Apple has released a major update to its professional sound and music editing bundle,. The latest version includes Logic Pro 9, MainStage 2, Soundtrack Pro 3, Compressor 3.5, and WaveBurner 1.6. While Apple boasts of , a handful of those make Logic Studio's refresh notable.
Saving Time and Energy -- Logic Pro 9 adds a set of features collectively called Flex Time that is designed to save you time and effort by simplifying complex timing and tempo editing. Chief among these tools are Flex Tool and Audio Quantize.
Flex Tool enables you to drag and push portions of the waveform audio anywhere you please while avoiding the tedious and aggravating splicing normally required by such a task.
Audio Quantize lets you conform an audio region to a musical grid or other track to correct or improve its rhythmic qualities. For example, if your guitar player nailed his solo but was a little off-tempo somewhere in the middle, you could target just those notes that fall off the beat, and put them where they need to be.
Undoubtedly these sorts of corrective tools will have musicians from past eras grumbling, but they're sure to please today's struggling amateurs.
Guitar Gods in Mind -- One of the main aims of this upgrade is the expansion and improvement of guitar tone virtualization. The update introduces a feature called Amp Designer that enables guitarists to mix and match 25 different amp models with 25 different speaker cabinets, and to record the resulting setup with one of three different virtual mics.
Additionally, users now have access to 30 stompbox effect pedals via the Pedalboard feature, and can combine as many as they please to create dense and complex guitar tones.
Finally, with support for Apogee GiO, users can control Pedalboard hands-free via a new USB audio interface and control device in both Logic Pro 9 and MainStage 2 (an essential feature given that guitarists usually have their hands full).
Going Live -- MainStage, Logic Studio's live performance program, gets two new plug-ins for expanded performance options. Playback does what it sounds like, playing back pre-recorded tracks when triggered with a USB or MIDI controller. It's aimed at solo performers looking for hands-free on-the-spot integration of backing vocals or music.
The other new plug-in is Loopback, which functions as a common looping station that enables musicians to record a live track and add new layers to that track with each subsequent pass of the loop (Loopback reportedly functions similarly to the EchoPlex tape-based loop device that was popular in the 1970s).
Production Tools -- In addition to the snazzy new features listed above, the refreshed Logic Studio also introduces a host of substantial production tools designed to improve overall performance and control. New production features include Selective Track Import, which enables you to move specific tracks and setups between projects; Drum Replacer, which enables you to easily swap out unsatisfactory drum tracks with triggered samples; new notation and chord grids for creating guitar tablature and scores; and expanded editing capabilities within your Take Folder.
Logic Express --  adds Flex Time features to the stripped-down introductory audio package, as well as production tools such as Selective Track Import, Bounce-in-Place rendering, and notation and chord grids. Also added is the Amp Designer, Pedalboard, and Apogee GiO support.
Just the Facts -- The new Logic Studio costs $499, and requires that you're running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later on a Mac with an Intel processor. Upgrades from the previous Logic Studio, Logic Gold 5, Logic Platinum 5 and their succeeding Gold, Platinum, and Pro editions cost $199. Logic Express owners can upgrade to Logic Studio 2 for $299.
Logic Express 9 costs $199, with updates from prior Logic Express versions or Big Box costing $99. It, too, requires Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later on a Mac with an Intel processor, and is due to ship in August 2009.