Anticipation continues to mount regarding the release of an update for Logic.
Monday marked the third anniversary of the last significant update of Apple’s flagship DAW. In that time, users have been treated to little more than bug fixes and a few new guitar-focused features. The California company remains tight-lipped regarding the release date of any potential new version but rumours with more authority than usual suggest a major update is imminent. As widely predicted, Apple announced the release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion yesterday morning, leading to the suggestion that Logic may follow shortly behind.
Our only significant clues to Logic’s likely arrival come from comparisons with Apple’s other pro apps.
Logic is widely expected to follow in the footsteps of the company’s video editing package, Final Cut Pro, which was upgraded from version 7 to Final Cut Pro X last April.
Boxed versions of Logic 9 were discontinued and prices of the product were cut as Apple moved distribution to the Mac App Store at the end of last year. (Final Cut Pro was also moved to download-only distribution shortly before its last major update.)
Notably, all pro apps except Logic were updated for compatibility with Apple’s new Retina displays on June 11th.
All of which suggests that a full update is close. If we had to put money on it, we’d bet on an announcement in late August or early September.
The Logic staff – which still includes members of the original Emagic development team – will be well aware of the importance of this upgrade to pro users and hobbyists alike. Removing features or limiting backward compatibility would surely be a bad move.
One of Logic’s main strengths is its ability to bridge the gap between audio recording and MIDI sequencing. With the possible exception of Cubase, no other DAW comes close to serving both purposes. This leaves Apple in an even more difficult position – having to cater to the vastly different demands of two distinct user groups.
Our Logic feature wish list
Here’s what we’re hoping for in Logic Pro X:
Workflow improvements and new warping features
Ableton’s workflow is currently streets ahead of Logic’s in terms of handling audio warping and sample time-stretching. Apple needs to catch up. Workflow is the biggest area where Apple can improve Logic and the way the software handles loops and audio warping should be near the top of the list. We want to drag and drop loops, clips and entire songs into the arrange window and be able to trigger them in time with other loops immediately. Of course, Logic already has the infrastructure in place to do this, but why should users have to jump through hoops to complete tasks which take a single click in Live? Forget clicking a button to analyse transients, setting loop lengths manually, converting to Apple Loops or anything else; this kind of thing should be instant and automatic in our drag and drop age.
We’re sorry to say it, but the Ultrabeat drum sampler/synth is just too complicated. It’s clearly a hugely powerful drum plugin, but how many users understand it well enough to get the most out of it?
The phase oscillators, FM and physical modelling need simplifying and streamlining into a more intuitive GUI.
We’d also like clearer, simplified sample options which make it easier to audition drum samples and assign chromatic samples to multiple keyzones. And how about being able to view the sample waveform without requiring AAA vision?
While we’re at it, let’s be honest: the EXS24 sampler is looking seriously tired. Logic needs to keep up with Kontakt when it comes to offering a proper all-round sampling tool. We want time-stretching options, better sample editing features and some powerful processing options like the ones found in Xfer Nerve. A few modelled emulations of classic samplers and their filters would also be a great touch.
It’s crazy that Logic makes it so difficult to set up something as basic as an arpeggiator. The Environment window is a complex and outdated interface which most users would be happy to see the back of. How about MIDI effect plugins that we can drag and drop onto channel strips to process MIDI sequences before they hit the instrument plugin? Alternatively, why not just allow audio units to send and receive MIDI data between tracks, which would allow third-party software developers to route MIDI data from one plugin to another?
More synths and more fun
Finally, it’s time to bring the excitement back to Logic. The workflow has steadfastly refused to get more intuitive over the years and the appearance has become stayed. Let’s see some new synths which are simple and inspiring (and sound great, of course). Let’s see some Sausage Fattener-style one-knob wonders, some dirty electronic effects and overall something a little bit less… fifty shades of grey.
We love Logic, but after a three year wait it’s going to take a giant leap by Apple to bring it up to date. How’s our wish list? What are we missing?