Notator Logic, The ST's Finest Hour?

Notator Logic

Notator Logic, The ST's Finest Hour?

I have to admit, I was a Steinberg user through and through in my Atari only days, something about Pro24 just felt right with me and that feeling carried through to Cubase. I tried Creator and Notator on the Atari, but I was never comfortable with them, despite trying for over a month to get to grips with Creator during a project I was working on with another musician.

With the release of Logic though, you could feel an almost tangible sensation of change, mainly because the Mac version came out first, though only by a month or so. Like Cubase, Logic took the concepts of its predecessor and wrapped a carefully crafted graphic environment over it and like Cubase V1, Logic V1 also added some bells and whistles to enhance the system further.

Logic could have the environment edited to suit either the user or the current project, so each project could effectively sculpt the user interface by re-arranging or removing controls. While the default environment gave a passing resemblance to Cubase, the transport bar could be moved around the screen freely, or removed completely and the controls made part of the project window.

Logic 2.0

Like Cubase before it, Logic incorporated some of its own tricks to make the environment look more consistent, though in Logic's case this included the shading of the scroll bars, and not just the title bar of the project window. The whole of the interface environment had the same consistent look and feel about it, which compared to other programs running on the Atari, made it stand out that bit more, and to some seem a little alien in appearance.

But the biggest change was the toolbox available by clicking the right mouse button. Yes this could be set so something else, but for some long term creator/notator users it felt like their preferred system had 'Sold out' to Steinberg, who had implemented the right click toolbox into Cubase with Cubase V1 a few years earlier. While a valid point, this criticism was not really fair as both Cubase and Logic had entirely different workflows, despite them now having interfaces that shared a superficially similar look.

Cubase 2.0Logic 1.5
Steinberg's Cubase and Emagic's Notator Logic

Regardless of you being a Steinberg or a C-Lab/Emagic fan, the one thing that genuine users had to deal with was the copy protection dongle. Steinberg always had a box sticking out of the cartridge port that did nothing but block the port. Sure you could add a Midex which included additional MIDI ports, but you still needed the dongle as well. Logic (And the later versions of Creator/Notator) could use a dongle, or use the LOG-3 MIDI interface expander as this also acted as a dongle, but included extra MIDI interfaces as standard.

Now we all know the only thing a copy protection dongle does is affect genuine users should something go wrong, but the LOG-3 at least had additional functions and because of this, another reason for its existence. While dongles exist for Logic which do nothing else but allow the program to run, you are more likely to see LOG-3's used as this helps when running large MIDI setups.

As with Notator, the score editor is pretty comprehensive, matched only by the enhanced scoring of Cubase Score on the Atari platform, though there is no dedicated drum editor like the one in Cubase or later versions of Pro24. This may seem odd for a system that is based around pattern editor methodology, but if you are creating a drum pattern and patterns of MIDI notes, just how many pattern editors do you really need in a single program, one editor or many for each eventuality?

While the environment can be changed, the options can overwhelm the beginner and without a manual, it can be even more overwhelming. While this is more flexible than the minimal environment editing available in Cubase, much of this may never be used by the majority of users. Having said that though, even minimal use of these environment options can allow Logic to make better use of the limited screen size of the ST series than many of the other sequencers of the time, including Cubase.

Creator and Notator never worked on the Atari TT030 or the Falcon030, but Logic did from the day of its release, taking advantage of the extra memory available on these systems, as well as the additional processing power. There was even a version of Logic Audio being developed for the Falcon, however with the announcement by Atari that they were no longer developing computers and the eventual demise of the C-Lab licensed Falcon system, Logic Audio for the Atari platform was never officially released, although some beta copies escaped into the wild and appear to be relatively bug free and reliable.

Do I like Logic better than Cubase? Personally no, there are too many things missing in Logic from Cubase for me to move over, at least on the Atari (On the Mac I use Logic 9 along with Reason 4), however it does make the whole Creator/Notator methodology more accessible. Would I recommend it to an Atari user? Yes I would, so long as they were sufficiently versed in the ways of its predecessors or preferred to work in a pattern based style of music creation.