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Review of
Logic 6.3

A Logic WinXP user moves to Mac OS/X

by Tweak

page 7

As of this writing, late in December 2003, Logic Platinum has been a Mac-only application for almost a year and a half.  Things have quieted down since Apple's buyout and everyone is now back at work.  In the meantime, Mac OSX has just about replaced OS9 and a new version of OSX, named Panther, is on the shelves.  Slowly operating system issues are being resolved with music applications and plug-ins.  The "new" Logic has taken on a commitment to Apple's "core audio" and to "audio units" as a scheme for operating plugins and soft synths in Logic.  Forget about VST's and VSTi's, DX's and DXi's, these unwashed dudes are not invited to the party.  Don't complain to me, ok?  It's not my idea of a good time. Or is it? Yep, we'll get into that thorny issue.


To start, here's a screen shot of Logic 6.3, take on a 12" Powerbook.  Of course it is much better on a 23" Monitor. 


And now, thankfully, Native Instruments and Waves are finally coming onboard to the AU protocol.  Is it time to go Mac? How hard is it? And what do you get when you go "deep six"?  We'll get into all that too.

  • Stable, smooth in operation
  • New Freeze function, Project manager, Marquee tool and Track EQ
  • Expensive for PC users to Crossgrade
  • Will not run VSTi's
  Logic Pro  
  Apple Mac Pro 2.66GHz Desktop Computer
Two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors up to 3GHz let you effortlessly synthesize instruments and apply multiple effects. Up to 16GB of memory provide ample bandwidth for recording an unprecedented number of tracks. PCI Express expansion slots support state-of-the-art audio DSP and I/O solutions, while support for up to eight displays lets you spread out all your tools and timelines. Run several applications simultaneously, thanks to Mac OS X with Core Audio. And connect virtually any audio, MIDI, or storage device using the optical digital and analog stereo audio ports and conveniently located FireWire and USB ports.

Logic PC users will be relieved to note that Logic looks almost the same on the last PC version.  What made Logic great on the PC is still great on the Mac.  What is different are minor things, such as where the window handles are, the way a mouse functions (remember the standard Mac mouse is a one-button affair) and the way the windows "feel".  Little things do add up positively and negatively.  Logic 6 adds some small graphic refinements in many of its windows.  The program operates smoothly, like you expect from an expensive application. More than ever, you get the feeling you are making art and not some coded drivel.  I have not been able to crash it yet after a few weeks with it. 

The negs? There is NO right click mouse support in Logic 6.3 that PC logicians have enjoyed since version 2.8 if not earlier.  Mac OS X supports right click mouse functions in many applications. This, to me, is a serious omission. If you are using the ultra cool one button Mac mouse you don't know what you are missing. Right click support, so well done on nearly all PC applications,  dramatically speeds up sequencer operations.  Cubase has it, Sonar has it: Logic missed this bus and is now a few miles behind. 

Moving from PC to Mac, Logic-wise was not hard. I simply had to run a USB cable to my Unitor 8, install the Unitor drivers from Emagic's website, import my Logic 5.5 autoload.lso, assign MIDI ports, install drivers for my Emagic Emi 2-6 USB audio interface and all was set.  USB? You bet.  And this is on a laptop, a Mac PowerBook G4.   Even with all this USB stuff, MIDI timing is good, latency is low and audio does not glitch.  My Logic Control was recognized and I didn't have to do a thing.  All my emagic softsynths were already authorized thanks to the XS key, I didn't even have to install them.  Of course, I was lucky to already have so much emagic hardware, which already has excellent OS/X drivers.

Time out  Easy Connections
With a single USB cable you can move a huge MIDI system and your software authorizations to a Mac. Here's what I did. 
  • 1.Get a 4 port USB hub.
  • 2. Attach a USB cable to the midi interface
  • 3. Attach the emagic XS key
  • 4. Attach your other keys (cubase SX, Waves ILOK)

This allows you to just plug in the hub's USB cable depending on what system you want to work on. 

The New Features in Logic Platinum 6


Freeze Tracks--As simple and as powerful as imaginable.  All you do is click a little "snowflake" button by the track switches, press play one time and your cpu intensive soft synth track is frozen as audio.  Unfreezing is just as easy, just unclick the button.  Great feature for anyone running out of processing power.  I did a 6 track all softsynth piece using Absynth and EXS tracks.  The performance meter was between 50-70% on a G4 PowerBook before the freeze.  After the freeze the performance meter was a steady 20%.

Project Manager  Long begged for by people who know Logic, the Project Manager is here.  When you "save as Project"  Logic will create a folder with the song name and you get the following options:  Copy audio files, Copy sampler instruments, copy samples used by EXS instruments, Copy Movie file and unused audio and set the audio recording path to the folder.  Way cool.  Makes backup to other media easy too for those wanting to take a complete project to another studio running Logic. 

Marquee Tool  A very creative tool that lets you edit both midi and audio tracks in interesting ways.  You can highlight any section of a sequence with the mouse and then use the cut, paste and copy commands as well as nudge, drag, delete, mute, solo.  Think for a minute of a badly timed vocal audio track.  You can  zoom in and grab words with the marquee and move them around, mute the breaths, add a tasteful glitch.  You could do all this before using the "split object" command, but believe me this is much faster.

New Channel EQ  Gone are the little numbers at the top of the mixer strip.  Now every channel gets a beautiful eq that is quite powerful.  You get 8 fully movable parametric bands with variable "Q" and 24db boost or cut with the usual selectable rolloff, shelving and notch filters.  Perhaps the best thing is the Pre/post analyzer, which gives a real time display of your audio as it passes through the eq. 

Want more?  Well there is more.  Logic now (and finally) will bounce to MP3, has Rewire 2 support, a cool "hide tracks" function to help you unclutter the screen, has a new offline bounce, new track icons, and allows you to put a mixer channel strip in the arrange, like Cubase's Inspector. 

And there's even more, but I can't talk about everything here.  But I will talk a little about Space Designer, the new emagic hi-end reverb plugin.  You get a demo of it when you update to Logic 6.3 .  I'll tell you more in a few days.


Comparing Logic 6 to PC Sequencers

Some interesting thoughts arise.  First off all, Logic was always my sequencer of choice on the PC and it usually had little problem maintaining its #1 status.  But if you compare by feature, it becomes fairly clear that Logic, now Mac only, has lost tremendous ground to both Sonar and Cubase.  This has to do with what I feel is the unfortunate decision to exclude VSTi from Logic Mac.  Now that Waves and Native Instruments are finally getting onboard with Audio Units, relief is in sight.  But still, if soft synths are your game you should know that your old Logic 5.5 PC runs way more stuff than 6.3.  Even the stalwart Sonar, which introduced DXi finally saw the light and let VSTi's and ASIO drivers in.  Logic, formerly the friendly sequencer that would accept everyone's protocol, is now the grumpy stalwart that forces you to play by its rules.

But on the positive side, Logic 6 on the Mac is probably the most stable sequencer I have ever run.  In my first two weeks, it has not crashed, not even once.  Both Sonar and SX were crashing out of the box. But of course they were loaded with hundreds of plugins and soft synths that i have collected over the years.  So perhaps such instability is in part accounted for by Sonar and SX's "open door" policy to plugins? Might be.  Following this line of reasoning, if emagic can maintain such control over code, by forcing plugins to adhere to rigorous standards, there may be major benefits.  Stability is a great feature.  Who wants to run 100 different softsynths if only half of them work? Wouldn't you rather have a handful that always worked?  I'll go with that argument for now.

So, this should give you an idea of where I think Logic 6 fits in in the grand scheme of sequencers.  I know for many, going to Logic 6 is a $4,000 upgrade if you have the clerk throw in a Mac G5 2g with the purchase.  That's a lot of bux!  And you might lose a lot of applications you love in the process.  If you are a doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief, go ahead an run the gauntlet to 6.3 now.  If you are like the rest of us, watch this page.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Then you and your accountant can decide if the move to 6 is wise for you.

Update:  I have since "ran the gauntlet" myself to a Mac G5.  I am thrilled with logic's performance on the G5.  The G5 cuts through Logic and as many audio plugins as you want, like butter.  If you have been using Logic as long as i have, you will be as ecstatic about its performance.  Go ahead, throw on that huge Reaktor effect you like so much in stand alone, and put a few Waves plugins on top.  The G5 will not flinch.  If you go this route I doubt you will be disappointed.


Rich the TweakMeister

December 2003

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