Logic Platinum 6 is the first major revision to Emagic's flagship program since Apple acquired the company this past year. Now that development for the Windows platform has been halted, the engineers at Emagic are able to put their full energies into the program as a single-platform application. This is evident as Logic takes a big step in the transition from OS 9 to OS X with some new features that are exclusive to the update's OS X version.
The native audio component of the OS X version of Logic is based on Apple's system-level CoreAudio protocol and the Audio Units plug-in architecture. For the first time, developers are now able to tap into the documentation that Apple has made available to the public for the Audio Units spec, and this should allow for interesting plug-ins and applications — I've found a lot of tweakable goodies for download all over the Web (such as www.osxaudio.com) that are free, as well as for purchase. Although a few of the update features are exclusive to the OS X version of the program, the lion's share of the really cool stuff (such as plug-ins and automation updates) are implemented for both versions.
With version 5, Emagic unveiled a massive overhaul of Logic's automation engine, which was based on a powerful track-based architecture. Now with version 6, grouping has been added to Logic's automation package. Users can link multiple channel strips together and adjust parameters, such as volume and panning, in tandem. A selection of objects in the Arrange window can also be grouped together and edited as one. As many as 32 groups can be created, and channels can be part of multiple groups.
Groups can be named and armed or disarmed in the Group Settings menu. Selecting an object in the Arrange window of one member of a group selects the same horizontal range of all member tracks. Zooming, hiding, record-enabling and changing the automation mode of an individual track within a group will affect all members of the group. Volume changes of one group member will change the volume of all member channels while maintaining level relationships between them. Mute, pan and send levels are all synchronized among members.
For mix automation, a group member can act as a master for automated parameters. When an automation parameter value is written, the corresponding value of all other group members is also written, depending on their automation mode, with the data being written for each channel. This allows you to tweak each track's automation data individually without it being dependent on the master fader's automation information.
IN WITH THE NEW
The Arrange Channel Strip is a new feature that allows you to access all of the mixer channel functions directly from the Arrange window. The channel strip of any arrange track will appear in the parameter area of the Arrange window via the Arrange Channel Strip. Adjustments made to the track's Arrange Channel Strip will be reflected in the corresponding track mixer and Environment Channel Strip, as well.
Emagic has released a new native EQ called Channel EQ, which boasts eight bands, an expanded range for gain and Q, a higher frequency resolution and an integrated FFT analyzer. The FFT analyzer shows the amplitude of all frequency components of the signal. The central display has multiple functions: It shows both the curve of the FFT analyzer and the EQ curve. An identically scaled frequency axis is shown for both, allowing you to recognize unwanted frequencies in the analyzer curve while using the EQ to tweak accordingly. The analyzer can be switched pre- or post-EQ to compare the original signal to the tweaked signal. The folks at Emagic did a great job: This EQ sounds amazing, and I've come to really tap into the functionality of the analyzer. This is one plug-in that I wish were part of the Epic TDM package (see the sidebar “Epic Proportions”).
The Marquee tool is a new toolbox option that can be used in the Arrange window by click-holding on an object. A shaded selection rectangle will appear as you move the mouse, allowing you to drag the selection area independent of existing object boundaries. When you release the mouse, only the area inside the Marquee is selected. The tool is similar to the I Beam tool in Digidesign Pro Tools. Within the selected area, you can perform almost all of the regular Arrange edit options. If your selected area falls between musically relevant values, the Marquee tool's selection rectangle will automatically snap to the nearest musically relevant position. The new Crop Objects Outside Marquee Selection key command removes all unselected areas from objects that are partly selected by the Marquee tool.
The Freeze function is a clever new feature devised to maximize CPU-based DSP functions such as plug-ins and virtual instruments. The way it works is pretty simple: Tracks with plug-ins that process audio or virtual instruments that play MIDI material can be bounced out as “freeze” files via the Freeze button located on the track in the Arrange window. Plug-in parameter changes and complicated MIDI tweaks are all part of the frozen tracks — basically, what you hear is what you get. Once tracks are frozen, you can no longer edit plug-in or MIDI parameters unless you unfreeze them. You can, however, edit volume, mute, solo, pan, surround, send levels and destination data. The temporary freeze files are saved in a folder named Freeze Files, which is created in the root directory of your song or project folder. A word to the wise is in order: Freezing tracks is a real-time function, so if you're working on, for example, a 60-minute ambient piece, freezing tracks will be a time-consuming undertaking.
Finally, the Hide Track function is designed to reduce clutter in the Arrange window. Tracks that you want to hide are enabled with an H button on the corresponding track in the Arrange window. Hitting the Hide View button at the top of the Arrange window hides all of the tracks from view and does not affect their playback. You can also link the Hide functions of all tracks belonging to a Group by selecting Hide in the Group Property Settings.
UNDER ONE ROOF
New to version 6 is the Project Manager, a database component designed to consolidate track files used within a song or project. The Project Manager handles files that include EXS24 samples and settings, REX files, movies and plug-in settings. The Project Manager is accessed from the Arrange window. Users can rename files, add or edit comments and change references to one- or multiple-song files. All media files can be saved in a new “project” file format, making archiving and transporting projects created in Logic both efficient and easy.
The power and flexibility of the Project Manager is extensive, and the benefit it has for archiving songs and projects is already being fully utilized in my studio — especially on larger projects. I archive projects using Dantz Retrospect, and I've often been saddled with hunting for files on numerous hard drives to consolidate assets for Retrospect to see, with the occasional lost file due to user error. With the Project Manager, Logic does the consolidation for you.
If you use a FireWire DV device for displaying QuickTime video, Logic 6 has a new feature that allows you to display QuickTime video material in your Logic song at the same time as a FireWire DV device. You can send the video signal from the DV device to a monitor or projector for display. Logic 6 also allows you to display a loaded QuickTime thumbnail in the Arrange window on the new Video Thumbnail Track, which is selected from the hierarchical menu of track classes. The number of thumbnails you can see at any given moment depends on the current zoom level. This feature is an excellent addition for dealing with sync-to-picture editing issues, especially for longer QuickTime movies.
Other tweaks to the program include additional Time Machine algorithms in the Sample Editor window; enhancements to the EXS24 sampler, MP3 import and MP3 export and bouncing (OS X version only); new Arrange icons; and the ability to create custom icons. The Setup Assistant (OS X only) allows for an easy way for Logic to evaluate your hardware and set up the configuration accordingly. Further support for ReWire has been implemented that allows for MIDI functionality between Propellerhead Reason and Logic — a welcome addition for myself and the hoards of Reason users. Bouncing can now be performed offline, and users can bounce directly to MP3 (OS X version only). Offline bouncing is only available for native audio-driver systems, so users of third-party hardware are out of luck on this function. However, other software-based applications that are fed to the Logic via ReWire are available for offline bouncing.
This latest version of Logic is again chock-full of features that more than justify the upgrade price. As the transition between OS 9 and OS X continues to be resolved, I suspect that things will get very interesting as Emagic/Apple applies its expertise to the increasingly more powerful G5-based line of CPUs. In terms of the tools available today, it's a great time to be making music, and Logic Platinum 6 is a great way to make it all happen.
LOGIC PLATINUM 6 > $949
(BOXED); $129 (upgrade)
Pros: Powerful new grouping and project-management features. CPU-saving Freeze function. Numerous enhancements from version 5.x.
Cons: VST support lost with OS X version. Mac only.
PPC 604/250; 128 MB RAM; Mac OS 9.1/10.2; CD/DVD drive; USB port for XSKey; low-latency audio interface; separate hard disk and MIDI interface (recommended)
Digidesign's Pro Tools-based hardware is still supported in Logic 6, and Emagic is finally shipping the highly anticipated Epic TDM bundle of plug-ins, which comprises 15 of Emagic's more popular plug-ins that have been ported over as TDM versions. These will run on applications based on Digidesign's TDM systems. The bundle includes Spectral Gate, SubBass, Auto Filter, Tape Delay, Delay, Modulation Delay, Ensemble, Phaser, Tremolo, BitCrusher, PhaseDistortion, ClipDistortion, Overdrive Distortion, Enveloper and the ES1 instrument. The plug-ins sound good and are definitely some of the better options available.
Emagic has also released the Host TDM enabler, which allows you to insert the various Emagic software instruments (ES1, ES2, EVP88, EVB3 and EVD6) into the aux channels of your TDM mixer, thus bypassing the need to bus the native versions through an ESB channel. You can use as many as 32 mono or 16 stereo channels (or any combination of either). Both the Epic TDM bundle and the Host TDM enabler are separate purchase items and are not included as part of Logic 6.