October 31, 2019

Logic Pro X: The best reason for a musician to buy a Mac

From the title of this article, you’ve probably guessed that Logic Pro X is a Mac-only application, and that praise will ensue. It is and accolades (mostly) do follow. However, there’s a ton of features and a very steep learning curve, so casual users should stick with Garage Band. That said, if you want more–$200 is an absolutely steal for a program with the pedigree and power of Logic.

Features up the wazoo

Logic is old-school and then some. I first encountered the program as C-Labs Creator on the Atari ST in the mid 80’s, but it’s also old guard in that it employs the strict track-based recording, arranging, and mixing metaphor that most DAWs of its vintage follow. Most early DAWs (and many later ones) are designed to mimic a recording studio. Logic is one of them.

There’s of course MIDI and audio editing, a truckload of virtual effects and instruments, and even notation, which is a relative rarity in newer DAWS that cater to untrained as well as trained musicians. There’s also a ton of effects and instruments, many of which are best of breed. In particular the Studio horns, the Alchemy Sampler, and drum sounds. The latter fit in the mix as well as anything I’ve heard.

There’s more of course. Amp and pedalboards, impulse modelers, the list goes on. If it’s musical and been done in software, you’ll most likely find it in Logic.

As you might guess from its date of origin, Logic has had a long time to accrue features. Indeed, it’s easier to list what’s missing than what’s there–CV output (Continuous Voltage) and clip launching of the type found in Ableton Live, Bitwig, and others. That’s just about it, though even with the latter, you have an arranger track and folders that can contain entire songs that you can do much the same thing with.

Still, I can’t leave you without some sort of list, so here goes: time-stretching and transient editing of audio, MIDI from audio, tempo from audio, non-permanent and destructive audio editing, audio pitch manipulation, MIDI FX, Java-scripting of MIDI FX, a groove track, groove templates, a complex free-form routing “environment”, support for MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression), sample instrument articulation sets, etc.

The star of the Logic show for me is Drummer, though the Studio Horns are extremely nice as well. I generally play my own own beats, but my skills and breadth of technique are weak and narrow, respectively. Sigh. Drummer not only sounds great–it’s smart. Using its “follow” function, you can have it play something that actually compliments whatever clip or track you have it follow. It must been experienced to be believed and there’s no real equivalent to be had elsewhere (except for Garage Band) at any price.

Not only does Logic’s Drummer sound good, it will “follow” what you’ve played to create an appropriate accompaniment. Usually.

Drummer is not as facile as an accomplished human stick-wielder, but it’s darn close for the basics, and–a lot easier to work with. I kid. Mostly. I’m sure all the drummers I’ve worked with have wonderful things to say about working with me as well.

Make it what you want it to be

Now it’s time for a confession, though I love kicking the tires of any DAW, my needs are pretty simple: I play, record what I play, edit it a bit, and mix down. I don’t go in for sound creation, I just choose the ones that fit what I’m playing. For the most part, Logic lets me dumb down, excuse me, simplify the interface so that just the functions I need are available. This extends from removing buttons to customizing the LCD readout, to removing advanced features completely. You can also have panes that anchor in the main window, or break things out into separate windows.

Logic even lets me redefine the key commands (keyboard shortcuts) so that I can assign the functions I want such as mute, solo, protect, and arm tracks; launch the tuner; turn the metronome on and off; etc., to a single key press. That may not sound like much, but if you want to hold a guitar in your lap, or keep one hand on the keyboard (musical), it’s an incredible help. You can save and load different sets of key commands depending on what you’re doing.

I should also mention, that Logic’s interface is just large enough that I don’t have issues with it as I do some DAWs with their tiny text and icons. It’s not scalable like Ableton Live, which would be better, but it’ll do. Logic is also skin-able/theme-able if you have patience and know what you’re doing. Check out this site to see what can be done. I’m not in love with Logic’s current look and bought the whole package of them.

However, as configurable as Logic is, I still find myself wishing I could simplify it or narrow its focus even more. As I’ve pointed out, there’s a lot of stuff there and wading through it can be difficult at times.


Though Macs aren’t cheap (they’re not as pricey as they appear if you factor in the high resolution displays), they start looking like a much better deal for musicians when you throw in a Logic. Logic is comprehensive enough that you can produce any type of music without every purchasing another piece of software.

There are certainly DAWs out there that cost less, but none offer the anywhere near the quantity of high-quality content, effects, and virtual instruments that Logic does. Logic’s main rivals, Pro Tools, Cubase (also from back in the Atari days), Studio One, and Ableton Live, cost twice as much (or more) and offer few features not available in Apple’s flagship DAW.

Choosing a DAW is really a matter of need and preference, but Logic is as powerful as they come, and the best reason for musicians to consider purchasing and using a Mac. That said, if you want KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) design, this is not the DAW for you.

To learn more about the current state of Logic and its advantages and flaws, I highly recommend the Web site LogicProHelp. Especially the forums. The instructional videos from MusicTechHelpguy on Youtube are also very informative.