Updated: This story incorrectly stated the upgrade price for Serato Pitch & Time was US$99; it’s US$399.

Apple is now shipping its 7.2 update to Logic Pro, well ahead of schedule. (It was originally slated for March.) As Steve Jobs touted in the keynote, this crossgrade will deliver Universal binary support for Intel processors. But existing Logic users have plenty of other reasons to be happy. Aside from new features, the release fixes a lot of major griping points in the Logic community having to do with ReWire and Digidesign support.

Now the bad news (for some of you, anyway): it completely breaks support for Pro Tools 6. More details:

GarageBand 3 Features: Normally, there’s a delay before GarageBand functionality “trickles up” to Logic Pro; not this time. The new release has the cool automatic ducking and speech enhancer plug-ins, for automatically mixing music with spoken word and enhancing vocal recordings, respectively. You’ll also get the same jingles and sound effects from iLife 06. That means they’re just in time for me to destroy them with a string of avant-garde effects!

Compressed Audio Support: Also in parallel to GarageBand 3, Logic will natively support AAC so you can include compressed audio in a project. This should aid in exchanging projects over the Web, because you can just send them the compressed project while you’re working, then later revert to the uncompressed version. Note that they’re not supporting MP3.

Pro Tools HD 7: Good News! A major frustration for existing Logic users was the lack of complete Pro Tools DAE support. 7.2 claims to fix that, with ESB and EXS24TDM support and complete compatibility with Pro Tools 7.2. I don’t have a PT system here; my studio is native only. But I have heard complaints from people who have tried to combine Pro Tools and Logic, and this at least has the potential to address their problems. So that’s the good news . . .

Pro Tools 6: Really Bad News! Got Pro Tools 6.9 or earlier? Unless you upgrade to Pro Tools 7, you can only use Logic Pro 7.1 or earlier; 7.2 discontinues support for the older systems. From the 7.2 documentation:

Logic Pro 7.2 only supports Pro Tools HD 7. Older versions of Pro Tools (including Pro
Tools 6) are no longer supported. Users of older Pro Tools versions must use previous,
compatible versions of Logic Pro. Note that this probably isn’t entirely Apple’s fault: I’ve already been told by Digidesign developers that you’ll need to upgrade to Pro Tools 7 to use the new Intel Macs.

Note: The Pro Tools HD 7 software does not support Digidesign’s MIX systems, nor does
Logic Pro 7.2.

Apogee Support (so you can drop Digi?): As noted here previously, Logic does add integrated support for a terrific-looking new Apogee FireWire hardware interface. It’s yet another hardware option if you’re tired of being tied to the Pro Tools hardware and software.

ReWire Fixes: Logic 7.2 claims to fix each of my complaints about Logic’s ReWire support. First, Logic will finally support stereo ReWire objects, instead of forcing you to route left and right separately. Second, ReWire will be labeled properly to reflect the application to which you’re connected. And finally, you’ll be able to successfully create ReWire objects from the Create Multiple menu. These were huge annoyances; these alone are worth a cross-grade to me!

Live Performance Features: Now that you can switch channel strip settings via MIDI, you’ll be able to switch between sets of instruments and plug-ins as you’re playing, in other words. Bypass can also be controlled with MIDI and effects, so you can turn effects on and off over MIDI.

More Control Surface Support: Not sure what was added in which release, but everything from the M-Audio iControl to the Frontier TranzPort, Tascam FW-1082 and US-2400, JLCooper boards, and even the Korg MicroKONTROL now works as a control surface in Logic. A new display in the mixer helps you keep track of what you’re controlling.

Stretchy Audio: These days, lots of software has the ability to stretch and re-pitch audio content, but not every app or plug-in does it as well as Serato Pitch & Time. A special version will be for sale for US$399 for Logic users; I hope to try it out and report back. Logic’s internal facilities are improved, too, with new profiles (complex, percussive, and “universal”) for time stretching. Once I have the new Logic and Serato stuff, it’d be great to hear how extreme settings differ with a program like Live.

So, there you have it. You hardly need to own an Intel Mac to want to upgrade; ReWire and MIDI switching between channel strip “performances” alone could make this a must-buy. The only thing you really want not not have for the upgrade — Pro Tools 6.