Apple Logic Studio

Apple ComputerWhat Final Cut Studio is to filmmaking, Logic Studio is to making music. To call it ‘all things to all musician’ as Apple does doesn’t give very much away, and even the headings on the Logic Studio page of Apple’s website that read ‘write’, ‘record’, ‘edit’, ‘mix’ and ‘perform’ only go part of the way to describing what it can do.

But as the first two headings illustrate, it’s for you whether you make music by sitting on a stool with real instruments or entirely using a keyboard (the qwerty kind). It contains Logic pro 9, Mainstage 2, Soundtrack Pro 3 and a host of production and effects tools.

The family comes with a huge swag of new additions. The most exciting is Amp Designer, which lets you design your own set-up by placing 25 amps, 25 speaker cabinets and 3 mikes in virtual space for the rig and sound you want. Flextime lets you move individual beats on a waveform without having to splice and edit the track.

Mainstage offers some of the most impressive features of the suite, particularly in the live control deck. Whereas other systems (including lesser Apple ones) let you set effects and properties to the sound in general, or even individual tracks, Mainstage had dedicated interfaces for different instruments. If you’re on guitar, you get a full suite of settings with plug-ins called Amp Designer, Pedalboard and Loopback.

As the name suggests, they let you apply the distinct effects each component’s real-world version does right in the software. Similar interfaces let you play with edits dedicated to keyboard players and drummers and can apply everything from sampler libraries to automatic backing tracks.

True to Apple’s form, everything’s put together with ease of use in mind. The stompbox effects tool, Pedalboard, not only contains 30 stompbox presets (for everything from Heavenly Chorus to Vintage Wah), it looks like the stompboxes are lined up in front of you on the stage floor in all their scuffed, live, pub band glory. It’s easy to reorder and swap pedals around for the particular sound you’re after, and support for Apogee’s GiO hardware gives you hands free control of it all for when you have your guitar in hand. To expand the toolset even more, the effects and sounds you can get from the Pedalboard are applicable to any other instrument as well.

Apple has also done as good a job as ever pushing other services — you can back up custom settings and commands that you’ve set up for particular commands to your MobileMe account for access anywhere on the web.