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Apple's Logic Studio is an Unbeatable Bargain

by Glen Emerson Morris
Editor's Pick
Apple Logic Studio

Buy it from Amazon!

Purpose: Digital Audio Recording
Capability: Everything from simple podcasts to major motion picture soundtracks in 5.1 surround

Street Price: Under $500.00!
Logic Studio is the most comprehensive collection of professional grade digital recording software ever offered, and at the price of a single audio component, it's an amazing value.

Logic Studio Includes:
Logic Pro 8 (recording studio)
Soundtrack Pro 2 (postproduction)
MainStage (live performance)
Dialogue and Restoration Tools
40 Virtual Instruments
1,300 EXS Instruments
18,000 pre-recorded loops
5,000 Sound Effects
2,400 channel strip settings
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In a move that will send economic shockwaves through the recording software industry, Apple released the long awaited version 8 of its top end digital audio recording software Logic Pro, for half the $1000 price of the previous version, and with about twice the software previously included, too.

With podcasting and streaming Internet audio booming, businesses that would have never considered audio production as an essential business capability are now finding it unavoidable. With perfect timing Logic Studio 8 Apple is making recording software previously available only to larger budget operations now available to small to mid-sized businesses.

Apple has followed industry leader Digidesign's pricing model in that the price of the software is relatively inexpensive, the catch is that you also have to have the company's hardware to run the software. Even with the cost hardware factored in, Logic Studio 8 is still an unprecedented bargain, considering all that the package includes.

Apple has claimed Logic Studio is the ultimate boxed set, and it would be hard to argue that it's not. Apple has tossed in about every possible feature, accessory and plug-in anyone could ever expect to find in a recording application. A very basic list of its features would take several pages of small type to begin to adequately cover (and will be covered in a separate article on our website). In brief, the core components are:

Logic Pro 8, Apple's highly acclaimed professional music production application.

Soundtrack Pro 2, (also part of Apple's Final Cut), is a standalone application specifically designed for audio post-production for film and video, and includes features for cleaning up and restoring dialog recorded in the field. Many movies and countless TV and cable commercials have been made with SoundTrack Pro.

MainStage is an application designed to make the capabilities of Logic Studio available to musicians onstage for live performances. It could also be used for live presentations at trade shows.

Studio Instruments, which features 40 instrument plug-ins, with 1300 virtual instruments, and emulations of the Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos.

Studio Sound Library 18,000 pre-recorded loops that can be combined to make entire compositions, or to provide accompaniment to recorded tracks. Also included are 5000 sound effects.

Studio Effectsfeatures 80 plug-ins,
Space Designer allows extensive control over artificially created room environments, ranging from closets to cathedrals to stadiums, with presets for some of the most distinctive locations.

Guitar Amp Pro features software emulation of 11 different guitar amplifiers and 15 speaker cabinets, allowing a guitarist to plug directly into LS and still sound like they are playing through a real guitar amp.

There are still a few critical items missing from the box, and not surprisingly, they are all hardware. In addition to a Mac, to use Logic Studio you'll need an analog to digital i/o box that does the work of converting analog signals from microphones and electronic instruments to digital signals a computer can process. Prices for these run from a couple of hundred for a unit capable of recording two or four channels simultaneously to a thousand or more for an eight channel model. Also needed are microphones, monitor speakers and amplifier. Not necessarily required, but nice to have, is what's known as a control surface, which is a box that gives you real knobs and sliders to adjust instead of having to rely on the mouse. Several companies make control surfaces compatible with Logic Studio, including Mackie.

Another thing is missing from the box, but it will not be missed. Apple has eliminated the hardware copy protection previous versions of Logic Pro shipped with, which required the user to have a USB dongle plugged in to make the software work. All you need to install and run Logic Studio 8 is a valid serial number.

As close to perfect as Logic Studio 8 is, there are still some issues that need to be considered.

The minimum system requirements of a 1.25GHz G4 running OS 10.4.9 or later with 1GB of memory for Logic Studio do not allow for more than minimum performance, meaning the number of tracks that can be simultaneously recorded is limited, as is the number of special effects, and 7.1 surround mixing simply isn't possible without a G5. However, the preferred system requirements of a dual core G5 with 4 GB of memory should be adequate for nearly anything you'd want or need to do with Logic Studio 8.

Also, unlike GarageBand, Logic Studio is a complicated application with a steep learning curve. Version 8 is significantly easier to use than previous versions, but it's still not simple to use. The Logic Studio package comes with over 1600 pages of manuals. You can get going by reading only a fraction of the manuals, but some reading is absolutely necessary.

And one has to ask if the average audio production department needs something as comprehensive as Logic Studio 8? Maybe not, but Logic Studio is so reasonably priced you won't waste money on features you really don't need, and you may need nearly all the features someday.

Another way to look at is that since Logic Studio includes the first five Jam Packs from GarageBand, which sell for about $100 each, buying Logic Studio for $500 is equivalent to buying the Jam Packs and getting LS for free.

Logic Studio 8 is something only Apple could have pulled off. By leveraging it's hardware advantage, Apple has made it difficult for any company to match its price for its recording software. Companies with no hardware sales to subsidize software development costs, which is essentially everyone in the industry except Digidesign, will have a very tough time competing with Apple, but their loss is our gain.

If Logic Studio listed at $1500, it would be fair to say that since the average businesses wouldn't need all of the features it has to offer, a lower priced application that just did what was needed would be a more cost effective solution. At $500, Logic Studio is a bargain if you only use half of its features.

Once again Steve Jobs has come up with another great reason to buy a Mac, and, from our industry's point of view, his timing couldn't have been better.

Glen Emerson Morris is currently a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law. He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.

Copyright 1994 - 2010 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved

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