EMAGIC LOGIC AUDIO PLATINUM 4.04
MARK OF THE UNICORN DIGITAL PERFORMER 2.6
Although the feud between our editors over the Digital Audio Sequencer award wasn't quite as fierce as the one between the Hatfields and the McCoys, we did have very specific preferences. The result was a 50/50 split between two monster programs: Emagic's versatile and highly customizable Logic Audio Platinum and MOTU's elegantly designed and popular Digital Performer. With such a clash of titans (and with due respect to Steinberg's Cubase, Opcode's Studio Vision, and Cakewalk's Pro Audio), we had to call it a tie.
These programs have been around so long that they have evolved into two of the deepest and most powerful sequencers on the market, providing musicians with a metric ton of editing and music-production tools. Both programs are available for the Mac, and Logic Audio also comes in a Windows version. They both support the Digidesign Pro Tools/24 Mix system and its TDM plug-in format and can record 24-bit, 96 kHz audio files. They come with lots of their own plug-ins and onboard processing tools, which elevates them well above much of their competition. Moreover, they support QuickTime movies and can be fully integrated with the BitHeadz Retro AS-1 and Unity DS-1 software synthesizers.
Logic Audio Platinum continues to center much of its power on its versatile and flexible Environment window, which has been enhanced with the addition of Macro objects, Alias objects, and Ornament objects. In the Arrange window you can now enlarge tracks individually, and in the Matrix editor you can view multiple sequences. The Score window now lets you have independent layouts for parts and score; lyric functions have also been improved.
Colorful new graphics and a more user-friendly interface spruce up version 4 of the program. The biggest news for most people, however, is the more than 30 high-end plug-ins that come in the package. Many people consider the plug-in collection alone to be worth the cost of the software. Plug-in effects include the new Fat EQ, a 5-band parametric EQ with a graphic display; BitCrusher, for creating distortion by reducing the bit depth of a sample; and Spectral Gate, which lets you set thresholds based on frequency as well as level. The program also includes a compressor, expander, noise gate, envelope generator, several types of delay, and several reverbs. Logic Audio Platinum's powerful mixer supports up to 128 audio tracks (with the appropriate hardware) and 16 internal effects buses, each with eight inserts.
Exciting new features in Digital Performer include Polar, an interactive looping/recording environment; AudioTap, a plug-in that lets you route audio from any Sound Manager-compatible program directly into Performer; and new color-coding schemes and customization options. Digital Performer also boasts a powerful, new, fully integrated 24-bit waveform editor with an overview display and scrubbing capability. It lets you zoom in, remove clicks and pops with a Pencil tool, apply automatic crossfades over edits, and adjust Soundbite boundaries at the sample level.
Digital Performer also includes a variety of high-quality DSP plug-ins, including the MasterWorks limiter and multiband compressor and an interactive, graphic 8-band EQ. Other effects include e-Verb, a real-time reverb with a graphic display and acoustic modeling capability; PreAmp-1, for tube amp simulation; and Sonic Modulator, for modulating pitch, filter, delay, and amplitude parameters. Of course, Digital Performer also includes auto pan, flanger, chorus, and a raft of other effects, as well as a powerful, customizable automated Mixing Board with support for as many tracks as your hardware can sustain.
Once you start tossing specifications back and forth, it's easy to see how these two great-looking digital audio sequencers could cause their proponents to feud. In the end, the choice came down to personal preferences. We think they both deserve to win this one.