Maybe you heard, Apple has released the next generation of Logic Pro. Then again, maybe you didn't hear, as the announcement received surprisingly little pomp and circumstance. No tradeshow unveiling, no exhaustive public beta. But Apple believes you will hear the difference in your engineering as the new Logic Pro suite—featuring Pro 9, MainStage 2, Soundtrack Pro 3, Compressor 3.5—features over 200 new features, the most noteworthy of which are virtualization and manipulation tools. The new Logic initiative, much like Propellerhead's upcoming Record, is that any artist can now feel more comfortable also being an engineer. And if you regularly paint with effects pedals and consider out-of-time audio to be wet clay, then the Amp Designer, Pedalboard, and Flex Time features may well be your palette, easel, and kiln. Amp Designer and Pedalboard look to take a bite out the Native Instruments' Guitar Rig and IK Multimedia AmpliTube market, offering 25 heads to pair with an equal amount of cabinets (and three mics), plus 30 stompboxes to string along and creatively submerge your signal (none of these are licensed so the names are generic, but their visual modeling belies their historical origins). These tone tools be used in channel strips or within MainStage's live rig, where there are also new Playback and Loopback plug-ins to allow solo performers accompaniment by either pre-recorded audio or their own rhythm/lead loops (are guitars the new turntables again?). Or you can ReWire your rig alongside Reason or Ableton Live.
So, now you feel you have the road-honed chops, rockin' the mic with the pantyhose and all that, but once you do some tracking you realize your timing is still a bit off. That's where Flex Time comes in, offering an elastic approach to correcting tempo that will be familiar to those who use Pro Tools. You could quantize it, but that can come across a bit mechanical, so Flex Time analyzes the waveform and offers up the ability to (re)align individual beats non-destructively and in real-time. Also newly useful for the studio session savior are Drum Replacer and Selective Track Import features, which aid the swapping of specifics in or between projects. Varispeed and Speed Fades allow your sounds to brake or peel out from the pack. The Space Designer has a ton of new impulses. And there's lots of other goodies for control mapping, etc. Price of admission? An introductory price of $499, or upgrade options from $199-$299. Oh, and you need OSX 10.5.7, and perhaps an ear for melody. Logic can't do everything.