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