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Reviews: Final Cut Pro for iPad ‘still rendering,’ Logic Pro for iPad a ‘great’ DAW

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Along with Apple launching Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad today, we’ve got the first reviews from those who have been testing out the apps ahead of their release. Early feedback says Final Cut Pro comes with a number of compromises and leaves a lot of room for growth while Logic Pro is more fully baked at launch and is ready to serve as a “great digital audio workstation.”

First up, let’s look at what reviews are saying about Final Cut Pro for iPad.

Writing for The Verge, Vjeran Pavic thinks the $4.99/month or $49.99/year pricing is accessible and Apple’s succeeded with a touch-friendly design, but for those comparing it to Final Cut Pro on Mac, “you might be a little disappointed.”

The experience itself is remarkably good, and for $5 a month, it’s a very accessible, powerful tool. But ultimately, when it was time to edit the video I created to test out Final Cut, I went back to the Mac. I could have done it on the iPad, sure. But some of my slider B-roll would’ve been a lot shakier, and I would have been frustrated with the end result.

Vjeran recommends Final Cut Pro for iPad as an “easy app to get going” but says with “crucial features” like important keyboard shortcuts missing and more, it won’t be a good fit at this point for those with “an established workflow.”

Jason Snell at Six Colors calls Final Cut Pro for iPad “A work in progress.” Starting out with some of the pros, Jason says:

While the iPad app’s interface isn’t quite the same as the Mac app, it’s close enough to feel familiar. Performance was never an issue on the M2 iPad Pro I used to test the app—even file exports were snappy. Once I got the hang of it, I was able to edit and export projects pretty quickly, and nobody would ever know that I used my fingers rather than a keyboard and mouse to do it.

Turning to what the app could do better, Jason lists the touch interface, clip selection/splits, moving tracks, exports, Apple Pencil support, and more.

iPad to Mac compatibility is also limited: “Final Cut Pro for iPad doesn’t contain the entire Final Cut feature set and isn’t round-trippable between platforms, though iPad projects are importable to the Mac.”

In closing, Jason says “The pieces are all in place for Final Cut Pro to become a great iPad app, but it’s still got a lot of growing up to do.”

Writing for CNET, Scott Stein calls the app “great” but notes “it’s very much a stepping stone.

For positives, Scott sees a lot of possibilities with the touch-based Final Cut Pro:

However, I see a lot of advantages bubbling up here in Final Cut Pro on iPadOS. The scrub tool is clever (although trackpads on Macs could do something similar). Some support for instant Pencil animations opens up possibilities for ways to blend graphic art and video editing, although the doorway in Final Cut Pro feels more slightly opened than truly maximized.

But things like a lack of full external display support left him perplexed:

I’m confused by some decisions here. Final Cut Pro doesn’t support true external monitor extension, even though iPadOS and M1/M2 chips do. The app mirrors whatever’s shown on the iPad display to a connected external monitor, but it feels like this should have been a chance to stretch out the iPad Pro’s capabilities.

Logic Pro for iPad reviews

Back to The Verge, Andrew Marino calls Logic Pro for iPad a “great digital audio workstation for the iPad with some experimental ways to make music.”

The biggest change with adapting Logic Pro for the iPad is the way you interact with plug-ins, the play surfaces, and the redesigned browser. To accommodate the screen size, the plug-in window has simplified versions of each plug-in that Apple is calling “tiles.” There, you can tweak basic settings on compressors, EQ, reverb, etc., and then tap the tile to open up the full version of the plug-ins to refine settings. Quickly adjusting something like the threshold on a compressor, viewing the parametric EQ, or adjusting the wet / dry mix of a pitch shifter while still having the full view of the editor is really helpful and more efficient for this sort of setup.

Andrew also notes using multi-touch is intuitive and fun with Logic Pro and sees it as viable to create professional projects. However, there are some caveats when it comes to compatibility between Mac and iPad:

As for compatibility with the Mac version, the biggest thing you cannot do with the iPad version is load a lot of third-party plug-ins used in many desktop DAWs. The iPad version supports a bunch of Audio Unit plug-ins available in the App Store, but if you use any VST plug-ins or ones that are not in the App Store (such as the popular Waves options), they won’t carry in your project on the iPad. Those plug-ins will be missing. Your best bet is bouncing those effects down to a new audio track and saving before your transfer to the iPad. There are some other power user features that are missing in the iPad app, like viewing more MIDI data, adding project notes, and more customizable export settings. This did not really impact my workflow, especially if I am going to carry over the project to my desktop, but it might be an issue for some.

Overall, Andrew sees Logic Pro from $4.99/month as a “great price”:

Though I am hesitant about subscription-based production software, five dollars a month is really a great price for a powerful tool like this, and you can unsubscribe when you’re not using it.

Dan Ackerman at CNET also had a good experience using touch with Logic Pro on iPad after getting settled with navigation:

I spent several days trying out Logic Pro on an iPad Pro and found the experience to be a mostly familiar one, although some of the navigation can be tricky if you’re using a touchscreen interface to recreate what is typically done with a keyboard, touchpad and mouse. Using a keyboard case like Apple’s Magic Keyboard helps somewhat, although there’s still a learning curve.

But once I got used to manipulating the software through the touchscreen, it opened up new possibilities, and one of my favorite parts of the experience was using my fingers to pinch and zoom on audio waveforms and MIDI data.

Dan echoed Andrew’s concerns about third-party plugins from Mac not working with Logic Pro on iPad. While he thinks it’s a “great way to do mixing and editing from anywhere,” he doesn’t see it as a Logic Pro for Mac replacement.

Jason Snell at Six Colors checked out Logic Pro for iPad too. However, he notes that he’s not a musician and deals mostly with podcast audio. In the end, he found the app is focused on musicians.

When Apple chose to build Logic for the iPad, it logically focused on music creation and production. The result is an app that I feel like I just can’t judge fairly. I attempted to edit a podcast on Logic on iPad, but the commands I use the most just aren’t there. Splitting clips requires toggling to the separate Split mode, selecting a clip, and swiping down—or alternately, tapping and holding on a clip to bring up a contextual menu, then selecting Split Clip from the Split submenu. Strip Silence, a tool to automatically break long clips into component parts, doesn’t appear at all.

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