Well, welcome to Logic Pro X 10.4! In any other DAW universe, this would have been a $200+ upgrade to a brand new version number. But yet again, Apple is bundling in, free of charge, a fantastic new set of tools as well as innumerable enhancements and updates.
Logic Pro X 10.4 - New Features and Functions
Take a step back for a moment and take a look. Since the inception of the original Logic Pro X, we have been given, completely free of charge by Apple, Drum Machine Designer, Alchemy, Note Repeat, the brush tool & spot erase, time handles, region & trim automation, VCA's, Plug-in manager, smart quantize, multithreading, loudness metering, track alternatives, selection based processing, stereo panning, touch bar integration, and Percussionists. And these are just the flagship features! Well fasten your seat belt; it’s time for another huge step forward with Logic Pro X 10.4.
The single biggest new feature, although one that is integrated so well that it will hopefully be relatively invisible to users, is the advent of Smart Tempo.
Smart Tempo brings powerful new tempo analysis (detection) and editing capabilities to Logic Pro X. With Smart Tempo you can record a performance without the metronome and have Logic Pro X adapt the project tempo to match the tempo of the recording, or keep the project tempo and flex the recording to match it. Smart Tempo also makes it easy to create remixes using audio files with different tempos which all conform to the project tempo, or adapt the project tempo to the tempo of an imported audio file. Ancillary to this are new, more robust, region flex and follow parameters.
File Tempo Editor
Add to this the new File Tempo Editor and you will find a completely revised and simplified beat mapping workflow at your fingertips. Here you can view and edit beat markers and other tempo information for an audio file. After you record an audio region or import an audio file using Smart Tempo, you can refine the tempo analysis and correct any tempo detection errors to define the musical intent more accurately. When working in the new Smart Tempo Adapt mode, tempo and time signature changes are simultaneously transferred to the project tempo and time signature tracks.
Studio Horns and Studio Strings
Apple has taken a huge step in their sampled instruments development with Studio Brass and Studio Strings. And they both sound fantastic. They are supported by a completely new articulation ID handling system that is not only simple and elegant to use, either in real time or in the various MIDI editors, but also opens up the integration of third-party sample libraries.
The new Articulation Edit Window makes it easy to adapt and map Logic Pro X’s new articulation key switch and controller switch handling functions to third-party libraries. When recording, key switch and controller switch information is filtered out, while each note is stored with the articulation ID of the articulation triggered by the switches. These can then be seen and edited in the Event List, Piano Roll, and Score Editors.
New Multi-effects Plugins - Phat FX & Step FX
Phat FX and Step FX are two new multi-effects plugins, based on the CamelPhat and CamelSpace plugins formerly available from Camel Audio.
Phat FX offers the ability to blend up to three different lovely sounding distortion and saturation algorithms. It also has a host of other multi-effects including filtering, delays, compression, bass enhancement, all accompanied by a hearty modulation system built around an envelope follower, two routable LFOs, and a fully programmable X/Y pad controller.
Step FX is a rhythmically based multi-effect unit, designed to add movement to a sound. It offers deep modulation control, courtesy of three independent 128 step modulators. In both plug-ins, the serial routing is easily re-ordered by way of a simple drag and drop Order Strip at the bottom of the interface. They both ship with a tone of great sounding presets to get you started, sound fantastic and are inspiring and intuitive to play with.
New Reverb - Chromaverb
Logic Pro has long been in need of an update to it’s algorithmic-based reverbs. PlatinumVerb was from a completely different generation of processing power. Let’s put out hands together and give a warm welcome to ChromaVerb. It is insufficient to describe this simply as an incredible sounding, imaginative, and inspiring reverb tool. It is so much fun to experiment with that it will inevitably have a huge impact on how you approach designing your reverbs in your mixes. It features fourteen discrete algorithms that provide a different tonal colour to each other and to reverb effects such as Space Designer, PlatinumVerb, GoldVerb, and SilverVerb.
ChromaVerb is based on the principle of a circular absorbent structure in which the sound is gradually absorbed, much like in a real room. The absorption characteristics are dependent on the chosen room type and reverb parameter settings. It offers a fully flexible damping EQ, as well as Output EQ. Combined with various size and absorption style controls, there is a huge range of sound available from this plug-in. I particularly like the ability to set a frequency below which stereo information is summed to mono. This a great feature that has also been added to the Space Designer update.
Vintage EQ Collection
Logic Pro X has finally joined the vintage EQ emulation party. This new collection boasts three great sounding new EQ plug-ins. Vintage Tube EQ combines elements of two of the classic Pulteq hardware EQs. Sweepable instead of notched values enhance its flexibility nicely. Vintage Graphic EQ is a really nice API emulation. The tunable range of the normally fixed bands is a nice improvement. Tuning it up an octave allows the upper bands to create a really sweet sounding “air” EQ band. And the Vintage Console EQ is an emulation of classic Neve hardware.
Independent Drive Stages
A nice bonus on each of these EQs is the addition of a drive stage right before the output. The ability to switch off the EQ stages allows these to be used independently for a nice warm colouring of the sound that passes through them. And they can be mixed and matched. You could have a Neve EQ paired with an API drive stage for example. They can also each be switched between either natural phase or linear phase modes, which affects how the drive stages interact with the EQ sections. The three make for a great addition to Logic Pro’s Channel and Linear Phase EQs.
Autoselect and Stepped Automation
Of notable mention as well is the death of MIDI Draw. It has finally been integrated into a more fully developed and robust version of Region Automation. Both Track and Region automation are now freely available in the Piano Roll and Score editors, as well as the Tracks Area. A newly imagined workflow involving the new Autoselect and Cycle Through functions make it super clean and elegant to work with multiple automation parameters all directly from one visible automation lane. The new stepped automation feature is also a step in a new direction (pun intended) for rhythmically based automation, popular in many EDM and other dance music styles.
There is a nice update to the Direction Mixer plug-in. We can now split the frequency range at a user selectable crossover point, and then adjust the width of the two ranges separately.
Space designer has a nice makeover as well. The Size parameter now changes the impulse response before it is loaded into the plug-in. The overall sample rate is now handled independently by the Quality setting.
Mixer & Plug-In Undo
Mixer Undo and Plug-in Undo, both long-requested features, have been added to Logic Pro X in a very flexible and intuitive manner. They can each be toggled independently in the Undo History Window, and are triggered either with the regular Command Z undo shortcut or by separate key commands - depending on which workflow you prefer.
No Logic Pro update would be complete without at least a couple of new Drummers. Let’s welcome Austin and Tyrell. Both are “Songwriter” drummers. And they play two new beautiful sounding brush kits. The new Bluebird and Speakeasy brush kits are also available in Drum Designer.
And Much, Much, Much More
- Normalizing audio regions to either peak or loudness levels has been made more robust.
- The key commands window has had a makeover as well.
- Combining elements of different key command presets is now easily doable.
- New display filters make it easy to zero in on what you want to see.
- New MIDI Replace mode settings make it simple to control how MIDI punch in recording works.
- The EXS24 Mellotron samples now have their own dedicated interface.
- Managing multiple open plug-in windows when clicking on different channel strips is now handled by a new “multi” link mode in the plug-in headers.
- Automatic slurs in the Score editor now follow transpositions and move/copy actions.
- The playhead is easily repositioned now by Shift-clicking in the Tracks Area or Piano Roll Editor.
These are the main features. There are many more workflow and productivity enhancements to uncover in this update. To learn more, and see these all in action, I have put together over three and a half hours of video dedicated exclusively to the new features and functions in this update.
Watch them here: