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Modeling Paradise

October 1, 2009
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With the addition of the Amp Designer and Pedalboard plug-ins, Logic 9 has taken a quantum leap from earlier versions in its guitar-amp-and-effects modeling capabilities. The sounds produced by these plug-ins can hold their own with any third-party modeling software.

Amp Designer offers a simple interface featuring a graphic depiction of the selected amp head in the foreground, and the chosen speaker cabinet and mic model in the back on the right (see Fig. A). Pull-down menus let you swap out heads, cabinets and mic models; and by clicking on the EQ or reverb labels at the top of the heads, you can switch between many different EQ and reverb types. All of the models have tremolo.

Although the amps are all labeled “Logic,” the graphics make it obvious which ones are being emulated. You get several different Fender types, as well as Marshalls, Mesa/Boogie, Vox, Orange and Hiwatt amps, and even a Sears Silvertone model. Unlike the actual amps, all of Logic's models have the same set of controls. This detracts a bit from the realism of the simulations, but it makes the comparison of tones between amps much easier, especially because the controls retain their settings when you switch models.

Overall, I was impressed with the sound of the models and the responsiveness of their knobs. I was particularly surprised at how natural the clean sounds were (see Web Clip 5). It's been my experience that amp modelers tend to do better at emulating distorted tones than clean ones, but Amp Designer does both well.

Kudos also for the ribbon mic emulation, which sounds round and warm. The mic model that you choose — you also get a dynamic and a condenser — can be moved around to any position within three or four virtual “inches” from the front of one of myriad modeled speaker cabinets. I wish the mic could move a greater distance back in the “room.”

The Pedalboard plug-in offers 30 excellent-sounding modeled stompboxes. Choose your pedals from the collection on the right side of your “pedalboard” (see Fig. B), and then drag them to the main section to make them active. You can easily change the order.

Some of the pedals appear to be modeled from specific stompboxes (the Fuzz Face, for instance) whereas others are hybrids. You get a ton of fuzz and overdrive pedals, and lots of modulation effects like chorus, flanger, rotating speaker and ring modulator. You also get several delay models, a spring reverb pedal and a couple of wah pedals. I was a tad disappointed that there was only one compressor and no octave divider. But, as a whole, the collection is comprehensive and the pedals sound great (see Web Clip 6).

Routing is a breeze in Pedalboard. You can split the signal and send one feed to one line of effects (A) and the other to the opposite side (B). If you pan the outputs on the Mixer pedal, you can create huge stereo effects. You can even divide the signal by an adjustable frequency range, thereby sending only certain frequencies to the A or B effects.

Amp Designer and Pedalboard rock, literally and figuratively, and give Logic users a guitar-sound toolkit of prodigious proportions. Apple also announced Logic 9 support of the new Apogee Gio ($395), a USB audio interface and foot controller that comes premapped for the two new plug-ins.

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