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Music

The Logic Pro X Factor

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As a user of Logic since version 7, I love the innovation that Apple keeps bringing to the app, but making a major leap with your primary DAW can be a dicey affair. In this article I'll do my best to help you decide whether to make the switch to Logic Pro X, and make the transition easier.

This article is meant to primarily help users before they install or update to Logic Pro X. If you've been counting, you'll know the "X" stands for "ten". I will be running both Logic Pro 9 and X on two machines to help out readers who might have further queries. My aim is to try and make this a one stop shop to answer questions and end speculation.

Tip: You might like to also check out Robert Anthony's extensive video coverage of Logic Pro X here: Our Complete Walkthrough of What’s New in Logic Pro X.
Logic Pro X First Launch Screen

First of all, to clear the air, Logic Pro X is not GarageBand Pro! That is, not unless you want it to be.

When the program is launched for the first time, it presents the user with a dialog that allows the new Logic user to go one way, and the more experienced user to go the other. However, this is not a difficult thing to change later from the Preferences pane.

Depending on the choice made, the user is taken to a relevant help page to get them started. This is great, since there's a little over 2 GB of essential content that needs to be downloaded before Logic Pro X is ready for your eager minds.


1. The Basics

Logic Pro X must be downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store. (Yes, that is the only way to go.) It is a paid app, and costs $199 (or the equivalent in your currency) to “upgrade”. Although in a way this is not an upgrade at all, it installs as a brand new app on your system. (More on this ahead.) 

As with all apps bought on the Mac App Store, you are licensed to install the app on up to five computers using the same Apple ID. I mention this because a lot of people are "unhappy" about Apple not providing any kind of "upgrade pricing". This might be especially unpleasant for those that have just bought the older version.

However, for the rest, $199 for a top-of-the-line DAW with a multi-system licence that will probably keep you going for the next three years? Doesn't sound that bad anymore.


2. Installation and Migration

Migration to Logic Pro X has been made as smooth as possible for long-time Logic users.

First of all, it installs "side by side". Some people might be familiar with this update method used by some software developers, but others may be unaware. I have already seen a number of posts basically asking, "What happens to Logic Pro 9?" This is what happens: When you chose to install Logic Pro X, your previous installation of Logic is left "as is". Nothing done by installing Logic Pro X interferes with previous versions.

Installation cannot get much easier. You open up the Mac App Store, locate the app and click the button to buy it. At the moment it is a featured app on the store, and is pretty hard to miss. But for those reading this "in the future", searching for Logic Pro will definitely lead you to the app. Logic Pro 9 is no longer available from the store.

Before you go spending your hard-earned money, here are some things to consider:

  1. Logic Pro X is a 64-bit application. What does this mean for the user? Primarily, system compatibility. Officially it supports only OS X 10.8.4 or newer.
  2. It no longer supports the 32-bit Audio Unit architecture. There is no “bridge”. It's 64-bit or bust! This is huge! In both a positive and negative way.

The Positive: Resource-hungry plugins can now address over 4 GB of system memory. This makes a lot of sense for people who have computers with loads of RAM, and by now most Apple computers in the Pro lineup have 8 GB or more.

The Negative: This can be a huge issue for people who still rely heavily on some 32-bit plugins for their work. You will have to rely on Logic Pro 9 to finish such projects.

Hopefully we will be having more developers switching to the 64-bit model in the near future.

No More!

Robert Anthony has done a great job on putting together some videos that showcase what's new in Logic Pro X, so I shall skip ahead to talking about the user experience.


3. User Experience

An experience it is! Logic Pro X is quite a massive overhaul, and the first thing you notice is that it is easier on the eyes. The darker workspace makes it easier to look at the screen without too much strain on the eyes.

I must admit, though, that a few things are harder to see, and personally I do feel they went a little overboard with the skeuomorphism. Let's just say I'm more of a Jony Ive fan than a Scott Forstall fan.

Some personal favorites in the changes include:

  • the new way loops are represented (no more dull arrangements),
  • the summing option in track stacks (great for sub-mixes), and
  • flex pitch (make way for more bad singers!)

The Logic interface remains familiar, yet it is different with little changes and additions all over the place. Most of these are welcome, but here's something that didn't sit quite so well with me.

One of the things that's been great about Logic Pro, is that unlike some other DAWs, it hasn't arbitrarily assigned colors to new tracks. Software instruments have been green, audio tracks blue, and we've had total control as to how we paint our music.

In this version, the instrument and audio tracks remain green and blue respectively, but if you had projects saved where you spent a good amount of time coloring tracks, channels and even regions, you're in for a not-so-pleasant surprise. They changed the color palate of this version. So my kick tracks that are always blue, are now pink! (Or some variant of that color.) People who color tracks in any set format will have to do them over now.

Oops!

The next thing I would like to mention is Drummer. Not how great Drummer is, but rather what the point of it is. I've heard people saying, "It can't match up to a real drummer," "No drummer would need/use it," and "Just learn to play the drums!" The logical and simple explanation is: this tool is meant for anybody that is not a drummer!

The users who Drummer is really meant to help are the solo producers and songwriters, people who don't have expensive drum kits or expensive drummers. To move from finger drumming and loops to Drummer will be a welcome change for the non-drummers out there.

Another massive boost to user experience in Logic Pro X comes through introduction of Smart Controls. It's not very often that things live up to their names, but boy are these controls "smart"! They are highly customizable with user assignable controls, scaling, curves and GUI.

They also integrate beautifully with the "Logic Remote" companion app for the iPad. I should mention that the Logic Remote app is is only available for the iPad so far. It's a free download from the iTunes app store.

Smart Control Editing

Conclusion

Logic Pro X is an excellent app, and aside from the main issue of compatibility, most users should be able to install and use Logic Pro X without any serious hiccups. Apple has dropped the Audio Unit Bridge and left it up to the developers to bridge the gap. As for safety, it will smoothly scan your Audio Units and show the ones that are compatible. Nothing special needs to be done.

Your old projects are left as they were, and as soon as you open them you are asked to save the file in the new Logic Pro X format. There might be a slight learning curve for some new features, but overall, the software is highly intuitive and will help producers get right down to making music. For those who love to tweak under the hood, there's always the Environment window.

Hint: Apple has already released an update to Logic Pro X (10.0.1), which brings a few bug fixes and improvements in stability. The official release notes from Apple can be found here.

Users that are downloading Logic Pro X from the Mac App Store after reading this will surely be downloading the latest version. As for the rest, if you haven't checked the software updates section recently you should either do so by selecting "Software Update" from the Apple menu in the menu bar, or by directly launching the Mac App Store and navigating to the updates section.

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