Logic Pro 10.8 is a multidimensional update filled with some indispensable new tools, three new plugins, an updated one, some graphical enhancements along with the expected tweaks and polishing that accompany new releases that firmly establishes the genetic future of this flagship DAW.
But before I dive into this latest version, let’s talk about evolution. No, not that kind (as I don’t want to start a religious debate) but, instead, how Logic is evolving in perfect sync with Apple’s Apple Silicon epoch and is starting to harness all the power and promise of the M series chips.
Wasn’t it just a few months ago that Logic Pro for iPad was introduced and the future of Logic Pro has branched out on a new evolutionary path? This new touch species of the Logic Pro genus brings the power of Logic to a new generation of potential users who may never feel the need to buy a laptop—especially since new iPads now use the same family of powerful processors! Logic Pro for iPad isn’t some watered down version of Logic, unlike apps like Pro Tools Sketch that lack the full capabilities of a professional DAW. Rather, LP for iPad is an extremely powerful version of Logic Pro that’s destined to change the way music is created and produced. It’s going to be fun to watch how this divergent Logic Pro lineage is going to evolve.
I mention the above because it’s relevant to what’s new in Logic Pro 10.8. For instance, there are new plugins in 10.8 that were first introduced in the iPad version: Sample Alchemy and Beat Breaker. Projects that use these plugins can even move seamlessly between iPads and Macs. Let’s take a look!
Sample Alchemy is a Software Instrument that transforms a sample into a performable instrument. It has multiple synthesis methods like granular, additive, and spectral, enabling a broad spectrum of sounds from a single audio sample. The plugin’s main window features a representation of an audio file that has been dragged into the plugin. There are four completely independent “sources” with which the user can scan the waveform on the X axis (horizontal) in multiple ways. These are called “Play Modes” and they include Classic (a kind of microscopic granular loop), Looping, Scrubbing, Bowing and Arpeggiation. Each of these independent sources also have their own Y axis (vertical) that can be assigned as a controller (and to controllers) to modulate all of Sample Alchemy’s sonic parameters. And, if that isn’t enough, the X/Y movement or the sources can be performed and recorded independently inside of Sample Alchemy by simply hitting a record button and dragging them around. You can, in effect, overdub them one at a time! As you can imagine, 4 sources scanning through a waveform each with a different play mode can create some very powerful results—either extremely complex or delightfully subtle. All this scanning activity and modulate is stored with the preset. Sound designers and live performers are going to love exploring this!
Additionally, Sample Alchemy also offers the Free Hybrid Textures Sample Alchemy pack, which includes a collection of 70 patches and over 80 loops built from found sounds flipped into creative playable instruments. This pack enhances the versatility and creative potential of Sample Alchemy, allowing users to experiment with a diverse array of textures and loops.
Beat Breaker does exactly that… it breaks beats. This unique device is a plugin that can be inserted in channel strips to remap and “break” a track’s incoming audio in precise rhythmic ways. It works by tossing the incoming audio into a waveform input buffer and then enables us to slice up and manipulate the output in multiple, beat-based ways. You can rhythmically reorder the input audio (up to 32 slices) and change each slice’s timing. You can then modulate the tuning, add beat repeats and change the volume (including crescendos and decrescendos) on a slice by slice basis. You can even cram all those slices into a single beat division (like a quarter note) or stretch them out over several bars. This plugin will take you (and your beats) to new, unexplored groove universes!
The new “Create A New Track” dialog brings the Mac and iPad version of Logic Pro into alignment. In previous versions we were first asked to think about “Track Types”, which is a technical question. Logic Pro 10.8 pushes us into thinking about what kind of sound you want to record or instrument you want to play. It’s a subtle change and takes a full 10 seconds to grok and in reality it’s a better way to get started with a production because it emphasizes creative thinking instead or purely technical. All the other myriad choices, when creating a new track, remain available as before.
AI mastering is busting out all over the place these days. LANDR, DistroKid and a myriad of other companies either offer offline mastering services or all-in-one plugins with some sort of AI involvement. Now Logic Pro has its own mastering plugin called Mastering Assistant. This plugin is located (in a disabled mode) in the last plugin slot of the master channel and is bypassed until called upon. When enabled, Mastering Assistant scans through your project’s tracks (or any section of your project as determined by the user) and creates an AI, ML “mastering chain” based upon what it “hears” in your mix. It does this the way a mastering engineer would approach a project. It applies processes and measures and remeasures these processes as they are distributed across the mastering chain. And although the details of the mastering chain, the amount of processors, and the order in which the individual processes are applied are not revealed, Mastering Assistant does provide powerful front panel controls to fine-tune and personalized the results. Here’s what it does after analysis:
• Creates a complex EQ curve
• Allows the selection of different mastering algorithms
• Applies compression and limiting
• Adjusts loudness
• Adds custom side chain compression if Valve or Punch are selected
• Adjusts stereo width with the Spread control
• Adds an optional Exciter
• Provides loudness compensated A/Bing
Here’s a possible workflow: It seems to me that you can deploy Mastering Assistant as a mix/master tool. For instance, let’s assume you’re mixing. You engage MA to get some feedback and you see that it is boosting the bass to a fairly large degree between 100 and 150 Hz. With that in mind, you could disengage MA and dive back into your mix and make a few surgical adjustments to your low frequency tracks. Then, reanalyze with Mastering Assistant and see if MA is processing your mix a bit differently taking into consideration the changes you’ve made.
So let’s dive in a bit deeper and talk about the plugin. First you’ll find a large EQ area with 3 adjustable handles to subtlety reshape the Assistant’s curve. There are several mastering style choices where you can select an algorithm: Clear, Transparent, Punch and Valve. Pick the appropriate setting for the genre of music noting that Punch and Valve seem to add some side chain magic that tightens up the bass. There’s a Loudness parameter which adjusts the limiting and compression. Limiting is reduced as you reduce the loudness knob. With the Spread control, you can add (or take away) stereo wideness—from some predetermined extreme—or narrow the spread right-down-the-middle to mono. This control includes a built-in goniometer to monitor the phase of the stereo signal. Excite will add some tasty saturation distortion to “toast” up those harmonics. And finally, there’s a timed loudness analyzer where you can get a snapshot of your LU range. You can then A/B the results with Loudness Compensation enabled to better judge the result.
Open up the tool box menu and you’ll find two new tools: the Slip and Rotate tools. The Slip Tool allows for the horizontal sliding (forward and back) of MIDI or audio contained WITHIN a region in the main window. This is one of those features that you wonder how you ever lived without. Imagine a region whose overall content is just hitting a bit late. This kind of alignment adjustment is now just a simple tool away! Note that any musical data that moves past the region’s borders will not sound.
Rotate is similar but ignores the region’s borders and wraps the music data around from the end to the beginning and vice versa. The Rotate Tool, in effect, is a creative tool allowing for changes in a musical phrase (melodic, harmonic or rhythmic) without losing any part of the phrase as it wraps around to the beginning or end of the region. In experimentation I found this very useful in offset loops by a beat to create a completely different feel.
There are some simple changes to improve workflow visualization. Simply put: Everything in a channel strip that is MIDI (including MIDI FX plugins) is now green. Everything audio remains blue. This may seem insignificant but it’s not. It makes for a cleaner, easier to understand-at-a-glance, mixer. It becomes even more evident as your projects get more and more complicated. A very welcome change indeed.
Purple is now the color of all things Pattern related. The Create A (Pattern) Track selector is purple. Pattern regions and loops are purple. You’ll be seeing purple when you create a Pattern track, when you record a new Pattern and when you go to select a Pattern loop.
One last color-related update to mention: Logic's default color handling is modified. You’ll find that on default colored tracks, regions of different types get THEIR default color: purple for patterns, gold for Drummer, green for MIDI and blue for audio. However, on user-colored tracks, these same regions will default to the user’s track color selection—an important distinction to remember.
Logic Pro 10.8 takes MIDI 2.0 implementation a step further by adding a couple of new additions. First of all, in the General/Display/MIDI settings you now have the choice to select MIDI 1.0, 2.0 or by a percentage (in tenths of a %). Viewing MIDI as a percentage has its advantages especially if you’re working with different generation MIDI hardware and software devices that use both the MIDI 1.0 and 2.0 specs.
One important additional feature is that MIDI 2.0 editing is now available in the Event List providing the kind of microscopic editing that the Event List does best.
The Track Inspector has a new setting choice at the top called Default Region Type. Why is this important? That’s what I was wondering when I first saw this option. Here’s the reasoning. Selecting a Region Type allows for the following:
• By preselecting the Region Type in the Region Inspector you have the option to select different related patches to that kind of region in the library
• It determines the default editor pane that opens when selecting a track (and no region is selected)
• Clicking with the Pencil Tool will by default create the selected region type
• It also sets the default color (and icon) of the Software Instrument track when a track’s color isn’t set by the user
It’s a new feature that needs to be explored further to totally get it.
There’s an update to the Pitch Correction plugin that brings a few new options and incorporates Neural Pitch Detection to deliver greater accuracy and superior pitch detection. All this with a handsome new look. Check it out!
All in all, Logic Pro 10.8 is another powerful Apple release with cool new plugins, a powerful mastering tool, two new tools in the toolbox and a boatload of other enhancements and refinements. And like all Logic dot releases, it’s a FREE update at the App Store.
Discover What's New in Logic Pro.8 in the FREE Course
Discover What's New in Logic Pro 10.8: https://macprovideo.com/course/what-s-new-in-logic-10-8
Logic pro 10.8 Release Notes: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT203718