The long-awaited update to Apple’s Logic has arrived to very positive reviews. I have to admit that I never really liked Logic 9 very much. I’m sure that it was great if you used it all day every day and took the time to learn all the features. But as an occasional user, I always found it very hard work, and I never felt I really knew what was going on. Garageband was obviously far simpler, far less powerful, but far easier to use.
The general consensus seems to be that Logic X is easier to use, but has avoided sacrificing the sophistication of earlier versions, unlike Final Cut Pro X. I have certainly enjoyed using it a lot more than Logic 9.
Two of the headline features in this upgrade are the new Drummer, and the iPad Logic Remote app. I’ve spent a bit of time with each of them.
First, the iPad app. This is useful and easy to use, but it’s really not that different to the lpTouch app I used with Logic 9. The main addition Logic Remote has is the ability to play Logic’s software instruments from an onscreen keyboard or fretboard. These look just like the instruments in the iPad version of Garageband, but I can’t help feeling they’re a bit of a gimmick. If you’re using Logic, you presumably have a reasonable collection of real guitars and/or MIDI keyboards, so why would you use a touch screen? Still, the app is free, and very useful for controlling Logic – I sit it on my piano to avoid twisting round to the computer, and attach it to my mic stand when recording other instruments.
Much more impressive is the Drummer. It’s like a far, far smarter version of the iPad Garageband Smart Drums. When you create a drummer track, you insert drummer regions into it, and then tweak the settings of each region. There are several different “drummers” with different personalities, and several different kits (you can also design your own kit). Once you have selected these, you control the complexity and intensity of the rhythm with the X/Y pad shown in the image below.
The complex/simple axis is fairly self-explanatory, but the loud/soft axis doesn’t just control the volume – it also changes the style of drumming. The example I recorded below has three 8-bar regions with the same drummer and kit, but just changes to the complexity, loudness and number of fills.
Perhaps my very favourite bit about it though is the fact that it is equally happy to play in more unusual time signatures. I am very fond of 7/8 and 5/4, and these are very poorly catered by loops in most DAWs. But Logic X’s drummers play them really well. Here’s an example I did in 7/8.