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Emagic Logic 2.0

MIDI Recording System By Paul Nagle
Published August 1995

With such a huge market to aim at, no software house can ignore the PC musician. Paul Nagle checks out Emagic's latest upgrade for Windows workers.

Emagic, like Steinberg before them, came to the PC with programs already well‑established on other platforms. With the release of Logic 2.0 for Windows (free to registered owners of v1.9), we see the most significant advance yet, but has the program truly 'settled in' on the PC and does it escape the 'lowest common denominator' tag that is prevalent among so many multi‑platform programs?

This new version of Logic offers unlimited tracks, colour, MIDI Groove templates, extensive remote control of all commands, a graphical tempo editor, and sliders which can generate System Exclusive data. Package these with pretty much every type of editing you'd expect and a few things you probably don't, and Logic starts to look very interesting.

A great improvement for owners of earlier versions is that the manual is now 'Windows‑aware' and Emagic have introduced an intriguing upgrade and crossgrade policy to tempt owners of other recording software (even from other platforms) to switch over to Logic. You can currently trade in just about any other music program for this brand‑spanking new Object Oriented MIDI Recording and Notation System. Hmmm...

Getting Started

Logic is supplied in a sturdy plastic box which contains the high density 3.5" program disk along with two further disks containing score templates, demo songs, and example environments. The program is copy‑protected by means of a hardware dongle that is attached to either COM1 or COM2 (serial) ports. The supplied environments contain graphical representations of the Yamaha ProMix, Mackie OTTO, ADAT SRC and a few others, but at present the only synthesizer editor provided is for the Oberheim Matrix 1000 — so you've got to dust off those manuals, lubricate your brain, and create your own.

The manual is packed with 400 pages of solid information, containing hints and tips for getting the best out of Logic as well as some practical examples. Better still, it actually refers to PCs, Windows and MIDI interfaces, although I would take Emagic to task for their references to disabling virtual memory, and to direct communication with MIDI cards instead of via their Windows drivers. Unless your PC is dedicated to Logic, this advice will cause you problems and it really is naughty of Emagic to even suggest them — especially the advice about removing jumpers from your cards. Take my advice and steer well clear of this. If Logic won't run properly on your system, these little back‑door tweaks will only cause heartache further down the line. And unless Emagic intend to support every MIDI device ever made, there is no practical alternative to using Windows drivers created by the card's manufacturer.

Coming off my hobby horse for a moment, I can say that I ran Logic on a 8Mb 486 DX2‑66 machine with virtual memory enabled and oodles of Windows drivers, and the performance was OK. I wouldn't have dared to try it with less memory though, as Logic is a greedy beast, despite the claims that it will run in 4Mb.

After starting the program for the first time and marvelling at the 'welcome' song, with all its scrolling and changing screens, it is immediately obvious that Logic is (cosmetically, at least) different to most other Windows programs. There are some rather Mac‑like dialogue boxes in evidence; not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I would have liked to see at least one conformance to normal Windows practice — on‑line Help. Equally confusing to this old Windows anorak, the top‑line menu is almost totally devoid of features so you can't quickly nose into all the options you've got to play with. This is designed to reduce screen clutter — which it certainly does — since options only appear where they are relevant. I'm convinced that there are screens tucked away quietly that I've never even discovered yet.

Environmentally Friendly

At Logic's heart is the Environment — a complete graphical representation of your MIDI system — including instruments, MIDI ports, faders and knobs, etc. Emagic have also provided a wealth of interesting virtual devices — such as arpeggiators, delay lines, voice limiters, real‑time transformations, etc — all of which can be patched together on the screen in just about any combination you can imagine. Each virtual device may be assigned its own icon (selected from a humungous scrolling list!), which is intended to speed things up when assigning objects to tracks later on. Now this might seem rather daunting and time‑consuming (and it is!) but believe me — you do appreciate the benefits later. Of course, you don't need to do everything all at once — you can keep coming back to it whenever you like. I spent the first couple of days tweaking and modifying my set‑up before I even touched the rest of the program, and even now I have to suppress the urge to go and define some more objects or I'd never get any work done!

Realising that the Environment can become a nightmare of virtual patch leads, sliders and instrument definitions, Emagic have created the concept of 'layers', each showing a particular part of your system. How these layers are organised is up to you, but it seems sensible to follow the trend of placing all MIDI instruments on one layer, virtual mixers on another, SysEx‑generating sliders on yet another, and special objects such as MIDI delays, arpeggiators, keyboard splits/layers etc on another. Objects can be cut and pasted as you might expect and I'm sure a more organised person than myself could draw out their system far quicker.

The program's use of colour is of benefit here: when you assign colours to individual instrument objects, their colour is propagated through to the Arrange window whenever you make a recording with that instrument. Pretty.

Instruments can be defined as either single, multi or mapped (ie. drums). Multis are perhaps the most useful, as they allow you to quickly define all the channels used by a multitimbral module as well as the names of its sounds. You can even define the type of control change that is considered to be Bank Select. If, like me, you have a synth which uses non‑standard Bank Select, it is so refreshing to simply inform Logic of this anomaly once, then forget about it forever.

Despite the fact that you can refer to your sounds by name instead of program number and bank (unlike a certain other famous sequencer program), I could find no easy way to import these from, say, a standard text editor. Emagic have provided examples of many popular instrument preset lists, but you need to create your own banks for any original sounds you've created — a time‑consuming process. Oddly enough, there didn't appear to be a way of naming sounds for single‑channel instruments — if you wish to use this facility, you have to create a Multi instrument then limit it to only one channel.

If monster drum kits are your thing, you can create a Mapped instrument which uses drum sounds from different modules to create the ultimate kit, all from one object. This is achieved by simply patching each note you require to the appropriate channel and MIDI output. Potent stuff indeed.

Using the real‑time transform options you can create wild keyboard inversions, change MIDI note values into volume or pan information, soup up your humble synth into a powerful master keyboard with velocity splits and fades (in fact, any number of layers and splits). You can patch in software arpeggiators, MIDI delay lines, voice limiters (useful to control multitimbral modules that don't let you reserve voices/partials) and even patch a physical MIDI output to a representation of a keyboard to obtain a real‑time display of the notes being played. Or patch it the other way to play notes with your mouse. Or transpose the output of sequences or folders that already exist. Why not patch several transform objects in series to achieve some truly mind‑boggling transmutations?

Pretty much everything that fell into the 'I wonder if I can do this?' category was possible with Logic 2.0 — it was just down to me to work out how. The only disappointment was the lack of supplied instrument System Exclusive templates to allow me to tweak synth parameters on‑the‑fly in a recording. You can define them yourself but, personally, I'd rather have a life...

Arrange Window

Ever since Cubase presented the music world with the 'Arrange window' view of a song, all the sensible MIDI recording programs have 'borrowed' the concept. Although Logic is no exception, it offers several unique features of its own.

The Arrange window is probably where you'll spend most of your time. Here you see a scrolling, graphical representation of your song which can be zoomed in or out vertically or horizontally, using the small telescope icons at the top of the window. The degree of zoom is quite staggering, allowing even a large and complex composition to be reduced to a single screen. As you zoom right in, individual notes are displayed in miniature — a nice touch. The whole thing maps onto a tasteful grey background (it can be switched to plain white) which I wanted to substitute with my own bitmap image — maybe the next version?

The left‑hand side of the Arrange screen holds the real‑time parameters, which modify sequence playback without altering the data. You can transpose, compress velocity, delay parts and limit pitch ranges, with access to a wide range of quantise options. And since tracks have no fixed instrument assignments, it is an easy matter to audition different synths and sounds by simply selecting a new object. Assigning arpeggiator objects to chord parts already recorded allows you to instantly switch between musical accompaniments — you can generate old‑fashioned sequencer lines and bass patterns with ease from whatever chordal input you can manage.

Also to the left of the main Arrange window, the small tool box is used to select an arrow pointer, glue, scissors, text, zoom, erase, solo (and a neat feature called Lock Solo, where you can quickly select several parts to solo with a single click) and mute. Having to keep moving back to select a new tool is a small irritation on all the screens, and not so neat as a floating tool box, but at least you can have a different tool on each mouse button if you want to.

Logic's use of colour works very well, especially if you bothered to colour your instruments when you first defined them. You can also re‑colour sequences at any time, and if you stick to some kind of convention (eg. drums = yellow, bass = red, solo = blue, etc) you find that the extra level of visibility becomes addictive. Soon those drab, old, black and white Arrange windows start to look pale and uninteresting by comparison.

As Logic imposes no restriction on the number of tracks you can create, it's easy to find yourself with many screens' worth of complicated, multi‑coloured parts threatening to overwhelm you. This is where Folders come in — a simple enough concept which emphasises the multiple layered approach taken by Emagic. The screen's cluttered? Pack away related tracks into folders. Need to edit something? Either click on the folder itself, or unpack it again. Need to transpose an entire song? Pack all the tracks into a folder, and use the playback parameters until it's right (instruments defined as 'mapped', ie. drums, are automatically recognised as non‑transposable). Want to have a number of songs ready to play live? Pack each into a folder and mute/unmute as you need them. And you can pack folders within folders many times — in short, folders are cool.

Floating Transport bars seem to be more and more common these days, although Logic's can be resized and customised in more ways than most. The Transport represents the traditional tape recorder controls plus the cycle (loop) and left/right locator settings, tempo and time signature display, autodrop, solo, metronome, replace and sync, plus a rather natty quick navigator bar that allows you to leap around the song at breakneck speed. Several miniature menus are available from the Transport bar, and these are related to time, synchronisation, recording options, and the bar's own appearance. If, like me, you find the Transport bar often gets in the way, you can quickly open and close it with a single keystroke. If, on the other hand you think it's great, or if you need to see it easily from a small monitor (maybe on stage?), you can make it pretty big.

There are no limits to the number of windows you can have open at the same time, so you can have a zoomed‑out miniature version of your main Arrange page alongside a more workable size, providing the fastest way yet of getting around a song. Other helpful navigational aids are achieved by naming sequences with just a letter of the alphabet. To go to the start of a sequence named 'A', just hit the letter A. If you create a track with no assignments at the top of your Arrange page, you can create text‑only parts and use them purely for reminders and navigation — I can think of no other music program that offers so many neat options for simply getting around your song.

Editor's Choice

Logic offers a good array of editors, with the only notable omission being a dedicated drum grid. Unique to Logic is Hyper Edit and this can be used to represent notes, controllers, pitch bend, modulation, aftertouch etc. It's here that you would probably draw in those percussion patterns, but it does rather lack the elegance and immediacy found on competing programs. Selecting the pencil from the small tool box, you can draw in all the velocity fades, pitch bend tweaks, and controller curves you ever wanted to.

Hyper Edit allows you to create unique 'Hypersets', which can represent individual notes, groups of notes or channels, or pretty much anything. At various points while I was creating Hypersets the dialogue box 'ILLEGAL SONG' / 'ABORT' appeared, but it didn't appear to do anything nasty. Probably some advanced form of pre‑release music critique?

I found it a simple matter to knock up an edit screen containing all the popular things you might edit — volume, pan, mod wheel, aftertouch, velocity, alongside more specific objects such as 'all program changes on any channel' or 'every note in the range C1 — C2 on MIDI channel 10'. When editing multiple tracks, this kind of thing can prove quite handy.

The more familiar Matrix editor is a simple implementation of the traditional piano‑roll editor, where notes are represented graphically on a time grid / note value axis. There's not a great deal to say about this, except that it works best in combination with other editors — particularly Hyper Edit, which you would use to draw in MIDI controllers etc. Both Matrix and Hyper Edit looked a little drab after the colourful Arrange page and I would like to have seen the use of colour expanded to these pages. is immediately obvious that Logic is (cosmetically, at least) different to most other Windows programs.

Logic's Event editor shows the full MIDI data in a list format, which is vitally important for those detailed edits. Mapped instruments are shown by name, which removes the need to remember which note is 'Electro Tom 3' (say), and various filters can be applied to the list to make getting around slicker. One facility that I have not seen before allows the Arrange window objects to be listed and edited, and I'm sure it's mere lack of imagination on my part that prevents me from seeing a good use for this.

The Score editor is particularly well implemented and gives you almost as many options to beautify your music's appearance as a dedicated scoring package. The scoring templates provided are ideal starting points for most types of music and, if you define your Environment instruments correctly at the outset, Logic will automatically present you with the correct scoring style ranging from various saxes and horns to piano, guitar or drums. Drum notation is well catered for with the ability to display individual or grouped percussion instruments on any line of a drum clef, without affecting the note value. Logic's 'interpretation' of scores takes much of the pain out of basic scoring, producing a finished score you could use with almost no effort. If you require perfection and have the time to spend, you can create very professional‑looking manuscripts using the many facilities available.

New in version 2.0 is a graphical Tempo editor, which makes it so much easier to create accelerandos with a deft flick of the mouse than it ever was with the event list. For precise editing, the tempo event list is maintained giving the best of both worlds. Logic provides useful facilities for mapping real‑time, non‑metronomed performances to its own bar divisions, although you must be prepared to expend some manual labour, especially if your playing features lots of changes of tempo. Logic can also map its bar divisions / tempo to other track events; if you are able to record a 'tap track' in time with your original performance, you'll find this invaluable in creating accurate scores from such 'free time' stuff. Using two Matrix editor pages to precisely move your 'tap track' events to match your performance is another good way to achieve this, if you have the patience.


Working with Logic instills you with a great desire to rush out and buy a huge monitor capable of displaying all the cleverly interlinked screens and editors simultaneously. However, if a big monitor isn't top of your shopping list, Emagic have kindly provided a snazzy function called Screensets, which is used to quickly swap from one painstakingly‑created view of your song to another.

If I told you that Screensets comprise 90 saved window layouts which can be recalled at the touch of a key (or keys), you might be forgiven for thinking 'so what?'. Well, as with many features of Logic, you need to start using them to appreciate their power.

Activate the Catch and Link icons and any changes made in one editor will be reflected in another — so you can use the Score Edit page for notation‑based editing whilst being able to view the changes in the graphical Matrix editor (which shows a far more accurate view of a note's real position in time). Or you can precisely edit ranges of drum notes in Event Edit whilst drawing in velocity crescendos in a linked Hyper Edit page.

The Event editor allows you to insert 'Meta Events' — ie. non‑MIDI stuff that is understood by Logic itself. You can automate the selection of screensets so that at any point in a song the screen format can switch.

You might (if braver than me) use your PC on stage with a specially‑designed screenset containing your gig backing tracks, packed into individual song folders to be muted and unmuted as you need them. Add a large SMPTE display and scrolling cue messages (created in the Environment page) and even the smallest screen can become usable. Imagine, no more play lists sellotaped to your master keyboard? You can even create karaoke versions of your own songs to be recalled at a keystroke, complete with scrolling lyrics!


Most advanced music programs these days allow us to perform amazingly involved edits in a single operation. With Logic you can do this either in real time or after the fact, using the Transform option. So if you record a piece of music and then wish to send every note above C3 to another sound module, whilst compressing its velocity ranges and reducing the note lengths, then Logic's Transform function is for you. Actually, you can do less obvious stuff too — such as changing notes to controller values; randomising pitch, velocities, duration and position; or splitting different notes across different MIDI channels. Many edits are possible that you didn't even realise you might want to do and the best way to use the Transform option is when you specifically need it. Otherwise you might never get around to recording anything!

For those of us who need to tighten up our performance, a wide variety of quantise options exist with the added bonus that the changes can be reversed at any stage. You can even create your own Groove templates based on existing tracks, to capture their feel and use them elsewhere.


Logic is certainly powerful and almost infinitely customisable. At first I found it a bit strange and difficult to grasp, but this soon passed. When I remapped all the keyboard commands to those I was familiar with, things speeded up considerably. The fact that you can do this at all shows how much thought has gone into making Logic open‑ended and flexible. If your studio is frequented by users of other programs, all you need do is create key command lists appropriate to those programs and boot Logic using the set needed for any particular session.

The Environment gives you unrivalled options for defining unique musical objects and real‑time transformations and was my single favourite feature of the whole program. The 90 screensets that can be stored have a usefulness that is only appreciated with time.

At present no dedicated SysEx editor page is included. Emagic's SoundDiver and SoundSurfer (generic editor and librarian combination), when converted to Windows, will hopefully do this one day. In the meantime, you'll still need any old PC librarian/editors you own to keep track of your sound banks.

I do have some reservations though. Logic does not have the look nor feel of other Windows programs — indeed, the manual states that you cannot multitask other MIDI programs with it, which is rather disquieting. It seemed fine alongside my patch editor, but I remain wary that Emagic should warn us off this (highly useful) feature of Windows. Perhaps it's only time‑critical MIDI programs that won't multitask properly? Anyway, if you wish to run hard disk recording software, .WAV file players and such‑like, Logic might cause you some problems. Then again, perhaps Logic is all the software you'll ever need?

The manual claims that Logic will run in 4Mb RAM, but I wouldn't consider this a sensible option — at times, my 8Mb DX2‑66 486 felt a little sluggish, and creating the simple screen shots for this review took an age and lots of memory juggling. I did encounter the occasional crash too, most often whilst I was creating masses of knobs and sliders in the Environment window, but even something as simple as altering the clef in Score Edit caused Logic to die in a nasty mess on one occasion.

Certain potential users will miss a graphical drum editor and find Hyper Edit a poor replacement, while others won't wish to invest in the kind of powerful PC required to do justice to Logic. Personally, I would say that I was impressed by Logic's sheer open‑endedness and flexibility. Even though I wouldn't change my own familiar sequencer for it, anyone considering a top‑of‑the‑range PC MIDI recording system should give it a very serious look. With Logic Audio scheduled for the autumn, it is clear that Emagic are quite committed to the IBM‑compatible platform, so any complaints about 'Windows‑friendliness' should be eroded with the passage of time. I'm sure we'll see future versions with on‑line help and with recent file locations which are delighted to use virtual memory, Windows drivers, and able to multitask alongside any other MIDI program.

Check out the various cross‑platform upgrades and even cross‑program upgrades being offered by Emagic; these are designed to tempt you to travel the Logic path. Who knows — that old ST software going mouldy in your attic might knock a few quid off a shiny new version of Logic for Windows?

Logic — Key Features At A Glance

  • Timing resolution of 960 PPQN.
  • 90 User‑definable screensets.
  • All key commands and transport functions can be reassigned / controlled by external MIDI.
  • MIDI File import and export.
  • Tempo range from 0.05 to 9,999.9999 BPM.
  • MIDI Groove templates with real‑time length and velocity quantise parameters.
  • Full colour support.
  • Expanded MIDI Machine Control functions for up to 64 MMC tracks, autolocating, autodrop, recording, track record enable etc.
  • Complete virtual MIDI Environment including instruments, new SysEx faders, and vector fader objects.
  • Unlimited tracks.
  • Multiple songs can be open simultaneously.


  • Selectable Instrument sets.
  • Automatic Mapped Drum notation.
  • Transposable chord symbols.
  • Extensive symbol palette.
  • Grace and Independent style notes.
  • Guitar Tablature.
  • Multi‑bar rests.
  • Interpretation Mode for quick, accurate representation of real‑time recordings.
  • WYSIWYG representation and quality notation printing.

Minimum System Requirements

  • 25MHz 386 PC or better.
  • 4Mb of RAM — 8Mb recommended.
  • Windows 3.1 running in Enhanced Mode.

Upgrade/Crossgrade Policy

  • Upgrade free to Logic v1.9 owners.
  • Notator / Creator to Logic: £159.
  • Crossgrade between platforms: £115.
  • Micro Logic to Logic: £239.
  • Other programs to Logic: call Sound Technology.


  • Very open‑ended and powerful system.
  • Good upgrade/crossgrade options.
  • Excellent real‑time functions.


  • Not the most Windows‑friendly program.
  • No dedicated drum grid editor.
  • Time‑consuming to set up — too few instrument / SysEx environments provided.


Version 2.015 is a versatile and flexible MIDI recording system designed to let you work any way you want. Not the best Windows implementation ever, but the sheer number of options may make it the only program you'll ever need.