Today, I’ll try to examine some of the major points of contention between Logic Pro 8, Apple’s latest offering of their flagship host recording system, and Digidesign’s Pro Tools 8 LE recording system.
As a former Pro Tools user having switched to Logic, I’ll start with what I believe to be Logic Pro 8’s most outstanding strengths. First and foremost, Logic’s main point of contention is it’s ease of use. In my opinion, this is something that is under-appreciated by a lot of Logic’s critics. No matter what your experience in the recording industry, Logic is a pro-quality application that is easy to understand and visually sensible with depth for those who wish to search deeper. Unlike Pro Tools systems, no special hardware is required to run Logic or to edit on the run. The interface, though daunting at first, keeps track of loads of important information and can be customized to your liking in seconds using all the same Apple features you are used to.
This brings me to Logic’s biggest point of criticism, it’s Apple exclusivity. Many people in the industry whom I have tried to persuade to switch to Logic repeatedly ask the same ill-fated question; “Do they have a PC version?” No matter how hard I try to persuade them to switch to a Mac-based system, much of their success relies on their familiarity with their system and how fast they can move through their workflow with that system. An overhaul of all their shortcuts, preferences, settings combined with a fear of change and time spent getting up to speed keeps many from ever even seeing what Logic Pro 8 has to offer. Even though Logic is compatible with every hardware setup and audio interface I have ever encountered and even though Pro Tools was originally designed for use on a Mac, the change seem rough enough to send some away.
Now let’s talk Pro Tools. In my experience, the number one reason anyone has for using a Pro Tools system, Mac or PC, is the “global standard” argument. They say that the other companies/ people that they work with use Pro Tools, so they have to in order to keep up with them. In one way, this is true. In another way, this is the furthest thing from the truth. It’s true that only Pro Tools can open Pro Tools sessions, but Pro Tools can accept almost any audio file into it’s timeline with no problems. Logic has the ability, just as Pro Tools does, to export individual tracks, regions or channels as an individual audio file, which can then be dropped into a Pro Tools session and edited just the same as audio recorded directly into Pro Tools. The restriction is that unfinished projects from Logic cannot be edited in Pro Tools as whole projects, and vice versa. There is a fundamental difference in file type that I doubt will be bridged anytime soon.
Until recently, a main argument against Pro Tools was it’s lack of built-in instruments, plug-ins and generally pricey entry point to get such things. In Pro Tools 8, these problems were addressed and many well-designed instruments and plug-ins were included. There still are, however, many gaps in their efforts. Even using the new effects and instruments, I still feel like Digidesign’s specialty is hardware and that their software still sounds a little “dead.”
Logic has maintained a standard of high-quality included content and contains some of the best included instruments, generators, effects and recording tools I’ve ever seen. I’ve purchased plug-ins that cost hundreds of dollars that didn’t sound as good as their standard, included equivalent. This, coupled with the infinite nature of the EXS24 software sampler allows for an unrivaled library of instruments, both sampled and generated.
Now here’s a big one. $$$, Money, Price, Cost, Value, whatever you want to say. How much is it and is it worth it?
In the humble opinion of this writer, this is where the choice is made clear. The most complete, newest version of Logic Pro 8 is offered in the Logic Studio software suite for $499.00 from Apple’s website. This is one purchase, you install the software and then you hook up your hardware and you are ready to go. Pro Tools, however, does not make this easy on you. First, you must have a Pro Tools-approved interface to even use the better versions of Pro Tools, LE and HD or an M-Audio interface to use M-Powered Pro Tools. Then, you may have to downgrade, upgrade or reinstall your operating system to reach the version that Pro Tools requires. After doing that and having paid well over $500 for an interface and Pro Tools 8 installation (if you’re lucky) and quite possibly an upgrade of your OS, you will have to buy an iLok key to use any of the best functions of Pro Tools and it’s affiliates.. All in all, the experience of acquiring, installing and running Pro Tools can be enough to make someone take another route.
So what’s the best one for you?
How do you decide?
If you own a Mac already, the choice should be clear. Logic’s integration is unmatched, it’s price is unbeatable and it’s ease of use and depth of design keep many pros and amateurs satisfied. If you are a PC user, Pro Tools is certainly a high-quality recording system that must be given it’s credit, but I would consider switching to the Mac side of things.
The decision is yours, both systems are full of depth, extraordinarily useful and capable of producing pro-quality music. Logic seems to follow the Mac mantra of surface-level simplicity with surprising depth and Pro Tools is the supposed “industry standard” with many supporters and enthusiasts.
Any user with some patience will be happy with either system, but I have to recommend Logic, if not for it’s accessibility alone, then for it’s depth and the power of it’s included synthesizers and plug-ins.