Apple Logic 7
Logic Pro 7 has had its first Apple makeover. Already some of the quirkiness is starting to disappear – and the features list has exploded. Predictably, there are optimizations for the G5 processor and Mac OS X, but that’s just for starters.
Logic Pro 7 features oodles of new instruments and effects, plus new Apple Loops browsing and editing features that let you time-stretch and pitch-shift audio in real-time – just like in GarageBand. Logic Pro 7 can also import GarageBand compositions – so you can quickly put song ideas together in GarageBand and then bring them into Logic when you want to get serious about recording vocals and real instruments.
Other highlights include the ability to save and load mixer-channel strips and the new Global tracks. Global Tracks let you view and edit events that affect all tracks. There are several types, including Video, Markers, Tempo, and a Beat Mapping track that allows you to assign any bar position to any musical event. So, you can get Logic’s barlines to line up with any MIDI or Audio Region that speeds up and slows down or was recorded without a metronome click. A Signature track contains the time and key signatures from the Score Editor and a Chord track contains chord symbols derived from MIDI Regions that can be used to transpose Apple Loops or other MIDI Regions. A Transposition track linked to the progression of the chord root notes in the Chord track displays global transposition events.
There are over 70 plug-in effects with plenty of new ones including Guitar Amp Pro, Ringshifter, Vocal Transformer, Space Designer reverb, and the Auto-Tune-style Pitch Correction. Linear Phase EQ maintains phase relationships no matter how much EQ you apply – ideal for mixdown and mastering. Match EQ analyzes the frequency spectrum of any audio signal and lets you apply this sound ‘signature’ to any other audio signal. So, for example, you can record a guitar one day and then match the EQ of this to one recorded the next day. There’s also an extremely useful Multimeter featuring a spectrum analyzer, level meter and phase meter – which should keep the more technical Logic-users happy.
Logic’s incredible list of virtual instruments includes the EVP88, EVB3, and EVD6 vintage instruments; the ES1, ES2, EFM1, ESM, ESP and ESE synthesizers; the EVOC20 Vocoder, and the EXS24 MK II sampler. You also get two tasty new virtual instruments – Sculpture and Ultrabeat. Sculpture models strings and bars to give you realistic string pads, xylophones and so forth. Ultrabeat is a drum machine with 24 drum voices and a bass-line voice plus a Roland-style step sequencer with swing and accent parameters.
Of course, all these plug-ins demand lots of attention from your CPU, and there will always come a point where you need more processing power. Don’t expect even adequate performance from Logic Pro 7 unless you’re using one of the faster dual-processor computers with at least 1GB of RAM. I tried a 1.6GHz single-processor G5 with 256MB of RAM. This couldn’t even run any of Logic’s own demos – audio playback was completely distorted. With a 2.5GHz G5 with 2GB of RAM everything was sweet. And Logic Pro 7 has a new distributed audio processing feature. If you need more processing power and you have more G5 Macs, just hook these up using Gigabit Ethernet and you can use the power of all your computers to process your audio and run extra plug-ins. If you want to bring in a project from another computer or laptop, you normally have to load both systems with the same samples, instrument and plug-in settings, and audio files, then reconfigure the outputs from the Audio and Instrument tracks for your studio. With distributed audio processing, you can leave all the files on the local storage media of the Master system, then hook up the PowerBook to your studio’s G5 via Ethernet to access the processing power you need.
Logic Pro 7 offers extensive support for other audio and video software. You get Rewire to use with Live or Reason and you can import and export AAF, OMF and OpenTL files or use Final Cut Pro XML. You can save your final mixes to disk using SDII, WAV, AIFF, AAC or MP3 – and a copy of the WaveBurner application is supplied with the package. This lets you burn your mixes to CD or create premasters to send off for CD duplication.
Logic Pro 7’s new features typically go much further than the competition and bode well for Logic’s future – confirming that Apple means business with Logic. There’s no doubt that version 7 represents good value for money – think of all those plug-ins and virtual instruments that used to cost a bundle to buy separately. But Logic is definitely suffering from ‘creeping feature-itis’ with so much new stuff for you to get your head around. One big question is whether you actually need all these features – or would you be better off just getting those you are actually going to use. Another big question is how good they are compared with the competition. It’s a mixed bag here. Some, like the EXS24 and Space Designer, are first-rate while others are run-of-the-mill. Logic Pro 7 is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with – and at last that awful user-interface is getting cleaned up. For existing Logic-users, it’s a no-brainer – sooner or later they will want to shell out for the upgrade. The competition from Steinberg and MOTU, not to mention Digidesign, remains fierce. Nevertheless, Apple can expect to attract plenty of new users to Logic Pro 7. Me? I can’t wait for version 8...