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Logic Studio review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £399
(£347 ex VAT); £159 (£138 ex VAT) for upgrade

Enough great new features to make it a must-have update.

It’s been nearly two years since the previous version of Apple’s premier audio recording and sequencing program hit the shelves, so this new Logic Studio upgrade has had a pretty long gestation period.

Logic Pro 8 was a major overhaul that introduced key features such as the updated interface and quick swipe comping, but despite its long development time Logic Pro 9, the key component of Logic Studio, is more about expanding the appeal of the software beyond hardcore studio heads. In particular, the two headline grabbing features offered here are aimed at guitar players. With guitar bands on the ascendancy once again at least Apple seems to have got its timing right.

The first of these guitar-centric additions is the Amp Designer. This enables you to create your own virtual guitar rig by mixing and matching 25 amp heads, 25 speaker cabinets, five EQs, 10 reverbs and three microphones. So you can take a classic Marshall-style stack and mix it with a Mesa Boogie-type amp, while adding in a scooped EQ for instant metal madness. But despite its versatility, the Amp Designer is refreshingly easy to use. To change the microphone’s position, for example, you simply move the virtual microphone graphic in real-time around the on-screen speaker cabinet.

More importantly, the emulations of different classic amps and speaker stacks are very usable. From crunch metal chug to more airy surf tones, the results sound realistic and the fact that you can mix-and-match speakers, amps and EQ sections means you can go beyond mere simulation into the realms of augmentation, giving your virtual setups features that their real-world counterparts don’t have.

Related to Amp Designer is the new Pedal Board feature. This allows you to choose from 30 traditional stomp box-style guitar pedals and add them into your own virtual pedal board. Once in the Pedal Board, you can adjust the audio routing to change which pedals feed into each other and the order in which they do so. Again the interface is graphically very appealing and the pedals sound fantastic, which means with a bit of experimentation, you can achieve excellent sonic results.

Of course, Amp Designer and Pedal Board may not be as appealing if you already own a program like Guitar Rig, but if you don’t and the guitar is your main instrument, then these additions are must-haves, especially as Guitar Rig costs more than £100.

Outside of the guitar-based stuff, there are a good deal of other tweaks. The Main Stage application, which provides a more gig-friendly interface for Logic when you’re playing live, has had an overhaul to make it easier to create live setups and move your set list around. It also has a neat loop back feature that lets you record a loop of yourself live, so you can then jam over the top of it.

Less of a headline grabbing feature, but still very useful, is Selective Import. This lets you import a track, or tracks, from another project into your currently active project. The imported tracks can then be pulled in with all their relevant settings such as I/O routings and plug-ins, saving you having to set all these up again in your new project.

The Convert to Sample Instrument feature is another time saver. It lets you select an audio region, have Logic 9 automatically slice it up into sections, map them across the keyboard and produce a corresponding midi track to play the section back in sequence. This is excellent as it provides a quick and easy way to take apart and rebuild loops. Some areas where Logic needed to catch up with its rivals have also been addressed. The Flex Time tool, for example, finally adds support for elastic audio. Rather than having to manually chop and stretch audio segments, you now drag audio around on screen to change the timing of vocal lines or drum beats (without affecting pitch), and let Logic do the hard work in the background.

All in all, version 9 is an excellent update. It’s a must-have for guitarists who haven’t already invested in something like Guitar Rig, but there’s also enough here, especially in the Flex Time tool, to make the upgrade worthwhile even if you’re not a six stringer.

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