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Emagic Logic Pro 64 - ProSoundNetwork.com

Emagic Logic Pro 64

Logic has been the flagship Emagic product since the dawn of MIDI sequencing. The company became a division of Apple Computer Inc. in 2002. Apple's influence is apparent in the consolidation of Logic Audio, Logic Gold and Logic Platinum into simply, Logic Express and Logic Pro. No new features were introduced.
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Logic has been the flagship Emagic product since the dawn of MIDI sequencing. The company became a division of Apple Computer Inc. in 2002. Apple's influence is apparent in the consolidation of Logic Audio, Logic Gold and Logic Platinum into simply, Logic Express and Logic Pro. No new features were introduced.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, post production

Key Features: Up to 24-bit/192 kHz audio on supported hardware; more than 50 plug-ins; virtual instruments include electric piano, organ, clavinet and software synthesizers; notation editing and printing

Price: Logic Pro - $999, Logic Express - $299

Contact: Apple/Emagic at 530-477-1051, Web Site.
Well, that's not quite true. If you wanted everything, you had to buy Logic Platinum and a few extras plug-ins. Now Logic Pro 6.4.1 incorporates almost every Logic plug-in that was previously sold separately and thus represents over $2,000 worth of software at a $999. Logic Express 6 gets you started for $299.

Features

This review will not cover the Setup Assistant, Project Manager, track "freezing," the Channel EQ or the Multipressor. Although these are all worth mentioning, they were previously covered in our review of Logic Platinum 6.1 in the 1/2004 issue of PAR.

Reverbs, delays and dynamics processors are expected in any DAW application. The previous Logic products had a generous helping of plug-ins to cover these needs and a handful of software synthesizers for good measure. The vintage instrument emulations (organ, electric piano), the EXS24 sampler, the Synth Collection and the Space Designer reverb, which were separate products are now included in Logic Pro 6.4.1.

While Logic Pro includes 50 plug-ins, Logic Express 6 comes with 24. Both products cover the basic audio processing categories, including EQ, time-based effects, dynamics and reverb. Logic Express is limited to 12 audio channels but supports up to 96 kHz/24-bit resolution.

Express includes the basic software synthesizers, a stripped down version of the electric piano virtual instrument, EVP88, called EVP73 and a playback only version of the EXS24 sampler called, EXSP24. Sample libraries in Akai, SoundFont 2, Sample Cell and EXS formats are supported in EXSP24.

Digidesign's TDM customers should note that Logic Pro integrates with Pro Tools TDM hardware and, through the "pthd" extension, includes support for sample rates up to 192 kHz. The Emagic System Bridge (ESB) extension - now included -- allows you to combine native channels with TDM channels in a single song.

Both Logic Pro and Express have support for ReWire2, which routes audio from ReBirth and Reason into Logic.

In Use

I was asked to work up some string arrangements for a local band. Logic with EXS24 seemed like a good environment to develop my ideas. After finding the right audio menu option and importing the stereo WAV file, dragging it to a stereo audio track was a snap. I knew that the track had been played along with a click and I wanted to make Logic's meter grid conform to the audio so I could print a useable score.

I created a tempo guide track by playing a hi-hat on each beat using an EXS24 audio instrument. After fussing with the "reclock" settings for a while, I finally managed to make the meter grid line up with the hi-hat clicks. The key is to lock the MIDI guide track and the audio track against SMPTE time so they stay together while the tempo map created by the reclock function matches Logic's bar lines against the guide track. It was a bit more trouble than I expected but far easier than typing in several hundred tempo changes.

I played the string lines as audio instrument (MIDI) tracks so I could print a score for the string players who would eventually be hired for the recording. MIDI data for external sound modules and internal virtual instruments can be edited through a piano roll editor or as standard notation. The Score Editor also allows preparation and printing of professional looking sheet music.

With processors now on the brink of "weapons grade" classification by the US government, developers are finally able to implement math-intensive applications for real-time native audio processing. Rather than using a parameter-based model of an acoustic space, Logic Pro's convolution reverb, Space Designer, uses impulse response recordings as a kind of "template" for reverb generation. How about reverb that sounds like rolling thunder? No problem.

Although it is possible to do so, I did not create my own impulse responses for this review. Luckily, Space Designer comes with some gorgeous reverb settings that complemented my cello and string sounds beautifully.

I started using the EXS24 sample player/editor in Logic about a year ago and have since found little use for my rackmount samplers. EXS24 formatted sample sets are available from several providers but Akai, Roland and Giga can be imported. The performance feature - available in EXS24 only under certain Vienna Symphonic Library products - makes legato playing more realistic sounding than anything I have ever experienced.

My usual gig is recording new film scores for old silent movies. Surround DVD scores can very "track hungry." I ran against the track limit on my Pro Tools HD 1 system while recording a score for the 2003 Image Entertainment release of Salome (1923). Naturally, I was curious when Apple told me that Logic on a G5 rivals the processing power of a Pro Tools TDM system.

I set out to test this by creating a one-minute session in Pro Tools 6.1 with playback engine set for 48 voices (one DSP) and used only TDM plug-ins. The 24-bit/48 kHz WAV files were written to an OWC Mercury Elite 250 GB FireWire 400/800 drive connected to the G4 at 400 Mbps.

After finding the limits in Pro Tools, I imported the audio into Logic Pro and duplicated the plug-ins as closely as possible in the native Core Audio environment on the G4. I added plug-ins until Logic started warning me about the hard drive and CPU resources. I then connected the drive to the G5 using the 800 Mbps connectors. I again added tracks and plug-ins until the drive and CPU resources were exhausted. Here is what I found:

With Pro Tools configured for 48 tracks, I was limited to slightly more than two plug-ins per track. I used a Focusrite four-band EQ and a compressor on each track. I had a Bomb Factory BF76 compressor plus a four-band EQ on the main output bus. I could add a third plug-in to a few channels but was not able to allocate a reverb.

I was able to get up to 46 concurrent tracks in Logic Pro on the G4 with an average of 2.65 plug-ins per track. The output stage had a Multipressor and a Channel EQ. I also bussed each channel to a single instance of Space Designer. Now for the big news: I was able to get 62 tracks of concurrent audio on the G5 with three plug-ins on each channel and three instances of Space Designer. Impressive!

I also configured Pro Tools with 28 tracks and I was able to get three plug-ins per track, a Reverb One on an aux bus with all tracks routed to the reverb and two plug-ins on the main bus.

Additional tracks might have been possible on each system with audio spread across multiple drives. Adding more cards to my HD system would up the tracks and plug-in limits, as would adding native plug-ins in Pro Tools.

Summary

Logic is an advanced and comprehensive MIDI and audio recording environment. My initial testing showed that Logic Pro 6 on a G5 dual 2 GHz provides far more track mixing and plug-in power than a baseline Pro Tools HD 1. That's significant when you consider the price difference and makes Logic a viable option in the face of some DSP card-based workstation products.

Is daughter card processing dead? I don't think so. Recordings that require very high track counts and many plug-ins may be better suited to card-based processing (for now). For the rest of us, native processing could be a more cost effective solution. Since ESB is now included in Logic Pro, TDM users can have the best of both worlds.

Apple's influence is starting to appear but Logic still doesn't look like an Apple product. Could things be a little easier to find? Does it really need three Audio menus? A little eye candy is not essential but a user interface makeover wouldn't hurt.

When I need streaming sample playback, full MIDI editing and a printed score, Logic is my first choice. For an application with all that, plus high-resolution audio and a suite of dynamite virtual instruments, you can't argue with Logic.

Review Setup

Apple G4 Dual 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM with Pro Tools HD 1 and a Digidesign 96 I/O, and on a G5 Dual 2 GHz machine with 2 GB RAM and a Lynx L22 card.