Photoshop for music

Logic is the Photoshop for music. With Logic, an audio software package from Apple, you can capture, process, filter, manipulate, correct, fiddle, compose, edit and endlessly tweak musical sounds to your heart’s content. It’s not the first music software, of course. Apple’s beginner program Garage Band is a hint in the general direction, and Avid’s ProTools is the expensive professional competitor to beat. And there are about a dozen other decent audio managing software packages available and in wide use, including a few basic free options. But Logic is gaining a reputation among some pros as the best one for music makers.

I was turned onto Logic by Brian Eno, who like many other musicians, is using it as his primary creative tool. Logic is the software he uses to compose music, and it’s what he uses in the studio while producing albums of some the world’s best-selling bands. I asked him how it compared to the current professional audio recording program, ProTools, which has become the default in most recording studios, and why he would recommend Logic over ProTools for musicians. Eno said:

I think my main arguments come in three varieties. Protools is a fine system, but it is definitely more orientated towards recording than impromptu creation. It doesn’t handle midi as well as Logic does, and in general it doesn’t take so kindly to the improvisational way of working which you can adopt in Logic. Most importantly, it doesn’t come bundled with all the interesting plug-ins and ready made loops that come with Logic. For instance I created a little song in my hotel room one night [as a gift, posted here] which I could not have done there in Protools. Logic’s main strength, until recently at least, is that it is a high quality format (although I have to confess the actual audio difference is increasingly minimal to me).

And this brings me to my second thought. Protools is a stand-alone system with its own hardware and software. Logic is an Apple-owned system. What this means to me is that Logic benefits from every advance that Apple computers make in the evolution of their hardware — and I think Protools just won’t be able to keep up with them. Remember Apple only just bought Logic, and the next version of Logic is expected to be a huge leap forward. I think Protools just won’t have the resources to match Apple in that arena.

Last thing: you can carry Logic on your laptop and play, compose, create on the plane, wherever.

Logic, like Photoshop, is a complex, deep, powerful piece of software that will take some time to learn, and will cost you a bundle. But you will never exhaust it. And like Photoshop, which comes in a slightly “lighter” and significantly cheaper version (PhotoShop Elements), Logic also comes in a cheaper lite version called Logic Express. Most folks won’t miss the few deleted features in Logic Express, and you can upgrade easily when desired.

-- KK 08/6/07

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