Apple's Logic v7.1 is proving to be much more stable on my G5 and G4 Powerbook than its predecessor. I've finally managed to complete several whole sessions without a single crash. It does, however, still seem quite susceptible to problems with third-party Audio Units plug-ins — even those that pass the AU validation test. I've managed to make Logic fall over a few times when using the latest version of Waves' Waveshell and the Logic 7.1-compatible Ivory piano virtual instrument update. Unfortunately, the particular sequence of events causing these crashes doesn't seem to be easily reproducible.
The various Logic Internet forums are still quite full of reports of instability — albeit on a lesser scale than for version 7. On the plus side, Apple have re-introduced the helpful 'Logic has unexpectedly' quit dialogue and updated it with a friendly Reload Program button. I've also discovered that Logic v7.1 now places a 'recovery' file in the Song folder. In a couple of cases I've managed to recover the Song right up to the point where Logic went down. In spite of this help, it's always sensible to save often. Logic has a feature whereby you can save up to 100 backups of the current song — in version 7.x it's set in the Global Preferences, on the Song Handling page. Using this, you can save often and be sure you haven't overwritten anything useful. Even with this feature, though, Logic sorely needs an 'automatic save' function.
I've still to install Tiger on my G5, as the current drivers for my UAD1 DSP card don't run under 10.4.1. I have, however, been using version 7.1 on my Powerbook. Here it seems extremely stable, though on this system I have no third-party AU plug-ins installed. There are a few extra Tiger-only features available to Logic, one of these being the AUPitch plug-in. This appears to be a plug-in version of Logic's new time-stretching algorithms, and it's a further indication of how Apple are slowly building features directly into the OS. AUPitch is a pretty smooth-sounding plug-in, and I've been using it successfully to tighten up some fretless bass pitch discrepancies. Doing this on small sections of audio reminded me that Logic really could do with a facility to process regions with plug-ins, rather than whole tracks — and destructively if need be. In my example above, I have to create a region by cutting out the offending bass note, copying it to another track, processing the track with AUPitch, bouncing down the processed track, re-importing it, and finally inserting it back to its original position. A 'process region' feature could do all this in one mouse-click.
The project management introduced in Logic v7 makes it easier to keep track of Songs and their associated files. In earlier versions, saving a Song wouldn't automatically set the audio-recording file location to the Song folder. This often resulted in audio files being misplaced when backing up. Saving a Logic file as a Project rather than as a Song has several advantages. It places all the audio files in a subfolder of the Logic Song folder. You can choose to save other associated files into the same location; these include Space Designer impulse files and EXS24 and Ultrabeat samples. You may want to do this if you're sending the Song to another studio or archiving a Song for backup and want to be sure these are available in the future. You should get into the habit of saving all new Songs as Projects — once done, you can just use the Save Key Command (Apple-S by default) to save.
One undocumented surprise is the appearance of an AULooper plug-in which is only available if you install the Developer Tools from the Tiger install disc. You can then copy it to your Library/Audio/Plug-ins/Components folder where it will then be available along with other AU plug-ins. There are a whole bunch of musicians who use looping programs and hardware echo units, such as the Echoplex, to build up complex layers of sound in real time — often in live situations. This is quite different from taking a pre-recorded snippet of audio and looping it. It's about playing phrases, letting them loop and adding new ones on top — a modern 'sound on sound' technique, if you like. You could see at it as the 21st-century equivalent of Robert Fripp's 'Frippertronic' experiments in the 1980s. The Apple AULooper seems to have a pretty comprehensive range of features and, as one of the ways I use my laptop is for live looping, I'm keen to put it through its paces. If you're interested in the wonderful world of looping, check out the looping community at www.loopers-delight.com.
Speaking of Tiger, there's a Pro Application support update available at www.apple.com/support/downloads/proapplicationsupport30macosx104.html. It's an 'under the hood' update and is required for all of Apple's Pro applications, including Logic. It seems to have cured a few reported Logic booting problems under Tiger, but is otherwise pretty transparent to the user.