GarageBand X: The Reincarnation of Logic Express?

Monday, May 19, 2014 22:19

Besides all the excitement about the major Logic Pro X update last year, you might have heard that GarageBand also experienced a major update in October 2013. It wasn’t welcomed in the GarageBand community as much as Apple might have hoped. Apple made the mistake, in my opinion, to label this as an update although it was more like a new application to an existing GarageBand user. Now, the users are required to learn not just a few new features but almost a new application.

Apple took away the old GarageBand app and instead gave everybody, for free, GarageBand v10 – or is it “Logic Express”?

A Brief History of Logic Pro

In the past, Logic Pro was available in two versions, the full “pro” application called “Logic Pro” and the light version called “Logic Express”. This was the same app with just less of the pro features. Its demise might have been part of a long-term strategy. Let’s have a look at the timeline of Apple’s music apps.

  • In 2002, Apple bought the German software company Emagic and it seemed that they were interested in their popular audio application “Logic”. Although this might be true, it became apparent that Apple also might had plans to get Emagic’s engineers and their know-how to build Apple’s entry level music app “GarageBand” which was released as v1 in 2004 together with Logic Pro v6 and a lighter version of Logic Pro called “Logic Express”.
  • In 2011, after a couple of updates of those apps, came a big shift to how Apple sold their apps. No more installer CD’s, every software was now available only as a download from the new Mac App Store.
  • In the same year, Logic Express was discontinued. Also, an iOS version of GarageBand was introduced that ran on all the iOS Devices like iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone.
  • MainStage, a special music app for live musicians (based on the same code base as Logic) was introduced at that time.
  • In 2013, Apple’s big picture came into place. Logic Pro got its long overdue upgrade to “Logic Pro X” with a brand new interface. GarageBand too got its long overdue upgrade, also with a brand new interface that is based exactly on Logic Pro X.

The New Ecosystem

Although there were always some “cross-pollination” of features between GarageBand and Logic, they always looked and felt like different apps. Now, with the current Logic Pro X and GarageBand X, they are basically the same app with the same user interface and workflows, just different feature sets … doesn’t that sound familiar?

You can work yourself up from GarageBand to Logic Pro or switch between the apps and basically be in the same environment (not the scary one in Logic Pro).

Here is an overview of the various apps and how they relate to each other:

➊  The Project Files are upwards compatible from GarageBand iOS to GarageBand X to Logic Pro X. You can start your Project in one app and continue on the next “higher” level.

➋  All the apps share the same pool of Sounds, Instruments, Patches and Apple Loops.

➌  The Logic Remote app on the iPad can control Logic Pro, GarageBand, or MainStage.

➍  Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s professional video editing software, can import and export its audio files with Logic Pro.

Logic Pro X in “Training Wheels Mode”

Now, whenever a GarageBand user wants to upgrade to Logic Pro, they don’t have to learn a new app. They basically continue with the same app, the same familiar interface, just with more features. However, Apple made it even more easier.

In the Logic Pro Preferences ➤ Advanced page, you can disable specific advanced features ➎ so you are not overwhelmed at first.

To make GarageBand users feel even more at home, the developers at Apple added a sweet little touch. If you disable the “Show Advanced Tools” checkbox ➏ (all the Advanced features are now turned off), then Logic Pro X will add GarageBand’s wooden side panels ➐ to the Logic Main Window.

Why Bother as a Logic Pro X User?

Even if you are working only in Logic Pro X and don’t think about GarageBand, there are multiple scenarios that bring GarageBand and Logic Pro very close together.

  • Maybe, you want to get your kids started with audio production, but Logic Pro would be too much.
  • Maybe, someone in your Band wants to lay down some tracks at home, but Logic Pro would be to much
  • Maybe, you want to teach kids in your community or local school producing music, but Logic Pro would be to much.
  • Maybe, you want to encourage your kid’s music teacher to offer music production lesson, but Logic Pro would be to much.
  • Maybe your priest or the band in your local church ask you to recommend some production tool, but Logic Pro would be to much.
  • Maybe, you are on vacation or on a trip, equipped with your little MacBook Air and want to record some tracks in case inspiration hits you, but Logic Pro would be to much

I think you get the idea. GarageBand is not that app anymore for kids on the kiddy table. GarageBand has grown up and it is a lighter version of Logic Pro with the same Logic Pro DNA. It is free and there is no reason not to have it on your computer (did I mention it is free?). Just play around with it for fun or recommend it to your friends, your next potential Logic Pro pals.

GarageBand for iOS

One more thing. Besides GarageBand X (a.k.a Logic Express), there is also GarageBand for iOS. As a Logic Pro user, this should definitely be part of your tool box. You can continue your productivity on the iPad and even iPhone while waiting in line at the post office (and import it later into Logic Pro). The new version now has a new format called IAA (Inter-App Audio) that lets you use most of the cool iOS audio apps (Effects, Amps, Instruments) to record in GarageBand for iOS and then import it into your Logic Pro Project. More on that in a future column.

Graphically Enhanced Manuals (GEM)

Please check out the other books in my best-selling series “Graphically Enhanced Manuals” (GEM) , available as PDF files, interactive multi-touch iBooks on Apple’s iBooks Store, or as printed books on Amazon.


Thanks for your time and interest,

Edgar Rothermich