Apple’s iPad has long had an excellent package of audio tools for musicians. Some outstanding work has been done with the free and very basic GarageBand for the iOS platform.
Now, however, the game has changed. Logic Pro for iPad features a sophisticated set of creative tools for professional songwriting, beat making, editing and mixing. This is not a condensed version of the Mac edition of Logic Pro, but a newly designed interface just for the iPad. It can be installed on any iPad with the A12 Bionic chip or later and iPad OS16.4 or later.
A musician on the road can use Logic Pro on an iPad with no other computing gear. That makes it the most compact, portable professional audio editing system ever made. It includes a huge variety of music-making tools.
Multi-touch in Logic Pro allows editors to perform on software instruments with the tap of a finger. Interaction comes naturally with intuitive controls. Numerous production tools allow the exploration of a new range of sonic territories.
My fingers were a bit too large for certain functions and I found the Apple Pencil more useful for precise work. But it’s a choice for users to make between finger, pencil or keyboard shortcuts.
The app includes a full mixer layout for creating a professional mix entirely on the iPad. Channel strip controls, customize routing to mix, effects and instrument plug-in settings can be viewed and edited over time using total recall mix automation. Automation changes in real time.
Logic Pro for iPad is powerful enough that a talented musician can cut an entire album on a tablet with no outboard processing. This comprehensive studio suite leaves GarageBand in the sand. The browser has a large collection of patches, loops, pre-sets, software instruments, effects, drum machine designer and other resources. Beat Breaker and Sample Alchemy include advanced beat-making tools.
Users can play and record a variety of software instruments with onscreen play services using multi-touch gestures. A USB or Bluetooth music keyboard can be connected, as well as third-party Audio Unit Extension instruments for play and record on the iPad. Vocals or instruments can be captured with a microphone and recorded with the audio mixer.
The Live Loops grid allows the arrangement and playback of musical ideas in real time. Cells in the grid contain musical phrases or loops that the user can start and stop freely while keeping everything in sync with the beat and the project tempo.
The drummer editor allows the use of virtual drummers for a variety of musical genres. Repeating patterns can be created in the Step Sequencer by using steps on a grid. Each row of “steps” can activate either MIDI note events or automation parameter changes. Individual steps, rows and the overall patterns can be edited.
Though Logic Pro for iPad is very elegant and complete, there are a few gotchas. Logic Pro for iPad can be shared with Logic Pro for Mac. Unlike Final Cut Pro for the iPad, Logic Pro opens a window to interchangeability between platforms. The big “if” is whether the Mac’s Logic Pro uses third party VST plug-ins or other outboard music libraries that are not compatible with Apple’s Logic Pro on the iPad.
Some third party instruments and effects are compatible, including from developers like Eventide, FabFilter and Moog Music. Channel audio is also available from different sources such as software instruments or loops through a variety of effects, like compressors, for more dynamic and harder‑hitting mixes.
Logic Pro for iPad is billed as a fully professional application. It may very well be, but most professional music editors use a wider range of plug-ins and sound libraries than Apple now supports on the iPad. So, at least with version 1 of the iPad app, don’t expect a seamless portability of files. It is best to check out compatibility before beginning an iPad project.
Also, though Logic Pro for iPad’s files can be converted to play on an iPhone, Logic Pro itself doesn’t work on the iPhone. First of all, the screen is way too small and the processor is not powerful enough. Converted files play back on GarageBand on the iPhone.
Also, importing audio files into the iPad is not as intuitive as one might expect. Files must first be imported into the Files section, and then opened by Logic Pro. This is a bit clumsy and it can be a little complicated at first.
Also, it should be noted that Logic Pro for iPad has only a single USB-C port. This means the user will need a hub for drives, USB-C microphones and MIDI controllers.
Since iPads have no headphone jack and Bluetooth headphones produce latency, how do you hear perfectly timed audio handled on an iPad? A dongle using a USB-C to phone jack is required for latency-free wired headphones. That also must be plugged into a hub.
At first glance Logic Pro for iPad appears complicated for former GarageBand users. Practice is needed. To help, Apple has included several tutorials and a 945-page manual to describe every nuance to new users. With practice, the app is well laid out and the workflow excellent, but it can be overwhelming in the beginning.
Many users have been upset by Apple moving Logic Pro for iPad to a subscription model. Users can try Logic Pro for iPad for one month for free. Then they must pay either $4.99 a month or $49 a year. It can’t be purchased outright as does the Mac version.
Apple has introduced a very solid pro audio editor for iPad. With a few tweaks, it could almost be perfect.
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