Reflecting on the transition to Logic Studio 9 is a difficult task in itself, as Apple cease to provide the most wonderful enhancements for the industries leading DAW software. Just when I was comfortable with Version 8, the along comes 9 with what at first seems like relatively few changes, but the wealth of which exist more than make up for hundreds of small 'improvements' that only clog the interface.
I'm almost positive that, like many others, the killer feature this time round was something called 'Flex Time' - a most ingenious component of Logic Pro 9 that allows one to manipulate the time scale of an audio sample without damaging its pitch integrity. Its been a common problem for many years; the fact that when audio tracks were out of sync and needed some better quantisation, your only option was to alter the tempo of that track and, if pitch corrections were required, they could sound awful.
This is all a thing of the past. Flex Time consolidates the former concept into one button, and gives the user an ability to alter the wave form of a sample by simply dragging pins left and right. Don't like the ones that are pre-defined by Logic? No problem, as you can insert and delete them yourself. For someone who has built up many years worth of recordings and samples, this is truly marvel.
The editing of drum samples has also been given a make over and makes it far easier to create rhythm tracks. If you fancy yourself as a 'DJ Dave' in disguise, you can even use the Speed Fade feature to create vinyl-style Starts and Stops to your tracks, which really create an impact and once more, consolidates what would have been an array of different actions into just one feature. These are only a handful of my favourite new features, but you're going to find plenty more when you dig deeper - despite the fact that the interfaces across all the programs are relatively the same.
Whereas Logic Studio 8 and those before it were packaged in large, cumbersome boxes with the DVD's and huge manuals (which, if you dared to read, may put you off reading for life), Version 9 arrives in a comparably diddy box that is no taller or wider than a standard DVD itself. Its thickness is only matched by a 3 small manuals that do what I only hoped would happen - consolidate the most important features of the programs into an easier reading booklet. Sure, I may have been slightly flippant in describing the Logic Studio 8 manuals, but they had 2 problems; taking up far too much space, and being difficult to navigate when you wanted to read up on something specific.
Apples answer to the slimming down of these manuals is that you can read the full versions - just like in Version 8 - either as a PDF from the Installation Disc or online. This makes great sense from my own perspective, as it not only save paper and huge amounts of storage space, but you can of course just drag the PDF's off the disc and onto your computer for ease of reading.
Installation time hasn't improved over the years - you'll still need a good 3 or 4 hours if you've chosen to install everything, and whats more, you'll need to be on hand for the juggling between DVD's.
You'll also have to excuse the pun in my review title, but their is a deeper meaning to it. If you're considering a purchase of Logic Studio, then please please buy is ASAP!
As you may or may not be aware, Apple's latest trend has been to slowly phase-out Optical Drives from their computers, and of course with the Mac App Store being the apparent solution to all of our software needs (I did just have a chuckle), Final Cut Pro X and OS X Lion made their debuts online and will not be released in DVD formats. So where does this leave Logic Pro in the future, if their similarly pro-product Final Cut no longer requires discs? My guess is that it will follow a similar fate, and at no matter what the cost, Apple will ensure a way of taking the 40GB+ software package and stripping it down to less than 10GB for online sales. If such is the case, dramatic changes will occur to the programs within this suite, and I can't begin to imagine what will happen to all those gigabytes of wonderful samples. My guess is that they will sell the Studio programs separately (as they did with FCP), and also sell the Jam Packs/Audio Content separately, to make the program appear smaller in size and a better deal.
This is of course complete speculation on my part, but I raise it only to make customers aware of what could potentially happen if Apple continue their battle against physical...'things' and the need for miniaturisation. Having Logic Studio in a disc format has always been terrific for choosing what additional software to install, and perhaps most importantly with software that requires so much Hard Disk space, as a very safe back-up. Who on earth wants to wait hours for a suite to download, and then more hours for it to install?
Final word on compatibility, it is indeed sad to see that the former version of Logic Pro (Version 8) is no longer supported by Mac OS X Lion, and that the big cat's only response is a mere "This version of Logic Pro (xxx) is not compatible with Lion".
...Sorry, did I say compatible? Well, thats what the Lion says when you try opening the application. Yet, its also a most wonderful coincidence that if you open Logic 8 from its own application folder, it magically WORKS! Yep - i've single handedly made Logic Pro 8 "compatible" by just opening it from a different directory. The directory for those interested is the following:
Finder > Applications > Logic Pro (right click and open 'Show Package Contents') > Contents > Mac OS > Logic Pro.
The truth of course is that its a marketing ploy - OS X Lion is dirt cheap, but they'll make up for it by pretending that applications are incompatible. This is quite sad, as the above directory merely demonstrates that little thought had been given to deceiving the user apart from a tame error message. As for Logic Studio 9, it is indeed fully "compatible" (Ho-Ho!) with Lion providing you do an Apple Software Update and bring it to the latest version.
How much of an upgrade is 9 over 8? The new features, whilst limited, offer amazing flexibility that was once unimagined, and for that reason I had no hesitation in paying for the package at a steal of an education price. For its full retail value, the investment may not yield too many changes, so I would recommend that if you are unsure whether to shell out, simply consider what type of music you like to produce, and base your purchase on the latter. Logic Studio 8 is still a fine package in itself, so avoid giving into pressure.