With Logic Pro X, Apple has narrowed the gulf between GarageBand (famously friendly) and Logic Pro (famously not). But this isn’t Logic remade as a GarageBand Pro. Thankfully, all of Logic’s familiar features remain, and all that’s missing is support for 32-bit plugins.
The redesigned and simplified interface is more coherent, more welcoming and more GarageBand-y, and that’s no bad thing. It’s much nicer than before, and the dark shades are particularly helpful when your eyes are tired from a long session. However, many interface elements are bigger and it can be cluttered on smaller screens.
The improvements aren’t just cosmetic. Take the new Track Stacks, for example. You can combine multiple tracks as a ‘folder stack’, which you can collapse and quickly solo, mute or adjust the volume of all tracks simultaneously; or as a ‘summing stack’, which you can use to sub-mix multiple tracks by sending them all to an auxiliary track. Where summing stacks become really powerful is with software instruments. You can combine multiple instruments in a single stack and control them with a single MIDI keyboard. Smart Controls are another time saver. Instead of making you delve through potentially complicated plugin parameters, Smart Controls provide easy access to key adjustments.
There are new instruments including the excellent Retro Synth, plus a new Arpeggiator, a bass amp simulator, a redesigned sound library and new pedalboard effects. But our favourite new features are Flex Pitch, Logic Remote and Drummer. Flex Pitch is a Melodyne-style note fixer that can correct vocal fluffs and other monophonic sounds, and you can use it to change the notes altogether or create MIDI from your audio tracks. Logic Remote is a free app for iPad 2 onwards that you can use to control the transport and mixer, to tweak settings or to play Logic’s software instruments. And Drummer is just extraordinary.
The X-Y pad controls samples from 15 real drummers in a wide range of styles. Forget loops. This sounds like you have a real drummer living inside Logic, especially when you use the Follow feature and point it at one of your audio tracks. The playing sounds fantastically real, and the Drum Kit Designer lets you adjust every aspect of the kits.
Pro users feared a dumbed-down Logic Pro, but this is anything but. The new features should delight even the most cynical pros, while the friendlier face should make it less likely to frighten everybody else.
OS: OS X 10.8.4 or later
Requires: 4GB RAM, 5GB disk space (35GB for additional optional content)
Our fears were unfounded: this isn’t just the friendliest Logic yet. It’s a more powerful Logic too. Highly recommended.