If you’ve read my earlier post about my favorite DAW software, you’ll know that my personal preference (especially for mixing) is Avid Pro Tools. However, with the recent release of Logic Pro X 10.5, Apple continues to offer an impressive and extensive set of features that makes it easier than ever to bring your musical ideas to life. Apple has called 10.5 a “breakthrough release for musicians and producers,” and after we go through some of the newest features, you’ll see why.
Apple’s Logic Pro X 10.5 update consists of three pillars that enhance the music production workflow. It includes a powerful looping engine called Live Loops, an impressive synthesizer and sampling system duo called Sampler and Quick Sampler, and a suite of beat creation tools that consist of a Step Sequencer, Drum Synth, and Drum Machine Designer. These new features are a great addition for anyone who uses the Logic platform, but creators of electronic music should be especially pleased.
With Live Loops, Logic users can organize and playback loops, samples, and recordings using Logic’s new musical grid. The flexibility of the grid enables performers and producers to be spontaneous and capture virtually limitless ideas right into the Logic timeline. Apple has clearly made an effort to help musicians and producers focus more on creating while trying to make the user interface more transparent. It’s always a great thing when the digital music creation process is improved and made more accessible.
There’s also a feature called Remix FX, which works with Live Loops to offer a host of electronic effects that can all be performed in real-time, either on individual tracks or the entire mix. And of course, you can pair your iPhone or iPad with your Mac for some impressive but often forgotten integration with Logic, which will enable Multi-Touch control over these new capabilities.
Sampler and Quick Sampler
In Logic 10.5, Apple’s powerful EXS24 synthesizer plug-in, now called Sampler, receives a major upgrade, with a fresh coat of paint and new, more-extensive controls. If you’re a long time user, you’ll be happy to know that the next-generation Sampler is backward compatible with previous versions of EXS24. Producers and electronic musicians are sure to enjoy using Sampler to create and edit virtual instruments that utilize multiple samples. In keeping with the theme of ease-of-use, Sampler also features simple drag-and-drop capability that makes automated production tasks a breeze.
Quick Sampler, which can be thought of as a sister plug-in to Sampler, allows for a fast and easy way to make any individual sound into an electronic instrument. Using Quick Sampler, Logic offers multiple ways to select a sound — the Finder, Voice Memos, or even the microphone built into your Mac. With the integrated tools inside Quick Sampler, you’ll be able to trim, loop, and use a MIDI keyboard to play your newly created instrument. Because the workflow has been so well executed by the Apple software team, this can literally happen in seconds. It’s pretty cool and pretty fun.
The third pillar of the Logic Pro X 10.5 update includes impressive tools for beat creation, including a new Step Sequencer, Drum Synth, and Drum Machine Designer.
This new editor in Logic, modeled after classic drum machines, is designed to make it easy to program beats, bass lines, and other melodies. Step Sequencer makes it easy to create patterns quickly while also offering a full suite of editing options with control over the parameters you might expect, including note velocity, repeat, playback direction, randomization, and more.
The all-new Drum Synth in Logic 10.5 is an extensive library of synthesized kick drums, snares, toms, and percussion sounds. Logic users can sculpt multiple aspects of each individual sound using “sound-shaping controls” and can use these sounds on any pad within the new Drum Machine Designer. Tinkerers will be able to create all sorts of sounds that can then be blended with other samples.
Drum Machine Designer
The upgraded Drum Machine Designer tool can now integrate with the new sampling and beat-programming features described earlier in this post. Each drum pad is incredibly flexible — throw a Quick Sampler on one pad, while using Drum Synth plug-ins on another. You can create the exact kit you want, whether you’re using included presets or designing all of the sounds yourself for a truly custom instrument. Perform them in real-time or use the integrated Step Sequencer to program something complex.
Lastly, Logic Remote has received a useful update as well. If you’ve never used the Logic Remote app before, it is a free download from the app store that allows you to pair an iPhone or iPad with your Mac to control Logic and various instruments using Multi-Touch. With the newest update, which coincides with LPX 10.5, you can now trigger sounds in Live Loops, browse and add loops, and apply Remix FX to your session. On a more basic level, it’s really handy if you’re a one-person operation and want to control recording and playback while you’re in your vocal booth.
One of the great things about Apple’s handling of the Logic Pro X platform is that each upgrade has been free for existing users. Since its initial release, Logic Pro X has been a full-featured DAW and offers great built-in tools to help you start making music immediately after install. With each incremental upgrade, Apple continues to raise the bar and is likely to attract more up and coming producers and artists to its platform.
I have to admit, I played with the new 10.5 upgrade for a while in preparation for this article, but did so for longer than I expected. Not only are the new features powerful (and essentially free), but the integration between these tools really allows you to focus more on making music and less on figuring out how to make the software do what you want — and that is invaluable.
Logic Pro X is available on the App Store for $199. It’s arguably the best deal for professional DAW software.