Apple unveils Logic Studio

Apple has unveiled Logic Studio, a new suite of applications designed for audio professionals that includes Logic Pro 8 and a new application called MainStage. Logic Studio also includes Soundtrack 2, and the company slashed the price to $499 -- half of what it cost to buy Logic Pro 7.

At the core of Logic Studio is Logic Pro 8, Apple’s professional digital audio workstation. Apple readily admits that users have been waiting for Logic Pro 8 for some time, but feel they have delivered a version that the community will be happy with.

“We really evolved it into a full-fledged studio,” said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing. ”The new interface makes it so much more approachable — Logic has always been deep and well engineered, but it was also intimidating. With version 8 we’ve conquered that.”

Among the changes in Logic is a new, single window interface. According to Apple, the interface now allows instant access to music creation and production functions, including snap-to-transient selection and sample accurate editing directly in the Arrange window.

“We focused on what musicians do when they first launch the application,” said Alec Little, Apple’s senior product manager, Music and Audio. “There is a core set of things they do that we wanted to bring to the top.”

While Logic Pro brings some of the most used tools in front of the user quickly, Apple is still allowing access to all the windows if you want to use it that way. Some people have specific screen presets for the different jobs they do in Logic and Little said those will still work in Logic 8.

“One of the big things about our design philosophy is progressive disclosure,” said Schoeben. “You want to be able to get things done quickly and easily without things getting in your way. We shouldn’t get in way of task at hand — we are just here to help.”

Logic Pro 8 also features new audio production tools like Quick Swipe Comping and dynamic channel strip creation. In addition to surround production capabilities, the new version of Logic also includes multichannel tracks and busses, and support for True Surround software instruments and effects.

The new application included in the suite is called MainStage, which turns your Mac into a live performance rig. According to Apple, screen controls link software plug-ins to hardware knobs, faders and buttons, so musicians can use their favorite gear while performing live.

Schoeben said that Apple spent a lot of time understanding life on stage and what musicians were really looking for from Logic.

MainStage features a display designed for distant viewing in dim light, a major problem when trying to use gear during live performances.

Logic has many other features too, like multitake recording, portable preferences that can be synced with .Mac and there is no need for the USB key anymore.

Studio Instruments includes 40 instrument plug-ins like new versions of Ultrabeat, Sculpture and ES2 synthesizers, and the EXS24 sampler. Studio Effects includes a new Delay Designer plug-in that offers in-depth control over individual delay taps, and Space Designer, now with True Surround enhancements for multichannel audio processing.

Rounding out Logic Studio is a collection of sounds and utilities. Studio Sound Library features content from the five Jam Pack collections and Final Cut Studio 2, for a total of 18,000 Apple Loops, 1,300 EXS instruments and 5,000 sound effects. Production utilities include WaveBurner for CD mastering, Compressor 3 for surround encoding, an Apple Loops utility and a new Impulse Response utility for capturing the acoustics of real performance spaces.

Schoeben said that the sounds have also all been completely redone to provide the “absolute best we could for the users.”

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for Logic users is the price — Logic Studio is available immediately and costs $499 — that is half off from the full price of Logic Pro 7. “We recognized musicians are gravitating to the Mac in great numbers and we wanted to deliver Logic Studio under $500 so they didn’t even have to think about it,” said Schoeben.

Registered Logic Pro 7 users can upgrade to Logic Studio for $199. Customers who purchased Logic Pro 7 on or after August 1, 2007 are eligible for a free upgrade to Logic Studio.

Logic Express gets new interface

Apple also updated its mid-level digital audio workstation, Logic Express, to version 8.0 adding most of the same features as Logic Pro 8. While the term “Express” may make the application seem inferior in some way, Apple said that’s just not the case.

According to Schoeben, there are only four features that separate Logic Pro from Logic Express. They are: surround sound, distributed audio, high-end control surface support and TDM support.

“There is a little bit of a stigma around the term 'Express,'" said Schoeben. “Despite the naming convention, this is Logic Pro, minus those four features.”

The interface design of Logic Express has also been consolidated production tools in a single window. Recording multiple takes, auditioning loops and basic editing waveforms can all be done in one window.

Logic Express 8 also includes Quick Swipe comping and the ability to save your key commands, channel strip settings and plug-in settings to your .Mac account for easy backup, sharing and portability.

Logic Express users will appreciate the inclusion of Ultrabeat, ES2, and the complete EXS24 Sampler, as well as Guitar Amp Pro, Ringshifter and full-featured Pitch Correction, in the new version.

Apple’s Little said the instruments in Logic Express are exactly the same as those found in Logic Pro — if you can do it with a Logic Pro instrument, you can do it with a Logic Express instrument.

Logic Express 8 is available immediately and costs $199. Upgrades from Logic Express 7, Logic Express 6, Logic Audio 6, or Logic Audio 5 cost $99.00.

Update: Added information on the Logic Express 8 update. 11:44 am.

Added more details about Logic features and an interview with Apple executives.

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