Apple has announced the next update to Logic Pro X, its professional music production and recording program. The v10.4 update’s key feature is the inclusion of what Apple calls smart tempo, which allows for automatic tempo detection across the entirety of a project. The update also comes with a variety of new plug-ins, sound libraries, and loops.
Logic’s new smart tempo is probably going to be of most interest to musicians. With smart tempo, you can record naturally into the program without a metronome or click track, and then Logic can automatically map your tempo across the entire recording. During a demo, I watched as a guitar was recorded into Logic, and the program immediately set markers throughout, noting one bar that was played at 116BPM, while the next went up to 117.5BPM, and then back down to 115BPM for two bars.
Once the program maps out all these BPMs in a recording, anything else that is dropped into your project, like loops or additional instruments, will then adapt to be in sync and follow these tempo changes throughout. If you move the original audio the tempo was mapped to, the tempo changes will move with it. This is an incredibly useful addition. Manually setting where tempo changes happen through a recording can eat up a lot of time, quantizing an entire recording (snapping notes to a grid) is not always ideal as you can lose some of the organic feel of what’s been played, and playing to a metronome can feel stiff. Beyond application for traditional musicians, the smart tempo feature will also be a massive time-saver for DJs that use Logic to make mixes.
A lot of new plug-ins also come with Logic’s latest update. The most fun is probably ChromaVerb, a new algorithmic reverb that gives you 14 unique models (spaces like theaters or halls) that show you how the reverb is affecting your audio with multiple visual layers. Dots dance up to visualize audio playback, and behind that, the blur in the background is a representation of the reverb’s intensity and parameters. It’s like watching a rainbow version of the Bellagio fountain show. While there’s definitely an ooh factor to how it looks, there’s purpose to it. I like reverbs that give some separate visualization of both the audio input and audible space.
Lastly, Logic 10.4 comes with some revamped plug-ins. There are three new EQs modeled after coveted API, Neve, and Pultec hardware made from the 1950s through the 1970s: Vintage Graphic EQ, Vintage Tube EQ, and Vintage Console EQ. Phat FX is a nine-module multi-effect plug-in with a customizable X/Y pad that can add warmth, crunch, and out-there distortion, and Step FX is an eight-module step sequencer that easily lets you add complex rhythmic movement to tracks. With Phat FX and Step FX, a strip at the bottom of each displays all of the plug-in’s modules and lets you rearrange the order to affect the chain of how a sound is processed.
There are also some added presets, loops, libraries, and more, including two additional Drummers, two new Studio Strings and Studio Horns plug-ins, 800 more loops, and a new cinematic library for Alchemy synths with 150 presets.
Logic Pro X 10.4 is available today as a free update for all existing users. For new users, it’s available on the Mac App Store for $199.99.