Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thoughts on Logic 9

So, when my computer died a couple weeks ago and I ordered a new one, I figured now was as good a time as any to pick up Logic 9.  If I'm starting over from scratch, I may as well upgrade everything.  Plus, I just finished an album, so even if something did go wrong, I've got some time to sort it out.  So, it's been about a week that I've actually been able to spend using Logic 9 and I thought I'd share some first impressions.

As many have noted before me, this isn't the whopping upgrade the Logic 8 was.  But then again, Logic 8 got so much right as far as the interface goes, why mess with it?  There are a few subtle cosmetic changes, but everything works like you're used to.  One small improvement I liked is the new progress window that comes up when you are loading a project.  Info that used to pop up in multiple windows as you loaded a project now comes up in a single, unified window that also shows the names of the plug-ins Logic is loading in real time.  This could be very helpful in tracking down problematic plug-ins.

There are quite a few of these little changes, and the ones I've run into so far have been for the better. Much more streamlined.

What I like:

• Flex Time - I haven't played with this a whole lot yet, but it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.  It's much the same idea as warping in Ableton Live.  Logic detects transients and allows you to quantize the audio like you would MIDI, and even move the markers to stretch, move and compress individual slices.  I'm anxious to try using this for aligning multiple tracks of vocals. I used to just cut and move stuff around, but this will be much easier.  I really like the potential for abuse too.  This should deliver a lot of really cool beat-mangling abilities.

• Selective Project Importing - Now, you can import parts of a project rather than the entire thing.  Want to import some effects settings from a track you already did?  No problem.  Just want to import a handful of tracks to do a remix?  Logic's got your back.

• New Orchestral Samples - I never heard anyone mention this in talking about the new features, but the EXS-24 sample library has been expanded to include a very well-appointed orchestral library.  It's kind of surprising there was so little of this kind of content until now, but these are great, so all is forgiven.  

• Warped Space Designer Impulses - A nice array of new impulse responses of a more experimental nature are included in the new Logic.  These are not aimed at imitating real, natural sounding acoustic spaces, but instead produce very strange... uh, "warped" results.  These will be a lot of fun for sound designers since you can really do some pretty severe sonic manipulation with these.

• Bounce in Place - This is another one I have been waiting for ever since Logic introduced the ability to use softsynths.  Whereas previously you had to bounce down your synth track, import the audio, and drag it to an awaiting audio track, now you can simply bounce it and Logic does the rest for you automatically.  Long overdue!

• Bounce With Effects Tails - It always used to drive me crazy when I would spend the time to bounce down a track only to discover I had chopped off a reverb or delay tail at the end of the track because I hadn't set the Bounce End time late enough.  Now, by checking a box, Logic will ensure your Bounce End time includes those tails.  

• New Guitar Amp and Effects Plug-ins - I haven't played around with these too much, but you've probably heard that Logic now includes two new plug-ins called Amp Designer and Pedalboard.  I am a sucker for sending synths through guitar amps and effects, so I'm looking forward to playing with these.  So far my impression is that these sound much better than Apple's previous attempt at modeled amps. It'd be nice if these two were integrated into a single plug-in, though.

• My most-hated bug seems to be gone - So far, I have not run into the bug that drove me crazier than any other: the dreaded "processor overload" that would happen the first time you played a project with lots of soft synths in it.  Now, part of this may be because the processor I have now is about eleventy billion times faster than my old one and the 'ceiling' is just higher, but even using some high CPU plug-ins like Alchemy and DCAM Synth Squad, I haven't encountered it yet.  I'm still not totally convinced yet, though.

What I don't like:

• No printed manuals - Yes, I know Apple is a 'green' company, and I can respect that, but come on.  When you have a program this deep and complex, your customers deserve printed documentation.  I personally like to read manuals when I'm traveling or just relaxing somewhere.  Maybe I'm just behind the times, but I find that to be kind of a drag on a laptop.  

• Overwrites Older Versions  - I've been using Logic since version 4.  As such, a lot of my old projects are from before the major file format change introduced in version 5.  This means that if I want to load up an old project, I have to have at least Logic 7 installed on my machine to convert these older projects so they are openable in the newer versions.  No problem.  I've got the space.  What is a problem, however, is that Logic 9 installs itself as Logic Pro, which happens to be the same name Logic 7 installs under.  So if you try to install one, it will erase the other.  A simple name change remedies this, but it would've been nice if Apple took this into account, as I had to install Logic 9 over from scratch when I discovered this quirk.

• Soundtrack Still Defaults to Saving Project Files and Not Audio FIles - This is probably just a pet peeve of mine, but it really makes using Soundtrack as an audio editor a pain in the butt.  When you edit a file in Soundtrack and go to save it as a new sample, Soundtrack defaults to savings it as a STAP (Soundtrack Project File), meaning in order to save your sound as a WAV or AIFF, you have to mess with the dialogue box settings each and every time you do it.  So far as I can tell, there is no way to change this default.  This makes editing multi-samples or tons of drum sounds so much more laborious than it needs to be.

•  No New Instruments - I expected at least one new soft synth in the new upgrade, but nope.  Granted, Logic's built-in instruments are very good and still hold their own, but some of them are pretty long in the tooth.  A lot of new possibilities have opened up.  What gives, Apple?  I want more toys, dammit! (And this time with decent interfaces, please).

What about you?  What are you liking most about the new Logic?  What don't you like?


mangadrive said...

The 'bounce in place' (aka Freeze) is why I settled on Sonar in the end.(PC here) Cool to see you get to experience the impact this has with on the spot creativity and of course the ability to whore the CPU some more ;)

Matt Mower said...

Maybe I've misunderstood, or there is something Logic 7 specific in what you're saying but when I upgraded from Logic 8 the installer renamed the old "Logic Pro.app" to "Logic Pro 8.app" and you can switch between them (although I've not had any need to go back to 8 myself).

cl516 said...

aah! i'm scared to upgrade! i hate the damn overload bug (i can even get it with a single audio file only) but I'm afraid Logic 9 might not play nice with plugins. Anyone know if it's ok with Powercore?

Asger said...

the processor overload thing is still there.. Too bad, it is indeed one of the most annoying things in Logic and part of the reason why i like Live more and more.

Mike said...

Converting audio regions to EXS24 sampler instruments is awesome. I originally was pretty "meh" about the Amp Designer and Pedalboard stuff, but once I tried them out I spent a whole day playing with them.

The one thing fatal flaw that's pissing me off right now - whenever I bring up the editing window for my Virus TI, I can't use the keyboard commands to Start/Stop, I have to mouse over to the Transport bar on the bottom. If I use the keyboard to Start/Stop, nothing happens, but as soon as a I close the Virus Control window, the audio goes out of sync and I have to quit Logic and start it up again. Fortunately I can save before quitting, so I haven't lost anything, but it really is getting on my nerves after the past couple weeks.

I did some research and this seems to be an issue with certain other 3rd Party plug-ins as well. Per Access, it is something that needs to be fixed in Logic.

Tom said...

@Matt - Yeah, this is Logic 7 specific. I can't speak to earlier versions, but it doesn't rename the file to 'Logic Pro 7' or anything like that as it does with version 8.

Matt Mower said...

@Tom - Ah, that sucks. Enough people still seem to be using 7, from what I can judge, that I'm surprised they didn't do a better job for you guys.

9 has been a qualitatively better experience for me than 8 (the version I started with). The overloads are still there, but are more of an occasional thing now. So far anyway :)

Mike said...

9.0.1 just came out, and the issue I mentioned in my comment above has been resolved.


Anonymous said...

Ditto on the new instruments.

I wish they would give us a nice modular synth to play with. Something like Psoft's VOID. That is the only reason I still have a PC just to run that on VST.

Prolyfic said...

I'm having a issue

I'm currently working on a session in logic 9 that originated from logic 8

all is running smooth until I bounced a midi region to a audio file. when I placed the file on the arrange window, I noticed that the option to get it to follow tempo was not available! Now I had previous audio files in the arrange window and they have the option of follow tempo, but with these new bounces i'm not getting that same option. is there something that need to be modified or checked in logic 9 to get that option?

I dont get it

Anonymous said...

Regarding that LP8 bug...I never had that bug on my identical dual 2 G5. However, my bandmate did get that bug on his MacBook.

Since he recently upgraded to Logic 9, he has not had the issue return. *fingers crossed*


Jay said...

Is it just me or did all the old guitar effect settings from Logic 8 disappear upon install of 9? Doubling Delay and the Legacy settings were great but I can't find them now.