This won’t be an in-depth review of Logic Pro on the iPad. There are already plenty of deep dives into what remains the biggest surprise out of Apple’s dual pro app announcement.
Instead, this is a reaction from someone who has made music for his own pleasure for nearly thirty years. Someone who knows Logic Pro on the Mac like the back of his hand and has always struggled to adopt competing DAWs.
Put simply, as much as Logic Pro on the iPad was a huge surprise for yours truly, its sudden emergence immediately resulted in rather large expectations.
I have some good news. Logic Pro on the iPad is unbelievably good.
Just like Final Cut Pro on the iPad, we’re reminded upon the first launch of Logic Pro that this is a subscription-only affair. Want to use it for the rest of your life? That’ll be £4.99 per month or £49 per year, during which time, presumably, you’ll receive any updates Apple throws its way.
This is a bargain. I’m leaving my side of the argument there.
Logic Pro on the iPad also follows in its video editing sibling’s footsteps by gently guiding the user in with tutorials and sample material. You can jump into a Live Loops session, head straight into a blank timeline, or gain a head start with one of several genre-specific Live Loops ‘grids’.
There’s also a nudge towards the abundance of sound packs on offer, which features patches, loops, and presets for everything from vintage breaks to 8-bit ‘legends’. It’s a country mile from the experience on the Mac but it’s immediately inspiring and hints at how complete this version of Logic Pro might be.
Just like Final Cut Pro, my first thought when heading into Logic Pro on the iPad was a practical one. Clearly, I wouldn’t be monitoring my musical explorations on the iPad Pro’s built-in speakers; I’d need a pair of headphones.
Connect your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, and Logic Pro informs you immediately that there might be a ‘delay’ in playback. This refers to the inherent audio latency of using Bluetooth headphones. I can confirm that the delay is significant and makes anything but wired headphones a no-go.
So, you’re going to need a dongle, because let’s not forget that Apple removed the headphone jack from all of its iPads, including those aimed at the pro market.
Depending on how you make your music, you’ll probably want a midi controller keyboard, too. I immediately ordered the Novation LaunchKey Mini which is featured on Apple’s Logic Pro for iPad website and is about as plug-and-play as they come.
Just like Final Cut Pro, the iPad version of Logic Pro feels both immediately familiar and rather disorienting. It looks like Logic, but this is clearly a complete reimagining of Apple’s DAW. For instance, it took me a while to work out how to add instruments to midi tracks (you do so at the bottom of the screen as part of an Ableton-like chain for that track). Equally, switching between editing, triggering, and recording on the Live Loops screen takes some getting used to.
Despite this, it doesn’t take long for it to dawn on you that this really is Logic Pro. Even though your favourite controls, areas, and settings might be located elsewhere, most of them are present and correct.
This is the real deal!
Let’s not forget that this is version 1.0 of Logic Pro on the iPad. As we’ve seen on Final Cut Pro for the iPad – and, indeed, lots of first tries from Apple – the initial version often misses some crucial features. The lack of external storage support for Final Cut Pro is, for me, a complete showstopper.
Although it’s still relatively early days, I’m yet to run into a showstopper in Logic Pro for the iPad. This is the real deal. They’ve clearly been working at it for an awfully long time – or they struck lucky with the ability to port the Mac version across.
It’s actually rather overwhelming how complete Logic Pro on the iPad is. The mixer is there with all of its routing intact. You can control external midi instruments. The track Inspect window doesn’t appear to be missing anything. Every plug-in features all of the controls we’re familiar with on the Mac. More impressively, everything has been redesigned completely for touch; it looks modern, inviting, and super inspiring.
There are some omissions, of course. Software synths like Alchemy don’t feature anywhere near the same number of presets as the Mac version, and the multi-sampler only offers “playback compatibility” with the Mac version. There’s also no sign of the third-party plug-ins mentioned during the launch, but at least we know they’re on the way.
But this is version 1.0! The fact there are no shoppers (for me, at least) enabled me to dive in and start creating immediately. This wasn’t the case on Final Cut Pro where I was hampered by a lack of storage space on my iPad and a constantly failing import of my footage.
I should also note that Logic Pro absolutely flies. This thing is rock solid, already. Everything responds instantly on my base model M2 iPad Pro, and you can happily add new tracks and tweak anything you want while playback continues.
This is deeply impressive, Tim, and it clearly demonstrates what the M1 and M2 are capable of in the iPad.
My Logic Pro for iPad workflow
It is early days with Logic Pro on the iPad, but I’m so excited by its capabilities that I’m already considering how to slot it into my workflow.
There’s a temptation to try it out for podcast recording, of course (particularly given the failure of GarageBand during a recent trip to Brussels), but that’s less exciting than getting down to some good, old-fashioned music-making.
Logic Pro on the iPad encourages you to be more spontaneous. Despite Apple’s insistence that it is for all genres of music, it does feel more suited to beat-making, loop-building, and off-the-cuff sampling. That’s the kind of stuff my time affords these days – I can’t really get into the craft of building the long arrangements I used to many years ago.
The thought of diving into Logic, wherever I am, to noodle away and build mini compositions is super exciting. The ability to then ’hand off’ the session to Logic Pro on the Mac for polishing and the addition of the wealth of third-party plugins and instruments I have there is entirely reasonable and, again, exciting.
I’m currently attempting a new project where I create focus music for anyone who wants to lock themselves into a deep work state. This version of Logic Pro feels perfectly suited to that endeavour and has arrived at the perfect time.
What we need next
Unlike Final Cut Pro on the iPad, I don’t have a huge list of requirements for Logic Pro on Apple’s tablet. It feels so comprehensive, right out of the gate.
My biggest request is for the promise of third-party plug-ins (and, hopefully, instruments) to come good. That’s very exciting, and providing Apple has made the development process as tempting as it should be for those developers, their emergence onto this platform will immediately send it into the stratosphere.
For long-term Logic Pro users like myself, this iPad version needs some time with which to familiarise oneself. However, once it clicks, it really clicks. And if you’re new to music-making and have been waiting for your iPad to turn into the music studio of your dreams – it’s here.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
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Good article, but I got the impression reading this that although you are very familiar with a Logic, you might not be very familiar with the ios music production ecosystem. For example, there are already about 1000 AUv3 plugins (the iOS equivalent of AU) available on iOS, some from indie iOS devs – many of whom are making apps that desktop users would love to have on desktop. But perhaps more importantly for your case, tons of desktop devs have been porting their stuff to iOS for years already. Pianoteq 8 just came to ios and has full parity with the desktop version. Even better, the license is cross platform. UK Multimedia, UVI, Baby Audio, Audiomodern, Unfiltered Audio, Gav Filter are just a few of the many desktop devs whose apps can be found in AUv3 versions, compatible with Logic for iPad and for the many other superb hosts we already have like AUM, Loopy Pro and apeMatrix. The only caveat is that if you already own Fabfilter and most other desktop plugins on iOS, you’ll have to buy them again in their ios incarnations. The blow is softened by the fact that ios apps are generally much cheaper than desktop counterparts.