Shown above: Soundtrack Pro. But could we finally be seeing a glimpse of what’s coming in the next Logic?

Contained in the Apple Final Cut Studio 2 announcement is a new version of Apple’s video-savvy sound editor, Soundtrack Pro. Unfortunately, Apple still hasn’t restored the a la carte, Soundtrack-only purchase option — you have to get Final Cut Studio to get Soundtrack Pro 2. But the new release does build on some of the unique interface ideas of the first version, while adding the key capabilities the first version lacked — namely, usefulness for actually creating soundtracks. And look closely at these screen shots, and you just might see something of the next Logic. (Yeah, I know, you wanted solid information, but it wouldn’t have made sense to talk about a music product like Logic at a broadcast production show like NAB, where Final Cut Studio 2 was launched. When Apple’s ready, I’m sure we’ll hear from them.)

The big news here: Apple is certainly making an effort to push how we edit, in terms of spotting for video and interfaces for surround and effects. We’ll have to see if they pulled it off, and if these paradigms can effectively “trickle up” to their flagship DAW — and whether other developers can push even further in the same direction.

New in 2:

  1. Easier editing for video: “Rolling” edits and a new multiport video editor are designed to make spotting easier.
  2. Better take management for dialog: One nice feature of the first Soundtrack was its integrated takes; the hope was you’d use this for dialog recording, but it wasn’t quite there yet. The new version lets you take bits of different takes to get ADR right for fixing dialog after the fact. (Needless to say, this kind of take management can be used in other situations, as well, not just video. But unless you buy Final Cut Studio …)
  3. Automatic conforming, integrating with Final Cut: This sounds promising, but since some of you actually do conforming, and Final Cut Studio 1 botched a lot of the round-trip integration features between Soundtrack and Final Cut, I’m going to sit on my hands for now. Any thoughts, from those of you who know and what you can see in these … uh, product materials? Okay, never mind.
  4. Directly edit spectrums, as seen recently in Adobe Soundbooth CS3, which you can buy a la carte, for both Mac and Windows, or get free with the upcoming Adobe production suite.
  5. Surround: Noticeably missing in the first version was surround capabilities, and they’re here in Soundtrack Pro 2. The new surround panner looks beautiful aesthetically, at least. And it’s nice to see panners integrated in the track view. And there’s one unique feature:
  6. Combined surround and stereo in one project: Delivering to multiple formats? Now you can keep track of both in one project file. Nice.
  7. Surround clips: Since Apple is a big fan of giving you lots of pre-built sound effects and beds, these are now in surround. Hint to production people wanting to look professional, though: hire a composer and sound designer.
  8. Tape-style scrubbing as seen recently in Peak Pro 5.
  9. New Sound Palette for applying effects via a tooth-achingly pretty interface.
  10. Lift & Stamp for matching audio via effects. Done before with EQ, but seems to be done differently here; this is one I’ll definitely have to test to understand. (And, while they say matching EQ, did they say you can match other effects, as well? How?)

Soundtrack Pro 2 might be more interesting to the music market if it were available separately. And Windows users are now spoiled for choice in audio editors, with Audition, Sound Forge, WaveLab, and others.

But you might be able to spot some of the direction in Logic 8 in Soundtrack, as I had argued previously. You’ll see a new, layered interface for plug-ins, a lot like what we’ve seen in tools like iPhoto and Motion. And the surround interface (along with some subtler details to the former-Emagic plug-ins in the screen shots) are definitely an upgrade over Logic Pro 7.

Here’s a quick view of what Logic might offer. The effects have at least gotten an eye candy upgrade. The “Fade selector” to me should at least save some time, even if it’s not quite revolutionary. And as a sound design and effect addict, I love the idea of the Sound Palette and Lift & Stamp features, which let you freely apply effects and match EQ and other effects from sound to sound, respectively. Of course, I won’t be using them the way Apple intends. I’ll be trying to create ungodly applications of convolution reverbs that sound like a Javanese gamelan floated out the port airlock.

Consider this a preview. All bets are off until there’s a shrink-wrapped box in my office. More soon. (Soundtrack is shipping: May. Logic: no one knows.)

Apple Soundtrack Pro 2 Product Page (filled with plenty of demo videos … enjoy)

  • thesimplicity

    I've never been a big fan of soundtrack… most of the time I just dump an AVI from FCP and transfer it to my PC so I can mix everything in Audition. But the feature list for this version makes it really, really appealing. Especially how it keeps every channel of a 5.1 clip inside of one wav file. I haven't been able to track down much info about this feature, though… does anyone know how it's done? Are there other programs that do this as well?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    There is a multichannel extension to the Microsoft WAV format. It's supported, among others, by Nuendo:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/how

    If it's AIFF you mean, AIFF has always been able to interleave more than two stereo channels. See the technical documentation here:
    http://www.borg.com/~jglatt/tech/aiff.htm

    And since WAV borrows functionality from AIFF, it may be that its multichannel is based on AIFF's.

    I think these are just not widely implemented; I couldn't say why.

  • http://thebside.org Andy

    Who knows what will happen with Logic. The code base is so old that it may take years to retrofit or rewrite. Hopefully this work has been going on for a while now. When I look at STP 2, though, I do get envious of the UI, which looks a lot better and intuitive than Logic.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, wait a minute, the *age* of a code base isn't as important as the way it's structured and who's doing the development work. ;) Apple was able to crank out their Intel-native version of Logic, which also means that — like everyone else — their audio team lost some time that would have been spent working on the next update. I'm happy to wait and see what they come up with. And I'll bet my Power Mac the interface looks different from Logic 7.

  • http://thebside.org Andy

    Another interesting point is that Waveburner has had a Final Cut Studio-like interface since it shipped with Logic Pro 7.0.

    I'd bet that we will see a new Logic, with Waveburner and a sample editor from STP rolled right in. When, though? There is no real indication that it is at ALL soon.

  • Reach

    I'm looking forward to getting this with the suite when it starts shipping, but it's Logic I want… Waiting is no fun, but at least they gave me a new Studio to play with in the meantime!

    Logic though; come on out, we're here waiting, and we won't bite!

  • http://www.substation.co.nz/blog t.edison

    Heres hoping 5.1 support in Soundtrack Pro might give ProTools LE and ableton LIVE the required kick in the butt they dearly deserve to deliver 5.1 technology to their respective platforms… i mean, who really cares what DJs have right? records are just stereo & i am yet to see/hear anyone make a good vinyl DJ redundant, but musicians & composers are the makers of music, the dreamers of the dreams & i dont know about you but my dreams may well be are in black white but they sure as hell are immersively in 5.1

    sound & music is all around us, not just in front of us!

  • Sam

    Man, if they ditch the Logic environment I'm going to be pissed. That is the factor that really makes Logic stand out from the other sequencers.

  • carmen

    c74/ableton can take up the slack in that area sam. i doubt expressions/berklee grads mixing down xtina or indie/emo/guitar bands care about the environment, which is apples two target markets

  • gecko

    ditching the environment would destroy backwards compatibiity, don't you think? and apple isn't microsoft here so i would assume they are taking that into consideration.

  • Damon

    I am guessing Logic 8 or whatever it is called will include many exciting things like Live or Cubase Cool kinds of stretch and improvise types of features, which is currently the trend de-jour. And as Logic will be seeking total domination 1 up man ship, it may very well be bells and whistles from DAW heaven, with hopefully, some new and maybe even modular Reason Thor (me heart be still) type synths and psychotic effects to tempt the sonic nodules of extreme joy.

  • http://www.dialashop.com dialashop

    The new features in Soundtrack 2 look great especially direct editing of spectrums. Apple bougth Emagic in 2002 and since then development has been slow. I hope the next version is called Logic Pro 8 and not someother name. I think Apple needs to update the EXS24 Sampler, its old technology say compared to Native Instruments Koncept 2 Sampler which is 32bit. Perhaps Logic 8 will contain a new sampler, perhaps call it EXS32. I am a Logic user and I want Apple to continually development the program. I have one theory, the same software team is working on the projects. Logic has not been updated since Sept 2004, I think they have been spending time developing Garageband and Sountrack Pro 2. In comparison to other programs like Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Cubase, Logic's interface is beautiful, easy to read and looks cool. I loved the graphic style used by Emagic, I hope Apple continues to keep the cool style. In Logic 7, I liked the interface of Ultrabeat, but I did not like the boringness of Scuplture. In terms of interface looks, Logic to me looks better than Sountrack Pro 2 and I hope Logic 8 will be a massive update with lots of new instruments and audio fx.

  • http://www.neilaudio.com Neil Parfitt

    If they change to a point where old sessions cant be opened – then I couldn't care less about what they add… it will be just another headache.