For post-production, movie and online game composers, and home-studio musicians alike, Logic Professional X ($199.99) continues to set the bar for pro-level audio enhancing at a cut price worth. The most recent improve, to model 10.three, comprises one other spherical of helpful upgrades, and the replace is free to present Professional X house owners. The bundle places much more strain on its well-established digital audio workstation, or DAW, opponents, a lot of which have moved to subscription-based pricing that make them dearer to purchase and preserve over the long run. Except you want Avid Professional Instruments for compatibility with different studios, or just since you’re extra acquainted with it, Logic Professional stays our favourite mainstream DAW and a transparent Editors’ Selection.
Setup, Set up, and Person Interface
To get began with Logic Professional X 10.three, you may want a latest Mac working OS X v10.11 (El Capitan) or later, with not less than 4GB RAM and 6GB of free house for the bottom program. To put in all the pieces, together with the entire packaged synths, devices, loops, and results, you may want 57GB free. As all the time, Logic Professional X does not require or software program copy safety; so long as you are logged into the Apple Retailer together with your account, you may obtain, set up, and run it seamlessly.
For this evaluate, I examined Logic Professional X 10.three on two machines: a 2013 MacBook Air with the Core i7 improve, a 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM working macOS Sierra 10.12.2; and a quad-core i7 2012 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD working OS X El Capitan 10.11.6. I examined Logic Professional X 10.three with each a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 audio interface and every Mac’s built-in audio, and as anticipated, I bumped into no issues. In actual fact, I did not run into any bugs in any respect; this can be essentially the most secure model of Logic Professional X I’ve examined in years.
A few level updates (now at 10.three.2) have since added three new EXS24-based percussionists to the Drummer instrument for pop, songwriter, and latin beats; the power to transpose or fine-tune the pitch of audio areas; some minor enhancements to Alchemy and the Arpeggiator plug-in; and a few efficiency and stability enhancements throughout the board.
Apple closely redesigned the interface for the Professional X launch again in 2013; a lot of the enhancements have been welcome, however the colour scheme wasn’t. It took on a a lot darker tone that works nicely for video enhancing in a darkish room, however not essentially for audio enhancing. Apple has lightened issues up a bit this time round. It is nonetheless not as silvery-bright as Logic Professional 9 was. Extra considerably, the UI parts and fonts have obtained a flatter, macOS Sierra-like makeover, with an easier, cleaner design that is simpler on the eyes. The transport numerals get a thinner, sharper font as nicely. The UI itself stays nearly totally the identical, so there’s nothing new to study; it is only a bit cleaner and extra enticing all through.
Regardless of its immense energy, Logic stays a easy program to start out utilizing, as a result of the primary display screen can embrace all the pieces you want from begin to end—relying on the way you populate it, after all. Fundamental tracks can be found in a number of varieties: audio, for recording dwell devices; MIDI, for recording MIDI information from a keyboard, digital drum set, or different enter gadget; and instrument, which mix the 2 to be used with digital synthesizers and different plug-in devices.
The primary view does not see a lot change in 10.three. The transport is positioned on the prime of the display screen and away from any keyboards, mixing surfaces, or different issues you’ll have sitting on the backside of the monitor and blocking a part of the view. The Library comprises all accessible media content material; it is on the left and simply collapsible. The highest proper portion of the display screen comprises the organize window, which is the place you do most of your composing and enhancing. Every observe within the organize window has quantity and pan controls.
Under that could be a multi-mode window that may show the mixer, a piano roll, a rating editor, or a pattern editor. To the left, a observe inspector window exhibits the mixer channel strip for the person observe, plus the observe’s output bus—be it the grasp stereo or 5.1 encompass bus, or an aux. The fitting aspect pops up a lot of home windows that cowl the tempo and time signature of your venture, in addition to the present MIDI observe’s occasion record, which when mixed with the piano roll or rating editor, makes it easy to edit your tracks. The rating editor nonetheless is not fairly as succesful as Finale, but it surely actually does the job for songwriters or orchestral arranging in a pinch.
Contact Bar and Observe Alternate options
A number of the largest information with the 10.three replace is full-fledged help for the Contact Bar on the latest MacBook Professional lineup launched in October 2016. It might probably present a timeline view with acceptable area colours, observe controls, Sensible Controls on a track-by-track and even plug-in foundation (equivalent to compressor or EQ controls, or electrical piano distortion). Faucet on a knob, and you may slide a fader proper or left to alter its worth, which is smart given the thinness of the Contact Bar; you would not wish to try to really tweak a knob that small in a round method.
As well as, the Contact Bar helps tons of of keyboard shortcuts, together with custom-made units, and you need to use the Contact Bar to carry out with small drum pads, piano keyboard scales, and even map MIDI steady controllers to a slider for third-party plug-ins that use the mod wheel for expression, like Garritan Private Orchestra or Spectrasonics Omnisphere. The Contact Bar enhancements are admittedly tempting sufficient to think about upgrading to one of many newest MacBook Professionals, and together with Logic Distant on an iPad, may additional cut back the necessity for an costly transport and mixing controller.
Enhancing and comping tracks will get a lift due to a brand new Observe Alternate options function, which is analogous to a Professional Instruments Playlist. It does what it says on the tin; it allows you to create different variations of a observe after which audition and change between edits, takes, or areas. It is along with Take Folders, and as such provides extra flexibility when comping a lead vocal or a guitar solo. It’s also possible to destructively render picks of a area now; say you have discovered a mix of results you want, and know you wish to preserve it; you may print it immediately, only for that area, after which get again to work.
Recording and Digital Devices
Apple hasn’t modified Logic Professional X’s built-in sound set a lot in 10.three, however with a number of exceptions, you could possibly argue it did not have to. There are over 2,700 instrument and impact patches, together with 750 sampled devices, plus 5,600 downloadable loops. Many of the devices are contained in a neat Library drawer that pack the instrument plug-in and separate results already arrange, which makes laying down new tracks a cinch. However for our functions, let’s drill all the way down to the precise plug-ins accessible.
EXS24 continues to be the workhorse sampler it has been for over a decade, and supplies the core workstation-style pattern set, together with drum kits and pianos. Logic’s venerable E-series plug-ins (equivalent to ES1, ES2, ES P, the EVP88 electrical piano and so forth) present loads of synthesizer and keyboard sounds, though many of those sound a bit skinny when stacked towards right now’s prime plug-ins. That does not matter, since you additionally get Retro Synth, which supplies fat-sounding imitations of subtractive, FM, and wavetable-based primarily based classic synths, and you may even drag any waveform into the wavetable module; the plug-in will robotically search for pitched data and remodel it right into a playable digital instrument. You’ll be able to stack as much as eight voices—and also you thought your Roland JUNO-106’s Unison mode sounded thick!
The star of the present is now Alchemy, a full-blown additive, spectral, and granular synthesizer initially from Camel Audio that Apple added again within the Logic Professional X 10.2 launch. I have been which means to purchase a duplicate of that synth for years to start with; it used to value a number of hundred . Apple redesigned the interface, reworked the filters for a fatter analog-type sound, and added help for importing EXS24 devices. Lastly, a separate classic keyboard and organ assortment contains such niceties as B3-style drawbars, a vastly configurable Leslie simulator, and a suitcase-style electrical piano. There are additionally loads of guitar and bass amp simulators and results included as nicely.
I’ve all the time been a fan of third-party drum plug-ins like Superior Drummer and EZdrummer, but it surely’s powerful to argue with the one constructed into Logic Professional X. Drummer is an artificially clever session participant—considered one of 28, every with completely different types, personalities, and drum kits for a particular groove. You’ll be able to modify the frequency of fills, whether or not they’re utilizing the toms or hi-hats extra in a given part, and even the frequency of ghost notes and whether or not they’re dashing the beat (a la Stewart Copeland) or stress-free the groove (a la John Bonham). Drummer can observe different tracks for inspiration; for instance, the bass participant can set the groove for a efficiency, and Drummer will take cues from the bass observe to determine the place to lock within the kick drum.
You do not have to make use of Drummer for auto-generated grooves, although; for those who’re like me, you may wish to program your individual grooves. And for that, it sounds nice. The Producer Kits embrace excellent-sounding, multi-channel mixes achieved by legendary engineer Bob Clearmountain—full with EQ, compression, and extra processing and routing—and you may see the entire settings to study what he did with the inventory Logic plug-ins. Drummer may also do digital music; you may dial up any variety of types and kits, from home and retro to hip hop and electro pop. The interface modifications, when acceptable, to one thing that fashions a drum machine or Akai MPC-style unit. That stated, most of the acoustic drum kits sound considerably related, with low tom tuning, extremely compressed cymbals, and deeper sounds; there are few funk, crisp heavy steel, or jazz sounds on provide, although after all you will get there with some tuning.
Third-party plug-in help stays extraordinarily strong, and you may manage your favourite plug-ins into folders. In testing, I had no issues opening up and utilizing main plug-ins I personal like Spectrasonics Ambiance and a sequence of East West Play-compatible orchestral and world-instrument libraries, and mastering tracks with Izotope Ozone labored precisely as earlier than.
Mixing and Results
Apple spent loads of time catering to its higher-end clients this time round. For starters, the summing engine has been upgraded from 32-bit (already pristine, with tons of headroom) to 64-bit. Most working studios and bed room producers will not hear a distinction. However for those who’ve bought super-large tasks with tons of tracks and higher-end recording gear and studio displays, this might matter. The extra plug-ins you stack, the extra you may hear a distinction. There at the moment are 192 busses accessible as an alternative of 64, and there is lastly a real stereo panning choice that permits you to modify the person left and proper ranges as an alternative of simply attenuating both left or proper sign.
The primary combine console provides massive faders, pan and different observe controls, and as many inserts and sends as you want—as soon as once more, with a flatter, cleaner, macOS-Sierra-style look. There are welcome analog-style VCA faders accessible. Instrument tracks preserve all the pieces neat and tidy, although most sequencers now provide some type of that, in lieu of messy audio + MIDI observe mixtures. On the prime of every channel strip, the built-in console EQ actually simply pops up the EQ plug-in, which provides eight bands, plus configurable Q settings and customizable low-pass and high-pass filters. It provides sufficient musicality for rounding out the high-end of an electrical bass or tightening up the growth of a loosely tuned kick drum.
As earlier than, you may write automation to areas, which makes it a lot less complicated to maneuver round and organize your venture with out destroying recorded fader and knob actions. There are Relative and Trim modes for adjusting present automation information; you need to use them to journey a fader and easy out an edit. Area Acquire is comparable Clip Acquire, considered one of my favourite options in Professional Instruments; it makes it straightforward to shortly modify a area that for no matter purpose is recorded at a special stage, with out having to resort to inserting a plug-in or a harmful edit. Fades are generated in actual time, fairly than saved as separate audio information together with your venture, which tremendously simplifies file administration. It’s also possible to lastly apply fades to a number of areas concurrently—a single change that may make sound design or observe enhancing a lot sooner.
Flex Pitch and Flex Time make fast work of tuning vocals and fixing errors in recorded audio tracks. Flex Pitch particularly is a superb freebie for those who’re used to working with a completely separate app (like Melodyne) or needing to price range for one. I’ve used it extensively by this level, and with cautious edits, I discover it to be as clear as you could possibly probably need, and I like not having to export and re-import tuned vocals every time.
Logic’s results plug-ins come alive within the compressor and reverb division. The compressors particularly shine, with their Platinum (clear strong state) and Opto (tube-like) modes, which behave otherwise and supply precisely the form of heat and crunch you’d anticipate from precise classic . There is a beautiful scalable (to 5K Retina iMac ranges) paneled interface for every of the modes, together with a dBx 160 emulation referred to as Basic VCA. In all, there are over four,500 presets accessible throughout the assorted 80 bundled plug-in results, plus roughly 1,000 sampled convolution reverb areas in House Designer. Now you can side-chain a software program instrument in addition to a compressor. It is powerful to think about a mixing state of affairs these instruments cannot cowl.
Sadly, the assorted latest UI updates nonetheless have not made it to a few of Logic’s different long-running core plug-ins. Pop up an present impact and even instrument, and you may see the identical previous interface you have seen for over a decade—full with now positively tiny controls (there is a pixel-quadrupled view, though it appears to be like blocky). It is about time Apple went by and refreshed the cluttered UIs for your complete plug-in lineup, now that we’re all working 1080p and even Retina-class shows. EXS24 particularly has wanted an replace for years; whereas it is optimized for taking part in tons of of voices concurrently on a contemporary Mac working inside Logic Professional X, it may use a giant UI refresh, post-Kontakt 5 and MachFive three (which, admittedly, value tons of of every, whereas EXS24 is free with Logic). The identical goes for the surprisingly highly effective ES2 and House Designer.
GarageBand, Import/Export, and Logic Distant
Over on iOS, in tandem with the Logic Professional X 10.three replace, GarageBand for iOS now shares the identical underlying engine as Logic. It helps 32 tracks now, and comes with 12 Logic results, together with a visible EQ and compressor on each channel plus 4 extra plug-in slots. It even comes with a stripped-down model of Alchemy, together with 150 patches. New to each GarageBand and Logic, now you can save a venture in Logic in an iCloud/GarageBand –appropriate model that sums all of the tracks collectively as a single stereo reference observe. Then you may load that on GarageBand for iOS with all tempo, key, meter, and different data intact, add as much as 31 extra tracks, after which deliver the entire shebang again into Logic with the unique Logic tracks expanded and the brand new GarageBand tracks additionally added individually.
It’s also possible to import and export XML for scoring in Ultimate Minimize Professional, and export your tasks direct to SoundCloud—the times of blending all the way down to a CD, then determining how one can duplicate it, encode it to MP3, put it on-line, and many others. are lengthy gone. Logic Professional X 10.three nonetheless opens any venture from Logic 5 or later, although I would not make any guarantees about previous third-party plug-in help for those who by no means bought round to printing straight audio tracks as backup!
In case you’ve bought an iPad, the Logic Distant app turns your pill right into a distant management for all of Logic Professional X’s main features. For instance, you may report tracks with on-screen keyboards, guitar fretboards, or different sensible composition instruments pulled straight from GarageBand on the iPad. You may make fader strikes and management the transport as nicely, after all. However what’s most fascinating is that the iPad turns into the entrance finish for Logic Professional X, if you need it to be. You’ll be able to management your whole Logic Professional X-based studio from the sofa, and never simply Logic itself; Plug-In View allows you to entry third-party AU plug-ins proper from the iPad.
Nonetheless the Logical Selection
There are tons of of different options I merely did not have the room for, a lot of which have been with this system for years. With the newest replace, Apple retains Logic Professional on the forefront of the DAW market. Any quibbles we’ve got with this system—and a few are to be anticipated, given the sheer breadth and depth of what Logic Professional provides—pale compared to its virtues. And as is increasingly the case today, you do not want a desktop machine for skilled work. Add Logic Professional X 10.three, a USB MIDI keyboard, and a pair of headphones to a MacBook Air or MacBook Professional—plus an audio interface just like the splendidly designed (and really Logic-friendly) Apogee Duet, and a few microphones for those who’re recording dwell devices—and you have a transportable music studio that was merely not possible on this scale even just some years in the past, not to mention utilizing the identical software program the professionals use frequently.
The competitors is nicely established and fierce, however a lot of it prices extra. Avid Professional Instruments, MOTU Digital Performer, Cakewalk SONAR Producer, and Steinberg Cubase—what was thought of the opposite 4 main established DAWs years in the past which are nonetheless round right now—all stay tons of of dearer than Logic, and require both copy safety, subscription or membership charges for help, or some mixture of these. Maybe essentially the most compelling dearer DAW is Ableton Stay, which instructions a rabid following for its distinctive composition and dwell performance-oriented UI. On the decrease finish, Logic does see some stronger competitors from PreSonus Studio One, the utilitarian-but-bargain-priced Cockos Reaper, and long-standing electronic-dance-music favorites FL Studio and Motive. (Keep tuned for extra evaluations!)
Logic has been round for a number of a long time now, and by this level it is bought some severe celeb cred; most just lately, Adele’s Hi there was recorded in Logic Professional, together with the rating of the Academy Award-winning La La Land. Many industrial studios within the US stay dedicated to Avid’s Professional Instruments. But it surely’s getting harder and harder to justify the prices, given how succesful Logic Professional X has turn into, particularly when coupled with high-end Apogee . The necessity for outboard processing gear (as you’d discover with Professional Instruments HDX) is principally gone aside from absolutely the largest of tasks. And now Professional Instruments has a month-to-month subscription price, which it did not the final time we examined it at PCMag a number of years in the past.
PCMag awards Logic Professional X a uncommon five-star ranking—not as a result of it is good, however fairly it is an impressive software program product and an incredible worth at simply $199.99. If in case you have a Mac and have not selected a correct songwriting, recording, or mixing program but, or for those who’re aching to improve from an earlier model of Logic and even GarageBand (venture information from which, by the way, nonetheless open seamlessly in Logic), Logic Professional X 10.three is a superb wager—and our Editors’ Selection for digital audio workstations.