Apple Logic Pro 9 Review

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Robert Hanson

PROFESSIONAL AUDIO PRODUCTION TOOLS NOW AVAILABLE AT THE MALL

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Logic now offers top-notch guitar sounds and amp emulations.

Logic now offers top-notch guitar sounds and amp emulations.

The evolution of Apple's professional media applications continues with the new Logic Studio. This upgrade brings the audio editing features to parity with competing pro-level DAWs while wooing guitarists with a robust collection of amp and stompbox emulations.

Logic Pro 9 is a part of the $499 Logic Studio bundle, which also includes a revamped MainStage 2 (reviewed on page 92), Soundtrack Pro 3 and the entire library of Apple JamPack content. Apple is extending the upgrade option back to registered Logic Big Box users.

Digging In

The application ships as multiple DVDs with the option of installing some bulkier items on separate drives or simply omitting them. When you first launch Logic 9, a slightly newer version of the plug-in Validator launches, scans the AU folder and verifies compatibility. In my rig, every plug-in (Native Instruments' Komplete 5, UAD-2, Arturia, etc.) I used with Logic 8 and OS Version 10.5.7 passed without a hiccup.

For test purposes, Apple sent a 3.06GHz MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, but I did most of my testing on a slower 2.8GHz MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive where the bulk of my plug-in collection resides. This release is end of the road for Apple PPC machines as Logic Pro 9 is officially only compatible with Intel-based Macs.

It Looks the Same, But Wait!

The look and feel of Logic is largely unchanged from V. 8. You can still choose to work with the single integrated workspace or toggle through the various Arrange, Mixer and Editor windows. If you're already familiar with the Warp functions in Ableton Live or Elastic Audio in Pro Tools, you'll be very much at ease with the new Flex Time. There are five modes for Flex Time, and each corresponds to the source material and/or intended results. The options include Slicing (where the audio is sliced at the transients but not compressed or expanded), Rhythmic, Monophonic, Polyphonic (a more refined and CPU-intensive method of editing chords and complex material), Tempophone (for sound design-type tasks in which granular artifacts are desired) and Speed (alters both tempo and pitch at the same time). For newbies, the overall implementation of Flex Time is so straightforward and intuitive that most people will be able to dive right in. (Be sure to view our interactive Flex Tool demo at mixonline.com.)

The Pedalboard plug-in offers Logic Studio’s effects in user-definable groups.

The Pedalboard plug-in offers Logic Studio’s effects in user-definable groups.

You can work with Flex Time in two ways: with the Flex tool in the Arrange pane or by activating the Flex View for more detailed edits. In both instances, the tools that come into play are the new Flex tool (found at the bottom of the Tools drop-down menu) and Marquee. To simply use the Flex tool in the Arrange pane (think of this as the “easy” view), simply select the desired Flex Time setting in the Region Parameter box in the upper-left corner of the Arrange window. Once selected, Logic will analyze the file, and you're off and running. The Flex tool lets you click and drag within an audio region and move transients at will. With the Marquee tool, you can grab an entire phrase that you'd like to keep intact and move it within the region; all time stretching and compression will happen on either side of the Marquee selection. All movements are governed by the global snap settings, which can range from bars down to samples. To quantize an audio region, select the desired grid resolution in the same Region Parameter box and Logic handles the work for you. The major limitation of using the Flex tool in the Arrange pane is that it is difficult to undo edits (save Command-Z) and perform more surgical fixes. Activating the Flex view, however, makes all of this a snap.

Within Flex view, you can view, edit and delete the actual Flex markers. Move Flex markers in either direction (again, governed by the global snap setting), and the corresponding audio regions turn orange or green to show time expansion and compression, respectively. Flex Time is a godsend for Logic users — what used to require hours of tedious slicing, time stretching and crossfading (or opening another application altogether) can now be accomplished on the fly.






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