Apple Logic Pro Review
Logic Pro is a professional audio software package from Apple. It offers sequencing, recording, mixing and mastering facilities. Logic is one of the most popular audio packages and is used in professional and home studios all around the world. At the time of writing, Logic Pro is available either as part of the ‘Logic Studio’ package, which comes on DVD and includes MainStage 2, Soundtrack Pro 3 and a large collection of instruments, effects, and audio loops, or on its own as a download from Apple’s App Store. Logic Pro is only available for Macs.
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Logic Pro Basics
Logic works in much the same way as other sequence-based recording programs. Tracks are displayed horizontally across an arrange screen. Audio and midi events are displayed as blocks, or ‘regions’, on each track, and can be dragged either forwards and backwards or onto other tracks. Clicking on a region opens an editor in which further adjustments to the region’s contents can be made.
Logic Channel Strips
To record audio into Logic, a channel strip needs to be created. This is just like a channel on a traditional mixing desk, with all the associated controls, such as EQ, effects sends, pan and fader. A channel strip is also where Logic’s amp simulators and effects are inserted. Channel strip settings can be saved, and a wide variety of presets is provided, including several for guitar, acoustic guitar and bass. Generally, these are very usable, and offer a quick way of finding a suitable guitar tone.
Channel strip settings can be changed even after a take has been recorded. Unless you record the affected sound (which is possible, and desirable in some circumstances), you are free to change, for example, the amp simulator that you were using when you recorded the take. This provides a wide degree of flexibility and allows experimentation with different sounds right up to the mixdown.
Logic Pro Amp Simulators
Logic Pro has two guitar amp simulators: ‘Amp Designer’ and the older ‘Guitar Amp Pro’. Both feature a variety of amp and speaker models, and even allow the microphone placement to be changed. Both simulators offer a wealth of realistic sounds. Whether or not they sound exactly like the real thing is always going to be up for debate – but for those with neither a warehouse full of vintage amps nor the time to spend miking them up, they are very useful addition.
Logic Pro Guitar Tuner
Logic has a software tuner that can be inserted into a channel strip. The tuner is easy to use and accurate, but does take up valuable screen space – it may be better to stick with a hardware tuner.
Logic Pro Pedalboard
As well as standard studio effects, such as reverb and delay, Logic Pro also includes a guitar pedalboard plug in. This allows custom pedalboards to be created, and provides over thirty vintage-style effects pedals to choose from. These include overdrives, wah-wahs, and choruses. Once the required pedals have been dragged onto the pedalboard, their order can be changed and volume and channel-splitters added. The controls of each of the virtual pedals can be assigned to midi, allowing real-time or programmable control.
In use, some of the pedals sound better than others, but generally they offer an accurate reproduction of the kind of units that they represent. Again, if the actual pedals are not available, this is the next best thing – and perhaps even better in terms of flexibility and ease of use.
The studio effects that are provided with Logic Pro are, by and large, very impressive. Unless you have access to very high-range reverbs and compressors there is genuinely little need to use additional outboard gear in a home studio, or even in a professional set up.
Recording And Editing
Alongside the guitar-specific elements of Logic Pro are a number of general features that make the life of the recording guitarist easier. These range from the ability to automate drop-ins and outs to a selection of automatic audio editing tools.
One of Logic’s most impressive features is its comping facility. ‘Comping’ is the process of editing down the best bits from multiple takes into a single part. Previously this was an involved and time-consuming job; Logic makes it considerably easier. Takes are combined into a ‘take folder’ and the required sections from each are selected by dragging the cursor over them. A crossfade is automatically inserted between each section and the folder can be flattened and merged to create the finished comp.
Audio Quantization – Flex Time
Quantization has long been used to fix timing problems in midi recordings. With its ‘Flex Time’ feature, Logic Pro enables audio recordings to be quantized too. This can be useful for takes that are played out of time and need tidying up. In use, Flex Time produces mixed results, and corrected parts can occasionally sound a little strange. This is fine if they are low down in the mix, but not so good for lead instruments. However, get to know its foibles and Flex Time can produce some good results.
Another way of correcting timing errors is to chop the audio regions up with the scissors tool and move the problem areas into place manually. Both techniques are non-destructive, so that if changes do not go as planned, the original takes can be restored.
Beloved of poor singers everywhere, pitch correction can also be used to correct guitar parts that are out of tune. Occasionally a note or phrase can stick out as being sharp or flat Rather than re-recording the part, pitch correction can be used to fix the problem.
Logic Pro is a big program and has far too many features to be adequately covered in a short review. In use, Logic Pro can at times be frustrating, and some aspects of the program can seem over-complicated. However, get to know it and it can become a very powerful tool: one which is likely to become central to the way you work.
Logic Pro has much to offer the recording guitarist: from its range of amp and effects simulators, to its time-saving audio manipulation tools. Even if you have a collection of boutique amps and a wide range of vintage stomp boxes to choose from, there are always occasions in which it is helpful to have a usable sound just a couple of mouse clicks away.
Non-destructive audio editing and multiple levels of undo make recording and mixing a faster and easier process – allowing you to spend more time creating music. Armed with Logic and a half-decent audio interface, a guitarist has all that is needed to create professional-quality recordings.
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For more information, see the Apple Store.