Logic 6 Apple Pro Training Series
Posted: 9-Nov-2004

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Peachpit Press

B+

Reviewer: Diane Love $44.99


Logic 6 Apple Pro Training Series
Logic 6 Professional Music Creation and Audio Productionn
By Martin Sitter and Robert Brock, 2004
0-321-20040-3
540 pages, $44.99 US

What the Book is About
By now we've had nearly a year to get used to Garageband, Apple's entry-level music software. Like the rest of the iLife suite, Garageband takes a topic that used to be the province of specialists and makes it available to people who don't have specialist knowledge. Despite its power and utility, Garageband has limitations for the serious musician. In particular, Garageband can only record one stereo track at a time and can only have one MIDI instrument connected at a time.

By contrast, music that you buy as a two-track stereo recording is usually assembled from a number of single audio tracks - one microphone for each singer, one track for each guitar, one or two for the bass, four or more for the drum kit. It's important to be able to edit these tracks individually before mixing them down to stereo. Recording all these tracks can be accomplished with specialist hardware such as hard disk recorders and ADAT tape drives, but it's also possible to buy a device which connects all the sound inputs to your computer via firewire for recording up to 8 simultaneous tracks or via a PCI card for more than 8 tracks.

MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a protocol for connecting musical instruments to computers so that the computer can record a performance and play it back through the instrument. The instrument may be a keyboard, a rack-mounted box with no keyboard or even a suitably equipped guitar, drum kit or wind controller. It's possible to connect several of these instruments to a computer, and have the computer instruct them all to play together.

So, for many years before the introduction of Garageband, there have been a number of products which aim to satisfy professional and serious amateur musicians' needs for a home studio. Emagic Logic was one such product which used to be available for both Mac and PC. Apple bought Emagic, made Logic a Mac-only program and also did something radical by repackaging it like Final Cut into two versions - an Express version as a stripped-down first step up the ladder, and a Pro version with all the bells and whistles added in.

While Logic beats Garageband in terms of functionality, Garageband is way ahead of Logic in terms of usability and discoverability. Even with a good working knowledge of music technology, Logic is perplexing and difficult to learn. The manual is readable but seems to have been written by people who have forgotten what it's like to know nothing about Logic. The most widely known problem for Logic novices is the Environment setup which allows you to connect Logic to your other music gear. There's an autoload song which seems to contain a lot of default settings that override everything you try to do. Kill it and it will haunt you like the albatross from the Ancient Mariner. The user interface of Logic 6 is also pretty non-standard for an Apple product. Little things like pressing the spacebar to start and stop don't work. Mysterious icons of telescopes with little arrows around them are used for zooming in and out. Logic even appears to ignore what you do in Audio Midi setup.

Target Audience
The Apple Pro Training Series books aim to prepare readers for Apple Pro certification exams in their chosen topics. This book is the Apple Pro book for Logic 6.

The book covers Logic 6 Platinum, which turns out to be the version that was current before the split into Logic 6 Express and Logic 6 Pro. Since that split, Apple has upgraded both versions of Logic to 7. It's clear that a new edition of this book ought to be in the pipeline and this particular edition would best suit people who have not upgraded.

The book is well suited to people who are new to Logic, no matter how much experience they may have of other music software and hardware; it is also intended to provide shortcuts and tips for more experienced Logic users.

What to Expect
There are 16 chapters, an appendix and a glossary as well as a CD-ROM.

The first chapters introduce the workspace, the transport controls and the editing controls. Following those, there are chapters on setting up the MIDI and Audio environments - the autoload song is also introduced here. Next, samples, tempo and non-destructive editing with regions are covered. The later part of the book continues with arranging, detailed MIDI editing, mixing, recording and surround sound. The appendix discusses how Logic fits in with the other members of the Apple Pro suite - Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Shake. The glossary is a thoughtfully provided summary of digital music's specialist jargon.

The CD-ROM contains a 30-day evaluation copy of Logic Platinum plus a number of tutorial files. This turned out to be of limited value; you can't run any version of Logic without a hardware usb dongle (a device the same size and shape as a flash drive which contains a key to prevent piracy). The original deal was that you could get a free dongle from the publisher after buying the book, but apparently these soon ran out. We had installed our own copy of Logic Express and gotten some way into trying to set up the environment when we obtained the book, so we were concerned that installing anything else for an earlier version of Logic would mess up our poorly-understood setup.

Highlights
The tone of the Apple Pro series is much more sober than David Pogue's Missing Manuals. However as you get into this book, the authors emerge as thorough, competent and knowledgeable, and they do manage to sneak the odd humorous comment past the editors.

To quote from the introduction, the book is "based on the premise that a technical book should be more than a tour of menus, commands, and windows - it should show you how to actually use the application."

The authors hold to their promise throughout and explain the purpose of or reasoning behind everything you are about to do. Although the early chapters are foundational, the book is intended to be read piecemeal according to the interest of the reader. Each chapter starts with a summary of what will be covered, including a time estimate, and ends with a single page review of the key points. Within the chapters you will find topics which start with concept-building explanations, then proceed via numbered steps with frequent monochrome screen shots. The screen shots can be somewhat hard to decipher as the text in the Logic windows and icons is often small and spidery - but hey, that's what Logic is like in real life.

Mac Guild Grade
B+ (Great)

Final Words
This is a well-written and thorough book which makes a hard-to use application for a complex purpose finally comprehensible. Unfortunately this edition is now two releases out of date compared to the most current version of Logic, and cannot cover recent developments like Express versus Pro versions and the new compatibility with Garageband loops and Jam Packs. This lack of currency is reflected in the Mac Guild Grade. It would be great to see a new version for Logic 7 in the near future.