Apple Logic Studio Technology SpotlightA BIG DAW BUNDLE GETS EVEN BIGGER 9/01/2009 8:00 AM Eastern
On September 12, 2007, Apple unveiled the first version of Logic Studio software and it was an immediate success. The product combined the power of its Logic Pro DAW/MIDI platform with the MainStage live performance app, Soundtrack 2 audio post software, 80 studio effects plug-ins, 40 virtual studio instruments, the Studio Sound Library (18,000 loops, 5,000 SFX) and production utilities including WaveBurner CD mastering, Compressor 3 surround encoding and more. Meanwhile, its $499 pricing turned a lot of heads and brought converts into the Logic fold.
It was a tough act to follow, but now, two years later, Apple is shipping the next version of its Logic Studio bundle with major upgrades to Logic Pro and MainStage, and more than 200 new features. It's a lot to go through, but let's touch on some highlights.
The star of the show is Logic Pro 9. Its new Amp Designer and Pedalboard guitar-sound models offer a quantum leap beyond the previous Guitar Amp Pro plug-ins, with 25 vintage and modern amp head re-creations, 25 speaker cabinets (with modeled mic placements positioned in 3-D space) and a selection of 30 virtual stompbox pedals — overdrive, distortion, fuzz, delay, chorus, flange, phaser, tremolo, treble boost, wah, etc. These two plugs alone are worth the upgrade investment, but there's more.
A new Flex Time toolset lets Logic users easily manipulate the timing and tempo of audio tracks for tighter performances, whether locking an entire performance to a grid or simply aligning a few bars of bass guitar to a kick track. Alternatively, you can fill an edit gap that results from removing a breath between vocal phrases simply by selecting and dragging the previous note to meet the next phrase. You can use varispeed on projects or segments for tape-style accelerando effects or to simulate the sound of record turntable-style speed-up/slow-downs.
Also, the Selective Track tool allows merging tracks (or takes) between different Logic projects and precisely matching them, even if they were cut at different tempos. And with a few clicks, the new Drum Replacer function can replace (or create a doubled track) with triggered samples to deal with weak-sounding or thin drum tracks.
The Quick Swipe Comping feature in the original Logic Studio let users easily build flawless vocal/solo composite performance tracks. The new version retains this functionality while adding the ability to access edit tools — such as cut, copy, paste, crossfade, etc. — without leaving the comping environment. And the Edit Groups function can sync selections across related tracks, such as multiple channels of drums or multi-miked vocal ensembles.
After the first version of the MainStage live performance application — with its brilliant implementation of intelligent keyboard splits — we figured Apple had hit the ceiling, but this new version goes way over the top. The just-added Playback and Loopback plug-ins in MainStage 2 provide the ability to trigger backing tracks, while creative, real-time loop recording adds a versatile performance tool onstage; plus, it's a great idea generator for developing recording ideas. Paired with Apogee's (www.apogeedigital.com) slick new $395 GiO footswitch controller/interface, which has presets written for MainStage, you get foot control over transport functions, punch-in, looping and Pedalboard effects.
Also in the Logic Studio bundle is the multitrack post-production DAW Soundtrack Pro 3, expanded with extra features such as Voice Level Match for consistent volume between multiple track/takes, an Advanced Time Stretch function and increased integration between Final Cut Pro and Logic users, along with the Compressor 3.5 app for encoding in a variety of formats. And the WaveBurner CD mastering/authoring package has been enhanced with graphic parameter automation and real-time graphic visualization of edits, including region and parameter changes.
A Mac Intel machine is required to run all applications. Not so good if you have a G5, but not so bad if this is the excuse you've been waiting for to upgrade your rig. You'll also need Leopard OS 10.5.7 or higher. What's the good news? Retail is $499, with $199 upgrades to owners of Logic Studio or Logic Pro and $299 upgrades to Logic Express users.
We'll present comprehensive reviews of the entire package in the October issues of Mix and EM, but in the meantime, more info is available at www.apple.com/logicstudio.