Logic Pro X: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

By • July 24, 2013

ALERT:
This is edited from the original column as Apple has already released a 10.0.1 that fixed some of the issues I wrote about.

Logic Pro has been one of the most widely used DAWs for film and television composers for many years now. Logic was originally created by a German company, Emagic. Apple eventually bought the company. It is however, still designed by the same core group of software engineers, plus others who have joined the team.

For years before the Apple purchase, it was considered by many to be the DAW that was the one that introduced new ground breaking features before others, sometimes seemingly at the expense of more basic stuff.

As a loving user since 1.0, I used to joke that Emagic’s motto was, “The impossible we do easily. The basic will take a little longer.”

Since Apple bought Logic, this has been less true. Apple’s focus has seemed to be more on having the developers spend time making it more new-user friendly, more like other Apple apps, and also, far more affordable. Compare its present $199 price, including more and arguably better content, to its competitors.

In short, it has been an increasingly better bargain. But there has been the perception that in certain areas, Logic Pro had fallen behind and needed to catch up and I don’t think that perception entirely unfair. And some yearn for the days when Logic Pro was a leader, not needing to play catch up.

Four years after LP 9, Logic Pro X has now been released. Is it evolutionary or revolutionary? Mostly the former, but some of the latter. I have only been exploring it for a few days as I write this, but here is my overview.


THE GOOD:

As I look back on my wish list, I had the following:

Ability to move more than one track at a time in the
Track List. Done.

Melodyne-ish pitch control. Done, with Flex Pitch.

Better Audio to MIDI. Done.

Better core distribution. Done.

Track based folders. Done.

Better multi-timbral support. Not really.

Autosave. Done.

MIDI plug-ins, like an arpeggiator. Done.

Score Editor development again. Done, but I want more.

MIDI Scripting. Done.

Now for all the really cool things that were not on my list that Apple has done.

A newer, more modern, more flexible GUI.

Track Stacks. Not only did it fulfill my wish for track -based folders, it is also a quick way to build complex combos of software instruments. Absolutely brilliant IMHO.

Better looking Mixer.

The Arrangement Global Track. This probably more useful for songwriters than picture composers, but still terrific. (Those of you who like me started back with C-Lab Atari Notator, Logic’s progenitor, will remember a similar feature to this.)

Drummer and Drum Kit Designer are amazing and integrate with the Arrangement Track.

Bass Amp Designer. Bye-bye to my Amplitube B 15 emu.

Better sounding and looking versions of the EVB3 (with a better Leslie), EVD6, and EVP 88, all renamed.

A Retro Synth and more Pedalboard stompboxes.

Project Alternatives – Now I no longer have to keep saving under different version names.

Smart Controls – makes it easy to custom assign big knob controls for plug-in manipulation.

Logic Remote – iPad app to control Logic Pro X.

Lots of additional content.

I am sure there is more, but this is just some of what I have uncovered so far.


THE BAD:

Not all change is progress and some of the changes are not necessarily for the better in my opinion.

Lots of things renamed, mostly for Garageband compatibility. Understandable, but a pain for long term users who have now had this happen a couple of times.

The GUI is nice but awfully dark, with no way to modify it. Adding custom icons, GUIs, etc. has been made far more difficult.

Switching an audio track from mono to stereo or vice-versa now requires a pull-down menu rather than simply clicking on a circle on the Channel Strip.

No longer possible to output movie playback to a Firewire device.

No links for the Piano Roll editor to toggle on/off, so no way to ensure that you continue to view the contents of a given region when you switch to another.

Trying to move things around in the Environment is now more…err… challenging. Frequently, groups of channel strips simply won’t move when you drag them to where you are trying to drag them.


THE UGLY:

Downloading all the content was a hellacious three day trip for me. My guess is that the original install of Logic Pro X was flawed. But every time I opened Logic, it was telling me that it was missing content and did I want to download it now, and it looked like it was downloading the same content, although it may not have been. When I would open the Download Additional Content window, more times than not it would tell me something “the content server is unreachable try checking the network connection” but I was on the web already and it was working fine.

When it did open, it would show everything installed and when I selected “select unfinished” it selected nothing. But then I would quit Logic Pro X and re-open it and there would be the missing constant alert :(

I finally have it sorted out thanks to a guy who showed me how to download the links in Firefox add on “Down Em All” but this experience was not good for my blood pressure.

(This has reportedly been fixed with the 10.0.1 update.)

Also, apparently the content is now installed or at least also shows up in User > Music > Audio Apps, presumably so that Logic, Mainstage and GarageBand all can use it and because Mountain Lion hides the User Library by default. However, if you delete content from your User Library > Application Support > Logic folder, it also deletes it here, as apparently it is hard-linked!

In all candor I am still not sure how this works.

Finally, the way numerous tasks are achieved has been changed and there is no official documentation. A simple Read Me First text file for updaters would save people a lot of pain, time, and confusion.

So, all that said, what do I think? I love it, love it, love it. I would say that 70% of what I badly wanted has been added and a bunch of stuff that I did not know I wanted but am happy to have.

Are there bugs? Of course, it is a 1.0 release. The good news is that not only does it not overwrite Logic Pro 9, it creates separate preferences for Logic Pro X and you can even have both Logic Pro X and Logic Pro 9 open at the same time.

Kudos to Apple for this terrific update. I am now really curious to see what change OSX Mavericks has on physical and virtual memory usage, as it is an area where in my opinion, OSX is not nearly as efficient as Windows 7. I see a column on this in my future. :)

Comments

By Gary Atkins on July 24th, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Jay as always your review covers the salient points and give the user what he needs to know.

Thanks

By TT on July 24th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

good review man – looking forward to picking this up, as well as your Mavericks article. thx.

By desmond on July 25th, 2013 at 6:00 am

> The GUI is nice but awfully dark, with no way to modify it.
> Adding custom icons, GUIs, etc. has been made far more difficult.

Custom icons is harder, controlling the look of the GUI is *far* easier with one file specifying most of the colours schemes.

> Switching an audio track from mono to stereo or vice-versa now requires a
> pull-down menu rather than simply clicking on a circle on the Channel Strip.

Don’t know where you got this from? Works as before, the channel strip format button has just been moved up. There is a menu alongside it, but you can just click the button as before…

Moving stuff in the environment is weird because the display adapts to the size, which when you start seems like a bug. It is not once you realise what’s going on, but it’s not intuitive…

By Joe S on July 25th, 2013 at 4:41 pm

To change a track between mono and stereo is still one button push. They just moved it.

Look at the little symbol next to the track name in the input selection button in the inspector.

By Dana Kyle on July 26th, 2013 at 1:08 am

I’d love to hear you elaborate on “Better multi-timbral support. Not really.” Especially VEPro and Logic Pro X.

By nudsko on July 29th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hi, thanks for a really useful review.

I do have one question tho.
What does it mean by “No longer possible to output movie playback to a Firewire device”?

Because I myself using logic 9 as the main DAW for music score for adverts.
If the VDO output can not be play on my firewire soundcard then I have a problem as if I want to upgrade to Logic pro X.

I do also have a problem with extracting file from .OMF, which supposed to be universal for all DAWs (as I understand) but in Logic 9 seems to have a problem with it a lot. If you have a way to give them this massage, I would be thankful.

By Jay Asher on August 9th, 2013 at 6:18 am

@ Gary and TT, thanks for the kind words.

@ Desmond, yes, but keeping the color scheme and simply lightening it without screwing with your monitor? If you know an easy way, please let me know.

@ Desmond and Joe re: mono to stereo output, so I have learned since. Funny, when I wrote the article I asked one of the members of the development team about it and he did not tell me that :)

@ Dana. Initially I thought I was seeing better spreading through the core on multi-timbral instances that were not in Live mode, now I am not so sure that it has actually changed. So VEPro is still essential for big orchestral simulation IMHO. However, the Track Stacks folders is a nice way to control these tracks thatI am just starting to explore.

@ Nudsko, yes if you re using i.e. a Canopus Firewire device to output your video to another monitor, you can no longer do that with LP X. I do not use OMF much but as far as I know, there really is not generally problem with it in either LP 9 or LP X , though YMMV.

By Mark on August 16th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Jay – nice review. I’ve just downloaded LPX and have been having some fun with it. It DOES feel a bit like GarageBand Pro to me, but that might just be the GUI. I was excited at the thought of the iPad remote, but it still doesn’t beat the MCU – so here’s hoping Apple adopts touch screens (Slate Raven is kinda pricey.)

I have to agree with Nudsko re: OMF problems. I work in LP9, but deliver stems in ProTools, and I have to say, OMF handling in Logic is NOT particularly easy. I’ve tried for years and have had several “experts” in. Spotty, to say the least.

And I got VERY excited when you alluded to better core distribution. After our phone call, I tried VEP — great program, but until it handles mix automation, I think I’m sticking with Logic for the mix. Freezing tracks and bouncing in place will have to do for now for the big orchestral stuff.

By SJCONGO on August 19th, 2013 at 10:30 am

The best DAW ever made on planet earth… So quick and most important of all DAWs: the fun factor…
Music is a fun thing and also the DAW for producing that music… With Logic Pro X will have lots of fun and great times…

By Paul on September 9th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

In Logic Pro X, how do you export to OMF there doesn’t seem to be an option there

By Jay Asher on September 11th, 2013 at 6:26 am

They took it out in favor of AAF.

By carlo salcedo on October 25th, 2013 at 4:45 am

It’s definitely gonna be LPX for me this Christmas. I’ll wait for haswell/mevericks on Mini Mac.

By Seth Mosley on November 18th, 2013 at 7:12 am

Anyone else having bugs with the “bounce in place” feature? works sometimes – but got a few times where it wouldn’t let me do it with a software instrument (which is the whole point of it in the first place).

As far as automation, wonder if I’m missing something. Used to be you could push “A” and all the automation would show for all tracks. Now I have to select one track at a time to enable it, which is a major pain. Let me know if I’m missing something…

Also…anyone know a way to save a LP X file to open in LP 9 ?

I’ve worked in 9 ever since it came out, and there aren’t enough benefits (aside from some of the new synth sounds / patches / great new organ and arp ) to make me want to switch yet. All my plugs, except for 1, are 64 bit, so they run fine in LP9.

A little bit let down with the GUI too… Too dark for me.

By Didier on December 9th, 2013 at 2:13 am

Jay,

Very good review; thanks a lot. I have been a Cubase user for many years but will switch to LPX.

Just a question on RAM usage in LPX. How intensively do virtual instruments and FX use RAM. I have to decide on 8GB or 16GB.

Thanks very much in advance!

By Andrew James Reynolds on January 24th, 2014 at 7:08 am

I have a mac pro Model Name: Mac Pro with the following details:

Model Identifier: MacPro3,1
Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
Number Of Processors: 2
Total Number Of Cores: 8
L2 Cache (per processor): 12 MB

Currently I am running 10.6.8 Am I right in thinking that in order to run Logic X I need to upgrade the os?

How do I find out if my mac pro can take an os upgrade, I read somewhere that some older mac pro machines cannot be upgraded for some reason…

thanks.

Andrew

By Jay Asher on February 10th, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Yes, you need at least Mountain Lion and better yet, Mavericks.

By Robert Charles Mann on February 24th, 2014 at 10:56 am

I love the improvements but losing the Audio Energizer which I use all the time left me in SHOCK. And composing to film now requires that I purchase another monitor with TB because working in 32bit with a Canopus Firewire connected monitor is no longer possible.

All in all the update is becoming more expensive as I realize I must buy new hardware and software.

Thanks Jay Asher for another informative review.

By geozero on April 30th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

After much searching I was also stumped about the Logic Pro X OMF files. What happens in LPX now is that the entire “project” is saved as a “package” with the OMF embedded into the project. That is actually good when going from LPX to Pro Tools since all you have to do is click on the song name project and it will import everything automatically, including all your audio and settings… pretty cool.

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