One of the first major Apple product updates of 2018 is for Logic Pro X, the long-lived music recording and production app. Jumping up to version 10.4, this version adds a generous helping of new features, new instruments and new recording and production capabilities.
Since the, this software suite has been an impressive all-in-one music production platform, offering many of the same features as the industry's other big music tool, Avid's ProTools, but also packing in a bunch of software plug-ins (synths, effects and so on) that other platforms make you buy separately.
In Logic 10.4, a new Smart Tempo feature lets you record directly into the app, via a guitar, keyboard or any other instrument, while Logic analyses the input and keeps track of the tempo as you go, following all the human-feeling variations in your playing. Without this, the best way to get your recorded parts to match up with prerecorded loops and samples was to record everything to a click track (an on-the-beat metronome-like guide), which could lead to a stiff, robotic feel.
Also new, a wider variety of loops and outside sound samples can now sync up with the tempo variations in your playing, again adding a more human feel to projects. Some audio loops (such as drumbeats, keyboard and guitar samples) have always done a good job of this, but they needed special beat-detecting metadata to accurately line up. Apple has its own line of such samples, called Apple Loops. I haven't had a chance to try the new beat-detecting yet, but being able to drop in old loops from anywhere and have them line up sounds like a very useful new feature.
Also new in Logic Pro X 10.4 are several plug-ins, a term used to describe either digital instruments or effects (such as compression or EQ) that can be added to recorded audio tracks. New additions include:
- ChromaVerb: An algorithmic reverb plugin, with 14 different room types and a modernized UI.
- Vintage EQ: Software versions of several classic hardware EQ boxes. Emulations of vintage gear is a big deal for digital music recording.
- Phat FX: A plug-in that adds various kinds of analog warmth and depth to recordings.
- Step FX: A step filter, which is an audio tool that adds rhythmic filters and effects to tracks.
- New Drummer profiles: One of the most powerful tools in Logic Pro X is Drummer, an AI drum-playing plug-in that mixes and matches drum kits, beat patterns and distinct dummer personalities to give you a realistic-feeling drum track. New in 10.4 are a pair of drummers who specialize in brush-style roots and jazz playing.
Logic Pro X 10.4 is available to download now. It's a free update for existing users, and the software package is $199 for new users (£149 in the UK and $249 in Australia). Many of the best features for Logic Pro X also eventually filter down to Apple's freeapp, including Drummer and the powerful Alchemy synth.
For a previous hands-on review, I used Drummer and Alchemy in GarageBand to record this quick demo song: