Apple’s free update to Logic adds a slew of new FX. But the banner feature is Smart Tempo: record without a click, and mix and match audio, automatically.

Playing to click tracks has been the bane of DAW and sequencer users since the beginning. The idea of Smart Tempo is, you record with a human feel, and automatic detection adjusts the tempo track to match. You can then either keep those tempo changes or sync up the result to a clock. Apple confirms this is the same automatic detection we first saw in their Music Memos app for iOS. There, it may have even been overkill; here, it seems more essential.

But this isn’t just for recording. The same feature applies to imported audio, as well, making this a remix and production tool. (Apple uses the term “mashups” – uh, does anyone do that any more? I’m … just sort of hoping not. Let’s say “remix.”)

This is similar to workflows in tools like Ableton Live or Propellerhead Reason which now provide tempo-independent audio functionality, but in Logic, you see it in a more conventional DAW context – and you can be the judge of how well the automatic detection works.

Now, as with a number of Apple features, you might have seen something like this a few years ago in Steinberg’s Cubase. (Both original Logic developer Emagic and Steinberg are headquarters in Hamburg, and Apple still hires in the northern German city, so you can do some math there, as well.) But Apple’s integration promises to be more elegant – let’s test both of them and see. (Apple didn’t provide an advance copy to reviewers.)

Apple did share one demo:

New FX

Also new in this release: more effects. These are at least in part the fruits of the acquisition of Camel Audio, whose Alchemy instrument has featured large in both Logic and GarageBand. Alchemy is probably the most popular modern product of Camel, but they made great effects here – and that team seem to have been busy.

10.4 adds Vintage EQ emulations – Graphic, Tube, and Console – which in turn emulate classics like the sought-after Pulteq EQ. (That Pulteq has seen recreations by Universal Audio, Waves, and Native Instruments, too.) These look nice enough, and you can mix and match for combined precision – something not generally possible with other emulations.

ChromaVerb is an algorithmic effect – that is, these nice colored dots are meant to show you lots of different delays across the audio spectrum. That also gives it some unique controls for adjusting sound. Photo courtesy Apple.

ChromaVerb complements the existing convolution-based Space Designer and its physical models of reverberation with algorithmic, digital-style emulation. There’s some nice color animation for additional feedback, with equalization options big and front-and-center, plus a novel “attack” parameter.

Phat FX is a multi-effect that’s obviously the successor to CamelPhat – so think warmth, distortion, punch, presence. I loved the original, so I’m curious what the new take sounds like.

Sequence multiple effects – or even other sequences – in this combined rhythmic sound processing tool, and a new take from Camel greats from the past.

There’s also a step-sequenced Step FX, which combines multiple synced rhythmic effects – and even other step-sequencers – in to a multi-effect. It’s very Camel, and looks terrific:

The Drummers and Drum Kit Designer range gets more useful as Apple adds brush styles and more content, along with a new Alchemy library and other sound content. There’s also expanded support for tagging and metadata. With Native Instruments pushing their platform hard, I’m curious to see whether Apple can reinvigorate third-party development for their once-proud EXS platform. But at least included content is strong – and of course you can always add via the third-party ecosystem (meaning NI and many others).

The big reason you’re unlikely to complain about this is, you’re not going to have to pay for it – continuing Apple’s free upgrades for Logic Pro X. So it’s US$199 to enter, and then a whole mess of free regular updates. On the other hand, I do hear Apple makes other stuff that they charge money for (cough).

Speaking of that, Apple are quick to tout enhanced performance on the new iMac Pro. But I suspect a lot of you are waiting now on the promised modular Mac Pro – that is, allowing you to mix and match a monitor or monitors of your choice and upgrade display and main machine separately, which is more flexible and presumably more economical than buying these slick all-in-ones. And the dominant machine for producers by far remains the MacBook Pro. No news to report on those fronts.

Ooh, look – big graphics justifying buying new pro Apple machines. Feels like old times. Courtesy Apple.

At least computation does continue to benefit performance, for those of you pushing the envelope with high track counts and the like.

Logic Pro X 10.4 is available now on the Mac App Store.

  • FS

    does anyone notice more CPU needed on these recent Logic updates? or is the performance pretty much the same?

    • pinta_vodki

      There was a bit of a drop off in performance a couple updates back (resulting in an overload error when playing too many tracks live) as well as some lagginess in the updated UI, but they seem to have fixed this up, works fine on a 2011 MBP for me.

      • FS

        ok cool, thank for the info!

  • aggrobatic

    Just an FYI for everyone like me who has furiously tried to update: I am on OSX 10.11, this new version requires at least 10.12. It says so when trying to update trough the appstore.

    • FS

      very good to know thanks.

  • nobody

    Step FX!!! I am crying tears of Reason/Matrix joy! šŸ˜€

    Oh, I need 10.12? uggggghhhhh

  • DPrty

    Thanks for killing Camel Audio.

    • Vaihe

      Thanks for saving Camel Audio. Do you think they would have survived without funding from Apple? Now they have much bigger resources in use. Just look Alchemy. Not many (if any?) softsynths have dedicated team working on regular updates.

      I have switched 90% to Ableton, but this update pushes me back to logic at least for a while. Smart tempo is something i have waited for years. No more playing with click track!

      • DPrty

        Well you sound like the typical Tim Cook Fanboy, and yes I do think Camel Audio would have survived without Apple just as I think Logic would still be on Windows without Apple. I suppose you are also fully behind Apple slowing your phone’s down, or the fact that their factory’s need a net around it to keep their employees from killing themselves? Maybe you love the regurgitated old technology they offer up as cutting edge or possibly you just love overpriced machines? Apple is a bad player and many of us have decided never to use their products.

        • Carl Williams

          jesus fucking christ

          • DPrty

            @Carl Williams Lol … that’s right I said it!

        • max

          So you are jealousy you can’t use logic and the camel stuff anymore on a cheap machine that came from china too. Very telling comment.
          Besides those firms decided to sell themselves to apple. Now their employees have a good payed secure job and do not need to worry about selling something to a niche market. Its really evil. šŸ˜‰

          • DPrty

            First, to be proper it would be “So you are jealous”. Second about the cheap machine from china, you do realize it runs on exactly the same chips and hardware as your Apple? Those firm’s may have decided to sell their soul and you are right I am sure Camel Audio knew that Apple would kill any products for their Window’s user’s. I guess we should ask our selves what kind of shit company decides to do that to half their user’s. Also I would hardly call Window’s a niche market.

          • DPrty

            Apple uses spite to force planned obsolescence. Watch $750 tier 4 repair performed with $2 in parts.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVAmnV65_zw

        • Pop

          lol

  • praveensharma

    I was stuck using Logic on my new iMac Pro for a few days while waiting for an additional Ableton license. Man it was fast… I really give the Logic team kudos for the constant updates but the Ableton workflow is too ingrained in my brain at this point. It just lets the creativity flow.

    One interesting thing about this update – just got an email from Celemony which states Logic now supports a new plugin spec (ARA 2) which enables melodyne to function within a project without requiring any real time transfers of audio.

    • brentdaniels

      “One interesting thing about this update – just got an email from Celemony which states Logic now supports a new plugin spec (ARA 2) which enables melodyne to function within a project without requiring any real time transfers of audio.”

      That’s great news! Thanks for sharing. I hope Celemony takes advantage of that.

  • I think the Step FX is a CamelSpace redux also, no?

  • M Derby

    Been using Logic long enough that I got in on the last version when it was still eMagic, and I think I paid like $1K to buy the program. The path Apple took with the Pro versions of recent years has driven me to slowly adopt Ableton Live as my main DAW, but the this Logic version, with the free tempo recording option, looked interesting enough to make me take another look.

    So here’s what happened on my brand new iMac running Sierra and the latest version of Logic: Two crashes so bad they locked up my machine and forced me to hard reboot. One of the crashes even caused my USB ports not to work right. All my plugs have passed validation and my Live set up is rock solid. I’m mystified what happened with Logic but good lord, it shouldn’t kill my machine as I’m merely trying to set up the program and create a new template.

    • Elekb

      “but the this Logic version, with the free tempo recording option, looked interesting enough to make me take another look.”

      If by “taking another look” you meant “downloaded it from torrents” to “test it out”, then your crash is explained.

      If not, then that is truly mind boggling. Or not that much. Add that one to the list, which includes macOS 10.13 audio driver issues and the 10.13 security debacle from last month.

      • M Derby

        Err, what? I own Logic, but essentially stopped using it in favor of Ableton. Iā€™d really like it to work because Live can tax even very powerful machines very quickly.

        • Carl Williams

          i recently upgraded hds and installed el cap so i could use logic 10.3 and i updated to sierra to run 10.4 with no problems. Im on a 2012 mbp w 16gb ram and 2tb internal hd

        • Elekb

          Fair enough. šŸ˜‰

          I last used version 8 and found it to be pretty taxing on my own machine at times. No audio drop outs, but jittery visuals whenever I was pushing with sample instruments. This *was* quite a few years ago, however.
          I guess we’ll have to wait for performance tests to see if that will be an advantage over Live.

          In any case, Logic and Live are two different beasts with different purposes. Logic apparently has some performance tools, step sequencer etc, but that does not replace Live (or Bitwig) for concert performances.

          Unless of course Apple pulls a new revamped Mainstage out of the box, with new looping tools.

  • I’m curious how the performance is this much better with the newer iMac Pros vs the 12-Core Mac Pros when they Geekbench out pretty much proportionally to their respective amount of cores. Did they change the CPU optimization? If so, I may wait on this update.

  • pinta_vodki

    It feels like i’m writing this under every Logic post, but man, now is the time to update MainStage. It’s an amazing live performance tool, but sadly there’s still no support for tempo changes (when playing to a backing track). The new smart tempo feels like it would fit there perfectly. As well as loops interface from iOS GarageBand. Man, those features are already working well, just integrate them into MS for god’s sake!

  • Mike O’Connor

    I tried Smart Tempo on my standard “impossible to warp” track (Bonnie Raitt – Tangled and Dark), which has so much backbeat that Ableton makes a complete hash of it. Not to mention a couple of 3 beat measures and very “human” tempo changes throughout. Logic nailed it. A couple of easy tweaks to get the downbeat right and tidy up those short measures and I was set. My workflow back into Ableton was to use Logic to smash the track back to constant tempo and import the track into a new Live set with the same global tempo. Works fine (short measures and downbeat are easy to handle).

  • The Cafeteria,,, Lou

    My Mac Pro 12 core doesnt sweat a thing, 12.4 times faster sounds nifty but currently my 5,1 is just perfect.
    Now that Apple has Smart Tempo in, it would be great to port in the chord recognition/ midi bass feature from Music Memo and bind this info to a line in Global Tracks with connectivity to Midi Effects inserts.