A consumer-level version based on the same interface and audio engine but with reduced features, called Logic Express, is also available at a reduced cost. Apple's GarageBand, another application using Logic’s audio engine, is bundled in iLife, a suite of software which comes included on any new Macintosh computer.
Unlike most software sequencers (including its main rival at the time Cubase), which present a song as a linear set of tracks, Notator was a pattern-based sequencer: a song was built by recording patterns (which might represent for example Intro, Verse, Chorus, Middle-8, Outro) with up to 16 tracks each, and then assembling an Arrangement of these patterns, with up to 4 patterns playing simultaneously at any one point in the song. This more closely resembled the way that hardware sequencers of the 1970s and 1980s worked.
In its time, Notator was widely regarded as the most powerful and intuitive sequencing and notation program available on any platform, but subsequently Cubase's popularity increased and track-based sequencing prevailed over pattern-based (a situation which continues to this day).
The C-Lab programmers left that company to form Emagic, and in 1993 released a brand new program, Notator Logic, which attempted to fuse both track- and pattern-based operation (but looked much more similar to track-based sequencers than to Notator). Whilst very powerful, early versions of Logic on the Atari lacked the intuitiveness and immediacy of either Cubase or Notator, and never achieved the same degree of success. However, by this time the Atari was becoming obsolete, and part of the reason why it had been written from scratch was to make it easier to port to other platforms. The Notator brand was dropped and the software became known as simply Logic.
As subsequent versions of the software became available for Mac and PC platforms, and acquired ever more sophisticated functionality (especially in audio processing) to take advantage of increased computing power, Logic gained popularity again.
In the early 1990s, with Logic version 1.7 Emagic added the ability to record and mix audio into the sequencer tracks, along with its existing MIDI capabilities that had continued to be expanded as well. At the time, computers were not fast enough to record audio in "native mode", so additional hardware was needed to make it work, usually in the form of sound cards or DSP cards plugged into the computer's internal bus slots, such as the NuBus slots on Macintosh computers. Among the systems that worked with Logic 3 were Digidesign's Audiomedia card and Pro Tools III.
In the mid 1990s, Emagic released the Logic version 4, and their Audiowerk audio interface, introducing the ability for Logic to record and mix audio without requiring additional hardware, although the track counts and processing possibilities were significantly limited by the speed of the computers of those times, which were very slow relative to current systems.
Logic 5 featured significant improvements in user interface, and increased compatibility with more types of computers, operating systems, and a wide range of audio interfaces.
With Logic 6, Emagic added the availability of separately packaged software products that were closely integrated add-ons developed specifically for use with Logic, including software instruments, the EXS sampler and audio processing plug-ins. The Logic 6 package also included the stand-alone program Waveburner, for burning redbook audio CD standard-compliant CDR masters for replication, however, that application was considered a free bonus feature; it was not advertised as part of the package and did not include printed documentation. PDF documentation was included on the installer disc.
In late 2004, Apple released version 7 of Logic Pro, consolidating over 20 different Emagic products, including all instrument and effect plug-ins, Waveburner Pro (CD Authoring application), and Pro Tools TDM support, into a single product package. Apple also released a scaled down version of Logic called Logic Express, replacing two previous versions that filled that position called Logic Silver and Logic Gold. Apple began promoting Logic Pro as one of its flagship software ‘Pro’ applications for the Macintosh platform. Logic was also used as the basis for a modified application titled GarageBand, included as a part of OS X iLife.
Additions to Logic Pro 7 included: the integration of Apple Loops, Distributed Audio Processing (an innovative technology for combining the power of multiple computers on a network), 3 new instruments including Sculpture (a sound modeling synth) and Ultrabeat (a drum synth and sequencer), and 9 new effect plug-ins including Guitar Amp Pro (guitar amp simulator), and a linear phase corrected version of their 6 channel parametric equalizer. In total, Logic Pro 7 now included 70 effect plug-ins and 34 instrument plug-ins. Pro-Tools TDM compatibility, which had been a feature of Logic since version 3.5, was not supported by Logic 7.2 on Intel-based Mac computers; TDM support returned with the release of Logic 8.
Significant changes were made for Logic 8. Alongside changes such as the new processing plug-in (Delay Designer), Apple has included features such as Quick Swipe Comping, such as that in Soundtrack Pro 2, and multi-take management. Apple also made changes to ease of use. These include the discontinuation of the XSKey dongle and a streamlined, single window interface, which is in some ways similar to that of Ableton Live, but highly customizable, or similar to the interface in Digital Performer.
Other additions to the new interface include consolidated arrange windows, dual channel strips, built in browsers (like that in GarageBand) and production templates.
Logic Pro provides software instruments, synthesisers, audio effects and recording facilities for music synthesis. It also supports Apple Loops - professionally-recorded instrument loops that can be used as beats and are royalty-free. Audio effects include distortions, dynamics processors, equalization filters and delays. The Space Designer plugin, for example, simulates the acoustics of audio played in different environments, such as rooms of varying size, or producing the echoes that might be heard on high mountains. Logic can work with MIDI keyboards and control surfaces for input and processing. It also features real-time scoring in musical notation, supporting guitar tablature, chord abbreviations and drum notation.
Logic Pro and Express share much functionality and the same interface. Logic Express is limited to two-channel stereo mixdown, while Logic Pro can handle multichannel surround sound. Both can handle up to 255 audio tracks, depending on system performance (CPU and hard disk throughput and seek time).
The application also features distributed processing abilities, which can function across an Ethernet LAN. One machine runs the Logic Pro app, while the other machines on the network run the Logic node app. Logic will then offload the effects and synth processing to the other machines on the network. If the network is fast enough (i.e. gigabit Ethernet) this can work in near-real time, depending on buffer settings and CPU loads. This allows users to combine the power of several Macintosh computers to process Logic Pro’s built-in software instruments and plug-ins, and 3rd party processing plug-ins.