March 2, 2005

Logic Express 7 Changes  [ Edit ] 

Logic Pro was released over a year ago now, with Apple wrapping up all the plugins and goodies of the Logic series into one monster application. Logic Express, which at the time appeared to be a renamed Logic Audio, was not changed very much. This fall, Apple updated both Logic flavors to version 7. I waited several months before upgrading, since the upgrade policy for Big Box users was not obvious. I ended up buying it, and a pair of headphones, from Mac MIDI Music in Kentucky.

There are a number of significant changes that may be of interest to fellow Logic tweakers.

The Good Stuff

  • No XSKey!

    This was easily the biggest annoyance for me using Logic Audio — the USB key that had to be plugged in to launch Logic. Logic Express 7 no longer requires a USB dongle to run, instead using the boring old mechanism of serial numbers. While this is a trade-off for Apple, opening themselves up to the possibility of piracy, it does take the pressure off for mobile people like me who use laptops on desks and in backpacks, not having to remember to put that key in the right place before traveling. This change alone makes the upgrade worthwhile for me.

  • Controller Assignments

    Logic is finally capable of sending MIDI control data from the knobs and faders on MIDI controller keyboards and the like directly to anything in the application without extraneous silliness in the Environment. Just choose Controller Assignments from the Logic Express menu (it’s somewhat buried — Logic Express > Preferences… > Control Surfaces > Controller Assignments), and you’re off. It’s very easy — I might actually try automating some things in songs now because so easy to do.

  • Full Score Editor

    Logic Express’s Score Editor is now identical to the one found in Pro. This is a great thing for people like me who want to make lead sheets from time to time and don’t want to fork over more money for a dedicated scoring application, or simply want to view existing tracks with full scoring capabilities. A scoring application like Sibelius or even G7 would still be useful, but for me, the scoring in Express 7 is good enough now.

    At this point, I think everything in Express should be the same as Pro except for plugins. That would allow Express users to have all the useful audio and midi tools that Logic provides in its Pro version, with the incentive to upgrade to Pro being all those sweet instruments and effects. I don’t know if I’ll get my wish, but Express would be the perfect sequencer for the advanced home recordist, and would sell like hotcakes, if it provided all the editing tools and environment hooks that Pro offers. I don’t necessarily see Apple doing this, but I think it would be a great thing if they did.

  • Multiple Undos

    For whatever reason, Logic Audio was limited to 3 undos. Now you can have up to 99. This may be the same as Pro, I’m not sure, but it’s vastly superior to three, and is enough for me.

  • Audio Driver Fallback

    I’m not sure what else to call this, but it’s very handy. On my iBook, I have to use an external sound card to record sound from the world — there’s no built-in line-level jack or microphone input. I record, therefore, through my mobilepre USB audio interface, which has its own driver. When plugged in, Logic can use it for input and output. If I use that driver in Logic, then quit, the next time I start Logic it will try to use the mobilepre. So far so good. As of Logic Express 7, if the mobilepre is not plugged in when Logic starts, it will fall back and use the built-in sound interface for input and output. In the older versions, I would be stuck in a sonic limbo where none of Logic’s effects or instruments would be available — it would essentially do nothing until I manually reset the driver to built-in. Now I can leave Logic in this state, and when the mobilepre is plugged in, Logic uses it; if not, it uses the built-in, and I can still play with virtual instruments, samplers, and so forth, and hear the results.

  • User Interface Enhancements

    Logic Audio always felt a little weird to me, with its use of local menus that didn’t act like regular menus, its inability to react to the scroll wheel on my mouse (for horizontal scrolling — vertical scrolling did work). Logic Express 7 fixes both these issues: local menus act just like regular menus, and the scroll wheel fully works. There are other little UI touches all over the place, but those are two bigs ones that annoyed me that are now fixed.

  • Solo button on tracks

    This is a pretty small change in the grand scheme of things, but the only way to solo tracks in the Arrange window used to be the Solo tool. Now you can do what everyone else can do, and just push a button. If you prefer the tool and don’t plan to use the button, it can be hidden.

  • The Package

    Logic’s application package now contains documentation for the application, and every plugin. This is really, really nice. Logic’s documentation has finally been rewritten, too — no more using a combination of Logic 4’s manual with two or three addenda.

  • Song Templates

    Logic 7 brings in the ability to have multiple templates from which to start songs. For experienced Logic users, this means pretty much means multiple Autoloads. For the rest of us, it means you can open a file all ready to record 24 tracks of audio, or have your favorite virtual instruments preloaded, or any number of other customizations that Logic song files can contain, and any one of them is available from the New… command at any time.

  • Guitar Amp

    Logic 7 brings the Guitar Amp amp modeler, which is not very flexible in Express, but for a not-very-good guitar player like me, it’s really fun.

  • Apple Loops

    As discussed previously, Logic can now use Apple Loops just like Garageband could, for stretching and squishing beats in time and pitch.

  • Channel Strip Presets

    Logic has always been able to save settings the parameters of various plugins. Channel Strip presets allow you to save not only the plugin’s settings, but what plugins are loaded in the insert and sends, and what instrument they were used on. It’s pretty useful.

The Not So Good Stuff

Logic has a whole bunch of great improvements, and it’s made me feel more comfortable using it. By gum, I might end up finishing some tracks it’s so much better overall. There are some small retractions of features, or just little mistakes, that are annoying, and deserve mention.

  • Misleading Box

    Update: Logic Express 7.1 now includes automation curves, so if you get that in the box, it’s accurate again. Since this still applies for 7.0, I’m leaving it in.

    Logic Express users might have been very excited when they received their box, thinking they would have the smooth control over automation that Pro users have, in the form of curves. Automation curves mean you can fade volume logarithmically and smoothly, instead of in the linear fashion Express supports. Well, in this case the package designers at Apple were thoughtless and/or lazy, using images from Logic Pro for the box. Express doesn’t support curves, no matter what the box says.

  • EXS24 editor is gone

    The EXS24 sampler was not included with Logic Audio or Express 6, but its editor was. That meant you could edit the samples used in the EXSP24 sampler instrument files, moving samples from key to key, figuring out (in the case of imported Giga sampler files, or other non-Logic file types) what was mapped to what key instead of just plunking every key until you find it. This is an unfortunate change, but one I’m living without. Besides, for this sort of thing, you can always just fire up your old copy of Logic Audio 6 if you have it (and I do).

    Redmatica, a small audio software company from Italy, is currently working on a standalone editor for EXS instrument files called KeyMapper that should fill this void when it’s released later in 2005. As of this writing, the price is not known, but I expect it will be less than $100. Logic users of all levels, Pro and Express, are interested to see what improvements Redmatica will bring over the EXS24’s built-in editor (more experienced sampler users seem to think there are lots of improvements to be made).

  • No Sidechain

    Logic Audio used to have minimal support for sidechaining plugins, meaning you could tie an audio input to another virtual instrument or effect. It only worked in internal instruments like the ES1, but now Logic Express has no support for sidechaining.

  • Marquee Tool Is Gone

    The marquee tool is no longer available in the sample editor. I haven’t done enough audio editing in Logic to know how much of a loss this is, but the folks over at OSXAudio.com were pretty upset about it, so I think it’s worth mentioning.

Posted by Joe
Comments

by far, the biggest bummer in all of this is the lack of sidechain support. For Logic Express, a program that touts itself as being the entry from GarageBand amateur experimentation to prosumer production, this feature removal has serious impact on getting the word pro in prosumer. Sidechains are used ALL the time, for ducking vocals, getting a kick drum and bass guitar to sit together in a mix, dance music effects, etc. And the killer of all is that Logic HAD this. They had it and they took it away. While it may seem like a small thing... it's not and for Apple to make sidechain's a right enjoyed only by the Logic Pro people is a bummer of galactic proportions. Am I actually going to have to pay the 700 dollar upgrade just to get a sidechain input?

Posted by: ryan at March 25, 2005 11:21 AM

Agreed. As far as I'm concerned, the only difference between Express and Pro should be track count (maybe), TDM capabilities, and the plugins. Everything else should be exactly the same -- how else are relative novices like me going to really learn how to use these tools?

The arbitrary removal of features (it does seem sort of arbitrary to me) isn't helpful. I've sent Apple feedback about this issue, and I hope you will too.

http://www.apple.com/feedback/logic.html

Posted by: Joe at March 25, 2005 12:50 PM

You can visualise a focus group at Apple discussing "feature removal" for the Express version.

Having bare-bones plugins, no EXS editor, and no sidechains, won't sway people from buying Reason or Storm. Worse... it comes off badly against Sonar and other products on the dark side. The gap between Express and Pro got bigger at V7.

There are still major bugs at V7.01. The text and dialog boxes are miniscule. Ticks in the local window menus don't work.

But it loads a lot faster than V6.4 and they condescended to give us a decent reverb. I have pasted this text in the Apple feedback page...

Posted by: Rob Brown at March 27, 2005 3:31 AM

yes, I too am irked by the sidechain problem - trying to MIDI control auto tune. don't want to pay 700 bux.

Posted by: Chris at April 13, 2005 12:05 AM

I just called apple to see if I can upgrade from Logic Audio to Logic Express 7... They could not give me a clear answer... What would you do in this case.

Jim

Posted by: James Peraino at June 25, 2005 12:43 PM

I find that sometimes Apple's people aren't familiar enough with the Logic product line, especially Express, to give good answers.

What you want is the upgrade from the Logic Big Box to Logic Express 7. Apple's item number on it is M9707Z/A, and it sells from them for $99. It's available at Apple Stores, from Apple's website, Amazon, Mac MIDI Music, and elsewhere. If your XSKey is registered for Logic Audio 6, the upgrade will work fine. The box I received even has a sticker that says "Upgrade from Logic Express or Big Box".

So, in short, you should be fine. If Apple's wishy-washy on it, just buy it from somewhere else.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at June 25, 2005 12:53 PM

My band purchased Logic Express today and it won't even record multiple tracks simulttaneously. I tinkered with every possible aspect of hardware to software communication and everything was in place. Yet I couldn't select more than 1 track to be recorded. A bit lame for 400 bucks.

Posted by: Jamie at January 5, 2006 10:15 PM

hmm... where's the problem with sidechaining? just use one of the the AUX and you are fine. or didn't i get it?

Posted by: Phaser at April 7, 2006 9:27 AM

AUX channels are very limited in Logic Express. They're pretty much only good for receiving audio from multi-output plugins.

If there's some way of simulating sidechaining with Logic Express's AUX channels, I'd be very keen to hear about it.

Posted by: Joe at April 7, 2006 1:15 PM

Logic Express is great to work, but I feel the quantize options in the Matrix Editor is poor. Having the full score editor is great.

Posted by: dialashop at February 2, 2007 9:55 PM

Logic Express does support curves, use the Curve Tool in the Tool box when editing envelopes.

Posted by: Brandon Martinez at February 27, 2007 9:44 PM

Hi Brandon. I did note that 7.1 brought the curves change. What I said still applies to 7.0 (as I said), so I'm leaving it for reference.

Posted by: Joe at February 27, 2007 10:00 PM

So I'm running Logic Express 7.1 with a 16 Channel Alesis Firewire soundboard, are there any cheap (or free) plug-ins (say, a basic pitch correcting plug-in) out there?

Posted by: Perry at March 21, 2007 10:47 PM

hey have a question for onayone out there. I have been trying to get my fantom x8 key to work as my midi controller. However when I try and use the instruments in logic with my fantom x8 I get both sounds, one of my fantom and the other of the logic intruments.
I aslo have not figured out how to actually record my fantom x8 as midi and not just an audio file. Nothing in the manul is helping. HELP if you can.
I did download the new midi drive for my intel and thats not the problem.
thanks in advance

Posted by: timothy muchira at April 4, 2007 2:47 PM

Hi, i've been using logic since i started secondary school. For about 6 years now, i am very accustomed to the program except i have no experience in Scoring as i have never needed a printout for any of my work. I have only recently bought a new MacBook though with Logic Express and now i think its time to start learning how to score properly, yet I cannont figure out how to make it look professional. I was wandering if there is any guides on Logic Express scoring, like a step by step tutorial or sumthing? It would be greatly appreciated if anyone has a link they could email me with.
Many thanks in advance

Posted by: Nathan Watson at April 21, 2007 5:54 PM

Nathan,

I haven't used this myself, but I've seen it, and it might be just the thing you need. It's the Logic Notation Guide (http://prischl.net/LNG/). It was written for older versions of Logic, but I'm pretty sure the scoring features haven't changed much up until now, and Logic Express has the same scoring features, as far as I know, as Pro (and therefore Platinum from days of yore). Take a look.

Posted by: Joe at April 21, 2007 7:22 PM

I am very very interested in the sidechain thing. I upgraded from GarageBand in the hopes of landing some sidechain so if anyone has a workaround please let me know.

In the meantime, in the low-budget land, I posted a how-to on setting up the BCF2000 to work with logic express (link on my name... I am not trying to whore links... I really want a sidechain workaround).

Posted by: Logic at June 19, 2007 10:02 PM

Does Logic Express have an audio editor within the program? Something like Adobe Audition?

Posted by: Lou at June 30, 2007 1:07 AM

@Lou:

Yes, it does. It's not as advanced as Audition (I suspect, although I haven't used Audition), but it has an audio editor. It's called the Sample Editor.

Posted by: Joe at July 1, 2007 11:11 PM

does anybody know how to convert Logic Audio 5 projects into Logic Express 7? All help is dearly appreciated!!!!

Posted by: Josef at July 22, 2007 2:42 PM

Josef,

Have you tried just opening your .lso files in Logic Express? That should work. If you're talking about something else, be more specific. Or try the forums on logicprohelp.com.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at July 22, 2007 10:18 PM
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