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Emagic Logic Audio Platinum

MIDI Audio Sequencing Software By Paul White
Published October 1998

Logic Audio's new Adaptive Audio MIDI Mixer makes setting up a mix very much simpler.Logic Audio's new Adaptive Audio MIDI Mixer makes setting up a mix very much simpler.

Emagic have slicked up the popular Logic sequencer line with a few coats of metallic paint and some sparkly new features to match. Paul White goes Platinum with the top of the range.

Emagic have recently revamped all the programs in their leading Logic sequencer range, for both PC and Mac. Every package now includes some audio recording capability, right down to the baby of the series, Micrologic AV. Next up the ladder is Logic Silver, then there's Logic Gold, and top of the heap is Logic Platinum, which is under review here. It comes with a completely new manual rather than yet another bundle of additions, the Arrange page has gained a little more colour, and there are a few important new features. This is not a major upgrade in terms of sheer numbers of new features, in the way that Cubase VST v4 for Macintosh is (see page 96), but the new additions are significant. For more on the differences between the programs in the redesigned Logic family, read the 'New Range Explained' box, right.

Going Platinum

Audio crossfades can now be non‑destructive.Audio crossfades can now be non‑destructive.

One notable new feature for Platinum is the ability to record stereo interleaved files without the need to split them into two mono files. This uses around 25 percent less hard disk space than split files, and is clearly a good idea for any tracks where the sound needs to be kept in stereo. When I tried to import stereo interleaved files into a song, I still got the familiar dialogue box informing me that I had to split them into two mono files, but on checking with Sound Technology I was told this is a problem which only applies to the DAE (Digidesign) hardware with which I was working.

Of the new features, perhaps one of the most exciting is the VST and DirectX plug‑in support. VST support does, however, demand quite a lot of memory, and the manual suggests you allocate between 16 and 20Mb to Logic alone. On my 32Mb Macintosh I had to remove most of the VST plug‑ins before any of the remaining ones would agree to open at all, so I wouldn't recommend having less than 48Mb of RAM if you intend to make serious use of these plug‑ins. Logic automatically locates the 'VstPlugIns' folder, where one exists, and the plug‑ins are added to the Plug‑In menu along with the effects supplied by Logic. Clicking and holding an effect insert point opens this menu and inserts the selected effect. Logic Gold and Platinum can have up to eight insert points per channel. Double‑clicking on the inserted plug‑in brings up its editing window (where one is provided), allowing adjustments to be made.

The rationalisation of the Logic software range means that audio support is now available at all levels.

It's now possible to create non‑destructive audio crossfades, and to bounce finished mixes to disk so that you can create a finished stereo mix without leaving the computer environment. Conventional audio crossfading can be done when you're mixing consecutive regions together via the Crossfade window. The only two adjustable parameters are crossfade time and curve, and once these are set the values are stored in the Preferences file until they are next changed. The new non‑destructive crossfade facility is accessed using the Fade tool in the toolbox, or by adjusting the Fade parameters directly in the Regions parameter box. If several regions are selected at the same time, the fade time for all of them can be adjusted at once. The reason this process can be non‑destructive is that an additional audio file is created to cover the crossfade regions, though the original audio files remain unchanged. Crossfade files reside in a separate folder and don't require intervention by the user — they're effectively invisible to the process. As soon as a new crossfade region is played back, the fade file is modified accordingly. As before, the length and curve of the fade‑in and fade‑out can be adjusted independently. The fade region may be marked directly using the Fade tool, and even if the two regions are separated by a small gap, the fade will still work as long as the original audio material within the file extends far enough before or after the region in question.

Another innovation is something called Active MIDI Transmission, which works specifically with Emagic's own Unitor8 MIDI interface. As I understand it, this continually pre‑loads MIDI data into buffers inside the Unitor8 so that optimum timing is maintained between the different MIDI ports, even at times of heavy MIDI traffic. For those who are constantly berating the inadequacies of MIDI timing, this could be a most significant new feature.

There's also a new effect plug‑in, called DQ or Dequalificator, which turns pristine 16‑bit audio into something rather rougher‑sounding — Emagic are clearly courting the dance market here. DQ offers a choice of bit‑depth reductions and degrees of clipping, though to my ears it doesn't sound as interesting as some other 'grungifier' software processes, such as those incorporating vinyl emulation. Even so, if you simply want your music to sound like a soundtrack from an early Commodore 64 game, it'll do fine.

The ability to use VST/DirectX plug‑ins is a huge step forward.

Mixing With A Difference

Yes, those really are VST plug‑ins running in Logic Audio Platinum.Yes, those really are VST plug‑ins running in Logic Audio Platinum.

Cosmetically, the whole of the audio/mixer interface has been restyled to make it more colourful, sleek and expensive looking. There's also a new Adaptive Audio MIDI mixer (which makes its appearance across the entire Logic range), and this makes setting up a mix very much simpler. In essence, when you call up this screen it automatically creates a virtual mixer for all the MIDI and audio tracks in your song, where the MIDI channels have controls similar to those found on the GM/XG mixer Environment Objects and the audio channels have similar features to the audio Environment Objects. This mixer doesn't replace the GM mixer Objects in the Environment page but does address a number of the same parameters. As the Environment GM mixer settings are saved with a song, if you're using a GM/GS/XG module that doesn't save parameter changes when switched off, you can simply send Used Instrument MIDI Settings (from the Arrange window Options menu) before you resume work, to get the instrument back to how you last left it. Each MIDI Adaptive Mixer channel has four knobs for adjusting reverb, chorus, cutoff frequency and pan, though the first three may be remapped to any other MIDI controller via a pull‑down menu. Sadly, these changes may only be made globally rather than on a per‑channel basis, which is a wasted opportunity. Unless you have a GM synth on every channel, you're unlikely to want all the controls to access the same synth parameters!

Unlike the GM mixer Object, the Adaptive Mixer can be resized using the Zoom tools. Various View options allow certain parameters to be hidden to conserve space, and there's the option to have the selected track follow the channel controls you're tweaking on the mixer or to stay as last selected. Despite the lack of controller‑mapping flexibility, the Adaptive Mixer is a great idea, as it provides a simple way to control all the tracks in your song without having to build your own mixer in the Environment or stare at empty channels relating to unused tracks.


The control panel for the new Dequalificator plug‑in.The control panel for the new Dequalificator plug‑in.

The rationalisation of the Logic software range means that audio support is now available at all levels, so those with simpler requirements no longer have to buy a more complicated (and more expensive) version of the program than they need, simply to get audio support. Also, having the necessary extensions supported within Logic Gold and Platinum means an end to those pain‑in‑the‑bum key‑disk installs. The 24‑bit Pro Tools support will also be good news to the small minority of users lucky enough to have Pro Tools 24 hardware.

Though the number of new features in this upgrade is fairly small, many of them are very important — in particular, the ability to create non‑destructive audio crossfades and to use VST/DirectX plug‑ins. The latter is a huge step forward (Opcode have also announced their intention to follow the same route). This is a multilateral process that requires co‑operation between the various manufacturers, but the benefits to both the end user and co‑operating companies are potentially huge, so expect so see more integration of this kind in the future.

I also like the Adaptive mixer, and Active MIDI Transmission could be a really big deal to Unitor8 MIDI interface users — this is one of those good ideas that we hope will inspire more manufacturers to work together. Steinberg announced AMT support at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, so it'll be interesting to see if the other major players follow suit.

The differences between the various sequencing packages tend to get less pronounced with every revision, but Logic still stands out as being mildly quirky and proud of it, and there's no denying that it's also one of the most stable and powerful pieces of music software around. This rationalisation of the range should make Logic accessible to a greater number of people, and if you're already a Logic user it's worth getting the upgrade, not just for the new facilities but also for the much‑improved manual.

The New Range Explained

Even the baby of the new Logic range, Micrologic AV, can now provide up to 12 stereo tracks of audio alongside MIDI sequencing. It has a mixer with two effect busses, delay and reverb, plus a 3‑band equaliser on each track. Much of what is provided in the bigger packages is offered, but in a slimmed‑down form. However, there's no Environment, as such, on this package, and though MIDI sync is included there's no continuous resync of audio, which means that long audio files could drift out of time if the master sync source isn't rock solid. When sync'ing to tape, all you need do is cut your audio tracks into manageable sections so that they don't have time to drift.

Logic Silver is roughly equivalent to an enhanced Logic Discovery package, with up to 16 audio tracks, four effects busses, and built‑in reverb, delay and chorus, as well as DirectX plug‑in compatibility (PC only) and VST plug‑in compatibility (Mac only). There's a stereo sample editor with the Time Machine (time/pitch change) and the Energizer (limiter) from Logic Audio, as well as hardware support for AV/MME, Emagic's own Audiowerk8 PCI digital recording card and Digidesign's Audiomedia III PCI card. The Hyperdraw facility for volume and pan automation is included, but the overall MIDI and audio editing facilities are simpler than on the Gold or Platinum versions. Logic Silver and Micrologic AV also use key‑disk protection rather than the hardware dongles employed by Platinum and Gold. Sophisticated sync options are provided, as is a simplified Environment, and both Micrologic and Silver have basic scoring capabilities, but these are much simpler than those provided for Gold and Platinum.

These top two programs in the hierarchy are essentially the latest incarnations of the former Logic Audio, with extended hardware support built in as standard rather than as an option. Facilities include the full Environment, serious scoring, up to 96 audio tracks, depending on your hardware, eight effects busses, and up to eight audio inserts per track. A selection of Emagic's own processor‑powered effects come as standard, and both PC and Mac users have access to plug‑ins — again, DirectX for PC users and VST for Mac users. For Mac users only, Premiere and Audiosuite plug‑ins are also supported.

The real difference between the Gold and Platinum packages is in the hardware supported. Gold is compatible with AV/MME, Audiowerk8, Korg's 1212 I/O card, DAE (for Audiomedia II and III or Pro Tools Project hardware) and Yamaha's CBX D3 and D5 hard disk recorders. Platinum does all this but also offers compatibility with both 16‑ and 24‑bit Pro Tools hardware (Mac only), Soundscape's SSHDR1 system and Akai's DR8/16 digital recorders (arrange editing only with the Akai).

Whereas before you had to pay extra for extensions to allow some of the more sophisticated hardware to be supported, with Platinum it's all built in as standard. Much of the hardware support is relevant only to Mac users — of the Digidesign hardware, only the Audiomedia III is usable in a PC, and the Korg 1212 I/O is Mac only, as are the Yamaha CBX D3 and D5, and the Akai DR8/16. Of course Soundscape and multiple‑output MME support (including 1212 I/O) is PC only, so it's not all one‑sided.

Why Don't They...?

Every time a piece of software is updated, the first thing I do is look to see if any of my long‑standing gripes and wishes have been addressed. Here are some of those that haven't, along with a few daydreams.

I'd like to see some way of locking the start box you see at the front of the time‑scale ruler on the Arrange page. Since the loop marking routine changed, so that you're obliged to drag from left to right to select the looped section, I find that whenever I'm looping something from the start of a song I invariably move this box accidentally. A little open/closed padlock icon is all it would take.

I don't know about you, but I never really got on with working with the folders in Logic. Cubase VST 4 has a new feature where you can select any region of a song to copy and then grab everything between the start and end points, regardless of whether the regions have been chopped up with the scissors tool or not. Even if you grab part way through a region, only the selected area is copied, so if you want to select a whole chorus and copy it without having to worry about scissors or folder, you can do it. This would seem a very practical feature to add to Logic, and if the selected parts included any looped regions, the looped data could be copied to the selected chunk intelligently.

Logic songs take up a lot of disk space because the whole Environment is copied with each song. I'd like to see a feature where you can store several versions of a song based on the same Environment, thus conserving disk space.

On the wish side, how about giving us a scale‑quantise function like the one Cubase has had for years, where you can take your C‑major rambling and turn it into a B‑minor Mixolydian folk melody, just to see what it sounds like? Similarly, automatic harmony creation based on your single‑line melodies would be interesting, as would block‑chord‑to‑string‑part interpretation, at least for those of us with limited arranging skills. If such a feature could be implemented with a universally supported plug‑in architecture, who knows what third‑party developers might come up with — choral arrangers, brass harmonisation and so on?

What About The PC?

Apparently, PC Logic users still don't have the Touch Tracks feature that lets Mac users trigger pre‑recorded sequences in real time for live mixing, or Capture Recording, a facility that allows you to play along with the sequencer, then turn what you've just played into a recording, even though the sequencer was only in play mode at the time. However, the feature set is otherwise generally very similar between the two platforms, and it's to Emagic's credit that both the Mac and PC upgrades are available at the same time.


  • VST/Direct X plug‑in support.
  • Non‑destructive audio crossfades
  • Active MIDI transmission for Unitor8 users.
  • No more key disk installs for Gold and Platinum users requiring extensions.
  • Good new manual and tutorial support disk.


  • VST plug‑ins seem to demand a lot of memory.


This relatively low‑cost upgrade (Platinum) brings with it a number of important new features, all the available audio extensions and a new manual.