Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Logic Pro X 10.3

Logic Pro 10.3My pick of the week is the latest, greatest version of Apple’s digital audio workstation, Logic Pro X 10.3. This is no minor point release, but an overhaul of an already world-class DAW. You must have OS version El Capitan (10.11) or greater to install it, but reluctant as I was to leave the comfort of 10.9, even that upgrade was a performance bonus.

The actual list of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes in 10.3 is so long I’m not even going to try to cover more than a few standouts. The full release notes are here:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203718

Some of the more obvious changes are with the UI itself.

The colors are different – the background is lightened from the bold darkness of 10.2, it’s now somewhere between the look of v9 and X. This is to make it easier to see in different lighting conditions.

And the buttons and tools all have a simplified 2d look that goes along with the aesthetic of the last couple OS versions. The whole thing is very responsive and slick.

Logic Pro 10.3 UI

My personal favorite changes in 10.3: 

When you move the ends of a region, a ghost region appears so you can better see where you are in the audio file waveform.

Logic Pro Ghost Region

There is a new standalone loudness meter that measures in LUFS (Loudness Units).

The cursor icon now changes more obviously and intuitively for the different selected tools.

You now get the choice of stereo vs dual mono in each stereo track, and true stereo panning. (What was it before? I don’t even know!)

Logic Pro Dual Mono

Less obvious changes:

  • Faster startup and shutdown times
  • Less unexpected quitting when switching between projects
  • Touch bar support for the latest MacBook Pros
  • 64-bit summing engine and support for 256 busses per project
  • Ability to process clips separately within the same audio track

Bottom Line

If you have OS X 10.11 or higher, this is a great update to a great DAW. And if you don’t, I recommend updating. My mid-2012 MBP is so much happier with El Capitan, and so am I. And though I’m not 100% thrilled to be re-re-learning my daily use DAW, I’m loving the new features so far.

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DIY Music Twitter Chat

Microphone IconWhat’s up rockers! I wanted to let you know that I’ve taken over running the weekly Home Recording Twitter Chat and renamed it the DIY Music Twitter Chat. It’s an open forum where indie musicians can discuss the ins and outs of DIY recording, mixing, and production, and anything else that is related to the making of music outside of a professional studio. All you need to join is a Twitter account and some free time on Wednesdays at 12:30 Pacific Time, just use the hashtag #diymusicchat to  jump in!

Since the chats cover so much good info, I wanted to make sure I could save them for future reference and started archiving them on Storify. Check out the archives or come join us live!

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Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Behringer Behritone C5A Speaker

Behritone C5AThe Behringer Behritone C5A and its updated sibling, the C50A, are copies of the famed Auratone speakers, known for being so bad they’re good. They became staples in music studios after mixing and mastering engineers discovered that if they could get a track to sound good on the little brown cubes, they’d sound good anywhere.

I’d considered picking them up before but it didn’t occur to me that I really only needed one to do the job, until I read Graham Cochrane’s post on them recently on his excellent Recording Revolution website. The combination of this lo-fi speaker and mixing in mono have completely changed the way I mix.

The speaker itself is an active 30W, 5 1/4″ speaker with a 90 Hz to 17 kHz frequency response and retails for about $99US. I was happy and lucky to get mine on ebay for $65 shipped. It has XLR, 1/4″ TRS and RCA input connectors plus a gain control. I am using the 1/4″ connector with a mono > stereo adapter and run through my computer stereo out. The main trick to this speaker is to acclimate your ears by listening to songs you know well on it and hearing the difference from what you think you know. Reference tracks are a must. But mono mixing on this speaker forces you to concentrate on the midrange meat of a song, and can quickly help you to fix overlapping frequencies for better clarity.

bad speaker Logic simI went a step further and decided to simulate this speaker in the box just for fun, by creating a Logic channel strip preset with the Gain plugin set to mono, the EQ rolled off gradually below 500 Hz and above 2 Khz (a Bob Katz suggestion) and very light (1.5) compression. Running your mix through an optional channel strip like this prior to stereo out will give a good impression of how your mix will sound through a limited range mono speaker.

The speaker itself? Wonderfully crummy sounding. It’s a game-changer for me and I can already hear my mixes getting better. Definitely worthy of a Pick of the Week.

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