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Review of Logic Studio
including Logic Pro 8   

by Tweak

page 10

The Amazing Thing about...

The wait is over and Logic Pro 8, now part of a software bundle called Logic Studio, has arrived and is selling.  The amazing thing is that they added a lot of stuff to the package and they cut the price--in half.  Formerly, Logic Pro 7 was sold around $1,000 and today you can get Logic Pro 8 plus everything else in the package... For $500.  OK, Lets add this up:

The Logic studio package has

Logic Pro  (was $1000)

5 Jam Packs (were $100 ea. $500 total)

Soundtrack Pro 2 (was $299)

Mainstage (new)

Hmm, a week ago all this stuff would have been $1800.  Now its $500?  What in blazes is the catch!? 

There is no catch.  I have Logic Studio here and it is everything Logic Pro 7 was and more.  Ok, there is one catch.  You have to have a Mac to run this software.  This is what I surmise to be Apple's Master Plan for World Domination (hmm, lets call that the MPWD).  Make software so killer, so tight that people have to buy the hardware.  Hey, they don't give us iTunes for free because they think we are cool people.  Its all about selling iPods.  Ditto for Logic and the Mac.  The more people that use Logic, the more Macs, iPods, iPhones... heck, just hoist the big neon Apple on top of the roof of your house right now and get an iLife, lol.

What you can do with Logic?  Ok.  If it involves making music on a Mac--any kind of music--this is the package to have.  Add an audio interface and microphone and you can stop there.  You can build compositions with loops like in FL studio or Acid, you have a complete--and excellent-- collection of soft synths and virtual drum machines at your beck and call.  You can go deep into MIDI if you own midi synths, with editors so precise and flexible you can fix, cut, paste, append, modify, transform any type of midi data to any other type of midi data.  With audio you can sample, resample, glitch, clean, crappify, move anywhere freely, apply untold and undiscovered effects, burn CDs, MP3s, optimize level to current commercial standards, oh, its impossible to list it all....


A New Arrangement

Logic Studio

The New Arrange Screen--click pic to enlarge to actual 1920x1200 size

The new arrange screen really just takes the most important windows of Logic 7 and locks them together.  Over the the right side of the screen where you see the audio loop browser you could display the event editor, audio bin, library (or presets for the current instrument selected), or a browser to find files, songs, bounces and other audio-related material.  Switching between them is just one mouse click.  At the bottom part of the screen where you see the audio editor, I can switch in the Mixer, the Piano Roll (used to be called the Matrix), the Score editor and Hyper Editor.  To the left you see The Inspector (formerly known as the track and channel parameter area.  You can hide all 3 panes if you want leaving you with one big arrange screen.  The transport at the extreme bottom is configurable as well.  There are 44 items that can be selected for display on the transport.

So if you want, you can turn off these locked panes and use the editors just like you did in Logic 7.  If you load the Logic 7 song, whatever screensets you defined will still be in effect.  Nice.  Sometimes I like having a custom screen with only the elements I want.  But I have no doubt that the new arrange screen will get a lot of use here.

For those new to Logic, this is a great time to get in--perhaps the best time in logic's history.  Logic has never been this affordable--ever.  Even in the days of Notator, the program took about 600 of your 1988 dollars, which was a lot more than 600 buys today.  I don't think it ever dipped beneath $599 street.  Logic has also never been as powerful. 


New Features and Improvements I like

I can't list them all here, but here is a taste of the ones I like and think are great.  Keep in mind there are lots of small improvements all over the application,  These are my highlights.

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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.

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1. Sample accurate editing in the Arrange.  You can also edit automation with sample accuracy.  Logic catches up here in an area it was laggardly.

2. Time stretch and compress in the arrange.  More catch-up work.

3. Right click context menus!  Omygod!  At LAST!  Thank you Apple programmers!  Logic has now entered the 21st century.  Now we are just about caught up.

4. Easy track, region and channel creation.  While the Logic wizards never had a problem with this before, the newbs certainly did.  The old environment is still there for those who want to mess with it, but with this new feature, the newb does not have to brave the environment ever if they don't want.

5. Surround capability.  Ok Logic always let you create surround tracks, but now you can import, record and bounce surround. You can bounce directly to DVD-A.  In the bundled Compressor application you can encode in various surround formats, including dolby digital 5.1.  Don't underestimate the importance of this.

6. New song templates--easier and more logical.  Definitely will help new users.

7. Project Manager replaced by a new Browser window.  The browser displays all the assets of the song:  audio, midi files, EXS instruments, Ultrabeat samples, movie files and more.  Its simpler.  The old Project manager was hard to deal with.

8. New Low Latency mode.  Logic will automatically limit latency by bypassing plugins that exceed the threshold.

9. Redesigned EXS editor.  Its easier to map zones of samples with the mouse and much easier to create instruments with multiple velocity layers.  Psst,...the EXS Mk II is Logic's Native Soft Sampler.

10. Ultrabeat.  You can now create patterns on a matrix-like grid inside UltraBeat, which can store patterns along with its drum kits.  Outstanding!  Of course you can always use the arrange piano roll as always, but its nice to have an option to store drum machine style patterns with the kit.  For those new to Ultrabeat, its a drum machine soft synth that lets you load any sample to any note and lets you tweak the sample extremely.  You can also create drum instruments from scratch with analog and fm-style synthesis. 

11. Improved Track Compressor.  I was surprised.  You can switch among 6 models of compressors, including VCA, FET and Opto.  Love the way they sound.  Much like some of the famous UAD compressors, I'll be reaching for these more than ever.

12. New delay designer and echo effects.  I only had to play with the delay designer one time to realize how powerful it is.  I am reminded of the old emu 'transform and multiply" effect found on their old hardware samplers.  Except this doesn't make you wait 3 minutes for the result, it works in real time. 

13.  The inclusion of the first 5 jam packs in addition to the standard Logic content makes the whole package simply outstanding.  Back at the turn of the century, a sample and loop library like you get here would have cost several Gs.  Make sure you have some disk space available before you install Logic Studio.  You might get a dedicated firewire drive for it if you don't have one already.   The organization of all this material is better than ever, thanks to the new Media Pane in the arrange.  You'll be able to find what you are looking for easily, even that Space Designer preset you made 2 years ago. 


What I Don't Like

1. The new transport. It works great but I just don't want it there in the arrange all the time.  I do everything I can by key commands.  Only newbs use transports.

2. The new Inspector.  Its a good idea but it wastes space.  The old way was better.  While I do like the mixer strip from the current track to be there, I don't need the main output strip there all the time.  Its also in that drab final cut pro style grey.  The erstwhile Logic was more colorful. 

That's about it. Just little graphical issues. 


Other Applications in Logic Studio

There are some other applications included.  Soundtrack Pro 2.  This is an update to the Soundtrack Pro that came with the Final Cut Studio bundle, which was an upgrade from the original Soundtrack.  Soundtrack Pro II is like two applications in one.  First is a standalone multi track recorder and editor, sort of like Sony's Acid is on PCs.  Its great for adding audio to video, or doing audio-only compositions.  The second part of Soundtrack Pro II is the audio editor, which, unlike the editor in Logic, is very complete, non destructive, and can render effects quickly and easily.  In fact, Soundtrack makes a great tool for creating audio effects.  You can chain up lots and lots of effects if you want and take them in and out of the chain while you experiment.  Its sort of like Sound Forge is on PCs.  Worthy.

The best part is that it is integrated with Logic's arrange.  Click on an audio file in Logic, hit the magic key command, and the Soundtrack editor opens with your audio file.  Do what you want in Soundtrack, flatten (render) the effects, then click save.  Presto!  It's back in Logic. Is that cool?  Yes, it is. 

The other application is called Main Stage.  It lets you use all the Logic instruments Live, like at a live show, you know, with those smelly drummers, guitarists and other people who no longer bathe. I ran it once to see that it worked.  It did.  Not interested, personally.


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