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Apple threw a fastball to the chin of third-party software publishers when it introduced the Logic Studio bundle a few years ago. This pro-level music-creation package offers a be-all/end-all combination of MIDI and audio recording tools, with a cool side helping of MainStage, which brings Logic to live performances. Our last review of Logic Studio pointed out that the guitar-processing capabilities were a bit on the weak side, but Apple has made improvements in the newest incarnation of Logic Studio. The latest package includes new features that immediately made our “must-have” list, and our guitar fetish has been amply satiated with rather stunning new amp and effects emulations.
Despite plenty of new features and tweaks, Logic’s look and feel largely remain intact. Perhaps the most significant addition is the Flex architecture. The Flex editing tool allows you to instantly grab a part of a sound at the beginning of its appearance and drag it backward or forward in the timeline, all with extremely smooth--in fact, almost completely transparent--time and pitch shifting, perfectly filling out the new duration. There are also new modes specifically tailored to deal with monophonic sounds (such as lead vocals), polyphonic audio (think guitar or piano chords), and rhythmic tracks (drums, percussion). For many existing Logic fans, this feature alone will likely sell them on the upgrade.
Logic Studio is a very strong update to this killer suite--and easily the best full-featured digital audio recording solution for the Mac. At $499, it's a truly incredible value.
The extensive amp and effect pedals available in Logic Studio are pleasing to both eyes and ears.
Another instance where Flex shines is in its ability to slow down or speed up the playback of your entire composition. This is perfect for fitting a composition to a specific set time or for adding complicated track overdubs--say, a super shreddy guitar solo--at a slower speed and then matching it with the rest of the track without altering the pitch. Also, the new audio quantization feature helps lock sampled audio up to the beat, a long overdue component.
Guitar heroes will go gaga over the new Amp Designer and Pedalboard features. Built in are 25 classic guitar amps, their corresponding speaker cabinets, and 30 pedals representing a dazzling array of fuzzboxes, delays, modulation effects, and some other rather esoteric offerings. The Roswell Ringer, for example, is a great ring modulator that morphs any guitar into a crying alien pet. Right out of the box, the built-in effects offer an awesome array of sonic possibilities. Routing and control of the effects is totally flexible, and they sound darned good. You can even choose from three microphone types and move them around in front of the virtual cabinet--perfect for dialing in just the right amount of “air” around your guitar tone.
The MainStage app offers full audio playback of existing audio recordings as backing tracks, a critical addition for solo players looking to fill out their live sound without the annoying chore of hiring (and paying) backing musicians. And we adore the new Loopback feature, which lets you build real-time looped sequences. It’s another great tool for performing musicians.
Just be aware that all these awesome tools come at a dear price, and we’re not talking about mucho dinero. Installing the full Logic Studio suite consumes over 38GB of disk space, which we found to be a bit overwhelming (the core installation is just around 9GB). Apple really needs to provide some more straightforward library and resource file location flexibility at install time, especially for folks with laptops chock full of apps and existing media.