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Emagic Logic Audio 3

MIDI Audio Sequencer By Martin Walker
Published April 1998

The Arrange page and audio Environment give plenty of on‑screen information, and the results are impressive, especially with automation.The Arrange page and audio Environment give plenty of on‑screen information, and the results are impressive, especially with automation.

Martin Walker peers through the Windows version of Emagic's Logic Audio 3.0 MIDI + audio sequencer.

Regular readers of SOS may have gathered that I normally use Steinberg's Cubase sequencing package, but I have been intrigued by many of the possibilities of Emagic's Logic, so I've been looking forward to this opportunity to examine the latest version for Windows 95, to see just how its new features compare with other sequencers for the Windows platform. Since SOS published a full review of the Mac version of Logic in the January 1998 issue, and the feature set of both Mac and PC versions is very similar, I'll concentrate on the areas where PC owners have a slightly different perspective.

The Package

Detail of part of the audio Environment, showing the range of EQ and effects on offer.Detail of part of the audio Environment, showing the range of EQ and effects on offer.

As far as the spec of your PC goes, Emagic recommend a minimum of a Pentium 90 and 32Mb RAM, but I suspect that most people would steer you towards a Pentium 166MHz MMX (or preferably faster) processor. The new software comes on CD‑ROM rather than the floppy disks of the past, allowing the luxury of a 53Mb audio‑only demo (which is a useful showcase for the new features), as well as some Environments and Score Templates. Finally, in Adobe Acrobat format, there's a Logic Audio Guidebook (including eight Quicktime movies) and an Environment Tutorial. The Guidebook aims to answer the sort of questions new owners have in the first 30 days, and the Environment Tutorial may answer a lot of people's prayers.

Design Aspects

I do appreciate that loads of people already know and love Logic in its many incarnations, but one of the stumbling blocks for new PC users is that Emagic don't abide by many of the Windows conventions. Although this doesn't affect its feature set, it does make initially using Logic more difficult than it might be. The first port of call for many people after installing a new application is to browse through the Helpfile. However, there is still no Help option on the Logic Audio 3.0 menu bar — instead, it appears as Info. The reason for this becomes apparent when you take a look, as it's not really a Helpfile at all, but a short (though useful) tutorial. Cubase doesn't have a full Helpfile either, but at least there is enough to provide context‑sensitive help, so that you can click on a dialogue‑box Help button to get a quick description of the function in question. Another idiosyncrasy is that some of the Logic windows can be 'Always on Top', with a higher priority than any other window, and I sometimes found these still appearing on screen even when I returned to my word processor to write this review. Occasionally the TaskBar (the horizontal strip showing running applications and providing access to the Start menu) was also obscured.

My first impressions are of a very tasty new graphic design, but on the PC I do feel that the audio Environment colour scheme is a bit lacking in contrast. The majority of the audio Environment is in dark grey, with a significant amount of the labelling in black, and with my monitor screen I found I had to lean forward and squint closely to read some of it. Also, compared with other applications, many of the indicators were extremely small and not very brightly coloured — it was some time after using a Solo button, for instance, when I noticed that the other channel Mute buttons were flashing. This is surprising, since the Arrange page is a model of clarity, displaying far more information than Cubase does.

Logic Audio 3.0 for Windows 95 is a powerful and impressive program...

Screen sets do allow you to arrange various combinations of open windows on screen to your liking, and then capture their positions, which, for audio work, is a godsend, as otherwise you're constantly opening and closing windows to concentrate on the matter in hand. This also came in handy after I clicked on the Instrument parameter box for a little too long, and generated 30 or 40 different windows on the screen, each of which would otherwise have needed closing separately.

Many other small improvements are present in this new version. You can now use Hyperdraw in the Arrange page for audio regions, in exactly the same way as for MIDI tracks, which ties things together more neatly. The strobing window redraw which occurred when the length of a note was extended in the Matrix window (reported in Paul White's review of version 2.5) seems to have been cured. However, there is still no colouring of each Matrix note according to velocity value, as in the Mac version, and no coloured icons (with or without drop shadows) in the Arrange page.


Logic Audio 3.0 supports four types of audio hardware: PC AV (using Windows 95 standard multimedia drivers); DAE (Digidesign Audiomedia III and Session 8 cards); Emagic's own Audiowerk8; and Soundscape's SSHDR. According to the manual addendum, with the DAE and Soundscape hardware, only the respective manufacturer's DSP‑based effects are available, but PC AV and the Audiowerk 8 can use the new Emagic CPU‑based real‑time effects. According to Emagic, the required extension to run Soundscape supports all versions up to 1.9, and version 2 series hard drives that are formatted as version 1. The manual mentions the Korg 1212 I/O card, though it's not on the list of supported hardware, and when I made enquiries I discovered that the driver for this is not yet complete.

Many people would like to use a MIDI + Audio sequencer with a multi‑channel soundcard, to provide extra outputs for patching in external effects. The situation with Logic Audio on the PC is still that if you're using the PC AV driver (Windows MME compatible), you can only access a single stereo pair of inputs or outputs. With my Event Gina soundcard, for instance, the I/O buttons shown in the audio mixer in the SOS review of the Mac version just didn't appear. Unfortunately, this situation seems largely due to internal politics. If you're looking for multi‑channel hardware to use with Logic Audio, you should either stick to the Audiowerk8 or wait to see if drivers appear for other cards — don't buy blindly or you may not be able to use your new hardware in full.

Real‑Time Audio Effects

Of course, the most‑awaited new feature in version 3.0 has to be the real‑time effects. As always, Emagic have done things slightly differently from everyone else on the PC, by ignoring the Microsoft DirectX plug‑in standard, although they do imply that this will be supported in the future.

The effects work well, although adjusting parameters can be a bit hit and miss to start with, since many of the settings are from 0‑100%, making it difficult to guess the end result. The Delay is a bit basic, with only a single adjustable delay time, but the Flanger and Chorus both make up for this with a lovely rich sound. Reverb algorithms are always processor intensive, but Emagic provide four quality settings for theirs (from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest), so you can choose for yourself how much of your precious processor time is used up. Quality 1 is more like a flutter echo, with 2 and 3 progressively less jittery, and 4 is very smooth, being quite usable even on exposed sounds such as vocals and drums. There's also a lot of control on offer — Room Size, Decay, Density, HF Damp, and PreDelay can all be adjusted. Sadly, given the wide variety of effects obtainable, there is no way to load and save presets, which could save a considerable amount of time.

I was also pleased with Logic Audio's EQ. The low‑pass and high‑pass filters are implemented rather like those on a synthesizer, with between one and four poles on offer (each pole giving 6dB/octave cutoff slope) — ideal for rolling off those unwanted frequencies.


Logic Audio 3.0 for Windows 95 is a powerful and impressive program, and although it always has its own way of doing things, I must give it credit for not crashing on me once during the review period, despite the fact that I was running screen grabbers, the Acrobat Guidebook and my word processor in the background. It did throw up a variety of error messages when it ran out of processor power (which is hardly surprising in these circumstances), but it always recovered gracefully. This is part of the difference between Cubase VST and Logic Audio. While Cubase promises the earth and delivers a huge amount, it does tend to fall over if you push it too hard. Logic Audio ties you down a lot more in hardware terms, and insists on doing things its own way every time, but I suspect that these restrictions are a significant reason for its continued stability. Some people have had problems with sync between MIDI and audio, as they have with VST (see Crosstalk in the February issue of SOS), but it unfortunately seems inevitable that some combinations of PC hardware and software don't seem to work smoothly. Many of these problems are related to the choice of soundcard and its drivers, something over which the sequencer manufacturer has little or no control.

The real‑time EQ and effects are well up to scratch, and the question mark hanging over DirectX plug‑in support will, I suspect, be resolved in the near future. However, the current limited support for multi‑channel soundcards is a different matter. If you like the look of the Audiowerk8 card, Logic Audio 3.0 is an obvious companion, since both are made by the same company and there will be no compatibility problems. If you fancy using another card, you may have problems, or at least face limitations. Fortunately, most stereo soundcards seem to work with Logic Audio with no problems.

Each new upgrade of any software will please existing users with lots of extra features, but will make the learning curve more difficult for novice users. However, the stability of any application must also be considered an important feature (particularly on the PC, where problems can abound), and on this basis Logic Audio must win extra brownie points.

Stop Press

The Logic product line is currently being revamped, with the basic version, Logic Silver, offering a degree of audio support as standard. Logic Gold is the equivalent of the current Logic Audio, while Logic Platinum includes support for all those devices that previously required the purchase of optional extensions, such as the Yamaha CBX D5.


  • Good quality real‑time audio effects.
  • Stable in operation.


  • No support for DirectX plug‑ins at the moment.
  • Limited support for multi‑channel soundcards.
  • Low‑contrast mixer graphics.
  • Less use of colour than on the Mac version.


A comprehensive update, with many additional features to impress existing users, but still with significant limitations where third‑party software and hardware is concerned.