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Apple Logic Studio

The heart of Logic Studio is Logic Pro 8, which has been reworked into a single-window interface. This redesigned interface is designed for fast, intuitive control.

Logic Studio is Apple’s comprehensive suite of professional audio production tools. The Mac OS X package includes Logic Pro 8, MainStage, Soundtrack Pro 2, Studio Instruments, Studio Effects, Studio Sound Library, WaveBurner, Compressor 3, Impulse Response Utility and Apple Loops Utility; it’s a massive package that is essentially everything needed to create, record, mix, and perform music.

Features

The heart of Logic Studio is Logic Pro 8, which has been reworked into a single-window interface. This redesigned interface is designed for fast, intuitive control. All of the key functions are organized in a unified workspace, greatly simplifying operation and providing instant access to the program’s powerful music creation and production features. Sample-accurate editing and snap-to-transient selection are accomplished directly within the Arrange window. Several new features — including dynamic channel strip creation and Quick Swipe Comping — drastically speed up workflow. Additionally, Logic Pro includes surround production capabilities with multichannel tracks and busses, support for True Surround software instruments and effects, and innovative surround panning controls.

Logic Pro 8 Main Screen The updated Arrange window consolidates the edit and browser windows. You can now record multiple takes; cut, move or stretch audio with sample accuracy; apply channel strip settings; or automate a group fade from one central location, without switching between windows.

A toolbar is affixed to the top of the Arrange window and a transport bar is affixed to the bottom, both fully customizable. The toolbar gives one-click access to common activities, such as merging data and setting locators. Many of the Arrange window tasks have been simplified or enhanced. At high zoom levels, data can be selected and edited with sample-accurate detail. Option-dragging the end point of a region allows audio to be time-stretched or compressed. This can be processed with one of the time-compression algorithms provided with Logic or by using a third-party algorithm such as Serato Pitch ‘n Time or iZotope Radius.

Plenty Of Power In Logic ExpressLet’s say you have decided that Apple Logic is your new DAW. Do you need the $499 Logic Studio bundle featuring Logic Pro 8, or would the $199 Logic Express 8 bundle just as easily serve your needs? Fact is, for most potential users, buying Logic Express is both budget-conscious and logical … please pardon the pun.

According to Apple, and as Russ alludes in his review, all Logic Pro 8 performance and functionality is present in Logic Express 8 except for four features: in-the-box surround mixing, TDM/DAE support, distributed audio processing (DAP), and “support for high-end control surfaces.”

Let’s hypothesize for a moment. If you plan to do stereo-only mixes; if you’d be happy with 73 plug-ins and 36 software instruments (nearly all of those offered with Logic Pro); if your projects won’t be “big” enough to warrant the need for DAP; and if control surfaces such as Mackie Control Universal, Frontier Design TranzPort, TASCAM US-2400, and Yamaha 02R96 seem “high-end” enough for you; then Logic Express 8 is sure to please, while leaving your wallet $300 fatter. Best of all, if you later decide that any of Logic’s four “pro” main features are necessary, an upgrade from Express 8 to the Logic Studio bundle is only $299; thus, in the end, Logic Studio is a $1 cheaper if you try Express 8 first. It’s cool how being thrifty works sometimes. There are two channel strips in the Inspector area (formally called the Parameter area) located on the left pane. The right strip is context-sensitive, displaying the bus or output selected on the left channel strip. This provides instant access to the entire signal path of a track without opening the mixer window. The Media area has replaced Logic’s Project Manager. Organized access to all of the media on the computer’s hard drives is provided via the Bin, Loops, Library and Browser tabs. Logic Pro songs are now saved as part of a project.

Logic’s Network-Based Save and Share allows personal channel strip settings, plug-in settings, and key commands to be stored to a .Mac account for easy access from any computer connected to the Internet. Favorite settings can also be shared across a local or Internet-based network or through your .Mac Public folder.

Logic’s surround capabilities have considerably increased, making it an extremely powerful surround DAW that easily supports up to 7.1 mixing. Surround signal flow is supported throughout the DAW, including the ability to bus audio to external or internal surround processors. The Downmixer plug-in makes it simple to downmix from surround to stereo.

MainStage is a new live-performance application that transforms a Mac into a mean, lean, performance machine. Before MainStage, if a musician wanted to use Logic Pro’s built-in instruments and effects onstage, they had to run Logic and configure separate tracks, or possibly separate songs, for various setups.

Soundtrack Pro 2 provides professional editing tools and seamless film and video integration. Once a mix has been completed, Compressor 3 provides the tools to encode and preview the mix in the Dolby Digital AC-3 surround format. In addition to the dozens of built-in formats, third-party encoders can be used as plug-ins.

The collection of 40 instrument plug-ins found in Studio Instruments enables musicians to access and play an infinite number of sounds. The updated EX24 editor now has a more conventional multi-sample display, shows group and zone settings in a matrix-style layout, and supports graphical editing of group and zone Velocity ranges. Ultrabeat has added a Step Automation edit mode, and the Full View step-sequencer display now lets you see and edit the steps for all 25 drum voices simultaneously.

Studio Effects includes 80 powerful effect plug-ins for unlimited options in shaping sound. Among the most impressive is the new Delay Designer plug-in that features 26 independent taps. Each tap has its own filter, pan and pitch control. True Surround is also supported by Space Designer convolution reverb, which includes 138 new surround impulse responses.

The massive 40 GB Studio Sound Library features content from the five Jam Pack collections and Final Cut Studio 2. These 18,000 Apple Loops, 1,300 EXS24 sampled instruments and 5,000 sound effects that span a huge variety of genres and styles and are a phenomenal production resource. There is also a large collection of impulse responses for Space Designer, many of which are in full surround.
MainStage Instrument Screen
WaveBurner is an easy-to-use yet powerful application for CD mastering and authoring. It is perfectly suited for creating a simple demo disc, a Red Book standard CD master, or anything in between. Apple Loops Utility allows any audio file to be converted into an Apple Loop. Metadata can be added to specify the attributes of the file, making it easy to locate from the Loops browser built-in to Logic and Soundtrack Pro.

Impulse Response Utility is a multitrack audio recording, editing, and deconvolution utility that allows mono, stereo, discrete surround, and B-Format surround impulse response files to be created and used within the included Space Designer convolution reverb plug-in.

Logic Studio retails for $499. An upgrade from Logic Pro 7 to Logic Studio is $199. Customers who purchased Logic Pro 7 on or after August 1, 2007 are eligible for a free upgrade to Logic Studio. Optionally, Logic Express 8 is available for $199. It is identical to Logic Pro except that it doesn’t support distributed audio, high-end control surfaces, surround, or TDM. It also lacks some of the instruments and effects. The upgrade from Logic Express 8 to Logic Studio is only $299 so if you go this route, the end cost is the same as if you originally bought Logic Studio.

Fast FactsApplications
Studio, project studio, mastering, broadcast, post-production, live performance

Key Features
Mac-based audio applications including Logic Pro 8, MainStage, Soundtrack Pro 2, Studio Instruments, Studio Effects, Studio Sound Library, WaveBurner, Compressor 3, Impulse Response Utility and Apple Loops Utility

Price
$499; $299 (upgrade from Logic Express 8); $199 (upgrade from Logic Pro 7)

Contact
Apple | 800.692.7753 | www.apple.com

PRODUCT POINTS

Plus

  • Tons of features
  • Great sound quality
  • Supports high-resolution audio

Minus

  • No PC support (“Truthfully, you should throw that PC away and buy a Mac anyway,” opines Russ.)
  • No aux send panning

Score
At $499, Logic Studio is a bargain and an intuitive, impressive software bundle — the perfect one-stop-shop production tool for audio production professionals.In Use

I installed and used Logic on three computers: a Macintosh 2 GHz Dual Processor G5, a MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, and a Macintosh 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon w/4 GB RAM. Besides the endless waiting (two to three hours to install in all three instances), installation was a breeze. No surprise on the install time though; it takes a while to install over 40 GB of data regardless of your computer’s speed.

After launching Logic, I selected Create New Project, and immediately experienced a new feature. The Create screen was segmented into two boxes. On the left there are collections titled Explore, Compose, and Produce. Within each of these collections there are a list of options in the Template column on the right. I found that using these starting points got me working in a shorter amount of time. If you prefer, you can just open an empty project and start from there.

I found it easy and quick to create a song using a loop, a couple of virtual instruments, and a microphone. Being more at home with Digidesign Pro Tools than Logic, I’m constantly impressed with how intuitive Apple has made the Logic Studio environment. Speaking of intuition, I found the Quick Swipe Comping to be a wonderful way to comp vocals, feeling more natural than anything I’ve ever done in the past with Logic or any other DAW.

Although it isn’t new to Logic, another nice feature is the ability to create and store customizable Key command sets. This is great for a multi-user system, allowing each user to have his/her own key command set. It is also great for users who have already learned a key command set for another DAW and don’t want to relearn them for Logic.

My biggest gripe with the software is there is no way to pan an aux send. Having the ability to do so would give a lot more flexibility to setting up cue mixes. I found that using the Post-Pan feature was a workaround in most instances, but this doesn’t work if a musician wants to hear a different panning than I hear in the control room.

Apple describes MainStage as a performance rig for Logic Pro and AU plug-ins without the encumbrance of running Logic, but I’ve found it to be an excellent tool in the studio for utilizing Logic’s marvelous virtual instrument arsenal while tracking in other DAWs.

The majority of my time spent with Logic has been in conjunction with the Apogee Ensemble. [Please see Russ’ review of Ensemble in an upcoming issue of PAR — Ed] Logic Pro includes an Apogee Control Panel, which seamlessly provides the ability to adjust and store the Ensemble’s settings from within a Logic Project. Very nice!

Summary

Apple’s Logic Studio is an amazing suite that includes a host of powerful applications. The software is lightning-fast (especially when running on a dual Quad-Core Xeon machine) and has more features than I could imagine. Logic Pro 8’s makeover has resulted in the world’s most feature-laden DAW, actually becoming user-friendly, and Apple has done it in a way where current Logic Pro users will be right at home with the new version. The system sounds wonderful, and the included instruments, loops, samples, and effects are all professional quality with no sonic compromises whatsoever. This said, at $499, Logic Studio is a bargain and is the perfect one-stop-shop production tool for composers, musicians, sound designers, engineers, and producers.

Logic Pro 8 For Composition

I use Logic for soundtrack composing and pop production. Over the past four years, I’ve shifted from using MIDI modules and keyboards to streaming sample players and software synths. Logic’s integrated music production environment is now the starting point for all my composing projects. I’ve used Logic since Version 5, so I was eager to see Apple simplify and beautify the user interface.

The consolidated Arrange window with pop-up panes for the mixer and piano roll editor and the sliding pane for the media bin and instrument/loop library are a welcomed improvement. However, I still use the separate score and environment windows when I need to focus on those tasks. The transport and status bar — centered along the bottom of the main window — worked well, even stretched across two 19-inch standard displays. The Mackie Control that I’ve used since Logic 6 worked fine, as did a Unitor8 MIDI interface.

The Studio Sound Library, instruments and effects plug-ins are the heart of Logic Studio for composers. The sounds and loops cover many genres including pop, world, R&B and strong support for classic and modern electronic music. The sound effects and ambiences are well suited to indie film and stage productions.

Logic Pro 8 (LP8) makes sound picking easier than pie. Select a software instrument track in the Arrange window and click in the library browser to instantly audition thousands of pre-built instrument channel strips. For example, “gated synthesizers” combine soft synths with effects locked to tempo. The symphonic instruments won’t fool your music teacher or put the high-end sample libraries out of business, but are more than adequate for pop production and symphonic sketches.

I had no trouble loading Logic 7 project files. In fact, once I started using LP8, I found almost no need to go back to 7. One exception: Vienna Horizon instruments use a VSL plug-in for EXS24 and some settings can be used, but not edited, in LP8.

I frequently use QuickTime clips for film scoring. The new small movie pane in the consolidated Arrange window is a great idea and full screen mode is just a couple of clicks away. To investigate the surround features I used Logic’s surround-animated component modeling synth, Sculpture, and other instruments in surround channels. I added a Sound Designer convolution reverb with one of the new surround impulses. Next, I picked a surround setting in the new Delay Designer and added Logic’s Surround Compressor with the “Atmospheric Master” preset in the master output.

The MultiMeter adds a surround signal viewer and a goniometric display to show coherence and phase relationships between stereo pairs. All together, it’s a powerful combination of tools for surround production. You can burn your surround mix to DVD-A format directly from Logic or bounce to PCM for Dolby Digital encoding with the Compressor utility.

In summary, LP8 packs a huge bang for the buck. Mature audio and MIDI tools along with the extensive loops, samples and software synthesizers make LP8 a must-have tool for rock, pop, urban and new age producers and a cornucopia for film, TV and game composers.

— Carlos Garza

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