Logic Pro’s Stem Splitter is a Game Changer

Logic Pro’s Stem Splitter is a Game Changer

During the iPad Pro launch we heard about the OLED screen and the M4 chip but later on in the presentation, Apple mentioned the new updates to Logic Pro, its music editing system which has the new Stem Splitter feature.

The new feature of Stem Splitter makes me wish I had it as a kid. Being able to separate out all the tracks of an already recorded piece of music means it’s easy to make remixes, mashups, and karaoke tunes. This week I’ve been enjoying using it to strip the drums out of songs so I can play along.

I was lucky enough to do a rare, on-the-record interview with two of the people behind Logic Pro John Danty, Senior Manager, Music Apps and Alec Little, Director of Music Applications. Taylor Swift fans have long enjoyed getting to hear little snippets of songs in progress, shared from Swift’s Voice Memos.

According to John Danty, Swift isn’t alone in using that app to make music, and that’s part of the reason why Stem Splitter exists. “Because Voice Memos very often becomes a place where most artists capture sometimes their best moments, because they don’t have the pressure of being in the studio with the record light coming on.

“Those moments are often discarded because they can’t really do much with them in the editing process, but Stem Splitter aims to be able to open up that opportunity to extract those moments and then add them into your project, and then add some the additional things with chroma glow and Session Players as well as to take the song to a different idea or a different direction.”

Image: Apple

Session Players is a slightly controversial feature, which has been expanded this year. It used to just be that Logic Pro could create a drum track to add to a song in progress, but now it’s been expanded to add bass and keyboard players. My gut reaction to this, as a drummer and bass player, was that Apple was devaluing the rhythm section, as though the spine of a song could be easily added by a machine, when all the best music is a conversation (or argument) between all the instruments in the piece.

Alec Little was quick to disagree, and raised a good point. “There’s nothing better than having a drummer say ‘have you thought about this’. But before you have that, you, your song and the ideas that you might bring to these real musicians might benefit from you working through some of those issues beforehand rather than trying to work that all out later on. So I think that as a visualisation tool, [Logic Pro Session Players] are really, really helpful for people that are writing songs.

“You still have to bring your own creativity to these things. They’re not going to do it for you. You have to bring your own chords. You have to bring your own field to this, and there’s a lot of interaction points. This is not one button pushing. This is working with a lot of things to tailor this to how you think it should sound.”

Having now played around with Session Players for a week, I feel confident that drummers aren’t going to be replaced anytime soon. I kept removing drums from songs and seeing what the session player feature suggested, and the first (and sometimes even 5th) suggestions were universally terrible. But I can completely see how they might help a song writer better get an idea for how they wanted to shape a song, then to take this direction to the studio with a real session player. And, I’ve always wanted a tool like this for guitar, so that would aid my songwriting given I’ve never fully mastered the instrument.

Image: Apple

However, slightly undermining their point that the Session Player feature won’t replace actual session players, both Little and Danty said that they’d heard songs on the radio that they could recognise the old drummer session player in. The famous example of Apple samples being used in place of a real drummer is, of course, Umbrella by Rhianna using a Garage Band sample for the iconic drum beat. Little and Danty weren’t forthcoming with offering up a newer example.

Moving away from Session Players, I was struck by how much easier and more accessible I found it to play with tracks on a touch screen. Editing a song on a computer somehow feels a little more formal, but opening it on an iPad feels more like you’re playing, there’s less pressure, and being able to do that with the full feature suite of Logic means the only limits are your talent and imagination.

I don’t love that it’s subscription-based now, but I guess that’s just how things go now. It’s such an incredible tool, and having it available on iPad means that kids who learned how to edit on Garage Band on iPad are now able to graduate to more sophisticated tools when they’re ready with minimal friction.

Read the full iPad Pro review here.

Logic Pro is $299.

Image: Apple

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.