Hands-on with Logic Pro X 10.3

Macworld Australia Staff
1 December, 2017
View more articles fromthe author
AAA

Logic Pro X

Apple, www.apple.com

Pros 

attractive new interface and powerful new features; enormous variety of high-quality sounds and processing possibilities; iOS compatibility; massive array of royalty-free loops

Cons 

fairly steep learning curve – to be expected with such a powerful suite of professional sounds and tools. Video training highly recommended

$320

Reviews

I’ve just spent the past couple of weeks getting my head around Logic Pro X. It’s so packed with features that it is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the effort. Or it will be in the weeks and months to come. I dabbled with Logic when it first appeared some years ago but didn’t really get into any depth. For music creation and audio fixes I turned to Garage Band which, like most Apple software, can do a lot of neat stuff virtually straight out of the box. This is a good thing in one way, but the downside is I wasn’t really compelled to work through to the more advanced features. In hindsight a thorough understanding of Garage Band would have been a better grounding for getting my head around Logic Pro X.

Anyhow, a few days with training videos from lynda.com brought me up to speed. Logic 10.3 introduces a new sharper interface that looks stunning on my 5K Retina screen. Other new features include significant performance improvements and Touch Bar support if I really want to run Logic on a MacBook Pro. (I don’t.) Selection-based processing means I can tweak a particular portion of a track rather than applying effects to the whole track. This will be particularly useful in voice tracks. Track Alternatives lets me record multiple takes for comparison. iOS and Garage Band integration means I can download my Logic project from iCloud onto my iPad and run it in Garage Band (2.2 or later). The project appears in GB as a single track to which I can add other tracks if I need to and then upload. Back in Logic Pro the original tracks appear as before. Very cool. I suppose that this now officially positions Garage Band as Logic Pro Lite.

At the heart of Logic are the Apple Loops, software (MIDI) instruments and audio processing modules. The loops, and there are many thousands available, both built in and via optional download, are in three categories – MIDI, audio and Drummer. These are mostly short 1-to-4-bar sound clips in infinite varieties of musical styles and instruments from all around the world. I simply drag these in to the main workspace and assemble them quite quickly into a very professional arrangement. I can change the key or the tempo without any degradation of the sound. A further bonus is that these loops are royalty free for me to use in any way I wish. The MIDI loops, which are essentially series of instructions played by software instruments, are editable down to single notes which I can drag around in the Edit window.

The software instruments which are high-quality samples of the real thing are divided into categories – guitar, bass, piano, brass, woodwind and so on. I can take, for example, a MIDI guitar loop and get a keyboard, cello or any software instrument to play it. Some very interesting sounds to be made here!

The Drummer feature, which also appears in Garage Band, could easily be the subject of a review on its own. In short it’s a module that allows me to take drum tracks played by different drummers in a variety of styles and tweak them with almost endless variation in volume, complexity and feel. It all sounds incredibly real and a great way to get started on an arrangement.

I can record directly into a Logic audio track either from an external device – keyboard, microphone or guitar – or into a MIDI track directly from an external keyboard or even from my iMac keyboard. Once I have my tracks recorded, or constructed from Apple loops, I then start audio processing with a wide variety of modules to choose from. These include EQ, reverb, delay, modulation and filters. Not just one of each, but several to choose from. As a guitarist I particularly enjoy the Amp Designer. Here I have a long list of the most popular amps from vintage to heavy metal, all with fully adjustable controls exactly as on the real thing. I can also choose between a variety of speaker/cabinet configurations and recording microphones which I can position to suit. There is also a pedal board into which I drag combinations of over 30 effects pedals, again all fully adjustable. A nice touch is that each pedal has a rollover that explains how it works and which vintage unit it is based on.

These are just some of the features I have been investigating over the last week. My initial reaction is that Logic Pro X is complex but not necessarily complicated. Many of the features are hidden in tabs which helps to keep the main interface clean. By turning on the Quick Help feature I get little rollovers which explain what I’m looking at. I’ve been using this quite a bit to find my way around because there’s a lot to learn. However, it’s been most enjoyable experimenting with some of the infinite possibilities that Logic Pro X offers. I’m really looking forward to delving further beneath the surface and will report back in a later review. I’m especially keen to get into Logic Remote which lets me run the whole show from my iPad.

Macworld Australia‘s buying advice: At $320 Logic Pro X is a serious investment but considerably more affordable than similar high-end audio software.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us