MainStage, with its all-in-one instrument and effect rig powers, is now a la carte, and both Logic and MainStage are cheaper. A lot cheaper. Image courtesy Apple.

As expected, Apple moved its Logic Pro music production tool to the App Store. And the results are mostly what you’d expect. The biggest change is the price: Logic gets slashed to US$199.99, while MainStage gets a so-low-you-might-as-well-try-it $29.99 sticker price.

Wave editor Soundtrack Pro, removed from Final Cut Studio, is gone here, too. Lesser-known mastering tool WaveBurner gets the axe.

Logic Pro 9 is still Logic Pro 9. Today is a minor update that you can now download via the App Store if you choose. Logic Studio remains for sale through Apple in its boxed edition, but at two hundred bucks, the App Store version is the winner.

No Logic Pro X

If you were expecting Logic Pro X, my guess is, it’s just not done yet. I still expect the number ten to follow the number nine. (Amazing how that works.) I don’t expect Logic Pro X to produce the kind of disruption that Final Cut Pro X did, however. Logic already has a 64-bit infrastructure. Final Cut had an aging code base, deeply rooted in deprecated versions of QuickTime, that prompted Apple to do a ground-up rewrite. The initial results made people unusually unhappy, and perhaps justifiably so, but ground-up rewrites of software this complex tend to be ugly at first. There’s no reason to believe Logic will face a similar overhaul. Whatever Apple is doing, I’m in no rush; Logic is a deep program, and I’d rather wait for upgrades from everyone (note to all developers everywhere) than have serious production software rushed out before its time.

Logic Express is also, not surprisingly, eliminated. At $200, there just isn’t a spot for Express any more. And I’ve never been in love with these kind of product tiers; you’re constantly explaining to people whether they should get Express or Pro, as they desperately try to work out how “serious” they are in light of the products.

What is notable is MainStage: there are some welcome tweaks, and absurdly-cheap, standalone pricing that should get some attention.

Most importantly, $30 now gets you all of the instruments and effects from Logic in MainStage, including instruments like Sculpture.

MainStage

The real changes software-wise come in MainStage. For starters, if you don’t love Logic but want to try Apple’s live performance / instrument and effect rig, you can now do that. MainStage works standalone, and you even get all the Apple Loop sound content and sample-based instruments previously available in Logic Pro – Jam Packs and all, what once could have cost you hundreds of dollars is now thirty bucks. One thing I wondered about with the App Store was how Apple would handle distribution of all that content. They’ve thoughtfully allowed you to check off only the content you want to install, saving bandwidth and hard disk space if you don’t want everything.

All those instruments and effects: You also get, bundled into the package, an extensive collection of everything from guitar amps and stompboxes to the Ultrabeat drum machine to virtual instruments from analog to the unique physical-modeling Sculpture. Because MainStage supports ReWire, that means if you, say, love Ableton Live or Cubase more than Logic, but longed for some of those Apple instruments, you can now play with them in your DAW for thirty bucks without having to buy the whole Logic package. You’d just route audio straight into your DAW.

Check out the extensive list of instruments and effects on the MainStage product page. (They’re called “plug-ins,” but they can only be used in Logic and MainStage, not in other tools.)

For onstage or live studio use, MainStage also includes a looper, backing track player, and other useful tools.

MainStage 2.2 also delivers some new features for your $30. From the release notes, I spot a few highlights:

  • Now takes “full advantage” of Macs with four or more processor cores
  • New template picker, Assignments and Mappings view for streamlined screen and hardware control
  • Bigger interface elements
  • More MIDI control, SMF support for sending SysEx and other data when you make a patch change, block unwanted controller messages
  • Support for: Akai MPK25, Akai MPK49, Alesis Q25, Korg nanoKey2, Korg nanoKontrol2, Korg nanoPad2, updated M-Audio Axiom and Oxygen models, Novation Nocturn 25

There are also some bug fixes and improved ReWire support.

None of this is really earth-shaking in itself – though it’s nice to see those patch change additions for people with hardware rigs. But the big news here is that, with MainStage unbundled from Logic, it’s in a whole new product category. It could be a viable option for Mac owners wanting to control plug-ins and hardware from a streamlined setup, even if they’re not Logic fans. And that could open MainStage to new audiences using other DAWs. Years ago, I reviewed a similar app, Rax, now marketed by Audiofile Engineering. (At the time, it was developed by Plasq, now better known for Skitch, which they just sold successfully to Evernote.) I was disappointed that no one really picked up on the app.

The idea is great: make a simple, straightforward app that gets you actually playing instruments on your computer with minimum fuss. It still seems like a great idea, and perhaps now the time is right. Rax/MainStage shootout, anyone?

Bottom Line

Sometimes, it’s news that something isn’t news. For all the rumors that the App Store transition was going to be a big deal, I think for Logic users, it’s probably not. It could be a more convenient way to distribute Apple’s software. And it sure makes those days of giant Logic boxes and blue Emagic copy protection dongles seem distant, huh? But I don’t think the question is whether competitors will go to the App Store, specifically. I think the question will be more generally, when will we cease to see boxes of nothing but software in stores? It seems stores may continue to carry hardware bundles, but that software will get delivered, you know, on the Internet.

  • J

    The price is even lower than the Logic Studio 9 Upgrade box!

    So we can't complain about upgrades being gone. Very good deal but I have Pro 8 and will wait for X.

  • Florian

    Even if you don't want to use Mainstage, buy it and get all the plugins, instruments, effects and loops for only $29.99!! 20 GB.

    That's incredible.

  • http://Soundcloud.com/jmob Josh mobley

    The question I have is, what's up with all the content that logic ships with? Are the jam packs doa? And, will there be an upgrade path for logic x for those of us that have the boxed version. 

  • http://www.thenewsbeforethenews.com James

    You should probably add Cantabile Performer (Windows only), Xlutop's Chainer, Brainspawn's Forte + others to your Rax vs MainStage shootout, there are a few apps in this space.

  • http://tarekith.com Tarekith

    There's now a menu option to download the loop content, compressed to 25GB.

  • http://debsinha.com deb

    i seem to remember watching a video of the 9 inch nails' crew explain Trent Reznor's (er, maybe it was the whole band's) use of Mainstage in live performance. Made a convincing argument in my opinion, and I cracked the Mainstage application to mess around a bit. If latency issues are no longer a problem on faster laptops this could be pretty good for straightforward things. Weirdo effect chains would work too? I wonder. Anyhow, smart pricing will give this app some life for sure.

  • Matt Gnarly

    Downloading Mainstage now! I don't have the time or interest in really diving into Logic so Mainstage on its own looks like a great option. 

  • Dylan Digits

    I'm very interested in Mainstage as an affordable stand-alone with all of the Logic instruments. I tried Logic but didn't care for the workflow, and I would have kept it had the application let itself be a rewire slave… I dug the instruments, after all. I'm hoping that Mainstage as a stand-alone allows for slaving via rewire, so I'll wait to hear reports before dropping $30.

  • Terrible

    No new trackless paradigm?

    Surely this software is mired in the past.

  • RichardL

    While I love a deal as much as the next guy, it seems like bundling the entire supplemental content of Logic Studio Pro with a product that sells for $30 is perhaps a bit anti-competitive. I wouldn't like to be NI trying to sell Kontact or Komplete in the face of that.

  • Peter

    Richard, I have Logic Studio 9 and Complete Ultimate 8, and as nice as the Apple bundled loops and sampled instruments are, the majority of them can't hold a candle to similar stuff done by NI. IMHO, though. $30 is a great bargain for what you are getting.

  • fractured

    Peter, the selling point isn't the loops, in my opinion. It is the instruments. The Logic/Main Stage plugins are the best bundled plugins I've seen with any DAW. I'd put Sculpture up against any modeling synth, and ES 2 and ES P are very handy synths that are very easy on the CPU cycles. The compressors may not be fancy, but they are clean and very responsive, providing wonderful color where wanted, but staying neutral when you want them that way. The modeled amps are solid and the delays get as complex as you're likely to want. Ultrabeat isn't as intuitive as Battery for sample playback, but it has a much more flexible palate with the included synthesis. The only place they are lacking is with the sampler, but I think Kontakt has an awkward interface, making it a weak point, too! I'd say Apple has a solid arsenal of sonic weapons that can stand up to Komplete, or be complemented (komplemented?) by it. 

  • http://www.jonathanleonard.com Jonathan Adams Leona

    This is great news!  Mainstage on its own without logics' overhead will certainly help solidify it as a standard for live hosting.  And quad support and better allocation?  Cool!  With a lower price tag this could boost hardware sales.  But do you really get all the instruments with mainstage?  The evd6 is probably the best clavinet model there is, and I have wished I could use it as a goto clav in my various other rigs.  The evb3 is also a fantastic b3 emu.  My concern with mainstage as in the past has been its programming and lack of internal program change and storing of parameter data…it saves the whole channel strip in memory instead of a pc and some automation settings.  Is that still true?  An interesting change here and for 30 bucks a done deal.  I would still like the instruments as seperate AU, but a great value!

  • Derek D

    I was wondering when this would come along. I had Logic Express 8 and recently bought an upgrade used via eBay for $120 (Apple allows you to transfer the license as long as you uninstall it first, though I don't think they're really policing that). So that being said, I got a bargain I think. I was actually fine with Express, but I wanted the Space Designer plugin, which is really fantastic. The move to the App Store for Logic I think will be a pain for some people, as when you're talking about 20GB, having DVD's is nice sometimes. We'll see what happens with Logic X. As Peter says, I hope they don't mess with the interface and workflow too much, though it could turn out to be a good thing. As long as there is an affordable upgrade path for previous users, I'm ok. Though at $199 for the full product, that matches the upgrade cost, so perhaps they won't offer it less for previous users.

  • DJ2MN

    Great. One week. One week ago I paid $680 for Logic Pro. Now it's 1/3 the price. Just Great. I /knew/ this was going to happen to me.

  • DBM

    Seams logic express is no more ?  

  • sixnon

    Logic Pro update via software update today, but no Mainstage 2.2. Is this a App Store only update?

  • comurit

    I would love to see the same cut with  Avid pro tools and many other DAWs

    There is a big economic crisis around the world, why paying such a big price for digital stuff.

    Decent price would also cut hacking software and would let anyone have the chance to buy the software, and companies will still making money.

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, but remember the developer perspective – if anyone can buy the software, anyone can call them with a support problem. I hate to sound cynical here, but it's a reality. Price has long been a limiting factor by which you keep your number of users low, and more easily support development and support costs, which are where all your money winds up going. I have no idea what that formula looks like for Apple. But one thing that they do that's different from (some) rivals is, they sell pro-level support. And the free support options are built on the infrastructure they built for the Mac. So a lot is made of the idea that Apple can "lose" money on pro apps in order to sell computer hardware. I think it's far more likely that they've worked out a model that works for them to keep the pro apps profitable.

    That's not to say their rivals couldn't do the same thing, but this support algorithm is what makes pricing software difficult, and even Apple's profitable computers probably don't just magically solve it, either.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Jonathan: remember that there aren't plug-in versions. And some of that message will be lost just by them being part of MainStage rather than independent. It's an incredible value, but I see no indication it'll cut into NI sales. Look at a Kontakt, HALion, or MachFive – samplers have really expanded in scope, for instance, beyond what you get here.

  • J

    I'm disappointed that Soundtrack Pro is gone. It is an easy program to edit multichannel Quicktime. So it looks like now you'd have to buy the full Final Cut Pro for that..

    I hope they will release Soundtrack Pro as separate purchase!

  • comurit

    I understand your point , but their economic's philosophy  can no longer survive.

    It will eventually come to an end.

     I always managed to solve and fix the problem through the forums and like me many people do the same, and if this is the problem the could find out a solution, for example let them pay a reasonable price for support to people they want support.

    I don't think they want to keep the number of users low anyway.

    I know many professional musician who can't afford the price and what they do.

    Have a guess.

  • comurit

    And by the way Peter you will never agree with me, come on! look at your website it full of advertisments how can you ever agree, your income comes from this people who want just grab money from musicians.

    And please if you go to some major forum read how happy are people about all the support they get.

    They are very dissappointed!!!

    See Ableton for example.

  • J

    @comurit "people who want just grab money from musicians" – If you choose to buy Pro Tools without knowing their pricing strategies you just didn't do your homework. The internet is full of negative reviews of everything so it's easy to find out if something has high upgrade costs, bugs etc. As an aside, to compare features I wouldn't rely on forums though, just compare the manuals.

  • digid

    Seems like Logic Express won't get updated anymore? No software update to 9.1.6 for Express through OS X software updater, at least.

    And no upgrade path from Express to Pro? Express just got ditched?

    Ouch.

  • Peter Kirn

    @comurit: Yes, indeed, look at my website, which regularly promotes free and open source tools and more affordable tools. If I'm writing from the perspective of a reviewer, I'm absolutely going to talk about price from the buyer's perspective. If one option is cheaper, I'm going to talk about that. I remember at one point writing for a magazine – I honestly don't remember which one – which said in its reviewers' guide that we shouldn't talk about price. That's absurd. Of course we do.

    But that doesn't always mean what's cheap is best; it's going to be where you see value. (Otherwise, try taking your next date out for some McNuggets.)

    This is always, always the relationship of price between a maker and a buyer. The maker sets a price based on what they think will make them money; the buyer then chooses whether or not they'll buy at that price. Arguing whether it's philosophically valuable or not is never going to reach any solid conclusion. We could go there, but we don't have to. You've got solid numbers on what stuff is selling. 

    So far, I've heard lots of predictions that iOS pricing and Apple pricing would eliminate the value of higher-priced software. And so far, I just haven't seen evidence that it's happened. I talk to developers regularly, and a lot of more expensive products are doing just fine or even growing. It seems musicians have a wide variety of ideas about what stuff is worth.

    I'm certainly not going to discourage you from saving some money and getting some affordable tools; I know *I* do that personally. I'm just not also going to argue that the higher-priced stuff is economically unviable when I know it's not true. ;)

  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, here, I'll stake out a position:

    I'd really appreciate it if software companies just *simplified* their offerings. 

    Whatever they think that is worth, make that the price.

    I get completely lost with the LE and SE and SE+ and Premium Pro Extra and Premium Pack Bundle Suite and Complete Premium Pro Producer Edition and Hobbyist Edition and Poor Musician Edition and Tonedeaf Musician Bundles.

    And I do this stuff for a living. ;)

    Then, we can talk about value. When you buy software, you're really paying for a relationship with the developer. But even with physical goods, that many options tends to just confuse consumers. 

    So, yeah, I appreciate Apple's ongoing campaign for simplicity. Here's a secret, though – *other companies could do the same thing, if they so chose.*

  • somerfield

    "One week ago I paid $680 for Logic Pro. Now it’s 1/3 the price. Just Great. I /knew/ this was going to happen to me."

    Welcome to Apple. Here's your buttplug. Remember to Think Different (TM).

    • http://www.samgreene.com Sam Greene

      Yeah, those price cuts sure are horrible!  Buncha whiners.

  • RichardL

    I don't agree that other software companies can go where Apple has recently gone with their Pro apps pricewise (which is in essence what's behind their simplification strategy).

    Apple can give away these huge, expensive-to-develop (and support) applications. They don't need to make a profit on them. Apple makes their profit on hardware. Adobe doesn't, Avid doesn't, NI doesn't.  The Apple Pro apps are complementary and now their as close to free as Apple can get without raising the interest of the justice dept and the FTC. Apple has a very privilaged business model for their Pro apps where few other software developers can go. 

  • jakub

    It was nice to have option to buy Poor Musician Edition (Logic Express) as it has almost the same features as full version (from hobbyist musician view of course).

    But with new pricing, Express edition would make no more sense.

    I wish Adobe would get some inspiration by Apple!

  • RichardL

    I don't think Adobe can follow Apple's Pro app business model. It's just not an option for them. Look at Aperture vs Lightroom for a good example. 

  • http://xfader.com REGEND

    i might have to go for this. i've been stuck using OSX 10.5.0 and have been reluctant to upgrade because everything works just fine but i would like to mix down projects using Logic 9.

  • Jamsire Ernoir

    “One week ago I paid $680 for Logic Pro. Now it’s 1/3 the price. Just Great. I /knew/ this was going to happen to me."

    DJ2MN – not only does that suck, that actually hurts. Sorry for your troubles.

    • Joe

      Logic was not $680. It was $499. Has been that price for a while.

  • http://bono-media.com Tekknovator

    I always said and still think that sculpture alone was worth the full price of Logic studio. It has some weaknesses [not sample rate agnostic] but is imho one of the coolest sounding synths out there :D

  • http://cicprojekt.blogspot.com Gerald

    After doing some research, I am still not sure about what will happen to the other products that were previously shipped with Logic – especially Apple's Impulse Response Utility. I guess that's something many people don't necessarily need, but when you do impulse response recordings at filming locations, I don't know any relevant alternatives.

    I think it would be great if Apple would release an app version of IR Utility, as they have already done with Compressor (previously bundled with Final Cut Studio)…

  • J Bounce

    @DJ2MN: Where did you buy Logic? I had the same problem – this past Tuesday I bought Logic Studio at an Apple Store for $500. I called them a few minutes ago and they edited my transaction, bringing the price down to $200. Give the Apple Store a call if you happened to buy Logic there!

  • http://trash80.net trash80

    @RichardL: Avid doen't make a profit on hardware? Really? That totally explains why they sell their hardware for thousands and thousands of dollars… not to mention Maudio.

    Also (I'm guessing) the argument is possibly false as I'm sure Apple make more profit from their Apps Store & iTunes than they do in hardware, by far.

    I think the idea of selling a complete software studio at a much lower price will increase sales to the point where they are actually making more money by increased sales. Not only that but their "App Store" doesn't support upgrade pricing, so that means to convert all of their old Logic users to the upcoming release of Logic in the App Store, the price point should probably be lower so their is less of a reason for people to gripe. This is all speculation of course.  

  • Velocipede

    Peter, could you explain the assertion about MainStage with Rewire that "You’d just route audio straight into your DAW."? Is this true for Lion?  

    I've been checking on the status of Soundflower, which I used to use to record from Logic into Live, but I have not been able to confirm that it works with Lion (in fact, reports are that it causes problems). Is there another easy way to do this in Lion?

  • http://arvidtp.net Arvid Tomayko-Peters

    @ Velocipede – take a look at JackOSX :)

    Can the new version of mainstage be a rewire slave? that would open certain possibilities… Of course Rewire is still very limited in that it only allows audio to flow in one direction – from slave to master.

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @rewire-pokers: the only benefit of rewire over JACK is that rewire support dictates shared transport control. JACK has shared transport controls but since native apps can use JACK without actually doing anything at all, they don't get transport control as part of the deal. If Apple had defined transport control as part of CoreAudio, this wouldn't be an issue, but they didn't.

    JACK is more flexible, more powerful, more robust, but proprietary developers don't want to announce support for it even though some of them (no names, please) have actually done so (I'm looking at you, friends on the bank of the Spree :)

    Carry on.

  • Velocipede

    @Arvid – Thanks. Could not find any reference to 10.7 on the site, but a note at&nbsp ;http://roaringapps.com/app:3918 says the current build seems to work fine, so I will give it a try.

    I remember paying like $500 to buy a used copy of Logic Pro 6 (with a dongle) several years ago just to get the instrument plug-ins. Now $30!

  • http://www.gesslr.com gesslr

    Somebody on Twitter yesterday pointed out that Apple's big DAW competitors are unlikely to put DAWs in the App store ecosystem for one fact alone: if they did so, apple would get a 30% cut of every sale….

    • peterkirn

      Very likely. Of course, from their perspective, they do have to give a cut to distributors. But then, that's an extra reason – they may not want to make distributors unhappy. On top of that, they'd be on a store where they'd be more directly competing with Apple's own products, and on top of it, might feel the pressure to reduce costs.

      I think this makes business sense for Apple – my guess is, despite what commenters are speculating, Logic remains a profitable product even at a lower price. But it probably doesn't make sense for DAW makers. 

      I could see them releasing an entry level product on the App Store, potentially, though – especially one that pairs with iOS offerings.

  • mar

    Well, someone is going to get a cut
    (unless you sell everything on your own webpage)

  • comurit

    bang…….all the old comments are  disappeared!
    Nice move Peter!

  • http://www.papernoise.net papernoise

    Well, I can't imagine this having a good effect on the market on the long run. Apple is clearly following a dumpring price strategy here. Not many companies can afford to sell a product for less than 10% of the actual value.I'm wondering what they want to achieve with this. Are they trying to kill competition? Are they trying to attract as many people as possible to the app store? Is it just holiday sales time?

    • peterkirn

      I think they're probably just trying to sell a lot of copies of their software. It may not be any more complex than that.

  • http://www.morganhendry.com Morgan Hendry

    While I appreciate the massive price cuts and eco-factor of download only software, I worry about a pre gig software meltdown.  There have definitely been times that having the install disks and serial numbers has saved my skin at a show.  Not sure what I would have done if I had to find an internet connection on short notice to fix my computer…

  • J

    You can probably burn it to dvd easily, like the Lion download.
    Just make sure you don’t start the installation process immediately after the download completes – make a copy of the file first.

  • digid

    No offense, comurit, but you come across as a kind of a-hole. Read up on netiquette, and cut down on the snide remarks, please.

  • peterkirn

    Comments were temporarily invisible while we migrated to a new comment system, which allows us to vote up / vote down comments, gives us some administrative powers, and makes threads a bit easier to follow. It should also help with comment spam (a lot of which you probably don't see, but which can cost me time to keep an eye on).

    I love that people can read a conspiracy into anything. ;)

    • http://www.papernoise.net papernoise

      btw. I think the new commenting system is a great improvement, now I can post comments again! For the good and the bad… :) thanks for sorting this out!

  • Eric

    Amazing to see a full-featured, big name DAW sell cheaper than the average videogame system.  $500 is reasonable for a working professional, but a real barrier to entry for kids and non-rich musicians.  Here’s hoping some good music comes of this!

    -Personally, I find downloading vastly preferable to DVD.  I’d rather start a download at night and wake up to my installed program than babysit a DVD drive for 90 minutes.  ymmv
    -Nice to see Lion-style full-screen in Logic and Mainstage.  

  • http://www.everydaylistening.com Hugo

    Wow, that's a great deal. I must have spent over €2k on Logic and its upgrades over the years (bought it when it still was €1000). Now a new user can get the same software for 1/13 of that amount. Amazing.

  • http://secretkillerofnames.net LloydB

    Be nice if the additional content wouldn't completely download, then fail, then completely download, then fail in an irritating, bandwidth destroying cycle.  

  • DBM

    So express 9.1.6 poped up today … one last update I guess ? 

  • http://- hevonen

    @gerald

    I just bought Mainstage 2 and at least that came with Impulse Response Utility (available under “show package contents” upon right click and maybe from somewhere else).

  • dude

    I have yet to find s ingle list of what is included with mainstage 2 the apple page is not specific…If I have logic express 9, and buy mainstage 2..what will I be adding to my logic in terms of plugs and instruments?

    Thanks

  • Chris McDonald

    Main stage was originaly part of Logic, I wonder what else Apple stripped away from Logic no that Logic Pro as it is called now has? I guess Apple whants more bang for there buck with Logic, ah?

  • peterkirn

    Heh, that's because the rating is based on intensedebate use. And maybe I said something controversial elsewhere or something, or just haven't used it enough. You'll notice it's color-coded blue, which shows I'm an admin. It'll be hilarious if readers reduce my reputation, though!

  • wetterberg

    this is a great move. Hi, btw. Great being back at CDM after a looong hiatus. The site looks amazing. 

    Wondering why I can't upvote/downvote, though? The buttons are greyed out.