For modern music production, the digital audio workstation is nearly always at the centre of the studio. There are so many fantastic DAW options to choose from, and in this article, I'll be sharing why I personally use Apple's Logic Pro X as my DAW of choice in my home studio.
My Top 4 Reasons To Use Logic Pro X Are:
I'll also share many more key features that make this digital audio workstation a great option as well as features I prefer in other DAWs I've tried.
For those of you who are interested, I'll share my experience with various digital audio workstations toward the end of this article for more context (spoiler alert: I've worked professionally with Logic Pro and Pro Tools and have decent amounts of experience with FL Studio and Ableton Live) — I want to jump right into the reasons I use LPX rather than talking about myself.
If you prefer video content, I have an in-depth video on this very topic, which you can watch below:
With that, let's get into it.
Budget is always something to take into account.
Of course, piracy is an option, but I'd never recommend it, on general principle — even if you only want to test out a DAW to see if you like it, there are generally free “lite” versions to opt for instead of stealing software. I won't get into ethics and morals any more than I have in this article.
But with that out of the way, of what I consider to be the best DAWs on the market, Logic is the most affordable (assuming we're choosing the commercial license of Reaper).
Now, the prices of these digital audio workstations are liable to change, and I won't be able to watch over them and update this article at a moment's notice, so rather than list the prices here, I'll offer you links to check out the prices for yourself (to whatever the latest edition may be):
- Apple Logic Pro
- Avid Pro Tools
- Image-Line FL Studio
- Ableton Live
- Steinberg Cubase
- PreSonus Studio One
- Reason Studios Reason
- Cockos Reaper
I think Logic Pro is a steal at that price (cheaper than many third-party plugins).
If you're interested in checking out the free versions of these digital audio workstations, here are links to their lite versions
- Apple Logic Pro > Garageband
- Avid Pro Tools > Pro Tools Intro
- Image-Line FL Studio > Time Unlimited free trial of FL Studio (with restrictions — notably the inability to open saved projects)
- Ableton Live > 30-Day free trial
- Steinberg Cubase > Cubase free trial (currently unavailable)
- PreSonus Studio One > Studio One Prime (currently unavailable)
- Reason Studios Reason > $1 Reason+ subscription for 30 days (not free, but close)
- Cockos Reaper > 60-day free trial
If you notice an issue with this information, please notify me in the comment section below to help me keep it updated. Thanks!
Stock Plugins/Virtual Instruments
I understand most people would argue that their DAW of choice has the best stock plugins and instruments and that I'm equally biased. However, a big part of opting for Logic over all the other options is that I personally prefer the plugin options here.
Now, before moving on, I'd like to mention a few plugins and instruments from the other DAWs I've had the pleasure of working with that I wish I had in Logic, just to make things as fair as possible:
- HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology): an easy-to-use Pro Tools add-on that effectively adds analog-style saturation to each channel within the mixer — I suppose it's not exactly a “plugin”, but it's an awesome tool for music production within Avid's Pro Tools.
- AIR Flanger: a simple stock flanger that, in my opinion, sounds the best and is the most versatile yet user-friendly plugin. Admittedly, I don't use flanger all that often, but this is the best stock flanger plugin, in my opinion.
- AIR Dynamic Delay: a simple all-in-one dynamic delay, allowing the delay to respond to the input signal's dynamics.
- I'll set this up with an effects return with a delay plugin followed by a compressor being sidechained by the same source feeding the return channel.
- Gross Beat: a real-time, audio-stream playback, pitch, position, and volume manipulation effect, known for its ability to create gating, glitching, and scratching effects.
- Harmor Synthesizer: an additive/subtractive synthesizer with a unique and powerful synthesis engine, allowing for intricate sound design and manipulation, especially with its image synthesis feature where images can be converted into sound.
- Vocodex: a highly regarded vocoder plugin known for its clarity and flexibility, allowing for detailed manipulation of vocal textures and harmonics.
- Grain Delay: a creative effect that splits incoming audio into small grains and then delays and modulates these grains to produce unique textures.
- OTT (Over-The-Top Compressor): a multiband dynamics processor that applies [often aggressive] upward and downward compression to the high, mid, and low frequencies of a sound.
- Drum Rack: a flexible and powerful tool for creating drum kits from samples, synthesizers, and effects. Each pad in a Drum Rack can host an instrument or effect, and you can mix and match as needed. It's not necessarily “unique,” but it is an awesome rack.
- Operator: a versatile FM synthesizer with a simple user interface that offers an extensive range of sonic possibilities. It's known for its ability to create complex sounds, from evolving ambient textures to aggressive rhythmic sounds.
Back to Logic Pro X, I've found the stock plugins here to be the most well-rounded for a wide variety of musical tasks. In fact, I'll often reach for stock LPX plugins over third-party options when it comes to a variety of instruments, effects and processes.
Here are but a few of my regularly used stock Logic Pro X plugins:
- Gain: a simple but effective gain/trim plugin I love using for initial gain staging, summing to mono, swapping stereo channels, and adjusting levels after fader automation has been performed or between inserts in the signal chain.
- Compressor: perhaps the stand-out plugin from LPX, with a variety of superb compressor options that can suit pretty much any source material. Here are the compressor options within the Compressor plugin:
- Enveloper: a neat plugin that allows us to shape the initial attack of transients but also to shape the tail end of sounds. I tend to use it as a simple transient shaper, increasing or decreasing the attack of percussion tracks and other percussive sound sources.
- Channel EQ: A fully-parametric 8-band equalizer with an FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) analyzer. It has a low-cut, low-shelf, high-cut, high-shelf and 4 parametric bands. The first Channel EQ applied to a channel also gives us an EQ thumbnail on the mixer channel itself so we can quickly reference the applied EQ curve.
- Stereo Delay: a simple and effective stereo delay effect with independent left/right delays with feedback, crossover and LPF/HPF.
- Tape Delay: simulates the sound of vintage tape echo machines, albeit not to the level of many paid third-party options.
- Space Designer: the stock convolution reverb. It offers plenty of control and superb presets (impulse responses) and can also make use of third-party Impulse Responses. It's relatively lightweight compared to their-party plugins, making it a perfect option — you only need one convolution reverb, at the end of the day!
- Distortion II: emulates the distortion circuit of a Hammond B3 organ. I use it for adding anything from a bit of grit to a sound to completely destroying an audio track for special effect. I often use it in parallel via the mix knob or through manually-routed parallel processing.
- Direction Mixer: a tool to decode middle and side audio recordings or to spread the stereo base of a left/right recording and determine its pan position.
- Pedalboard: simulates the sound of a number of famous “stompbox” pedal effects. You can process any audio signal with a combination of stompboxes. Here are a few of my favourite pedals:
- Wham: Pitch-shifter
- Classic Wah: vintage wah effect that sweeps an EQ curve across the frequency spectrum. Less aggressive
- Modern Wah: More aggressive
- Tru-Tape Delay: emulates a vintage tape delay effect
- Hi-Drive: an overdrive effect that emphasizes top-end
- The Vibe: vibrato/chorus effect based on the Scanner Vibrato effect unit found in the Hammond B3 organ
- De-Esser: a simple de-esser — not necessarily my go-to option, but a great stock plugin nonetheless.
I talk about each of these plugins in the following video:
In terms of virtual instruments, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from. I don't personally make use of all of them, but here are a few strong options (along with any companies Apple may have acquired them from):
- Alchemy: a highly advanced sample manipulation synthesizer known for its ability to create a wide range of sounds, from rich pads to evolving soundscapes, using multiple synthesis techniques including additive, spectral, formant, granular, and sampling.
- Sculpture: a unique modeling synthesizer that simulates the physical properties of different materials and objects to create incredibly dynamic and organic sounds, particularly useful for creating new, experimental textures and timbres.
- Sampler (formerly EXS24): a staple in Logic for years, known for its efficient and versatile sampling capabilities. In newer versions of Logic Pro X, it's been replaced by the more modern Sampler and Quick Sampler, which offer intuitive interfaces and enhanced functionality.
- Drummer: an innovative virtual session player plugin that provides dynamically adjustable drum tracks. It's particularly notable for its ease of use and the realistic quality of the drum tracks it generates.
- Vintage B3, Vintage Electric Piano, and Vintage Clav: these instruments authentically recreate the sounds of classic Hammond B3 organs, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer electric pianos, and Hohner Clavinet, and are highly regarded for their musicality and realism.
The one thing I will mention, however, which ties into the following topic on the user interface, is that some of the virtual instruments, to me, are pretty unintuitive and dare I say “ugly”. I'm referencing the “E” instruments brought over from Emagic (the original developer of Logic, which was acquired back in 2002), such as the:
- ES E (Ensemble Synthesizer)
- ES M (Monophonic Synthesizer)
- ES P (Polyphonic Synthesizer)
These are powerful plugins, and while it may sound shallow for me to write out, their user interface has kept me from dealing with them almost entirely.
As an aside, it's worth mentioning that Logic Pro utilizes its own plugin format called Audio Units (AU). While most plugin manufacturers will offer their software in AU (along with the popular VST and AAX formats), it's not always the case. I haven't run into too many issues with big developers, though some smaller developers will only have VST options for their plugins — so take this into consideration.
To me, Logic Pro X's user interface is very intuitive. Admittedly, the newest versions look a bit “toylike” for lack of a better term, especially compared to something like Pro Tools (though perhaps not on the same level as FL Studio), but I don't mind that aspect.
I'm a big fan of the mixer in LPX. In fact, I'd say it's on par with Pro Tools, from my experience. It's super clean, laid out like a hardware mixer with the signal flow for each channel effectively running top-to-bottom, and has excellent routing capabilities.
The arrangement view is awesome, too, and the interplay with the mixer is fantastic. Everything matches up nearly perfectly (with the exception of auxiliary tracks sometimes being a tiny bother). The automation is great, though drawing it in isn't as fun as with Ableton Live or FL Studio.
Audio and MIDI tracks can be put side-by-side, and speaking of MIDI, the piano roll is among my favourites (FL Studio has added functionality that I really like, but its pattern-based sequencing workflow makes it less intuitive overall, in my opinion, particularly its mixer).
Logic Pro X uses a single-window workspace that consolidates multiple functions, while also allowing multiple windows to be opened at once, which I love. This design minimizes the need to switch between different windows, streamlining the workflow. You can access the mixer, editors, and browsers as part of the main window, which helps in maintaining focus and efficiency.
The recording is made easy with an intuitive transport, which is great. It's super simple to record multiple tracks and even record on a loop for playlists to be comped together.
Editing is also super easy with MIDI quantization, Flex-time (Logic's proprietary time compression/expansion and tempo manipulation tool), Flex-time (Logic's proprietary tuning program), group processing, and more.
On top of all that, we can't forget Logic's advanced features. There are more features in this powerful DAW than I think I'll ever be able to consider using, much less putting into proper use in music production.
A few advanced features I haven't mentioned yet that I love include:
- Smart Tempo: automatically manages tempo across all the content in your project. It can analyze and map tempo changes within recorded audio.
- Plugin Delay Compensation: automatically compensates for latency introduced by plugins, ensuring tight synchronization of audio.
- Bounce in Place: allows for rendering of a track with its effects and processing into a new audio file directly within the project.
- Varispeed: change the speed and pitch of your project for recording and playback in real-time.
- MIDI Plugins: a range of MIDI processing plugins for creative MIDI data manipulation.
- Low Latency Mode: reduces latency during recording by temporarily bypassing certain plugins.
- Customizable Key Commands: users can create and modify key commands for almost any function in Logic Pro X, enhancing workflow efficiency.
- Channel Strip Settings: pre-configured signal chains for a variety of instruments and vocals, which can be applied to any channel strip.
- Advanced Sidechain Controls: extensive options for sidechain routing and processing, crucial for dynamic effects like compression and gating.
- MIDI Transform Window: a powerful tool for complex MIDI data manipulation and editing.
- Advanced Film Scoring Tools: features like timecode support, video import, and film scoring markers (I don't use this so much anymore, but I used to use it daily when scoring for TV).
- Advanced Export Options: comprehensive options for exporting stems, regions, and projects in various formats and settings.
And a few that I admittedly don't take advantage of include:
- Logic Remote: an app for iOS devices that allows wireless control of Logic Pro X functions, enhancing workflow efficiency.
- Surround Sound Mixing: support for mixing in surround sound formats, including 5.1 and 7.1 configurations (the few surround sound mixes I did for TV were done in Pro Tools).
- Score Editor: a sophisticated tool for composing and editing MIDI in traditional music notation format.
- Drummer: a virtual session drummer that can automatically generate drum tracks in various styles.
- Track Stacks: allows users to organize and control multiple tracks as one, which is useful for managing complex sessions and creating layered instruments.
- Comprehensive Sound Library: an extensive collection of instruments, loops, and samples.
My Story With Digital Audio Workstations
In the realm of digital audio workstations, my journey began in 2003, when, as an 11-year-old, I first experimented with Cool Edit Pro (now Adobe Audition). This initial foray into recording and music production was more about fun and exploration with friends than anything else.
We would record into a Windows Millennium computer through one of the gooseneck desktop microphones and through the 1/4″ jack on the back — very primitive, but tons of fun.
As my interest in music deepened, I played in a few bands where I would tab out all our originals in Guitar Pro for my bandmates to learn and practice. We were fortunate to spend a few weekends recording in a local studio that ran Pro Tools, though I was on the artist side rather than the engineering side.
As a logical next step beyond tablature software, I found myself gravitating towards FL Studio during my senior year of high school (2009-2010). This period marked a significant step in my journey, as I began to seriously explore the intricacies of “in-the-box” music production.
University years brought a shift in my tools and approach. The acquisition of a MacBook led me to GarageBand, and shortly thereafter, to Logic Pro around 2012. This transition was a pivotal moment, as you know, since Logic Pro X would eventually become my DAW of choice.
My professional training in audio engineering was heavily centred around Pro Tools. This experience was invaluable, providing me with a robust understanding of the industry standard in recording, editing, and mixing. Concurrently, I secured a position at a local studio, where I further honed my skills in both Pro Tools and Logic Pro, the former being used for recording, editing and post-production, and the latter being primarily used for composition.
Throughout this journey, I experimented with Ableton Live but found that it didn't quite fit into my workflow, which was already heavily reliant on the functionalities (and hotkeys) of Logic Pro and Pro Tools.
Today, my DAW of choice is Logic Pro X. This preference is rooted in my extensive experience with the software, far surpassing my time with other DAWs such as Pro Tools (used professionally), FL Studio, and Ableton Live. While I have some experience with Audition, Reason, and Studio One, it is relatively minimal.
I appreciate Logic Pro for its balance of accessibility and power. It is a DAW that is intuitive enough for beginners to learn quickly, yet robust enough to support the evolving needs of advanced users. Despite my extensive use, I am still discovering new facets and capabilities within Logic Pro X.
I invite fellow Logic Pro X users to share their experiences and favourite features. Your insights not only enrich our collective understanding but also highlight the diverse ways this versatile DAW can be utilized in music production.
For more information on the best digital audio workstations, check out my article Top 7 Best Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) On The Market.
Call To Action
Let me know what you like about Logic Pro X in the comments below.
If you haven't gotten started, share why you're considering Logic Pro and feel free to ask any questions about this digital audio workstation.
What tips would you offer to someone just starting with Logic Pro X? The first tip is to take your time — learning any software or DAW will have its learning curve, especially if you aren't familiar with any other DAWs (try GarageBand for free first, before LPX). Familiarize yourself with the transport, hotkeys, arrangement view, mixer and routing options, plugins and virtual instruments, and recording and editing tools. Start slow and work your way into more complex sessions.
What are the best online resources to learn Apple Logic Pro X? In my opinion, the best places to learn Logic Pro X online are as follows:
- Koenig Solutions
- Global Knowledge
- Berklee Online
- Point Blank Music School
- Born To Produce
- Sonic Academy
For more information: Top 10 Best Online Resources To Learn Apple Logic Pro X DAW