack: Voices
    Build your song with a lead vocal, rappers, backup singers, an entire choir, or even software instruments based on the human voice and body.
  • Warped Effects for Space Designer
    More than 450 warped impulse responses give ordinary sounds a bizarre, other-worldly quality.

Guitar Gear

Now you can mix and match amp heads, EQs, reverbs, speaker cabinets and mics—then creatively route your signal through an impressive new collection of stompboxes.

  • Amp Designer
    Build your dream rig by mixing and matching 25 amps, 25 speaker cabinets, and 3 mics you can position freely around the speaker cone.
  • Pedalboard
    Fire up 30 stompboxes that deliver lush effects like Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz, Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Treble Boost, and Wah.
  • Classic tones
    Hundreds of presets give you Amp Designer and Pedalboard sounds that are ready to go, including classic tones, genres, or characteristics like clean, crunch, and distorted.
  • Apogee GiO support
    This new USB audio interface and control device lets you operate Pedalboard hands-free.

Live Performance

MainStage 2 lets you hit the stage with all the same instruments and effects you used on your recording, and adds a backing track player and live loop recorder.

  • Playback
    A backing track player plug-in. Fill out your sound with a simple stereo track or a set of separate, mixable stems.
  • Loopback
    This live loop recorder lets you create spontaneous arrangements onstage, modeled after tape-based devices.
  • Multimapping of controls
    Set things up so that one knob controls multiple plug-in parameters.
  • Grouped controls
    Drag and drop entire sets of knobs, dials, faders, meters, and more into your layout.
  • Full ReWire support
    Run MainStage with applications like Reason and Live. Trigger and sequence your instruments from MainStage, and route your signals straight into the mixer.
  • Record performances
    Route your audio to a designated stereo output and choose from all the standard file formats, including Apple CAF for concerts of almost any length.

User Comments

What do Logic users think of the product? Here are some comments by users and reviewers that I found around the Net. I’d love to hear from you in the comments too.

  • "Logic Studio is a clear winner for Apple. Whether you are a guitar player looking for improved amp sounds or an engineer that wants to improve your workflow, Logic Studio has something new for you." (Jim Dalrymple)
  • "If you’re a Mac user, Apple Logic Pro 9 is a surefire winner that will make you forget any other DAWs present in the market today. With its vast array of tools that encompasses the entire production route, it is no surprise if you've already thought about switching to Logic Pro 9 and deleting all of the other stuff that's making a mess out of your computer." (Mark A. Galang)
  • "I had 24 hours to test the beta version and let me tell you that it absolutely rocks. It craps all over Protools 8 (which I really love since updating PT7 the other week)."The audio editing leaves Protools in the dust with the all new 'elastic factory' and 'beat factory' audio engines that FINALLY allow high quality pitch shifting, time stretching, beat/loop slicing and 'beat detective' like functions."The new intelligent tool can be programmed to allow your mouse easy selection and control of all important editing tools for audio, midi and automation editing. Those new plug ins..... oh gosh!!!!! The new amp simulated leaves the old one for dead and I love the new Bass Amp Pro plug in. There's a heap of new 'vintage' plug ins with vintage delays, eq's, dynamics etc."The new Melodyne like features in 'vox designer' eliminate the need for Melodyne or Autotune. The freeze function has been greatly improved allowing the freezing of certain functions whilst leaving other functions unfrozen. Finally Logic 9 has proper rendering for audio and instrument tracks."CPU efficiency has been vastly improved eliminating the need for G4 and G5 users to upgrade to the latest Mac and Apple are even so kind to offer a free OS9 version of L9 for those who haven't quite made the switch to OSX!" (Slovenec)
  • "Got the upgrade last night, and have spent about 5 hours today working with Logic Pro 9. Here are my first thoughts/observations:"No PDF manual. The Zoom key commands have changed yet again, 3d time now. Still crazy about the behavior thing with regions not selecting the track or editor when selected. The window focus is still a bad thing for me, BUT they have placed a white line around the focused editor, a better way to have it that I'd prefer, but workable now."The bounce in place is very cool, but found that it didn't properly bounce every time, so I'll have to be careful to check every bounce before I change anything on the source track."Flex time is pretty neat. I used it for getting my sloppy guitar tracks tighter, and I was playing with the demo session, changing the vocals phrasing. Some people are really going to love this one." (George Legeriii)
  • "Now let me tell you a bit about Logic Pro… First of all, Logic Pro is perhaps the finest music creation and audio production application available today. It's a comprehensive set of tools that let you record, mix, master, edit, automate, and score audio compositions. It also includes hundreds of awesome sounding software instruments and the tools to modify them to your liking or create entirely new instruments. In a nutshell Logic Pro is GarageBand on a mega-dose of steroids." (Dr. Mac)
  • "I've been playing with the Flex time stuff."It has lots of creative possibilities, sounds decent enough with good audio sources (garbage in, garbage out as is so often the case). It's great to be able to option-drag audio clips and just have them instantly timestretch, rather than all that tedious rendering business that happened before."I kept finding myself wanting to do Melodyne-type stuff for creative reasons - eg adjust the volumes of slices etc. You can adjust durations, and do gated type stuff, choose to fill in the gaps or not, use slices (no stretching, just slice moving) or various stretchy algorithms, and by and large it seems to work well, and is reasonably intuitive."One less thing to go to Live for. I actually think it sounds better than Live, and seems pretty nicely implemented - it's slicer than Live, in my initial impression."I did have a few issues quantising audio (which is great because not only can you do the usual quantise options, but you can also do the extended quantisation too - these have been renamed "Advanced Quantization" - so you can 65% quantize your audio to 1/16ths etc. Great stuff.)" (Desmond)

Well, they were other people's comments. Now it's time for yours. What do you think of Logic Pro?

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