|In addition to updating its look, Apple
made Logic Pro X easier to learn and use, while adding powerful features
such as the Drummer track, MIDI plug-ins, Track Stacks, and Flex Pitch.
I’LL GET right to the point: The most earth-shattering
aspect of Logic Pro X, the long-awaited
update to Apple’s premiere DAW, is
that it changed as little as it did. While there
are plenty of new features and welcome GUI
improvements, the program didn’t lose much
more than support for 32-bit plug-ins.
This outstanding update is fully 64-bit,
yet it can open projects created as far back
as Version 5, as well as GarageBand sessions.
Long-time Logic users can breathe a sigh of
relief. But if you’re looking for a new DAW
or have tried earlier versions of Logic and
thought they were too cumbersome, you will
be pleasantly surprised at how intuitive Logic
Pro X is to use.
Instant Gratification Logic Pro X is
available directly from the Mac App Store and
requires OS X 10.8.4 (Mountain Lion) or later.
The program is a 651MB download, which
takes only a few minutes. When you launch it for
the first time, an additional 2GB of “essential
instruments and settings” will download.
Overall, your Logic Pro X purchase
includes nearly 38GB of content, and I highly
recommend you download all of it to get the
most from the program. If you don’t want
to commit to everything in the beginning,
it’s easy to retrieve later. However, the extra
content will download automatically when the
program needs it, as we will see in a moment.
Veteran Logic users will notice a big
difference in the overall look of the program,
but the change is not merely cosmetic. Menus
are better organized, transport controls
sit along the top of the screen, the Score
Editor and Piano Roll have been updated
considerably, mixer functionality is improved
and reflects signal flow, and the Library has
been moved to the left. If you’re using Logic
for the first time, you’ll see only the basic
features when you open your first session,
though it’s easy to locate the deeper stuff
when you need it by using the Advanced Tools
preference settings. If you had an earlier
version of the program on your system when
you installed Logic Pro X, all of the features
will be available.
When I first launched Logic Pro X,
I expected to spend considerable time
configuring it before I could make a sound.
Not so! I was able to get a new song going
almost immediately—not bad for a DAW of this
magnitude and complexity.
One feature that helps is the new
Drummer track, which provides a user-friendly
way to generate realistic drum
parts. Select one of the 15 virtual drummers
categorized by style (Alternative, Rock, R&B,
Songwriter) then choose a pattern. Realtime
controls let you determine the dynamics,
complexity, swing, fills, ghost notes, and
much more (see Figure 1). The results are
Region-based, so you can create a different
part for each section of a song without
having to program MIDI. The sampled kits
sound great, and you can customize them
using the new Drum Kit Designer plug-in by
swapping out instruments, as well as tuning
and dampening. It’s the most musically
satisfying drum program I’ve used. (Visit
emusician.com to see a video showing these
features in detail.)
MIDI and Control I especially like the new
features that affect virtual instruments. Apple
has created 9 MIDI plug-ins that you can
apply to your virtual instrument tracks and
transform your performances in interesting
ways. The plug-ins include an arpeggiator, a
modulator, a transposer, a chord trigger, and
plug-ins can be used on each instrument
|Fig. 1. A view of the Drum Kit Designer plug-in with the Drummer editor below it. The yellow ball in the editor’s X/Y matrix adjusts the dynamics and complexity of the virtual drummer’s performance.
|Fig. 2. Using the Logic Remote app on an iPad, you can control Logic Pro X from anywhere in the studio as long as there is a wi-fi connection to your computer. Shown here is a fretboard interface to play an instrument, along with its Smart Controls.
Logic Pro X’s plug-ins now have a set
of Smart Controls, groups of essential
parameter that come up when you’re working
with effects and instruments. Assign these to
your favorite MIDI control surface, or if you
have an iPad, use the free Logic Remote app
(see Figure 2). The app can be used to control
the mixer and transport buttons, use key
commands, tweak Smart control parameter,
and play your instruments using a matching
interface (keyboard, guitar fretboard, bass
strings, chord and drum pads). You’ll need
a stable wi-fi connection between your
computer and iPad to run the app, but it’s
easy to set up and use. Best of all, it allows
you to control Logic Pro X from anywhere in
Logic Pro X also introduces Track Stacks,
which consolidate groups of tracks in a folder
with the ability to submix them to an Aux
channel. Track Stacks provide an intuitive
and efficient way to build layered sounds,
and they can be saved as part of a Patch along
with Smart Control data and channel strip
settings. If you have MainStage3 ($29.99), you
can access your Logic Pro X plug-ins, Patches,
and Smart Controls and use them onstage.
With Flex Pitch, Logic Pro X can
manipulate pitch and other parameters
of monophonic recordings using a piano
roll-style interface or input from a MIDI
controller. You can adjust vibrato, gain,
formant, and the way pitches slide between
notes, among other parameters. It can also be
used to extract MIDI data from an audio track.
Other new features will make guitarists
and bassists smile. The Bass Amp Designer
lets you assemble a virtual rig based on classic
amps and cabs, as well as blend miked and DI
sounds. Guitarists will enjoy the pedalboard
effects such as reverse delay, tube overdrive,
octaver, and whammy-style pitch control.
Logic Pro X also supports MusicXML,
AAF, and Final Cut Pro X XML, and you can
send your mixes directly to your SoundCloud
account, iTunes or the Media Browser.
In Session Starting from scratch with Logic
Pro X 10.0.1 was a breeze on my MacBook Pro
Core 2 Duo. I connected my MOTU Traveler
mk3 interface, selected it within Logic’s
Preferences, and plugged in my Fender Strat.
For my first session, I opened the Songwriter
template, stretched out a Drummer track
so that I had a few minutes of time to jam
over, record-armed the track with the amp
simulator, and hit Record. Everything worked
the first time.
During the session, I tweaked the
Drummer track’s performance editor so
that the dynamics and complexity of the
part matched each section of the song, all
without leaving the creative headspace. As I
was adding a second guitar part, I changed
from the default drummer “Kyle” to the Rock
player named “Logan.” Here’s where the
additional content comes in, which I hadn’t
downloaded yet. As I worked on my overdubs,
Logic downloaded the 1.8GB of data it needed
in the background for the new drummer.
When it was finished, I could call up
additional Rock kits, though the controls for
the new drummers (instruments/feel) were
grayed out until I relaunched the program.
Nonetheless, the best part was that I
didn’t have to stop what I was doing during
the download. I could continue to record
my second guitar part and add a virtual-instrument
bass part without interruption.
Later, I replaced “Logan” with a drum
machine from the Instrument list, and I used
the performance matrix to change the density
and dynamics of each section of the song on
the fly—nice! And as I completed the piece,
I had no problem adding bus effects while
mixing and creating a finished stereo file.
Perfectly Logical Over the years, DAWs
have grown inordinately complex as
developers have added tons of features with
each new rev. What a pleasure it is to see one
such company concentrate on the interface
of their flagship product for a change, and
make it more inviting and musically inspiring
to use, while retaining the pro-level features
that the power users expect.
Equally welcome is the price: For what
you would expect to spend on a decent virtual
instrument, you get Logic Pro X and a huge
assortment of content. Best of all, Apple’s
state-of-the-art DAW won’t take you a week
of head scratching before you can use it.
Gino Robair is Electronic Musician’s
STRENGTHS: Easy to set up and use.
Updated menus, piano roll editor, and
notation. Backward compatible. Extensive
content. Drummer track. Drum Kit
Designer. MIDI plug-ins. Flex Pitch. Track
Stacks. Logic Remote for iPad.
LIMITATIONS: Doesn’t support 32-bit
plug-ins from earlier sessions.