If you followed my "Gear Geeking" columns in year 2007, you know the epic story of my move from Pro Tools HD to various native DAWs running on a souped-up Mac Pro, including Logic Pro 7. Well, soon after I'd given up on Logic 7 because of its meager audio-editing capabilities, Apple released Logic Studio, which includes Logic Pro 8, a major upgrade with not only a whole new look-and-feel, but substantially improved editing features too. Also included in the Studio bundle are MainStage (live performance host application), Soundtrack Pro 2 (audio post-production application), Studio Instruments (40 instrument plug-ins), Studio Effects (80 effect plug-ins), and Studio Sound Library (channel strip and plug-in settings, royalty-free Apple Loops, sound effects, music beds, EXS sampled instruments, impulse responses); but this review will focus solely on Logic Pro 8. I asked long-time contributor and Logic user Geoff Farina to give it a go. He submitted the following opinion, and my response follows. -AH
I first installed Logic on my Mac Classic II in the early '90s when it was still an obscure German MIDI sequencer. After fifteen years of upgrades, I can say that Logic has always met my home studio needs, if significantly less demanding than those of a pro studio. I stuck with Logic through the years as my friends were investing in expensive Pro Tools hardware, and the improved audio capabilities that came with Apple's acquisition brought vindication to we committed users. If Logic Pro 7 finally provided much of Pro Tools' power in a somewhat cryptic package, Logic Pro 8 makes this power more accessible to Mac and Pro Tools users alike.
Although installation was a breeze, there were a few surprises. The first was its sheer size, foreshadowed by a thick seven-DVD package for the Logic Studio bundle that looks more like the latest Beatles box set, complete with the Apple logo. It turns out that a "barebones" install requires about 7 GB of disk space, and a full install with the entire sample content requires a whopping 39 GB! On the bright side, Apple has done away with the irksome XSKey, and they don't require product registration before use.
Opening the program confirmed my fear that Apple has fully consumed my favorite German sequencer; "iLogic" is here at last. Logic 7's dark facade was replaced with OS X 10.4's familiar light-gray window style, and it was immediately clear that Apple has made every attempt to assimilate Logic into its "iWorld". Apple also took some cues from Pro Tools, and one could argue Apple is trying to woo both Mac and Pro Tools users more than they are trying to please existing Logic users, and this new iteration moves away from the customizable feel of earlier versions, at least on the surface. The problem is that most Logic geeks prefer to build their own interface and workflow; whereas Pro Tools tells you how to work, Logic asks you, and this has always been one of Logic's unique strengths.
Needless to say, I initially found Logic Pro 8's new Arrange window less useful than Logic 7's. I was first put off by an obtrusive toolbar across the top with giant 1" square buttons for "useful" functions. Do I really need a giant "Bounce" button at the top of the screen when I might bounce a mix once at the end of the session? Fortunately, this toolbar is customizable, but I turned it off completely. This still left a strip of blank space across the top of the window that would hold an entire track, as Logic Pro 8's new Arrange window is more of a meta-window that basically takes up space framing the windows that I actually need and duplicating the functionality of the Menu Bar. I was further
annoyed that I could not turn off the large Transport Bar that occupied a 1" tall strip along the entire bottom of the window, and I missed being able to drag a tiny, bare-bones Transport into the top left corner of Logic 7's Arrange window. One of my favorite Logic tricks is to open two linked Arrange windows, zoom deep into one of them, and use the other to navigate to the tiny region segments that I need to edit, much like a microfiche machine facilitates the quick navigation of hundreds of pages of newsprint. To do this in Logic 8 requires two honking Transport Bars to be open at once, wasting space and hindering editing. In Apple's defense, many of these interface changes are cosmetic, and Logic 8 is still incredibly flexible with enhanced Screen Sets and other customizable functionality that most power users couldn't live without, but the aforementioned interface issues will certainly vex longtime users.
If less useable, Logic Pro 8's Arrange window is more powerful and informative than ever. It now provides sample-accurate editing, graphical time-stretching of audio regions, easier track creation, enhanced Cycling and Transport functions, and a host of other powerful features. Logic 8's Arrange window also shows more detail than past versions, and despite the wasted space of superfluous menu bars and window borders, it's easier than ever to see what's happening. I was pleased to find little menu arrows on each region that I cycle-recorded providing quick access to every take, a more sensible method than Logic's old approach of automatically creating new tracks for each cycle, pushing other tracks and their associated regions off the bottom of the screen. I was also pleased to find a Pro Tools-like Waveform Zoom function, and the option to display time units across the bar ruler instead of bar numbers. These are all welcome changes that Logic users have wanted for a long time, and clearly Apple has been listening.
In use, Logic Pro 8 behaves much like past versions. With all the new power and interface changes, recording is much the same as in previous versions, and I had no problem going right to work on projects I had started in Logic Pro 7. Also, Logic's documentation has evolved far beyond the Ulysses-like tomes of the Emagic days, and it contains a clear table of name changes.
Although I will miss the cryptic, shadowy interface of the Logic of yore, Logic Pro 8 has plenty of flexibility that will fit most workflows and hardware setups, even if it comes in a more conventional and slightly more boring package. More importantly, Logic 8 is a significant and essential upgrade, adding much powerful functionality. For self-recording musicians like me, the added ease of dealing with multiple takes alone makes it worth the upgrade.
-Geoff Farina, www.geofffarina.com
Geoff may be a veteran Logic user, but I certainly am not. So when I saw the new GUI in Logic 8, I quickly embraced it, especially liking the all-in-one Arrange window. Instead of wrestling with a whole bunch of windows and dialogs (constantly switching between Edit and Mix windows in Pro Tools comes to mind), I can keep one main window open. Whenever I click on a track in the Arrange window, its channel strip appears in the Inspector pane on the left, along with a second channel strip that varies according to what I'm doing with the first strip; for example, if I add a send to the first channel strip, a strip with the send bus as its input appears. On the right side of the Arrange window is a tabbed pane for Media browsers and List editors. The bottom of the window holds the Editing pane for the Sample, Score, Piano Roll, and Hyper Editors; the Mixer can be displayed here as well. All of these panes can be opened or hidden as needed. I was also impressed with the ease of setup. Configuring audio and MIDI, creating and copying tracks, connecting external applications with ReWire, managing the Mixer-all of these take fewer steps and follow intuitive steps.
And of course, audio editing is completely revamped, bringing Logic Pro 8 closer in functionality to competing DAWs. You can finally perform sample-level edits across multiple tracks-no more "tick"-based moves or opening up a destructive waveform editor. Snap-to-transient is available via marquee selection-a little different from Pro Tools, but it works well. GUI-based time-stretching is integrated into the Arrange area, and if you don't like the built-in algorithm (it's nothing to write home about), iZotope Radius and Serato Pitch 'n Time drop right into the GUI. Granted, Logic 8's time-stretching isn't as freeform and natural as Ableton Live's, nor is it anywhere near as powerful as Pro Tool's Elastic Time, but it's still a welcome addition. And one of my favorite new workflows is Quick Swipe Comping, which allows you to record many takes on a single track and build a composite edit by clicking-and-dragging across the best portions of each take-similar to what Sonar has had for years. It can even remember multiple comps so you can quickly audition different edits. There's also full surround support (up to 7.1) throughout the whole application, and mouse tool selection/management has improved with additional options for right-click.
Moreover, as I've mentioned in previous issues, the sheer performance of Logic, especially with an Apogee Symphony system (Tape Op #59) on a Mac Pro, is flat-out stunning. I doubt any other native DAW can handle as many simultaneous tracks and plug-ins-with a 32-sample I/O buffer. Latency is a non-issue with Logic, and plug-in counts can be ridiculous.
But... there are significant bugs in this release. The worst is Undo/Redo functionality that breaks when you've got a lengthy (e.g. 45 minute long) project; Cmd-Z or Shift-Cmd-Z will oftentimes undo or redo an operation that was not the most recent. The workaround is to open Undo History and perform your backtracks there. Unfortunately, the Undo History window opens to the oldest undoable change instead of the most recent, forcing you to scroll every time you open it. And speaking of lengthy projects and scrolling, the numbers on Logic's ruler get chopped to bits when you jump-scroll horizontally through a long project. Also, as you zoom out, the scrollbar's thumb can grow to fill the whole trough, even though parts of the project are still off-screen (because there's a maximum zoom-out limit). When this happens, the only way to scroll horizontally is to use a mouse with a scroll ball or tilt wheel, or you can zoom in to reset the scrollbar. These are just a few of the fully repeatable bugs I've discovered. But, as with previous versions of Logic, there are workarounds, and I've found that seasoned Logic users are proud to know as many as they do.
Despite these bugs, I would still recommend Logic Pro 8 over previous versions, especially for its audio editing features and certainly if your projects aren't so lengthy that you experience these same bugs. I haven't even touched on the new instrument and sample-based production capabilities, nor have I described how tightly integrated all the Studio applications are. We'll have to save those discussions for a future issue. In the meantime, if you're already a Logic user, the low upgrade cost makes Logic Studio a no-brainer. Note that Logic Express 8 includes all the features of Logic Pro 8 except for surround, TDM/DAE, distributed audio processing, and high-end control surface support-an absolute steal at $199!
(Logic Studio $499 MSRP; $199 upgrade; www.apple.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.