Logic Pro X 10.4


Macworld - - REVIEW -

For a num­ber of years now Ap­ple’s Logic Pro X mu­sic pro­duc­tion soft­ware has been one of the quiet jewels in the com­pany’s crown. Yes, the iPhone, iPad and Mac will be used by more peo­ple, but when it comes to qual­ity, value for money and the con­tin­ual ad­di­tion of new fea­tures, Logic takes some beat­ing.

At the start of 2018, the team at Cu­per­tino an­nounced an­other up­date to the soft­ware, and with it comes some se­ri­ous new tools and fea­tures.

Over the fol­low­ing pages we take a look at what’s on of­fer in Logic Pro X 10.4.


Ap­ple has stated that Logic Pro X has more than 2,000 bug fixes and new fea­tures nestling in its code. While these fig­ures can of­ten seem like hy­per­bole – is it 1,999 bug fixes plus a new re­verb? – in the case of Logic Pro X 10.4 noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

New ca­pa­bil­i­ties and plug-ins such as Smart Tempo, Chro­maVerb, Step FX and Phat FX all make this an up­date that any other com­pany would (not un­rea­son­ably) claim as a full ver­sion up­grade rather than a point re­lease. The fact that Logic own­ers get these new in­no­va­tions for free is, frankly, ridicu­lous, and Ap­ple should be ap­plauded for its con­tin­ued sup­port of the plat­form. There’s plenty to get your teeth into, start­ing with un­doubt­edly the star of the show – Smart Tempo.

Smart Tempo

Logic Pro X users will al­ready be very fa­mil­iar with Flex Time, the fea­ture that can sort out the wan­der­ing tem­pos of live per­for­mances by sub­tly pulling them back on to the beat.

While this is a bless­ing for pro­duc­ers want­ing to keep ev­ery­thing sound­ing tight, it can mean tracks feel too pre­cise at times, sac­ri­fic­ing the looser feel that harks back to the days of Led Zep­pelin when the only click track used was a pound­ing drum­mer in the next room.

With Smart Tempo, Logic es­sen­tially turns Flex Time on its head, ad­just­ing the tempo to fit around the au­dio in­stead. With the fea­ture en­gaged you can record a live in­stru­ment, not con­cern­ing your­self overly with set­ting the right tempo.

As you play, Logic mon­i­tors and analy­ses your tim­ing, plac­ing var­i­ous tempo change mark­ers into the track in­for­ma­tion. When the riff or chord se­quence is down, it then uses the mark­ers to ad­just other tracks so that they fit with the feel and tim­ing of your record­ing.

This means that the drum­mer will sit in with you, mak­ing small cor­rec­tions to match your play­ing, as will any other loop or au­dio that you add to the project. Now, it must be said that if your play­ing is all over the place then the re­sults won’t be great, but for rea­son­ably tight per­for­mances it can re­turn that live feel that most of us crave.

The tempo mark­ers are at­tached to the record­ing, so if you move it to an­other part of the project the changes will move too. They are also re­placed when you copy and paste the re­gion.

Dou­ble-track­ing an in­stru­ment is sim­ple with Smart Tempo, as the vari­ance in tim­ing is min­imised, and it also means that any time-based loop will now work with your project, as the tempo is ad­justed to fit.

An­other op­tion is to ap­ply the project tempo to the au­dio in­stead. This means that you can record a com­pli­cated riff at 120bpm, then speed it up to 180bpm just by chang­ing the tempo. Nat­u­rally, this tempo would also ap­ply to all other record­ings, drum­mers and loops.

In our test­ing the tempo anal­y­sis would work, but we couldn’t al­ways get the drum­mer or loops to sync, even though the set­tings and meth­ods we used were iden­ti­cal. Com­pli­cated rhythms proved the most un­re­li­able, al­though we did get them in time with some fid­dling.

For the lat­ter there is the Tempo File ed­i­tor, which quickly en­ables you to ad­just the mark­ers, and cor­rect any con­fu­sion that may have oc­curred in the anal­y­sis. Teething prob­lems aside, Smart Tempo is an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion to Logic, which will sim­plify the lives of song­writ­ers or those remix­ing live bands and want­ing to add post pro­duc­tion loops. It’s not a catchall, though. At the mo­ment the fea­ture only works with sin­gle au­dio tracks, and not record­ing takes or with track al­ter­na­tives, but it’s a great start.


Un­doubt­edly the most aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing new fea­ture is Chro­maVerb. This is an al­go­rith­mic room re­verb, of­fer­ing 14 dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments that range any­where from a stan­dard Con­cert Hall to the enig­mat­i­cally named Strange Room, which has a hint of ring mod­u­la­tion about it. The main draw is the graph­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the sound and de­cay. These look like par­ti­cles that are thrown up and then fade away into the am­bi­ent dust clouds be­hind them. Ap­ple says this em­u­lates “the prin­ci­ple of a cir­cu­lar struc­ture in which the sound is grad­u­ally ab­sorbed, much like in a real room”.


There’s also a cool ‘Freeze’ set­ting that sus­pends the cur­rent ef­fect in a slow fade, per­fect for

ac­cen­tu­at­ing cer­tain mo­ments in a com­po­si­tion. Whether you buy into the lan­guage or not, Chro­maVerb is a pow­er­ful re­verb tool that looks beau­ti­ful, and the vis­ual cues of dis­si­pat­ing sonic neb­u­las add an in­ter­est­ing and sur­pris­ingly use­ful dy­namic.

Vin­tage EQ col­lec­tion

Three new EQ con­soles, all based on clas­sic mod­els from the 50s, 60s and 70s, also make their de­buts in Logic Pro X 10.4. These are em­u­la­tions of Neve and Pul­tec EQs, and see the wel­come ad­di­tion of vin­tage mod­els into the pal­ette.

One of the ad­van­tages of­fered by these mod­els is that whereas the orig­i­nal hard­ware had var­i­ous stepped set­tings, the dig­i­tal ver­sions al­low you the op­tion to also sweep through the in­ter­ven­ing

fre­quen­cies, cre­at­ing new sonic pos­si­bil­i­ties. Each also fea­tures a drive con­trol in the Out­put sec­tion and the abil­ity to turn off the EQ stages. This means you can use the nat­u­ral char­ac­ter­is­tics of each unit to colour the sound with­out need­ing to en­gage the EQ it­self.

Step FX

Step FX com­bines dis­tor­tion, mod­u­la­tion, re­verb and de­lay ef­fects with three step mod­u­la­tors, all of which can re­sult in some se­ri­ous sonic man­gling. By se­lec­tively en­gag­ing each step mod­u­la­tor you can al­ter the pan, gate and fil­ter fre­quency, or en­gage all of the units for some fas­ci­nat­ing polyrhyth­mic an­ar­chy. It’s our favourite new fea­ture, and some­thing that re­wards con­tin­ued ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with mes­mer­iz­ing re­sults.

Phat FX

The clue is def­i­nitely in the name with this ef­fect, as the re­sults you can get from it when ap­plied to gui­tars, bass or drums are in­deed phat! This multi-ef­fects mod­ule al­lows you to chain dis­tor­tion, mod­u­la­tion, com­pres­sors, en­ve­lope fil­ters, LFOs and en­hancers on to tracks, all con­trol­lable in real time via a vir­tual X/Y pad con­troller.

You can move the po­si­tion­ing of each ef­fect in the chain by sim­ply re­ar­rang­ing the or­der of the names at the bot­tom of the win­dow, or opt for one of the many pre­set sounds in­cluded in the menu.

Within min­utes of turn­ing on Phat FX we found our­selves smil­ing broadly and en­joy­ing the cre­ative play­ground that will be a reg­u­lar fea­ture in all our mixes from now on.

Other ad­di­tions

Along­side the con­sid­er­able new fea­tures listed above Logic also comes with a host of other ad­di­tions.

These in­cludes a vin­tage mel­lotron mod­ule, up­grades to Space De­signer, Alchemy and Di­rec­tion Mixer, new drum­mers, stu­dio qual­ity brass and string sam­ples, plus new con­trols for ar­tic­u­la­tion han­dling.

Of course, new fea­tures mean new chal­lenges for hard­ware, and as such you’ll need to be us­ing a Mac that can at the very least run Sierra if you want to take ad­van­tage of the ad­di­tions. Chro­maVerb also uses Metal, so it re­quires a de­cent GPU to show off its el­e­gant charms.

Mac­world’s buy­ing ad­vice

Thanks to its ex­cel­lent per­for­mance and tool set, Logic Pro X al­ready jus­ti­fied the £199.99 price tag. With the 10.4 up­grade ex­ist­ing users will see that it was money well spent, and frankly be amazed at the wealth of new fea­tures that Ap­ple con­tin­ues to be­stow upon them.

Smart Tempo has the po­ten­tial to be a game changer for live record­ings, and Phat FX, Step FX and Chro­maVerb not only of­fer high-qual­ity au­ral en­hance­ment to projects, but also bring a much­needed sense of fun and ex­plo­ration.

Any­one con­sid­er­ing mak­ing the step up to Logic should rest in the knowl­edge that right now it’s one of the best bar­gains you can buy from Ap­ple, or any­one else for that mat­ter. Mar­tyn Casserly

Sys­tem re­quire­ments

• macOS 10.12 or later

• 4GB of RAM

• OpenCL-ca­pa­ble graphics card or In­tel HD Graphics 3000 or later

• 256MB of VRAM

• Logic Pro X re­quires 6GB of disk space for a min­i­mum in­stal­la­tion or up to 63GB of disk space for the full Sound Li­brary in­stal­la­tion

• To use Logic Re­mote, you need an iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, iPad (5th gen­er­a­tion), iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, or later with iOS 11.

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