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Logic Pro: Pros and Cons of New AI Session Musician Feature

Celebrities lashed out at Apple this week in response to an advertisement for their new iPad Pro. The short promotional trailer depicted a trumpet, grand piano, guitar, and record player being slowly crushed by a hydraulic press.


When the plates finally separated for the big reveal, all that remained was a thin, sleek Apple tablet. That didn't go over so well with artists in the anti-AI camp.



Many interpreted the ad as advocating for "crushing the arts" with technology.


Apple said they were trying to convey a world where their new tablet could serve as a compact music and art making device. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.


The latest AI DAW from Apple, Logic Pro 2, includes AI music generation and audio editing features. AI bandmates are now available to play along with your ideas.


Generative artificial intelligence may seem like a hot new topic, but Apple has been trafficking in generative features for over a decade. The original version of Logic Pro X included Drummer back in 2013. What we're seeing today appears to be a more advanced version of the same concept, including tonal instruments.


In this article we'll cover these new features and try to place this app within the greater ecosystem of generative audio workstations and AI DAWs, so you understand where it fits.


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Logic Pro 2: AI music generation for musicians

Logic Pro 2: Session Player interface

Logic Pro 2 is very much a musician's tool. To appreciate this, you only need to have a look at the other AI music generators in this space. The majority of them are web applications operating outside of a DAW, requiring no prior music making experience from their users.


Websites like Suno and Udio turn lyrics and short descriptions of music into full length songs. There's no option to edit the audio, change the notes, or revise the mix. They're fun for making memes, but no one is mistaking them for a music production tool.


By comparison, Logic Pro still caters to artists and seems like an attempt to bring new workflows into their life. Some interpret the use of AI sessions musicians as an anti-social move, while others celebrate the convenience of having an AI bandmate to help them write parts that they otherwise can't make themselves.


AI Sessions Players: Keyboard, bass, and drums

Logic Pro 2 Drummer

In the past few years, Apple saw some healthy competition from Drum VSTs like XDrummer, DrumNet and Emergent Drums. The new AI Session Players will offer a more elaborate and sophisticated version of Logic's original drummer concept.


Alongside the upgraded percussion generator, Logic now creates instrumental tracks for tonal instruments (keyboard and bass). They can read and understand chord progressions, to write accompanying lines.


According to the press release, this AI bass player perform with style. It comes up with bass lines that include expressive techniques like slides, mutes, dead notes, and pickup hits. There's a timbre for every style, from acoustic and electric basses to subtler tone qualities related to the user's genre of choice.


AI bassist interface

Apple may be innovative but they're not the only tech company working on AI bass performance. Sony announced a diffusion-based AI bass tool called Bassnet back in March 2024. You can listen to a demo of Sony's model below:



Returning to Logic Pro 2, let's have a look at one final AI bandmate; the virtual keyboard player. It apparently has an advanced understanding of arrangement and chord voicings.


Users can request simple block chords or have it spread the notes out over extended harmony. Apple made sure to include subtle performance nuances like the noise of rebounding keys, pedal pushing, and tonal resonance.


These subtleties in the performance will contribute to the realism of the instrument and, for better or worse, crush your friend's hopes of ever playing in a band with you. Who needs them?


Logic Pro 2 AI keyboard player

Jokes aside, these AI Session Players will likely to be used for prototyping than replacing actual human musicians. Fans still want to see their favorite bands perform live. Then again, maybe animatronic/holographic musicians are up next.


Note that in January 2024, the audio editing company Audacity added AI music generation plugins to their toolset. Apple isn't the first to try introducing genAI to a DAW but their tools are significantly more advanced than Audacity's.


Shortcomings in Logic's Session Player workflows


When the updates launched on May 13th, we began testing and experimenting. Here's a quick synopsis, starting with a few positive notes:


✅ The piano compositions are rich and imaginative. Top feature.

✅ Bass timbre + expressiveness are exceptional, customizable.

✅ It's easy to tweak settings and audition new ideas quickly.

✅ You can swap out Logic's instruments with your own VSTs.


That being said, here are some of the most notable limitations and shortcomings:


Logic's global chord configuration

❌ Session musicians do not reference your MIDI/audio tracks. Instead, they reference a "global chord track" that has to be programmed one chord at a time. Logic lets you select a chord in the MIDI piano roll and analyzes it correctly, but when you go to program that chord globally, analysis disappears. 


Logic's midi chord analysis lacks drag and drop

There should have been a drag and drop button that carries the piano roll's chord analysis tool into the global chord track. Missed opportunity.


Session musician compositions have to be bounced to MIDI

❌ Session musician tracks can't be edited. You have to export to MIDI, then drag that file back in from an external folder to change notes.


❌ The rhythm of the canned drums are a bit stiff, even with swing.


With 32GB of RAM, the Session Players didn't create any drag on our system. A friend of mine with a slower computer said the generative step was slow and memory intensive for them. 


The good news is that if you don't mind taking the time to configure global chords, it's easy to experiment and quite fun.


The more complexity you permit on the piano slider, the more sour notes it hits. Some people will be bothered by this, but I personally enjoy the option to introduce "wrong" notes. Better that than a tool that never thinks outside the box. I was able to dial it back to have it stay within the confines of the progression.

Logic Pro 2: AI Audio Stem Splitter and Mixing


AI audio represents the second major innovation in Logic Pro 2. Their new stem separator will rival web-based competitors like Splitter AI but will fall short of advanced separation and note-manipulation audio-to-midi tools like RipX or Samplab 2.


Apple's four track stem splitter

According to Apple, their goal with the stem splitter is to help people recover and continue working on recordings that were otherwise unsalvageable. They allude to voice memos, cassette tapes, or bad recordings from live shows.


For now, the stem separator is still limited to just four tracks; vocals, drums, bass, and "other". This makes the feature a bit less useful if you're a guitarist playing in a band with another polyphonic instruments, like a keyboard, strings or horns.


One of Logic's biggest DAW competitors, FL Studio, released a similar AI stem separator back in October 2023. They also released an AI mastering tool, which bears some mild resemblance to the final Logic feature we'll cover in this article.



Logic hasn't rolled out an AI mastering tool yet, but they did announce a preamp called the ChromaGlow. Marketed as a way to get "the perfect tone", this feature certainly looks beautiful. It's yet to be seen how the quality stacks up against some of the other excellent audio tools they already offered in Logic Pro X.

ChromaGlow

As you can see from the screenshots, all of Apple's marketing has centered around the use of Logic Pro 2 on the new iPad Pro. They seem to be pushing toward a version of the experience where musicians carry the tablet around with them wherever they go.


AI features can be workflow accelerators. Musicians can jam with a friend and whip up instrumental tracks alongside your initial ideas, to break through creative block or come up with an initial arrangement.

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