Logic Express 8

Apple has unveiled a new version of Logic Express to go along with its new Logic Studio. It’s a pretty capable program for the price, with the new, overhauled production interface, full-blown audio and MIDI editing and even notation, video playback and video scoring features, the new take management and comping features, mixing, and automation. It’s unfortunate, but I have to compare to Ableton’s recently-announced Live LE, which painfully cripples basic clip automation features and the ability to freely add effects plug-ins, audio inputs, and MIDI outputs.

So, what is missing in Logic Express? For starters, you don’t get the bundled applications in Logic Studio. In the case of Soundtrack Pro, that may not matter — like the new Logic Studio, Logic Express includes internal, sample-accurate audio editing and video scoring features in-house. But I suspect the MainStage live performance features will be reason alone for some to upgrade to the full version. There’s also no surround, though this is still a largely stereo world so that makes sense.

More importantly, you miss out on some of Logic’s deep range of instruments and effects. The difference is that Apple is including some of the stars:

  • EXS24 sampler

  • ES2 synth
  • EFM1 FM synth
  • Ultrabeat drum machine
  • Guitar Amp Pro amp modeler

The previous version I believe had only Guitar Amp (not Pro) and the EFM1 and ES2. The new version to keep the ES2 and adds Ultrabeat and the fairly powerful EXS24, which once was a standalone sampler product, even if it looks a little thin compared to the current versions of Kontakt, Dimension Pro, and others. (As noted in comments, not quite clear what EXS24 instruments are there; I’ll ask.)

The effects suite is a little more basic, and I hope they’ve included clear instructions for the confusing UltraBeat instrument, but this still gives you a rich set of stuff to play with right in the box, on top of what you get with GarageBand. And you could always round out the set later with an add-on, third-party plug-in.

This makes for what has to be the richest “entry-level” DAW for US$199 available yet. The equivalent versions of SONAR, Cubase, Live, and others tend to be more limited. I still think most will jump for the full Studio, but Logic Express appears thoughtfully assembled for those on a budget.

Logic Express 8