How to Compact Your Logic Pro X Projects Ready for Mixing and Backing Up

Yesterday I was tweaking some mixes on a project I’m working on. One of the tracks has been through several changes – including redoing it all at a different tempo and groove. Normally I’d just start again in a new Logic Pro X project and import any tracks we still wanted, but in this case we just appended the new tempo stuff at the end of the old version within the same project so we could copy across some textural stuff that wasn’t tempo-dependent, and also to be able to see the existing arrangement to speed things up.

As you can imagine, that project ended up being huge – over 6GB. Even using the “Folder” rather than “Package” save option was seeing some huge Logic project files, and I was up to version 13 of the song.

Save as Folder vs Save as Package. Every time you “Save-as” a project you can choose between these two options. The Folder option means it uses the old hierarchical project folder-based structure including an Audio folder that contains all of your audio. This option is good if you are doing multiple versions of the song – eg v1, v2, v3 etc (I do this every time I begin another session on the song) as only the project file itself is copied each time. If you do this with the Package option, it will copy all of the audio as well, taking up much more space on your drive. The default option is Package which seems to have come from GarageBand as it is more idiot-proof.

Opening the song was taking ages and using a lot of the computer’s RAM. Removing the original early part of the song helped somewhat, but it was still taking up a lot of space on my hard drive, as all that now-unused audio was still sitting in the project Audio folder.

Here’s the steps I followed to give me a smaller project folder for mixing:

1. Copy the full project onto an an external archive drive. (Make sure the entire original project and all its audio exists in at least two different places).

2. Open up the copied Logic project. This ensures that all the files can be found and have copied across successfully. If it has to look for audio files, jump to the later section about consolidating projects.

3. In Logic, click the Browsers button, then choose the Project tab. This should show all the audio files associated with your project.

4. In the Project Audio tab use the menu Edit/Select Unused. This will highlight all audio that is no longer used in the project’s timeline. Hit the “Delete” key and this audio will be removed from the list. No it’s not deleted. It’s still sitting in the audio folder.

 

5. Now use the menu “File/Save a Copy As”. Make sure you tick (only) Audio files in the dialog at the bottom that says “Copy the following files into your project:”. Save to a different directory than the original project, otherwise it’ll just save back into the same folder and it will be really confusing and make most of the process useless. I recommend changing the project name slightly as well so you know this is a cleaned-up version. Now Logic will make a new copy of your entire project folder, but only with the audio that is actually being used. This should hopefully give you a smaller version of your project folder.

6. Delete the original version of the project (but don’t empty the Trash yet) and open up the new compacted version of your project to be sure it works. And yes you can tick save on the copied backup project closing dialog if you like.

If the new compacted project opens fine you’re good to go.

Misplaced Audio Files?

Logic has two audio file management options – it will either remember where they are on the drive or server and just read them from there (this can be good for large shared studio facilities with shared sound effects libraries for example), or it will copy them into the project’s Audio folder (or Media folder if you’re saving as a package). By the way – this is for files you add to Logic manually – any audio you record should go straight into the project’s Audio folder by default.

In most cases it’s safest to go with the “Copy” option, just in case the source files get moved around on the drive or deleted by accident. This can happen a lot if you’ve brought something in from your iTunes library for example.

In saying that it’s good to copy imported audio files, you probably DON’T want to include any of Logic’s other standard library files unless there is a specific reason. For example, if you tick “Copy EXS instruments and samples” in the “Save” dialog box and then browse some grand piano patches, you’re going to fill up your project folder with huge amounts of piano samples pretty quickly. You can, however, leave “Copy Alchemy audio data” ticked, as it only copies imported audio, not library files.

So when you’re first saving your project and the Save dialog is open it’s good to ensure “Audio files” is selected by “Copy the following files into your project:” near the bottom.

Save-As Audio Copy Options

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you forgot to check it, you can do it at any time under File/Project Settings/Assets as well. This will only work from that point on though, so if there are already some misplaced audio files, then you need to force Logic to collect them from wherever else they are on the drive/server.

Project Settings Assets

 

 

 

 

 

In this case go to File/Project Management/Consolidate. Just make sure Copy audio files is ticked and hit “OK”.

Consolidate options

 

Logic will now copy any externally-referenced audio into the project folder. Save!

 

In Case You Missed It – New-ish Cool Stuff in Logic Pro X v10.2-10.3.3

Even as a long-term experienced user, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest tweaks and additions to Logic Pro X. Especially as the updates are infrequent, but often chock full of cool stuff – some of which can be buried at the bottom of a huge list (never mind the occasional undocumented feature). Some are merely cosmetic or processor-efficiency improvements but some of these updates could change the way you use Logic if only you were aware of them. Very few Logic Pro users that I know bother to trawl through the release notes for each update. Luckily I do, so here’s a list of some of the cool things that were added over the last year or so.

Transpose and reverse audio regions.

In case you missed it, there’s a couple of extra things in the region inspector pane for audio regions. You can now transpose (in semitones and cents) any audio region (it doesn’t need to be an Apple Loop). You can also reverse playback with a tick-box, and depending on other variables like whether it’s recorded or imported; change speed, follow tempo changes etc.

Reverse Audio

Reverse is pretty simple and just plays the file backwards, but transpose uses the Flex engine (if you haven’t ticked “Follow Tempo and Pitch”) so there can possibly be some artifacts depending on the Flex mode chosen.

Transpose Audio

Change Speed only seems to work if you have selected “Follow Tempo and Pitch”, in which case like with Apple Loops you can go from 1/8th speed to 8x speed. Crazy.

Audio Speed

Channel Strip Stereo Pan

One of the problems with producing music with audio instruments is that they all tend to be fully stereo. If you dial up one of Logic’s grand pianos for example, it will usually have the low notes panned to the left and the high notes to the right. This sounds impressive if there’s very little else in your mix, but otherwise it can clutter the mix as well as making the left side bass-heavy.

If you use the pan knob on the channel strip, it’s actually a “balance” control for stereo instruments. So in the case of the stereo grand piano, if you turn the balance to the left, it’s not moving the entire piano to the left, it’s turning down the high notes panned to the right and only giving the low notes panned to the left. That’s not good, unless you actually want this to happen. Maybe you have an over-playing pianist and actually want to remove some of the low bass piano notes by balancing to the right.

But if it is a problem, the usual way of dealing to this issue in Logic Pro is either to use a mono version of the instrument (you can substitute it at the top of the plug-in menu without losing your current instrument settings), or you can insert Logic’s “Direction Mixer” plugin which gives you much more control over the width and rotation.

But now Apple has added an extra feature to Logic – a stereo pan control. If you right-click on a Balance knob, you can select “Stereo Pan” instead. (Note that there’s also a cool “Binaural” mode which has been in Logic almost forever but might be useful again now that surround is becoming a thing outside of film).

Once you have accessed the stereo pan control – you can click and drag in the middle of it to move your entire stereo image left or right – that’s moving both sides of the piano left or right now. Try it and see – it sounds a lot richer than the old balance control. If you carefully click in the top centre of the little highlighted ring, you can drag up to make it more mono. You can Command-click on it to flip the left and right sides as well (the ring will turn orange).

Mid-Side Audio Plugins

The last couple of years has seen a bit of a trend in mid-side mode, mainly coming from the mastering scene. Mid-side gives the ability to process the center and outsides of a stereo track or buss separately. For example in a stereo drum buss you could EQ the center differently to the sides – maybe your cymbal crashes are too harsh but you still need that presence on the snare. Or maybe you could limit only the outsides of the drum mix to control the panned cymbal crashes. It’s also obviously darn handy for directly decoding recordings done in M/S mode. This functionality has previously only been available by purchasing third-party plugins that include this feature, or by some complicated mixer bussing trickery.

Mid-Side Plugins

Logic has now given us the ability to directly insert ANY stereo audio plugin as mid-side. In fact what you do is insert it as “Dual-Mono” first, which gives you the ability to independently control each channel, then you can switch it to “Mid-Side”. You can also “Couple” both channels to make it convenient to set up an overall sound before tweaking each channel separately.

Duplicate Track with Contents

Hopefully you already know you can click on the little drop-shadowed “+” button to create a duplicate track of the selected one with same settings. If you Command-click on it, it will also duplicate the contents of the track.

This is super-handy for “checkerboarding” regions across two tracks. I use it often to separate single instrument tracks into a verse/chorus/bridge chunk so I can treat each track/section slightly differently with levels, effects, and EQ. Much faster and simpler than basic section automation.

Duplicate Content

They’ve tweaked this a bit so that the duplicated regions are unique (when they first introduced this feature any region edits on the duplicate would also happen on the original track – awkward).  Also – if you now duplicate an armed track, the duplicate will be armed, not the original, so it’s all ready to record.

Note that you can also Option-drag a track header to duplicate it with contents.

Selection-Based Processing

Logic users have been crying out for this for years (and Pro Tools users have often scoffed at Logic’s lack of this feature), but now it’s here not many people even know it exists. Actually – I just have to mention that very early pre-Apple versions of Logic actually DID have region-based Audiosuite capability.

So now you can (again) make a selection on an audio region, then apply a plugin or set of plugins to it. Double-click on a region to open it in Track View. Then go to Functions/Selection-Based Processing.

Selection-Based Processing

The dialog that opens gives you two plugin chains that you can toggle between, plus a bunch of rendering options. There’s some generic presets already provided, but be careful, as sometimes the mono/stereo aspects may not match your file. It will still sound okay, but can be messy having a processed chunk that is, for example, stereo on a mono track.

It would be advised to individually add your own plugins and tweak them, and then save them for use later. Note that there’s also a key command to repeat the last processing – very handy for repairing or processing lots of the same sort of thing in a track.

Track Alternatives (Like Pro Tools’ Playlists)

This is one of my most-used and favourite features since its introduction. I’ve also found it’s especially handy for dealing with Take Folders.

First you have to make sure the view option is turned on for “Track Alternatives”. You can do that either with the Track Header settings, or using the Track menu.

Just like with Pro Tools playlists, you can either duplicate a track, or create an empty track. Using the little bracket menu on each track header you can even view all of a track’s alternatives at the same time (Or by using Option on the menu you could see every track’s alternatives at the same time) so you can move or copy things things around if needed.

Here’s what I like to use it for;

Say you’ve got a vocal comp in a Take Folder.

Duplicate the track. Now you have Alternative <B>. Flatten the take folder. Now you can easily tidy up breaths and fix tuning if need be. Later if you realise you used a wrong selection in the comp, you can select the original Alternative <A> and then duplicate again to give you <C>. Now flatten this version of the Take Folder and use that instead. Or simply cut and paste the correct part across to Alternative <B>.

It helps if you actually name the alternative tracks as well rather than just leaving the default track name with “A”, “B” etc.

Previously I used to use a duplicated (muted) Hidden track for this vocal comping safety copy, but the Track Alternative system is much more graceful and convenient.

Drummer Apple Loops.

This addition of Drummer loops to the Apple Loops library is a much better way to find the right sort of Drummer groove for your project.

Rather than the old slow method of creating a Drummer track, selecting a style, selecting a drummer, checking their various beats, changing to another drummer, checking those beats etc, you can just preview the beats directly in the Apple Loops browser.

Drummer Loops

Then, like all Apple Loops, you can simply drag your Drummer Loop into the Main Window in Logic to create your Drummer track. This is so much faster.

Recently, three more percussion-based Drummers were added to Logic.

Bonus tip: If you prefer your own custom Drummer grooves/kits – you can drag a Drummer region onto the Apple Loops browser to create your own Drummer loop library.

Recently-Used Plugin List

This can now be turned off in the preferences, but I find it incredibly handy. You can also use the plugin manager to not only sort things into folders, but also add essential plugins to appear just under the Recent list under “Top Level”.

Plugin Manager

Undo an early edit without undoing all the bits in-between

An oldie-but-goodie – this allows you to go back to an earlier edit without also losing a bunch of stuff in-between now and then. For example, let’s say you deleted an un-needed MIDI region, then spent 15 minutes editing some MIDI notes in another region, then decided you actually still needed that first region. You could keep hitting “undo” until you got back to where you deleted the region, but then you lost all the editing in-between.

Undo History

In Logic’s menu Edit/Undo History you can Command-click on a previous undo and only undo that single item by itself. Logic will warn you that the universe may implode if you try it, so beware.

Automatically create a fade-out on the Main Output.

To get a basic 10-second fade at the end of your project, go and select the menu item Mix/Create Track Automation/Create Volume Fade out on Main Output.

Main Output Fade-out

Change speed of entire Logic Project (including audio) using Varispeed

This has actually been in Logic from waaaay way back (version 9?), but as most Logic users that I meet don’t know it even exists I’m adding it in here anyway – plus it sounds a lot better in the latest versions of Logic.

Add “Varispeed” to the Control Bar by right-clicking in a blank part of it and adding via “Customize Control Bar and Display”. This adds two things – a “+-” button to toggle Varispeed on and off, and the actual Varispeed controls in the display itself.

Varispeed Controls

There’s a bunch of options for whether you want to change just speed or speed and pitch (and whether to include MIDI in pitch changes), how you want to measure the changes (eg BPM, percentage) etc. Check Logic’s help menu for full details.

This is very handy for tweaking overall tempo slightly if the song isn’t quite gelling properly, or for helping make the length fit an exact time. Also very handy for slowing the song down temporarily to record a tricky part, then speeding back up again.

High-Precision 64-Bit Mixing

Most DAW mix busses use 32-bit floating-point summing, which gives a ridiculous amount of headroom for mixing all those tracks together (Around 1,500dB of headroom). However it does leave something to be desired when summing a range of different track levels together as there is a “scaling” error that can creep in. Using the 64-bit mixer increases the resolution of the summing bus and reduces some of this error, potentially improving the overall sound quality. Select the 64-bit option under Logic/Preferences/Audio

64-Bit Summing

Brush Tool in Piano Roll

This cool new tool was added back in version 10.1 but some people haven’t discovered it yet. It’s really handy for drawing repeated kicks, snare or hihats and like a Photoshop brush, you can make it remember a bunch of notes (and other MIDI events) and draw that shape. This can be handy for repeating drum fills, or even copying an orchestral arrangement elsewhere or adding a harmony line.

In standard format the tool draws notes on a grid based on the quantize setting set at the side the piano roll window. It can be hard to draw along a straight line (especially if your workflow includes drinking wine) but if you don’t let go of the mouse button you can back up and redraw any notes that are wrong. Once you let go of the mouse button, the tool now switches to an eraser if you hold it over notes, so it’s easy to swipe-erase as well.

Brush Tool

To program a set of notes into the tool, (make sure you’re not using the brush tool or you’ll just draw instead of selecting) select some notes, switch to brush tool, then control-click on the background and select “Define Brush Pattern”. Now when you draw, all those saved notes will be revealed as you drag out the mouse. You can start anywhere to transpose, and even draw backwards to get the reverse pattern. Try it – it’s pretty cool. You can reset the brush pattern by following the steps above and selecting “Reset Brush Pattern”.

Modulator MIDI Plugin can control audio plugins on the same channel strip

This is a actually pretty cool, and a really fast way to get some variety going on without doing proper automation on a track. One of the things I like to use it on is to automatically switch the Leslie speeds on an organ track, but you can make it learn any audio plugin parameter.

Modulator

In some ways it’s a bit like Pro Tools’ modulated automation pen tool, but in a plugin. It’s a pity you can’t use it on audio tracks – only instrument tracks have the MIDI plugin slot. Now if Logic just expanded their MIDI patching capabilities to include MIDI busses and/or sidechains…

Arpeggiator MIDI plugin can now export input (source) material as well as output (arpeggiated).

The arpeggiator is a pretty fun MIDI plugin. You might have noticed that while it’s running you can drag the little highlighted box onto a MIDI track to obtain the actual arpeggiated MIDI data.

Well now you can also grab what’s coming INTO the Arpeggiator as well – there’s an extra little box there now.

Arp Grab

What this is really handy for is for grabbing a chord out of the Chord Trigger MIDI plugin. If you’ve ever jammed through the Chord Trigger but then decided the chords are close but not quite what you wanted, it’s a real pain to manually analyze them, and then input the correct chords. Now you just make sure you have the Arpeggiator inserted after the Chord Trigger and just play, whilst dragging Arpeggiator’s little “Input” box onto a MIDI track. You can deselect the Play button on the Arpeggiator if it annoys you.

Also – in case you haven’t tried it yet – the Arpeggiator has a “swing” function which is cool.

Custom Icons on Track Headers

Actually we have had the ability to add custom icons to Logic’s track headers for years, but it was a pretty involved process that required creating the correct size TIFF files, allocating them an unused file number, and then putting them into the correct folder on the hard drive so Logic could then find them. Nobody had time for that.

Now you can just drag an image file from your hard-drive or even something like Google images onto a track header and Logic will do all that other stuff automatically. It might look a bit shitty depending on the source file, and of course there’s copyright issues, but you get the idea. It’s best if it has a transparent background too.

 

 

 

 

 

Logic Pro X 10.3.1 update now out.

It looks like mostly awaited bug-fixes for the previous big v10.3 update (there were a few niggles with the new Track Alternative functions amongst other things), but also adds updated Audio Unit v3 compatibility.

 

Highlights of Logic Pro X update v10.2.3: Non-Destructive Region Normalize

LogicProX Nina

Automatic Region Gain for the People!

As is typical with many of Logic’s updates, most of it seems to be bug-fixes and some minor aesthetic tweaks, along with a small handful of cool new glamorous items and enhancements.

 

One of the coolest updates in this release was actually buried towards the end of the list of new features. It’s these humble (and not at all obvious) new key commands:

“There are two new region normalize key commands that allow region gain to be used to non-destructively normalize the selected audio regions. Non-destructive Normalize (All) normalizes all selected regions relative to each other. Non-destructive Normalize (Individually) normalizes each selected region independently.”

Translation: You can use these key commands to change the region gain of a selection of audio regions, and you can either max out each selected region (Normalize Individually), or average out the gains between those regions that are selected (Normalize All).

Despite the eye-glazing name, this is pretty big!

A handy trick when working with audio takes, especially vocals, is to go through and tweak  the gain of vocal phrases using the Region Gain so they are more consistent throughout the track in regards to each other and also to hit compressors in the channel strip a bit more consistently.

I normally cut up the vocal track into phrases (usually with Strip Silence to start with) and then quickly go through each region one-by-one manually tweaking the region gain in the Region Inspector for each phrase (and tidying up breaths etc at the same time). It’s not as bad as it sounds – might be 5-10 mins to do an entire vocal track.

But now you can simply select your vocal track, cut the phrases out with “Strip Silence”, select them all, then use the key command “Non-destructive Region Normalize” to level-out the whole batch at once. You’ll still need to tweak a couple of regions – start and ends can be a bit rough using “Strip Silence” – and any breaths that were selected by themselves will be really loud.

By the way – the key commands are currently unnasugned to anything – I used Ctrl-Option N and Ctrl-Option-Command N for mine.

Check it out.

Setting up Logic in Pro Tools “Smart Tool” mode

It’s not an accident that the “Smart Tool” mode in Pro Tools is so popular and efficient. Smart Tool mode is where the Pointer tool automatically changes to various different tools depending on where you position the mouse on an audio or MIDI region (Left: top, middle, bottom, Right: top, middle or bottom, or bang in the middle of a region). Logic can automatically select between Grabber, Trim, Loop, Fade and Marquee tools. Not having to manually change tools speeds things up a lot, especially during editing.

Here’s a way to set up Logic Pro X in a similar way to Pro Tools to gain the benefit of way less tool changes and a more intuitive operation, which should speed up your workflow.

First, set Logic up so it allows three tools instead of two by going to and setting the following Logic Pro X preferences:

Logic Pro X> Preferences> General> Editing>

  • Right Mouse Button> Is Assignable to a Tool. (Creates a tool slot for the Right Mouse Button)

Then in the same preference pane add the automatic assignment of Pointer to the Fade tool when hovering over top left and right of audio regions.

  • Pointer Tool in Tracks Provides: Fade Tool Click Zones.

I used to also set the Marquee tool click zones option, but have now stopped doing this – see the text below the video for a brief explanation why.

I now set my three tools (at the top of the Main Window) to Pointer, Pencil and Marquee. (Left Mouse, Command-Mouse, Right Mouse).

The minor sacrifice is that the right mouse button is used for the Marquee tool rather than those handy contextual menus. To get the contextual menus, you’ll now have to hold Ctrl and use the left mouse button – which is old-skool Mac techniques from when they only had a single mouse button.

I recommend spending some time learning how to use the Marquee Tool – it’s the equivalent of the Select Tool in Pro Tools and is incredibly powerful once you get your head around it.

Check out my video on the Marquee tool here:

Note that in this video I have “Marquee Tool Click Zones” selected in Logic’s General/Editing preferences (which means Logic Pro automagically switches to the Marquee tool when in the lower third of a MIDI or audio region). To be honest this is very finicky to use when you’re not fully zoomed-in, and can also be prone to accidental selection weirdness happening unless you are. Plus, Apple have recently changed how automation points are selected and edited with the mouse that makes it easier to just have Marquee tool on the right mouse button instead, so I recommend just doing it this way.

Bonus Pro Tools Operation Tip: Open (and enlarge) a Mixer Window (Cmd 2), then you can toggle between them just like in Pro Tools with Cmd = or Cmd ~

 

Setting Up Logic Pro X

Note: Updated May 2020

One of the big problems – or rather “features” – with Logic is that it’s so customisable. It’s designed to be used by people who have many different interests setting it up in different ways to suit their creative strengths. It’s also been through some quite significant changes over the past few years, with various features added, menus being moved around the place, and completely different default key commands.

Logic even installs with different options depending on whether it’s a new installation or whether you had Logic 9 installed previously.

So all this makes it a little more complex to get up and going for the new user.

With a fresh install, Logic Pro X assumes you are a novice and installs  what appears to be the “GarageBand” defaults. You can tell if you have this option selected if Logic displays wooden sides in the window, just like GarageBand. This version of Logic Pro X is extremely limited in what it can do – there are numerous preferences, functions and menu items missing in this configuration. It really is “GarageBand Pro” in this mode!

You can enable all the cool extra stuff by going into Logic’s preferences and turning on the Advanced Tools. (Logic/Preferences/Advanced Tools).

12_02_16__5_26_PM

I’d turn on everything except Surround unless you specifically need that option. (Adding surround-format Apple Loops can inadvertently change your mixer into Surround Mode).

Now you should have a bunch of extra options in Logic.

I recommend you add three tools to the Main Window (rather than two) and make the right mouse tool the Marquee Tool. See other articles for detail.

Go to Logic Pro X/Preferences/General then Editing tab.

Select drop down: Right Mouse Button: Is Assignable to a Tool

To make things easier for you I’m attaching my personal Key Commands based on a hybrid current Logic key commands and some tweaked Logic 9 key commands. Unzip and put them here: /Users/YOU/Music/Audio Music Apps/Key Commands and then select them by going to the menu: Logic Pro X/Key Commands/Presets and then choosing it.

Zeds Updated 2020 Key Commands

I’m also including a Logic Pro X song template that has my own recommended tweaks that I’ll justify in some follow-up posts. Unzip and put here: /Users/YOU/Music/Audio Music Apps/Project Templates. You’ll find it under “My Templates” when you use Logic’s File/New from Template option.

Song Starter Template Z

And finally, here’s my latest list of recommended Logic Pro X preference and project file tweaks if you feel like matching my setup.

Recommended Setup for Logic X

Welcome to Logic Pro for Smarties.

This site aims to provide tutorials, tips and tricks for using Apple Logic Pro X.

By now, most of us have some idea of how to work computers, and we hopefully have some kind of research skills (even if it’s just being able to Google things). We also love to get to the point. So this site gets to the point as fast as possible so you can get that instant gratification you deserve.

 

Using aliases with Logic X’s Drummer to layer kick and snare tracks

One of the cool tricks you can do with Logic’s Drummer regions is to drag out an alias of the Drummer region to another software instrument track. (Drag a Drummer region with mouse while holding Shift-Option). Aliases are virtual regions with no content of their own – they just follow another region’s content (although you … Continue reading “Using aliases with Logic X’s Drummer to layer kick and snare tracks”

One of the cool tricks you can do with Logic’s Drummer regions is to drag out an alias of the Drummer region to another software instrument track. (Drag a Drummer region with mouse while holding Shift-Option).

Aliases are virtual regions with no content of their own – they just follow another region’s content (although you can still do stuff to them like transpose them etc).
Shift-Option drag Drummer region to create an alias
Shift-Option drag Drummer region to create an alias

This new software instrument track can be another Drum Kit instrument, or a Drum Machine, sampler or even a third-party drum instrument like Slate’s SSD drum sampler.

Now your new instrument track (via the alias) will play exactly the same thing as the Drummer pattern. Even if you go back and tweak Drummer the alias will still follow it. And if you mute the Drummer region, the alias still works, and you will continue to hear the Drummer pattern through your new drum instrument.

That’s pretty cool, but what if you don’t want to layer the entire kit  – perhaps just the kick or the snare?

That’s easily done too;

On the new alias instrument track, go to its Track Inspector pane. It’s the second box down in the Inspector window on the left. It’s usually hidden, so you might have to click the little disclosure triangle to pop it down.

Now you should see a “Key Limit” line, with something like “C-2 G8” in it. These are the low and high key limits, and it means that this track will currently accept MIDI notes over the full range of possible MIDI notes from C-2 up to G8.

Set the track’s Key Limit range down to a single note – eg C1 for Kick drum, or D1 for Snare

If you only want to trigger the kick, double click the “C-2 G8” and type in “C1”. You should see two C1’s – meaning only this one MIDI note will now be accepted. You should only hear the kick drum.

And if you want a layered snare as well?

With the same instrument; Create another Virtual Track going to the same instrument; Menu: Track/Other/New with Same Channel

Drag a copy of the alias to this track. (Option-drag alias with mouse)

On this track, double click the Key Limit numbers and type in “D1”. This will now only accept the snare MIDI note.

With another instrument; Create another software instrument track and dial up a drum patch.

Drag a copy of the alias to this track. (Option-drag with mouse)

On this track, double click the Key Limit numbers and type in “D1”. This will now only accept the snare MIDI note.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, you can carry on and layer as many extra kicks and snares on different drum instruments as you feel like.

Bonus tip for handy kick and snare layers:

Load up an instance of an EXS24 in a new instrument track. (In the Patch Library select Legacy/Logic/Logic Instruments/EXS24)

Click the EXS24 slot on the channel strip to open the EXS24 front panel up.

EXS24 Kick Drum Layer Samples
EXS24 Kick Drum Layer Samples

In the little panel above the Cutoff Knob, click and select Factory/Drums & Percussion/Single Drums/Kicks/Layer Kicks/Body Kick C1 1. If you click the little “+” symbol to the right of the panel you can step through each sample in turn.

As you can see there’s a whole bunch of “body” and “transient” kicks (and snares) that can be used to layer your existing kicks (and snares). Some of these sound great, although the “body” kicks sound unusual by themselves as they’ve had the transient part trimmed off the front.

Drag your Drummer alias onto one of these EXS24 tracks and set the Key Limits for the track as explained above and you’re away laughing.

 

 

Tighten up your mix by using track-offsets

One of the cool things you can do so easily in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is slip entire tracks, or actually the regions within it, to the left (earlier in time) or to the right (later in time). What’s so cool about this? There’s a couple of things you can do with it. 1. … Continue reading “Tighten up your mix by using track-offsets”

One of the cool things you can do so easily in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is slip entire tracks, or actually the regions within it, to the left (earlier in time) or to the right (later in time).

What’s so cool about this?

There’s a couple of things you can do with it.

1. Correcting Microphone Delays

One fairly obvious example is tightening up drum kits. It’s pretty common to use room mics when recording a drum kit. Let’s say your room mics are 3m (9.8feet) from the snare mic on the kit. That’s about an extra 8 milliseconds, or (@44.1kHz sample rate) 353 samples.

If you slid your room mic regions 8ms/353 samples to the left, the recorded signal would coincide perfectly with the snare mic – ie there would be no delay between the mics.* Note that you’ll need to have all your tracks starting a little bit later than 0′:00″ or Bar 1 so you have some “left” to go to.

You don’t have to pull the room mics all the way back though – you might just want to pull them a bit closer in time to tighten up the room sound.

2. Creating a Pocket/Helping the groove

This is where you can subtly shift the timing of regions to help the overall groove of the track.

For example, many bass players get a little excited when recording, and can play a little ahead of, or right on top of the drum beat. Although it’s still “in time”, sometimes delaying the bass very slightly can make it “groove” more with the drums.

In this case you would incrementally slip the bass region/s to the right until the groove feels better. The kick drum often masks the attack of the bass to a certain extent, so it can also clean up the kick/bass combination.

It can help to think of being “in-time” as a window rather than a vertical line, and you can be at one edge or the other of that window and still be in time, but get some huge changes in “feel”.

How to do it

There’s a couple of methods.

Shifting the actual region itself using “nudge”. In Logic or Pro Tools you can incrementally bump something in either direction by using the nudge keys. You can set the nudge value to pretty much anything -samples, beats etc. The dangers of this method are if you give the files to someone else to mix they may not realise you’ve moved track regions away from the same start position. Keep good notes!

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Region Delay in Logic Pro

In the region inspector (under “more”) there is a parameter for Delay. You can set it earlier (- values) or later (+ values). The handy thing about this way of doing it is that you can split each track into different regions for chorus/verse etc, which can each have a different delay value.

Using delays. This is the old-school way of doing it. Insert a delay plug-in (with the same delay value eg 500ms) on every track. If you want to make a track play earlier – lower the delay for that track. If you want it later – make the delay longer. The beauty of this method is that it automatically keeps a record of what you’ve done by saving the plugin settings.

*Phase problems. Watch out for this. Once you get down to a few samples difference between different microphones on the same instrument (eg the drum kit), you’re potentially going to get phase issues. Sometimes even a few samples can make a difference. The wavelength of around 2cm (almost an inch) is 13.5kHz, so that means moving the microphone “virtually” even that much can make a big difference. This is where phase “rotation” plugins can be handy – such as UAD’s Little Labs IBP Phase Alignment Tool.

Review – Sound Radix “32 Lives”

For those that recently jumped into purchasing Apple’s latest version of Logic Pro X, there may have been a few nasty surprises with older 32-bit plug-ins not working. That’s because Apple finally dropped support (as it seems to do on a fairly regular basis) for aging 32-bit plugins and instruments. Actually, they just removed the … Continue reading “Review – Sound Radix “32 Lives””

For those that recently jumped into purchasing Apple’s latest version of Logic Pro X, there may have been a few nasty surprises with older 32-bit plug-ins not working.

That’s because Apple finally dropped support (as it seems to do on a fairly regular basis) for aging 32-bit plugins and instruments. Actually, they just removed the 32-bit plugin wrapper which Logic 9 had. The wrapper was pretty clunky and annoying anyway – it continually stole focus from Logic when you needed to open a 32-bit plugin’s graphical interface.

The lack of Logic’s 32-bit wrapper means that third-party plugin providers would now need to update all their plug-ins to 64-bit, or they simply wouldn’t show up in Logic. Unfortunately, the outcome of this strategy is that it can take ages for manufacturers to get around to updating all their products, especially the older ones that may not have been coded very tidily in the first place. In fact some manufacturers had already dropped support for older plugs and instruments, so the likelihood of getting a shiny new 64-bit version of some products is pretty much nil.

That’s a bit sad when you want to open up a song you created only a couple of years ago (because you might not have finished it yet), and instruments and/or plugins are missing. It can completely change the track – it may even remove the main hook sound that the track was built around.

Even with instruments and plugins that have actually been updated to 64-bit, there are issues. Some newly- ported 64-bit plug-ins do not open up their original patches anymore. This can be phenomenally annoying. Imagine your joy at finally being able to open up your old song in Logic to do some more work on it, only to find that the instruments or plugins you used have been restored BUT they are restored to completely different sounds or settings. It’s tedious enough trawling through hundreds of presets trying to locate the one you used for your song, but it’s way worse if not impossible to recall a patch if you actually edited it as well – it means you may never get that exact same sound back.

Of course you could simply keep an older version of Logic on your computer to open these older songs, and sometimes that works, but even then it’s not always that simple. Installing later versions of some products pretty much destroys the previous version’s patch library, so even opening in Logic 9 doesn’t get them back. Can you feel my simmering anger?

But look – there’s a shining star on the horizon! Sound Radix – a company with some quite interesting plugins themselves, observed the problem everyone was having with lack of 32-bit support in Logic Pro X and came up with a great solution. What they did was create a very tidy wrapper for your 32-bit plugins. Due to the quirks of some older products, not everything was supported at first, and 32 Lives is ostensibly a “beta” product (it’s just reached release candidate recently). Regular updates were released to make even more 32-bit plugins compatible. I found that even some of the plugins that weren’t on their compatibility list seemed to convert and operate just fine.

So how does it work? The application scans all your installed AU plugins and comes up with a list of the 32-bit versions. You can select which ones you wish to wrap, and away it goes wrapping them. It creates 64-bit versions of each of these plugins. Then when you open Logic Pro X (or Logic 9 in 64-bit mode), Logic scans the “new” plugins. I found this to be the most tedious part of the process, and Logic’s scanning process actually seemed to reject a bunch of the wrapped 32-bit plugins when it completed. I think there are issues with the way Logic scans multiple plugins at the same time on different CPU threads, so if one instance of Auval (Logic’s AU plugin-scanner) or 32 Lives crashes during the scanning process, it can affect other threads. I found that selecting each rejected plugin/instrument manually in AU Inspector in Logic seemed to add the rejected ones just fine in most cases. (Note – this scanning issue has all been sorted out in subsequent releases of 32 Lives)

The wrapped plugins and instruments now appear just like 64-bit versions – but there’s no annoying visible wrapper like in Logic 9. The patches you originally used are also restored. It just works. Transparently.

I spent several hours opening up old Logic sessions from years ago and had no problems opening them up and playing them. Actually my only issues were with really old versions of Native Instruments products, but that’s another story.

So – I have to say I was pretty darn happy with this purchase. Good on you, Sound Radix!