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Class #13g
Review of
Emagic's Logic Platinum
 

Tweak's Pick of the Lot

by Rich the TweakMeister

Pros
  • A very remarkable automation engine
  • More and better plugins than the competition. including new mastering tools
  • Excellent MIDI editing features
  • With SoundDiver (optional), a total synth editing patch management solution
  • Excellent ReCycle implementation in both the arrangement and in the EXS sampler (optional)
  • Once learned, its easy to use with lots of ergonomic niceties.

Cons

  • Can't use 3rd party MIDI (MFX) plugins
  • Older Rewire implementation
  • The program has been discontinued on the PC platform

IMPORTANT NOTE: Emagic no Longer develops Logic on the PC platform

The ads say "Think Different".  With Logic 5, I assure you, you will!  Logic 5 is here with new features that completely redefine the boundaries of what is possible with the program.  Rather than try to give you a comprehensive overview of the new features, I'm just going to talk about a few of the important ones:  The new automation engine, the new plugins, soft synths, recycle import and, tada, multiple undo.  On another page there is discussion of the new Logic Control surface.

The Automation Engine

click to enlarge

Here you see one EXS24 track with 5 levels of automation.  There is a number of ways to put automation in a track.  You can draw them in with a mouse, move the faders on Logic's Mixers in real time, tweak in the EXS window (or in the case of midi instruments, the knobs on your synth), or use a dedicated controller like Logic Control. 

 

The main difference between the new automation system and the old, is that now automation is track based, rather than object based. You will no longer be running to hyper-edit to make controller curves.  It's now faster to make any type of automation, be it simple volume and pan, or more complex controller modulation for your synths, or even more exotic, automating the parameters of your Logic (and most VST) plugins.  Things you used to "set and forget" like delay feedback and reverb times, wet/dry mixes, and countless more now enter the realm of active tweaking.  What this does is to open a vast new domain of possibilities for non-conventional mixing of sounds.  Pushing the frontier no longer requires a super-expensive automated console.  You can automate every fader, every pan pot and send, eq and effect, EXS or es1 parameter, and best of all, you can do this with the mouse in real time, or when the sequence is stopped where you can carefully analyze what you want to do.  How you use it is up to you.  It can do the subtle changes to stabilize your audio image as the mix goes from verse to chorus or it can do wild dramatic ear boggling stuff no one has heard.  Sequencer automation like this is new for many of us in the home and project studio trenches.  Go ahead, step onto the terra incognita of audio (the terrain of the unknown).  As with many tools that are new to us, no one really knows how it will end up being used and popularized in today's music.

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It's easy to write automation and it's easy to erase it.  You can do both with a swoop of the mouse.  You can expand each track into sub-tracks if you want so each layer of automation gets it's own track, or you can collapse them all into one track, or not show it at all.  You can make things as tweaked as you want.  Your simple 5 track techno song, at the touch of a key command, can open up into a 50 track underground tweak machine. There's power under the hood with Logic 5.0.  So whatcha wanta tweak? Tweak all day if you want.  Filters?  No prob. Envelopes?  Cinch.  Delay time?   OK,k,k,k,!  The Frequency of the AutoFilter?  Done! All your mega buck Waves Gold Native plugins?  Uh huh, if you use the Waves VST "public beta" waveshell.   All 65 parameters of your Pro 52 soft synth?  You got it!   Not every VSTi is going to work, but many do. While working with other company's soft synths is not listed in the official features of Logic 5.0, you can consider it to be very cool that most of them do.  I can't give you an exhaustive list of what works and what does not, so don't ask. Typically, if the VSTi follows the spec., it will work. Remember, this is Five-dot-zero.  I can only imagine how much more we will get in 5.1 and 5.2.  I predict happy surprises.

New Plugins

New Mastering Tools

The new methods of mixing are augmented by new mastering tools, which themselves can be fully automated on top of your final stereo or surround master track.  I used to do all my mastering in Vegas and SoundForge.  No more.  Now Logic has all the tools to do the job and it can all be done better, faster, with less latency and without altering the sound file.   

More articles by Rich

Getting started with MIDI and what it is: For Newbies

Doing it with Digital.  This is a primer that tells you how to make a fully digital recording with as few passes through converters as possible. 

All about Plugins.  Take a tour of leading plugins, find the best free ones, learn how to use them in your music,

The Perfect Mix: The basics of setting up a mix along with notes on mastering

Your Music: Inspiration and Style

A Recipe for Song Construction

How to Tweak your Music PC

How to Burn an Emu Sample CD Rom

Secrets of making Great Sounding Samples

Tips for Synth Programmers

Soft Synth Tips and Tricks

How to Buy a Midi Keyboard you will really like

Stereo Spreader:
This is a stereo imaging tool.  You can use it on any stereo track to widen the image or you can run your whole mix through it to widen the whole mix.  It's sort of like applying an infinitely variable camera lens to your mix.  You get a different image with each tick.  What was a straight ahead image suddenly becomes a wide panorama.  This is one of my favorites.  I think its better than the Waves stereo imager for many things. 

De-esser:
This is for vocal tracks, to clean up the harsh "ss" and "chh" sounds that rattle the high frequencies.  By reducing these, you can make the vocal hotter and crisper.

Limiter and Adaptive Limiter:
The Limiter provides the highest possible punch without overdriving the mix
.
This plugin goes at the end of the chain and allows you to get maximum volume without getting any overs.  It tames the peaks over the threshold you choose, and keeps them at a level where you won't distort the mix.  The adaptive Limiter add an analog-type coloration for a vintage sound.

Multipressor:
With Logic 5, Logic enters into a new domain of not only mixing, with the new automation but mastering as well.  Many of the new plugins are designed for use in a mastering context.  The most important of these is the multipressor, which is a
full blown multiband compressor.  Each band is fully definable.  Not only can you adjust gain and all the compressor functions for each band, you can even set crossover points, unlike many $1000 hardware multiband comps that don't let you do this.  Each band can be soloed/muted making it easy to do things like optimize bands for the kick, vocals, super-transients.  The result is a clarity you may have never experienced before.  What I like about the new multi band is that it's easy to set up, easier than the Waves C4 multiband, which saves wear and tear on the ears as we make the final critical adjustments to our final master.  If you don't have a multiband compressor, this alone justifies the upgrade price. 

SubBass:
The SubBass reinforces and extends the bass content of an audio signal into the sub-harmonic range.  Yep.  If you ever did an orchestral mix and got frustrated by "disappearing timpani" you will be happy to hear them cut through the mix on the low end with the subbass.  Of course it's good for giving bottom to anything--bass guitars, kick drums, sound effects (which will rumble with cinematic qualities).  So dust off your sub-woofer cones, they are about to get some exercise.

Denoiser:
The Denoiser removes unwanted noise in an audio signal, without compromising the quality of the remainder.  It also does a lot more than that,  It can be used as a very unusual filter in it's own right when tweaked with odd high frequency harmonics. 

New Track based Plugs

Exciter:
The Exciter enhances the high frequency content of an audio signal, providing new sparkle to your mix.  Gee, They aren't kidding.  The new exciter has a lot of range more so than other exciter plugins and lots more than my old Aphex Type C.  The exciter comes in two "colors"  with variable frequency and harmonics.  It adds so much harmonic content it can take the dullest voice you can imagine and make it radio crisp.  And at some settings, all this high energy is not harsh like you would expect, it's almost silky. Because I work with vocalists a lot, I've been blown away by how gently the exciter can sheen a vocal without the obligatory headache one gets tweaking other exciters. Of course you can make it blisteringly harsh if you want to annoy the neighborhood dogs.

Tremolo:
The classic tremolo effect has vast possibilities to vary the stereo image of the effect.  You can do hard square wave like stutters with the two stereo sides locked or out of phase, or smooth them out till they are rounded and soft.  There is variable depth from extreme to none. 

Clip Distortion:
Warm or aggressive, the finely-nuanced sound editing capabilities of the distortion effect is the strength of the Clip Distortion.  It's quite nice the way it distorts too.  I like it on vocals and getting that old time radio effect.  Much more interesting than just a Low cut filter for Lo-Fi voice effects.  It breaks up  in a soft way, like an old amp.  Guitarists will love it.

Phase Distortion:
Unusual distortion effects with resonance characterizes the sound of the Phase.  The Phase  Distortion should not be confused with the other Emagic Phaser.  That phaser is smooth and elastic sounding.  The Phase distortion, however, is intense distortion with feedback artifacts, like when your guitarist turns towards the amp and does his Hendrix imitation.  This is going to make some intense pick noise.

All the Plugins:   The older plugins were improved as well in 5.0. .  There a total of 51 plugins in Platinum 5.0, not counting soft synths and dedicated track EQs.  Imagine if they were all hardware boxes.  You'd need a separate room for them (and a better air conditioner if you live in Texas!).  It used to be true that all sequencers sounded the same.  This is no longer the case.  The plugins and Logic mixer can transform the sonics of you music into new dimensions you may have only dreamed was possible in your studio.  The result, you may no longer need to take your demo to a pro studio.  Learn about using these tools and do it at home.While it may take you a while to learn how to use compressors, equalizers, distortion and others to get the best out of your song, you will have fun getting there and trying different things.

New SoftSynths

 This little softsynths are light on the cpu yet carry a big sound and are totally tweakable in the new automation.  Important to remember that.  You're getting 3 simple, but fully automatable soft synths.  Here, simplicity carries power.

esm  Small and compact, the esm is a mono synth with 1 voice of polyphony.  Don't think that makes it a wimp.  It's perfect for filtered percussion sounds that can work as a kick drum or a throbbing analog bass and even a lead.  It's oscillator can mix a square and saw wave.  There's no noise or lfos in it, though the filter and resonances is well done.  There's a distortion effect at the end of the chain to rough things up a bit and give it more edge.  Good for straight ahead percussive voices.  You can go to town with the plugins to get more modulation and of course you can automate any parameter in real time.

ese  This is the pad maker of the three.  It has all the tools you need to make pads and beds reminiscent of Junos and Jupiters, very Roland-esqe.  There's 2 chorus and an ensemble effect which give the synth some stereo depth and an lfo which adds to the shimmer.  The waveform can mix saw and square with pulse width modulation, which makes some classic dancey chords as well as padding. Of course it will track resonance and filter cutoff.  The envelope is simple, just attack and release, and again their is no noise waveform.  But it's light on it's feet and won't cost much of your CPU.

esp  This is the biggest of the bundled softsynths.  The ESP sports a full ADSR envelope, a noise generator, filtering and a chorus and overdrive effect.  There's a strong LFO that gets very close to ring modulation.  The waveforms mixed are Triangle, Saw, rectangle and noise.  So that open up possibilities for coming up with the unusual, as well as most of the popular analog synth tones.  Sounds a bit like a sequential circuits analog to my ears.  It's not going to rival the Pro 52, but it will be easier to deal with. 

These are also great little synths for putting together stuff on a notebook computer, where you don't have all the power of your desktop machine to run big soft samplers and massive full out soft synths.

Using Recycle Files

Logic can import recycle files. 

If you have Recycle, you already know how you can slice and audio loop into its components.  This allows you to alter any component of the loop.  Toss a recycle file in Logic and you will find your loop plays at the tempo of the song, regardless of what the original tempo of the loop was.  You can re-quantize these parts to a groove template or go in and reverse a few components, alter gain, or move, say, all the snares to a different audio track with a different plugin.  Or load the rex into the EXS sampler and control it with filters and envelopes and play the different hits of the loop like you were playing a drum map.  Powerful results.  The 1st time you try this, you'll be blown away.  Stuff like this has been done only by hard core tweaks with hardware samplers and lots of patience.  Finally, it's easy to do, and those that go in this direction will be rewarded.  Logic 5 does not create Rex files though.  You need Recycle to make them, then you bring them into Logic. 

Multiple Undo

Emagic announced recently in the Logic User Group that multiple undo has been tested and will be included in a sub release of Logic 5.0. At last!  It's real. For years Emagic spokespersons on the LUG had said that such a feature would require a total rewrite of Logic's code which led to bouts of crying, whining, flaming and retorting that only the LUG could produce.  Glad they let the cat out of the bag so now I can talk about it without getting lynched.  It won't be in the 1st 5.0 version, but it won't be long before you can download an update from Emagic's site. 

The new Undo feature will be implemented for most areas of the program.  The exception is for functions that involve the alteration (destructive editing) of audio files.  This tops off the upgrade.  With multiple undo you are freed to experiment in ways you would not try with just one level of undo.  For example, you can try some exotic transformations of midi sequences, like scale all the notes to a new interval value, do extensive manipulations with groove quantize, get up to speed with the chord memorizer, cable up some virtual arpeggiators, get in the environment and dig deeper than  ever before, and of course tweak the new automation harder and farther knowing if it doesn't work, you can go back swiftly, easily.  This frees the "experimental attitude" in your work, allowing you to delve into the many esoteric functions Logic offers.  You never know when you are going to strike gold tweaking in Logic, and with multiple undo, the light is always green. 

Summing Up

Logic 5.0 is finished and will be coming to your local stores soon.  It was a long wait for many of us, but when something is done right it is worth waiting for.  I hope I have shown that 5.0 adds features that will keep you at the forefront of music technology. Thanks to the new automation and mastering tools, Logic can take you from your 1st note on a midi keyboard to a final master.  My congratulations to the Emagic programming team for unlocking more doors to our creativity.  There is no doubt in my mind this is not only the best Logic yet, and can also be seen as part of a larger historical transformation in the way musical arts are produced. Music production changes by the day and Logic 5.0 is as important of an invention as a new series of musical instruments.  Think Different!  Logic Audio is a musical instrument in the most divine and modern sense of the term.  Practice, and get good, OK?  

part 2 Using Logic Control

Best regards,

Rich the TweakMeister

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Rich has been tweaking in Logic since Notator 1.12.  He has authored sample cd roms for emu-samplers, for soundfonts and loops for Acid.  More info

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More articles on Logic by Rich: 

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