How to be efficient on Logic Pro X

Writing a song with Logic Pro X is an unreachable dream? Let me tell you some of my secrets !!! Or more simply how to be efficient on Logic Pro X.

Where to start?

To answer this question, I will explore different aspects of Logic Pro X with concrete examples.

  • The settings or how to properly set Logic Pro X to get to the essentials.
  • The tools your companions used to save time.
  • Keyboard shortcuts or how to know the software better.
  • The processes of composition assistance.
  • Models so you don’t waste any more time.
  • The Library, it will be very useful for you.

How do you set up Logic Pro X to get to the essentials?

Very simply with the settings of Logic Pro X! I exclude from this chapter the settings of the audio engine.

Three settings are important to me:

  • Advanced tools
  • Module Manager
  • Control surfaces

Once the adjustments are made, we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Let’s get started with the advanced tools

How to be efficient on Logic Pro X? With the simplest of settings! You have to go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ Advanced tools…

Save time with the Advanced Tools Menu...
Menu Advanced Tools

When the window opens, check all the boxes to exit basic mode and benefit from all the features.

Save time with the Advanced Tools Menu...
Window Advanced Tools

Use the module manager!

Gaining efficiency in the use of Logic requires the management of plug-ins, because in my opinion we spend a lot of time loading audio effects as well as virtual synths.

On this point, there is no rule to be strictly said, more common sense and your own experience of the order and arrangement of your plug-ins.

To make it simple you have to go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ Module Manager.

Save time with Menu plug-ins Manager
Menu plug-ins Manager

In the window below, you will be able to manage your plug-ins:

  • Exclude those that are not compatible (yes it is possible)
  • Create folders to store your plug-ins by type:
    • In the picture below, 01 pre amp contains the UAD pre amps I use a lot.
  • Give custom names or abreviations to your plug-ins to gain visibility in the mixer.
Save time with Window plug-ins Manager
Window Plug-ins Manager

How does it work?

Simply by dragging the plug-ins into the folder as shown in the image below.

Save time by dragging the plug-ins
dragging the plug-ins

You want to create your own folder for easy operation of virtual synths:

As in the image below press the + button, name your folder. The manager sorts the folders in numerical and alphabetical order. I recommend you to use the numerical classification especially if you need this folder frequently.

Save time by add a folder
Add a Folder

Why give a custom name or a short name to a plug-in?

Giving a custom name allows you to find the plug-ins in an important list. Personally I’m not a fan of it…

Concerning the short name, this is of interest in the mixer and in the Channel inspector.

As in the example below, the Omnisphere virtual synth from Spectrasonics (one of my favorite synths) has its name cut off in the insertion slot. By assigning it a short name in the module manager, e.g. SP_Omni: SP for Spectrasonics and Omni for Omnisphere. I gain readability in the mixer and in the slice inspector.

Short Name plug-ins manager
Short Name plug-ins manager

Tip about Universal Audio plug-ins!

To limit the plug-ins you would not have purchased from UAD within your Apollo sound card and in Logic Pro X there is an additional opportunity to use only the plug-ins you have purchased.

In the UAD console settings, go to the plug-ins tab and press HIDE in front of each plug-in that is in Demo or that displays Demo expired, automatically it will no longer appear in the UAD console and in the Logic Pro X module manager!

What about my control surface?

You are the proud owner of a control surface or a master keyboard that acts as a control surface.

More simply, you can use your iPad to drive Logic Pro.

As for me, I use three control surfaces in Logic:

  • An Avid Artist Mix v2
  • The Komplete Kontrol Keyboard from Native Instruments
  • My iPhone with Logic Remote

I’m not going to go into details, just let you know where it’s set up because each device has its own configuration mode.Menu

Menu Control Surfaces setup
Menu Control Surfaces setup

Let’s continue with the tools

Let’s distinguish two categories of tools as shown in the image below:

  • The ones in the toolbar framed in yellow.
  • Tools in the arrangement window and the scrolling score editor framed in orange.
Toolbar and window tools
Toolbar and window tools

The freely configurable toolbar can be saved for all other projects. There are no better tools than others. Your workflow may require different tools than the ones I display here.

  1. Display the bar by using the top left button or the keyboard shortcut: ⌃⌥⌘T.
  2. Customize your tools by right clicking on the bar or left clicking on ⌃.
  3. A window will open, tick the tools you need.
  4. Finish by clicking on save as default.
Toolbar Setting Sequence
Toolbar Setting Sequence

The window tools are by default set to display 2 tools:

  • Left-click to display the pointer for example
  • ⌃ left click to display a second tool

To display a third tool go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ General

Menu General
Menu General

The menu opens and in the General window select the Edit tab.

Take a good look at the image below and check the following 3 points:

  1. Right mouse button is assignable to a tool displays three tools in the Logic windows
  2. To make settings in this menu, you may as well activate the click zone of the fade tool.
  3. Make sure Piano Roll is selected each time you click on a midi region the Piano Roll editor will open automatically.

The choice of tools matches your workflow. Depending on whether you are composing or saving the tool selection in the Arrangement window will not be the same all to make your work easier.

Little tricks!

For Trackpad users it is possible to activate the Force Touch function, another time-saving tip.

  • Clicking strongly under a track header opens the track creation menu.
  • Allows you to create markers at the position of the playhead by clicking strongly.
  • Still clicking strongly on the name of a region allows you to rename it.
  • And one of the most useful, in the scrolling score editor, if you strongly press on a note it is erased.

The shortcut T used in the arrangement window displays the list of tools that can be used with the mouse. I often use the shortcut G (Glue tool) to paste two regions together in the arrangement window. Same thing in the scrolling score window where I often use the shortcut B (Brush tool) to write rhythmic patterns quickly. I invite you here to watch a video detailing the tool…

Keyboard shortcuts

There are a multitude of keyboard shortcuts in logic knowing that you can define your own shortcuts.

The Basics (without talking about playback, stop and recording again):

  • X displays the mixer
  • P displays the scrolling partition editor
  • N displays the partition editor
  • D displays the event editor
  • Y displays the library
  • O displays the Loops browser (Apple Loops)
  • G displays the global track
  • H displays the hidden track mode

My favorites in the arrangement window:

⇧ + space bar starts playback at the selected region
⌘T cuts the area at the head
⌃< Crop the region(s) outside the selection or locators
u starts the cycle on the selected region
= reverses the cycle to make a jump, very useful to check the efficiency of a sequence between two parts.

I can’t list everything in this article know that all this is configurable via the window below by pressing the shortcut ⌥K

Window keyboard shortcuts
Window keyboard shortcuts

Composition help processes.

Structure your songs

Make a structure of the song. Use the locators to structure your composition. I’m not teaching you anything by telling you that music is made up of verses and choruses. Where it becomes interesting is to use the markers to get some cues in the composition. Combine with some keyboard shortcuts that will save you a lot of time.

Locators as an aid to structure
Locators as an aid to structure

In addition to giving you reference points, having a structure also allows you to work on the balance of the song.

If you have an extended keyboard with a numeric keypad, the numbers from 1 to 9 will allow you to position the playback head at the beginning of the corresponding marker.

I often hear in productions, an intro that lasts 1 minute while the whole title is 3 minutes long.

Using 1 third of the total time to introduce the track is too long unless you’re doing Epic and the title is linked to a video montage. Balance each part against the overall duration of the composition.

Key of your composition

In Logic Pro X you can set a tonality for the song you want to compose, the advantages are as follows:

  • Visually know in which scale is the project
Scale of the project
Scale of the project
  • Automatic tuning of Apple Loops during Preview. See if the loop matches with the composition!
apple loops tuning
apple loops tuning
  • Take advantage of the scale quantization mode in the scrolling partition editor. A significant advantage to always be right in your composition. Set it to a Midi track and each new midi track created will be automatically set up with the same key.
Scale Quantize
Scale Quantize

Can the Models help me?

Of course and I’m a fan myself! I’ll give you several examples:

  • Recording of a pop rock band.

The simplest way to do this is to create a model where each track has a drum, bass, keyboard, guitar, vocals section and where each track is pre-set with pre-amp mics, headphone circuits etc….

  • Title EDM, Deep House or Trap…

Why not create your own model with a synth structure, pre-loaded effects to save time? It’s up to you to make variations of structure, sounds and editing between the different titles…

  • Bloc note et sound design !

It’s one of the ways I like working with models the most. It’s one of the ways I like to work with the models the most. For sound design it’s the same, sculpting a sound can take time, hence the idea of having a model with the right tools. Even more interesting if you work with a modular, you will be able to record your modifications in real time and build up sound material directly accessible via Logic Pro X.

I recommend that you explore the models already offered by Logic Pro X and design your own models.

To create your template you need a project with audio and midi plug-ins, virtual synths pre-loaded to save your template go to the main menu ➞ File ➞ Save as model.

About the library…

By default, the library offers a multitude of ready-to-use patches for both audio and virtual synth operation.

You can create your own patch collection. Like the ones I sell in the EXS24 banks.

A patch is an effect chain on the audio or virtual instrument slice. Beyond this aspect, settings and effects used on auxiliaries via busses will also be saved… Interesting isn’t it ?

Library Patches
Library Patches

Here is an example in console slice settings format for the collection of synths I use in Nks format.

User Channel Strip Settings
User Channel Strip Settings

One last trick for the road!

In Logic Pro x define labels for the inputs and outputs of its sound card it’s a precious time saver…

This happens in the Mixer ➞ Options ➞ I/O Labels

As in the Plug-In Manager you can define custom names or short names for your inputs and outputs, whether mono or stereo…

How do I define that everything I show you in this article will save you time?

The speed to record an idea, the saving of time in the midi or audio edition… because yes, I missed a lot of things that would make a second article.

How to be effective on Logic Pro X, with experience and time what used to take a week to compose a title will take you more than three days thanks to reading this article may be less. Of course I’m not talking about the inspiration that would justify an article on this topic …

Why buy sound banks?

This is a question I was asked during lockdown following my previous newsletter.

Buying sound banks, certainly, but which one or which ones?

The market offers…

And your faithful servant in a very modest way…

If you look at the list above, there are sound banks and virtual synthesizers.

Explanation of the concept of sound banks.

We talk about sound banks when the sound source comes from a recording.

This sound source is called a sample so that most of the time the wave audio format predominates or a proprietary format in order to avoid piracy.

These samples in most cases require a sample reader or sampler according to some manufacturers.

Understanding the difference between a sample reader and a sampler?

The sample reader simply reads the bank made by the manufacturer.

The sampler reads the bank made by the manufacturer and nevertheless allows you to create your own sound banks.

A sampler offers the possibility to record a sound source. In the digital age this notion is disappearing in favour of the Daws which offer extremely advanced editing functions.

This leads to a new generation where the frontier between sampler and reader no longer exists. Welcome to the 21st century!

Akaï S950

It brings back many memories when I was recording samples in my S950 Akaï.

It took a long time to build a bank in these times…

Explanation of the concept of virtual synthesizers.

The virtual synthesizer, unlike the player or sampler, produces these sounds using sound synthesis and computer algorithms that do not require the use of any samples. But then…

What is Omnisphere from Spectrasonics

Spectrasonics has understood very well the stakes of computer-assisted music in these conditions, with increasingly powerful computers, which allow more and more advanced modes of sound synthesis. Why not create a hybrid between virtual synthesizer and sampler?

Atmosphere was the first draft to lead to a current version called Omnisphere, which is fearsome for its simplicity and sound quality. A must in my musical creation process.

Why buy sound banks?

Depending on your musical style, you will be required to use a variety of sounds.

The software you use will require the use of banks that it does not provide you with when you purchase it.

The way you compose will require certain types of banks.

For example:

Please note, for those who compose from audio loops, that because of this mode of creation Native Instruments bought the LoopLoft platform and created Sounds.

The goal:

Sell loops and one shot to users of their stations such as Maschine and Komplete Kontrol.

There are no rules, only affinities between your personality, your Daw, and your musical style.

I suggest you read the article I wrote about Native Instruments KOMPLETE 12 ULTIMATE Collector’s Edition.

In many tutorials on YouTube, we see the trainer composing in a software by taking the banks of another tool, which concretely translates into the use of Maschine Expansion samples in tutorials on Ableton.

The reason, to have sounds in a style (Trap for example) directly in the software you master without wasting time on the creation process.

Why buy when there are free sound banks?

Yes, that’s a very good question! To date, for me, the best sound bank offered by a manufacturer is Spitifire Audio’s LABS.

The free soundbanks are a call to make you discover the manufacturer’s universe and to inspire you to buy the high-end versions . There is a lot of them even at the biggest manufacturers…

Can we compose with free sound banks?

Of course, because you’re the composer, not the sound bank.

Pay attention to one thing, the quality of the bank and your ability to appropriate it to build a hit.

In the March newsletter, I talked about artists using Apple Loops to compose an international hit.

Note this: in general in free soundbanks, there is not necessarily what you are looking for. Therefore you will have to buy or make your own sound banks.

Is there anything to worry about before buying a sound bank?

Yes, of course: the financial, technical and operational aspects. For example, I use the East West sound banks:

  • Rental bank which requires a subscription every month. This can be a financial concern.
  • Quality of the bank? Honestly at this level nothing to say…
  • Installation which requires a fiber internet connection because it is long to download during the first installation.
  • Capacity of the computer to operate this type of bank. Indeed you will need a powerful computer.
  • Storage of the bank. For information the Composer cloud is installed on a 2Tb SSD hard disk.
  • Ability of the composer to use this type of bank .
  • Compatibility with your software. We never think about it because it’s 2020!

I invite you to look in the Studio page the list of the sound banks I use apart from the one I make for myself…

My tips

Like a painter, you will, depending on the type of composition and style, need a sound bank.

I’ll give you four tips before you buy:

  1. Ease of use, quality and compatibility with your software.
  2. The purchase should not put your bank account in the red.
  3. The bank’s exploitation over the long term
  4. Goal of this purchase
    • Out of pleasure, be careful not to indulge yourself too much because point n°2 could suffer from it…
    • To discover, understand, learn and develop your creative process
    • Produce an album, a single, or get a contract to earn money

These are the guidelines I use to build my sound banks and make them financially accessible and easy to use.

In conclusion

This article is intended to help you in your purchasing decisions. Soon I will write more articles to develop the banks of the manufacturers mentioned in this blog. I wish you good purchases…

Discover the MIDI standard and its future

Maybe you’re from the generation that uses Ableton Live, Logic Pro X or Native Instruments’ Maschine?

Are you familiar with the standard MIDI acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface?

This communication protocol dedicated to music allows your synthesizer, master keyboard, drum machine… To communicate with your favorite sequencer, to allow you to compose your music.

The MIDI born in 1983, evolves slowly but surely.

At noon* a bit of history!

Interoperability became an important issue with the democratization of synthesizers in the 1980s.

Musicians are limited to playing only one or two synthesizers simultaneously. This requires several musicians to play several synthesizers.

Being able to control several synthesizers from a single keyboard became a necessity.

Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre studio in the 70s

In this context the synthesizer designers Dave Smith, Ikutaro Kakehashi and Tom Oberheim met at the NAMM show in June 1981 (yes, the NAMM show already existed!).

From this meeting a reflection on the standardization of communications between synthesizers was going to be born…

3 years after this meeting, the first demonstration took place at the 1983 NAMM show between a Jupiter 6 from Roland and a Prophet 600 from Sequential Circuit by their two representatives and founders, Ikutaro Kakehashi and Dave Smith.

The ATARI ST computer was released in 1985 because of its integrated MIDI connectors and the quality of its sequencers. It popularized the MIDI standard among musicians and the general public.

It reminds me of a time when I was using my ATARI Mega STE with Notator from Emagic, the ancestor of Logic Pro X.

The IMA, which stands for International Midi Association, manages the MIDI standard, while the MMA MIDI manufacturers Association manages the manufacturers’ position.

At noon and a quarter actually

The physical connection is managed by 5-pin DIN connectors. A midi cable with a maximum length of 15 meters. A symmetrical serial type connection as shown in the diagram below.

official MIDI cable connection diagram
official MIDI cable connection diagram

For those who are familiar with the connection of a HIFI Din cable, the difference in cabling is noticeable.

HiFi Din cable connection diagram
HiFi Din cable connection diagram

Pins 1 and 3 are unused, pin 2 serves as ground and pins 4 and 5 carry a voltage of 5 volts with a current of 5 mA.

Unidirectional MIDI links require 2 connectors. One for the input named MIDI IN and one for the output named MIDI OUT.

Basic MIDI link
Basic MIDI link or synth 1 drives synth 2
Midi link IN / OUT
Midi link IN / OUT

Some devices equipped with these 2 sockets have a third socket called MIDI THRU. In practice, synths are often connected in cascade, forming a communication network.

There are two methods to achieve this kind of network:

  • Cascading as shown in diagram 1.
  • In parallel via a MIDI interface as shown in diagram 2.
Midi cascade link
Diagram 1 midi cascade link
Midi link with an interface
Diagram 2 Midi link with an interface

TRS and other connectors

Very important point to understand with the MIDI Standard !!!

This protocol does not transmit an audio signal. It only transmits messages to control a B device from an A device.

The list of possible messages:

  • Note on/off to start and stop each note. Each note has its own velocity to indicate how strongly the note is played.
  • Control change this protocol allows to control 128 playing parameters such as volume, panning, filters…
    • each control changes at an adjustment range of 0 to 127.
  • Program change, which allows you to select a patch (a tone) from a synthesizer sound bank.
    • The MIDI standard does not specify which program number changes (from 0 to 127) for which instrument sound.
    • To compensate for this, in September 1991 MMA adopted the General MIDI standard to provide a mapping between program changes and synth sounds.
      • The GM standard will evolve with Roland’s GS and Yamaha’s XG proprietary format.
      • Officially launched in 1999, version 2 of General MIDI was released. It remains compatible with version 1
  • The protocol allows the tempo of the devices, called slaves, to be synchronized to a master clock.

I haven’t yet talked about the number of MIDI channels that can be used on physical synths. The standard uses 16 channels.

Depending on your configuration when working with virtual instruments, in my opinion you only have the limit of your software.

Noon minus a quarter limitations and alternatives

The rise of computer sequencers, software instruments driven by dedicated control surfaces has pushed MIDI to these limits.

There is a standard specifically developed to drive pipe organs and digital organs taking into account the specificities of the organ (multiple stops on the same channel), it is the POMI standard for Pipe Organ Midi Interface.

MIDI POLYPHONIC EXPRESSION Revolution

MPE, which originally stood for Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression, was adopted by MMA in February 2018 and renamed MIDI Polyphonic Expression.

Present on instruments and controllers for several years now such as Roli keyboards.

Many softwares such as Reaktor, Kontakt, Cubase, the UVI Falcon, or Logic Pro X to name but a few support this particular MIDI protocol.

an example to better understand…

My Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol keyboard transmits all notes on the same MIDI channel.

Example: I play a chord on my keyboard and I move the pitch bend wheel, all the played notes are affected by the pitch bend.

Hence the term Polyphonic Expression.

The MPE Protocol uses a specific channel for each note, using a separate channel for each note, making it possible to transmit these controllers individually for each note without influencing the other notes played.

Here’s a video with Roli keyboards:

Roli Block in action

MPE settings in Logic Pro X :

Open the Roli Dashboard application on your computer and make the settings as shown in the image below.

Roli Dashboard
Roli Dashboard on Mac

The MPE settings in Logic are found in each of the virtual instruments as explained in the image below.

Alchemy MPE setting
Alchemy MPE setting

List of virtual instruments Logic Pro X MPE compatible :

  • Alchemy
  • EXS24
  • ES2
  • Sculpture
  • Retro Synth
  • Vintage Clavinet
  • EFM1

To discover more about Logic Pro X don’t hesitate to click on this link.

we find as manufacturer Haken with the Continuum, Expressive E which is coming soon with the Osmose keyboard made in partnership with Haken.

For the moment the MPE standard is a young one in the world of computer-aided music . Since its adoption by the MMA the development will become interesting, to be watched closely, even if for the moment the prices of MPE keyboards remain high.

Some manufacturers are making efforts in this direction, Roli for example with the Blocks makes the MPE financially more accessible.

Maybe I’ll tell you more in a future article, stay tuned…

*midi in French means noon

Exploring Channel EQ of Logic Pro X

Exploring Channel EQ is the following and end of the article Explore Logic Pro X’s Channel EQ in greater depth.

Before reading this article I recommend you to read the article titled Understand the logic Pro X Channel EQ published in October 2019.

Revision

Many of you have found this first article interesting because of the information it allows you to discover or rediscover.

  • The article discusses the types of EQ, details the 8 band types and their filters.
  • Lots of usage tips for which I received thank-you emails.


So, let’s now move on to a more in-depth look at the EQ included in Logic Pro X.

Audio Analysis

Yes, I’m talking about it again in this article despite the little trick published in the first one. Let’s say that here I detail the Analyzer part.

Analyzer Channel EQ
Analyzer Channel EQ

How it work?

Analyzer mode works according to the process called Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). The goal is to obtain a real-time curve for all frequencies of the incoming signal. The curve of the analysis performed is superimposed on the equalization curves if any have been defined. Analyzer curve uses the same scale as the EQ curves, which makes it possible to better recognize the important frequencies of the incoming audio signal. It also makes it easier to define EQ curves to increase or decrease frequency levels and frequency ranges.

The bands derived from the FFT analysis are scaled logarithmically: there are more bands in the high octaves than in the low octaves. As soon as the Analyzer is activated, 2 different color curves appear depending on whether you are in mono or stereo.

Left & Right signal Channel EQ
Left & Right signal Channel EQ

You can change the scale by changing the default dynamic range as shown in the image below. Drag the pointer vertically on the scale as shown in the image below to define the positioning of the analyzer curves in the EQ channel window. The range is +20 to -100 dB.

Analyzer Scale Channel EQ
Analyzer Scale Channel EQ

Concerning the global curve of the equalizer, it is possible to modify it by dragging the pointer vertically on the scale as shown in the image below.

Scale of global curve Channel EQ
Scale of global curve Channel EQ

Not forgetting, as shown in the picture below, the gain slider that increases or decreases the output level after equalization.

Output Gain Channel EQ
Output Gain Channel EQ

Personally it misses me a cursor that I appreciate a lot in the match EQ. The Apply slider which allows to invert the curve in negative or to increase it in positive. I’ll tell you more about it in a future article.

Analyzer Pre or Post ?

Analyzer button has two areas where you can interact.

  • On icon itself to activate or deactivate the Analyzer.
  • The Pre / Post button which displays the frequency curve before or after applying the equalization.
Analyzer Pre / Post
Analyzer Pre / Post

Personally, I recommend working in Pre most of the time. I recommend that you listen to the result of your equalization work rather than visualize it…

Extended parameters of the Analyzer module

Click on the display triangle at the bottom left to access the extended parameters.

Display extended parameters
Display extended parameters

Let’s take care of the Analyzer part for now. As you can see in the picture below, there are three advanced functions of the Analyzer:

The 3 advanced functions of The Analyzer
The 3 advanced functions of The Analyzer
  • Resolution allows you to choose between 3 values for the sample resolution of the analyzer:
    • Low resolution 2048 points.
    • Medium resolution 4096 points.
    • high resolution 8192 points.
  • Mode where you check either Peak or RMS understand that the analysis will be done on the peaks or the average of the internal waveform.
  • Decay in dB per second is used to determine the rate of decay of the analyzer curve. This decay mode acts according to the selected mode:
    • Peak decay in Peak mode
    • Decline in average in RMS mode.

The analyzer is a very handy Channel EQ function, it doesn’t do the work for you but guides your auditory analysis in the processing of your track. However, be careful not to equalize your tracks visually.

The trio Gain – Q – Couple and Oversampling

Other part of extended parameters
Other part of extended parameters

This is the second part of the extended parameters. The Gain-Q Couple Mode pop-up menu allows you to select the degree of Gain-Q coupling, i.e. :

  • Light allows you to make certain changes smoothly as you increase or decrease the gain.
  • medium: makes proportional changes.
  • Strong: retains most of the perceived bandwidth.
  • Asymmetric: these settings result in stronger coupling for negative gain values than for positive values. As a result, the perceived bandwidth is better preserved when you reduce the gain rather than when you increase it.
    • In Asymmetric mode, you will find the Light – Medium and Strong values
  • Proportional: Scales the bandwidth as you change the gain. Proportional widens the filter bandwidth at lower boost/mute levels and narrows it at higher settings.
Gain- Q Couple Mode and Oversampling
Gain- Q Couple Mode and Oversampling

Oversampling

The Oversampling button has a greater impact on your CPU, but provides better management of the extra high frequencies created by the EQ process.

I don’t have any advice or tips to give you for this function, just by ear, I find that some frequencies above 8 kHz are better defined without being aggressive.

Simple Processing

Processing Mode
Processing Mode

Processing: This drop-down menu includes commands to process either both parts of a stereo signal (default), or only the left (Left Only), right (Right Only), middle (Mid Only), or side (Side Only) parts of a stereo signal.

What is it for?

Very good question, let’s assume you recorded a live guitar through your sound card. The signal is mono so far it’s fine. But if you use a loop from the Apple Loops collection or another manufacturer, and more simply the stereo audio recording of your favorite Yamaha Montage synthesizer (As an example).

Well then you are confronted with multiple possibilities of sound processing by the manufacturer of the loops or the manufacturer of the synth. What in a lot of cases may not correspond to your sound processing which requires to integrate this sound source into your composition, in a word to make it simple to mix it according to your needs!

Is it possible?

Starting from the principle of a stereo file, certain sounds and frequencies, which generally result from this, the bass, are placed in the center while the other sounds are distributed in the stereo width. I base myself on the example of a drum loop. This also works on synths, many manufacturers use effects to shape and embellish the sounds.

From this observation, the Processing mode allows you to do an equalization work on the left channel of your audio loop or on the right channel. As the file is stereo we consider that the sound can also be processed as in a Mid/Side recording… (I promise I’ll talk about Mid/Side in a future article).

This makes it possible to do a treatment on the middle or edge frequencies. Understand that this brings a lot to your mix and not just the mix. For info I use this process a lot in the composition work and that as well in the music for image as in the Electro music…

Honestly spend some time to experiment !!! your ears will rediscover certain frequencies or even you will quickly understand how to avoid this muddy side in your tracks…

But then double EQ?

Yes and no because it depends on what you want to do. If you want to process the right signal differently from the left signal or process the mid in the bass and the side in the treble you will need 2 channels EQ per track.

Indeed I said yes and no what implies that with only one Channel EQ you can process Left and Right or Mid and Side!

Incredible but true!

When you select your Channel EQ in logic choose Mono Dual as shown in the picture below.

Mono dual in channel Strip
Mono dual in channel Strip

Now watch your Channel EQ more closely. In the upper middle of the plug-in there are new icons.

Mono dual buttons
  • Settings (the small cogwheel) for setting the Mono dual or L & R mode
  • Mid equalization adjustment in Mid or L mode
  • Side equalization adjustment in Side or R mode
  • Couple Mid/Side or L & R determines the influence of one on the other to be experimented because it is very interesting.

The cogwheel to get things moving

Possible Settings
Possible Settings

As you can see in the picture above, we have 2 types of choices: Stereo and Mid/Side. What is interesting is that we can mutate one of the two channels. In order to be able to concentrate on the equalization work to be done on the other one. To switch the desired channel, just click on the speaker icon that you want to deactivate. As you can see, a dot will appear on the channel to inform you that it is deactivated.

Little trick! If you click on one of the L/R or Mid/Side buttons, the equalization window of the mode you clicked on will appear.

For your information, does this display mode remind you of anything?

Surround mode

And yes the Surround mode where you can find the position of the speakers according to the chosen mode.

To activate the Surround mode, you have to modify some settings without using the menu Logic Pro X – Preferences – Advanced Tools… If it is not already done, I recommend you to check the box ” Show advanced tools”. Honestly don’t ask yourself any question, check everything including Surround!

Then on your channel strip it is important to choose the Surround mode as shown in the picture below. The selection is made for input and output.

Channel Strip Surround mode
Channel Strip Surround mode

Channel EQ Surround !!!

Yes, you can work in Surround with the Channel EQ. The settings are the same as in the Dual Mono mode adapted to the configuration of a Surround system.

Surround Channel EQ
Surround Channel EQ

With, of course, as in Dual Mono mode, the small cogwheel for the Channel EQ settings…

Channel EQ Surround Setting
Channel EQ Surround Setting

here’s a lot to be said in Surround mode certainly in a future article as many of Logic’s plug-ins are Surround including virtual synths.

The end?

Indeed I have finished exploring the Channel EQ of Logic Pro X. Unless there is a future update of Logic that would increase the possibilities of this nice EQ. How ? The field of possibilities remains open to the development teams of the Cupertino firm…

Little trick at the end: If you perform an EQ in the Channel EQ and change the plug-in with Logic’s Linear Phase EQ your settings will be copied to the new plug-in.

Explore Ableton Live 10’s Simpler

For those unfamiliar with Ableton Live 10‘s Simpler, let’s explore a virtual instrument that integrates the basic elements of a sampler with classic synthesizer parameter settings.

Concretely simpler…

Simpler includes some of the features of live clips such as Warp. Warp mode audio clip playback in Simpler automatically plays the loop at the tempo of your composition. It doesn’t matter what note you play on the keyboard or with push2, interesting…

Let’s discover the interface.

Simpler to a simple interface, so to speak! It consists of two parts:

  • The Sample tab which manages samples.
  • The Controls tab which manages the commands

Small tricks by clicking on the button as in the image below, you will get a split view where the settings in the Controls tab take up all the space in the device window.

Simpler with loop
The detached view of Simpler

Swiss Army knife in Ableton.

One-shot samples or audio loops are dropped in.

  • Can be used to play a bass or synth sample over the entire keyboard range.
  • Default with the Drum Rack to play drum samples. One Simpler per Pad or
  • Work the layering in the Drum Rack with a rack instrument on a drum pad to stack several samples of claps or kick for example. Remember the article on the Drum Rack
  • Insert several Simplers into a rack instrument to make layers of sounds such as atmospheres or synths.
  • Do slicing to reappropriate the playing of an audio loop.

Which forces me to talk about reading modes.

What sample player do you want?

In Simpler, the display mode selector allows you to choose one of three sample playback modes. For information we find the management of these modes via the Push2. As shown in the picture below.

Play Modes
Simpler modes

So Classic, 1-shot or Slice?

– The Classic mode

  • Default mode when using Simpler :
  • Optimized for the creation of melodic and harmonic instruments.
  • Polyphonic.
  • Has a full ADSR envelope and allows looping which allows samples to play a sustained note.

– 1-Shot mode

  • Exclusively dedicated to monophonic reading.
  • Optimized for unlooped drum hits. However, this mode has simplified envelope controls and does not allow looping. Warning: the default setting in trigger mode triggers a playback of the entire sample when a note is played, regardless of how long the note is held.

– Slice mode

  • Automatically cuts the sample non-destructively.
  • The slices obtained are read chromatically.
  • You can create the slices from the following options :
    • Transient: to detect attack transients.
    • Beat: according to the time grid of the Warp mode.
    • Region: from 2 to 64 slices from the whole sample or a a part of it.
    • Manual: create and move slices manually.
Sliced by menu
Sliced by menu

I confess to being a fan of this mode that I regularly use to reappropriate sounds from loops and reinterpret them at my convenience.

Let’s go back to the classic

To give you a better understanding of the Classic mode, let’s detail what we see in the Sample tab.

Classic Simpler mode
Classic mode settings
  • Gain: determines the reading level of the sample. It is different from the volume potentiometer that determines the output level of Simpler.
  • Start: Starting point of the sample reading in percent, as it is determined by the start marker.
  • Loop: define the percentage length read in the loop within the sample. This mode only works if the loop button is activated.
  • Length: the percentage length of the sample playback between the start and end marker.
  • Fade: Fades between the end and start of the loop to attenuate digital clicks. This is very useful when making sounds like pads or textures.
  • The Loop and Snap buttons: Loop activates loop playback within the sample and Snap forces Simpler’s loop and region markers to set to zero amplitude points.
  • Voices: sets the maximum number of channels Simpler can play for this sample.
  • Retrig: the held note will be cut if the same note is played again. Only works with long samples and if the Voices setting is greater than 1.
  • WARP: I will discuss the WARP mode in more detail in a future article, but please note that it is identical to the audio clip mode and works in all three modes.

Some information about the 1-Shot mode

1-Shot Mode view
1-Shot Mode
  • The markers (triangles) on the left and right define the playable region, as in Classic mode, without the Loop and Length controls. The 1-Shot mode is strictly monophonic.
  • Gain same as in Classic mode
  • Trigger activated, the sample continues to play even after the note is released.
  • Gate stops playing the sample when the note is released, the reverse of Trigger mode.
  • Snap works as in Classic mode, affecting only the start and end markers.

This is a very useful mode for percussion or drum samples.

Slice mode to reveal your talent

Sliced Mode
Sliced Mode view

Slice mode is one of my favorite modes.

  • Gain is the same as in Classic mode
  • Trigger activated, the sample continues to play until the next slice.
  • Gate stops the sample playback when the note in the slice is released.
  • Sliced by, determines the slicing mode of the sample.
    • Transient, the sound attack transients determines the slicing mode.
      • Sensitivity sets the sensitivity of the transient level limited to a maximum of 64 slices.
    • Beat uses rhythmic divisions to determine the slicing mode
      • Division allows you to choose the rhythmic division for cutting the sample
    • Region sets the cutting mode at regular time intervals.
      • Regions determines the creation of the number of slices of identical length.
    • Manual this setting allows manual positioning of the sample cutout.
  • Playback determines the number of slices that can be triggered simultaneously.
    • Mono for monophonic; only one slice can be played at a time.
    • Poly, several slices can be played at the same time. The Voices and Retrig controls work as in Classic playback mode.
    • Thru playback is monophonic, but triggering one slice causes the rest of the sample region to play.

Little trick to use !!!

In Transient mode, using the CMD shortcut by clicking on a slice will toggle between manual and automatic slicing. Slices created manually in Transient mode are preserved regardless of the Sensitivity setting.

A little bit of Warp

The Warp mode in Simpler works just like for audio clips, as I said earlier in this article, it allows you to work with samples that instead of having their own rhythm and being played at different pitches because of the playback speed, are playable at Ableton’s tempo speed. This is very handy for drum beats to quickly synchronize them to different playing tones from the original version. I’ll come back in a future article about the Warp mode. Because it’s a very powerful live tool.

Apart from using it with drum loops, it’s extremely powerful with guitar loops and really I’m a big fan of it.

Flirting with the Filter

On the left the filter in Clean mode and on the right in OSR mode.

The Filter section of Simpler offers various types of filters:

  • Clean is a high quality, CPU-saving model, identical to the filters used in the EQ Eight.
  • OSR is a state variable type with resonance limited by a single clipping diode. Modeled after the filters used in a rare British mono synthesizer called Ableton.
  • MS2 uses a Sallen-Key design and soft clipping to limit resonance. Ableton reports that the modeling comes from the filters used in a famous Japanese semi-modular mono synth.
  • PRD uses a ladder design and has no clear resonance limitation. Modeled after the filters used in an old mono synth with double oscillator from the United States according to Ableton.
  • SMP is a customized model not inspired by any particular material. It is based on the characteristics of the MS2 and PRD circuits.

As with synthesizers the most important filter parameters are:

  • Frequency the frequency or Cutoff for aficionados, determines where the filter applies in the harmonic spectrum.
  • Res for resonance, which accentuates frequencies near this point.

When using a filter other than the Clean filter, an additional potentiometer called drive appears to add distortion upstream of the filter.

When we talk about a filter we obviously mean high pass, low pass, notch bandpass. In Simpler there is a special filter called Morph that you find when you select Clean or OSR. The Morph knob continuously changes the filter type in a loop from low-pass to band-pass to high-pass to notch to come back to low-pass. I recommend that you experiment with this filter.

Morph Filter mode
Morph via OSR filter

Oldies but goodies

Open a Set that was created in a version of Live prior to 9.5, any Simpler in the Set will open with the old filters instead of the filters mentioned above. These are standard 12dB or 24dB filters, which do not have a Drive control. Each Simpler loaded with the old filters will display an upgrade button in its title bar. Having all my sets updated for Ableton Live 10, I have not found any older versions in my hard drives to show you.

Envelopes

In Simpler there are 3 Standard ADSR envelopes.

Simpler's envelopes
Filter, Amplitude and Pitch Envelopes

Each with its own settings as in the picture above. The influence of the envelopes on the filter’s cutoff frequency and pitch can be adjusted via the Amount parameter. For the amplitude envelope, the following list of settings can be found in the mode setting at the top next to Time:

  • Loop: If a note is held at the end of the decay phase, the envelope will start again from its initial value.
  • Beat allows a note that is held beyond the Rate slider setting to restart from its initial value.
  • Sync Same as Beat mode
  • Trigger same as in Loop mode

Time defines the time required to go from the hold level to the initial value.

LFO low frequency oscillator history

The LFO window
The LFO window

The LFO offers sinusoidal, square, triangular, sawtooth down, sawtooth up and random waveforms. It oscillates freely at frequencies between 0.01 and 30 Hz, or synchronizes to divisions of the set tempo. In Simpler, the LFOs are applied individually to each voice, or note played, which is particularly interesting.

  • The Millisecond Attack control determines how long it takes for the LFO to reach maximum intensity.
  • The R knob switches the retrigger. When activated, the phase of the LFO resets to the offset value called Offset at each new note. Note that Offset has no effect when retriggering is disabled.
  • Key controls the speed of the LFO to the pitch of the notes received via the midi keyboard.
    • A high Key setting affects a higher LFO speed to higher pitched notes.
    • If Key is set to zero, the LFOs of all voices have the same speed and can just be out of phase.
  • The Vol, Pitch, Pan and Filter sliders determine the amount of volume, pitch, pan and filter modulation by the LFO respectively.

It’s very interesting to spend some time on the envelopes and the LFO. Believe my experience.

Global parameters

Global parameters
Global parameters

For information Simpler plays the sample at its original value on the note of C 3rd Octave. Delicate when importing a sample in another key than C 3. Fortunately in this section of Simpler the transpose parameter allows you a range of +/- 48 semitones to tune your sample correctly.

It’s a shame that you can’t find the same mode of operation as in Sampler or that you can enter the sample note directly in Root Key mode.

A quick word about Glide mode. This glide mode allows you to switch from one played note to the new played note. Glide exists in two versions Glide which works monophonically and Portamento which works polyphonically.

Spread allows you to enlarge a mono sample to be tested with discernment.

Pan or pan in standard setting. It can be modulated by the LFO.

Ran>Pan assigns a random factor to panning.

In conclusion

For me Simpler is a real Swiss Army Knife in Ableton Live 10. Its evolution over the versions makes it indispensable and allows to have a simplistic approach quite different from an extremely complex sampler. It’s a pure joy to build your own banks in Simpler knowing that you can access if you right-click on the Simpler title bar to a drop-down menu to convert to Drum Rack or to Sampler. Certainly some will tell me that you lose the Slice mode, but it’s still interesting.

Choose the resolution in Logic Pro X

I received an email asking me how to choose the resolution in Logic Pro X.

16 or 24 bit resolution?

Before recording your guitar or voice in Logic, you can choose in the Preferences menu, Recording what is called the recording resolution. I already talked in a previous article about Logic’s audio recording formats.

Preference Recording

Most sound cards offer 16 or 24-bit resolution and sampling rates up to 192 kHz. Below is the yellow resolution of my Universal Audio Apollo 16 card.

apollo 16 Resolution

If your sound card only offers 16 bits / 44.1 kHz. For example, you will not be able to choose another resolution in your sequencer. Because Logic Pro X will determine the resolution of your sound card!

Why record with 24-bit resolution?

We know that a CD is in 16-bit / 44.1 kHz format. So why choose to record with a 24-bit resolution?

Simply because it offers you a wider dynamic range. Thanks to this wider dynamic range, this allows you to record less close to 0 dB. The 0 dB being a value not to be exceeded in digital under the risk of non-musical saturation.

To better understand….

The signal-to-noise ratio is an indicator of the quality of information transmission. It is the ratio of powers between:

  • the signal of maximum amplitude for which the distortion at the output remains below a limit value.
  • background noise, which is not significant information that generally corresponds to the signal present at the output of the device. In the absence of a signal at the input.

It is generally measured in decibels (dB).

Let’s consider that 1 bit corresponds to about 6 dB, I mean about ! So when calculating, 16 bits allow a dynamic range of 16 x 6 = 96 dB approximately. Because in reality we are closer to 98 dB.

So 24 bits allow 24 x 6 = 144 dB of dynamics. With 24-bit, you earn 44dB of margin. It is therefore a significant comfort! Since you no longer have to try to get absolutely close to 0 dB to get better quality.

You can thus gain in dynamics. This does not prevent the use of a console slice. For the color of its preamp, its equalization to refine frequencies during recording. Or its compressor to reduce peaks by 2/3 dB.

Tips:

EQ and compression should be applied slightly, but they are not necessary! This is one of the practical aspects of Apollo sound cards. Apply in the mixer an EQ + Compression treatment (perso I use a lot of Cambridge EQ and LA2A or 1176LN compressors). With the UAD Rec option to save the processing in the Logic audio file. And / or UAD My only for the monitoring and comfort of the artist…. Processing chain obviously reusable in Logic on playback if it has not been applied to the recording…. Sorry, I’m getting off topic….

UAD Rec/Mon

Why do some software have 32-bit resolutions?

The resolution of your sound card will not exceed 24 bits. There is no sound card that has a 32-bit resolution. So your 24-bit recordings will be encoded in a 32-bit floating point format by some software. This will not change the quality of the initial records themselves. But will create audio files in this format before they are processed by plug-ins.

My Mac works in 64 bits!

The computing resolution of your computer’s processor is probably 64-bit. This has no influence on the resolution of the 24-bit audio file recorded. This brings you more processing with your plug-ins and increased speed of your computer…

What about the sampling frequency?

The sampling frequency is the number of samples recorded per second:

  • 44.1 kHz = at 44100 samples per second
  • 48 kHz = at 48000 samples per second

the debate is more open. A frequency of 44.1 kHz is theoretically sufficient to recover the entire spectrum audible by the human ear. Now, some people perceive other things when recording in 96 or 192 kHz. Only your ear is the judge personally I work in 24 bits 44.1kHz. Simply the higher the files are in terms of sampling frequency, the more space they take up on the hard disk. This requires more processor resources for their processing through your plug-in chains. I prefer to save space on my hard disk by staying at 44.1 kHz. Knowing that very often I deliver a wav and mp3 file….

For your information, I made a 96 kHz recording once in my career. For SYLVANIA’s Marcus OPUS 1 album. A classical guitar album. My client’s request was to get closer to the quality of Alexandre LAGOYA’s recordings. I must admit that I had a very beautiful experience….

This is in Logic where you set the sampling rate.

Logic Pro X Sampling Rate

Blind testing

Perform a blind test with a file recorded at 44.1, 48 and 96 KHz. Ask a friend to do this test! Without knowing the frequencies to avoid being influenced. Maybe the difference will not exist in your ears.

Sound card and sound card!

Choosing the resolution in Logic Pro X requires quality! The converters play on the quality of the retranscription of the analog signal into digital. 2 sound cards of different brands working in 24 bits/96 kHz will not necessarily give the same rendering. This depends on the quality of the converters.

Change resolution?

If we’re in 16 bits and we want to go to 24 bits. Logic will add 8 bits in the form of zero, this does not change the sound quality of the file. If recorded in 24 bits 44.1kHz to make an audio CD. We are obliged to lower the 24-bit resolution to 16-bit resolution. You have to go through a dithering algorithm. The algorithm is independent of the quality of the sound card, it is different according to the sequencers. In Logic Pro X, we have access as shown in the image below to different dithering algorithms.

Logic Pro X Dithering
  • POWr for Psychoacoustically Optimized Wordlength Reduction
  • POW-r #1 Dithering: uses a special dithering curve to minimize the noise induced by quantification.
  • POW-r #1 Noise Shaping: uses an additional process to shape sound over a wide frequency range. This extends the dynamic range of the file from 5 to 10 dB.
  • POW-r #1 Noise Shaping: uses an additional and optimized sound shaping process to extend the dynamic range by 20 dB within a range of 2 to 4 kHz (Range to which the human ear is most sensitive).
  • UV22HR: adds an inaudible energy concentration, generated algorithmically, around 22 kHz. Technically, it is known as “Sub-Nyquist-band dither”. It is a proprietary dithering to the Apogee brand.

In the image above, UV22HR appears grayed out because I don’t have an Apogee card.

Now you know how to choose the resolution in Logic Pro X! I hope these explanations have helped you understand the importance of choosing the right resolution before making your recordings. And finally, the resolution setting in Logic is permanent. Unlike sampling frequency, which can vary from one project to another. In what resolution now will I receive your audio tracks to make your mix or mastering?

How to fully exploit the Ableton live 10 Drum Rack.

For all those who have Ableton Live, the Drum Rack is really a very interesting and powerful tool.

Following a training session this month (thanks to Vincent for these questions) to help you discover the Drum Rack in depth.

What is the Drum Rack?

When you load an empty Drum Rack, you have this window with pads. Each pad will correspond to a note on the keyboard or a pad if you have a Push 2 or Novation Launch Pad controller.

Drum Rack by default

On the side we have 5 circular buttons that I will talk about later. And right next to that we have blocks of 16 pads.

Because yes, the Drums Rack does not only contain 16 pads but a total of 64 pads!

In these pads you can load different categories of elements:

  1. Samples in wav – aiff – mp3 format
  2. EQ-type audio effects – Compressors and much more.
  3. Software instruments such as those from Ableton such as Analog – Electric and of course VST
  4. Ableton’s Midi Effects are also available and we will see why later…
  5. For the samples, nothing could be easier, in my audio library, I select a kick for example and I will put it on the C1 pad and there I can trigger it (play it).

A little tip if you want to use several samples in the Drum Rack, select them in your library and drag all the samples in one operation.

Let’s load a sample!

Once you have loaded your wav files into the Drum Rack, you have the name that appears on the pad

Drum Rack Loaded

The name is also displayed in the upper part of Simpler which is an Ableton plug-in for playing audio samples.

A Play button, a mute button and the solo button appear on the pad.

As explained, plug-ins can also be loaded in two different ways:

  • By pad as below with the EQ as in the example below.
Drum Rack Pad effect
  • Overall on the whole Drum Rack as with the Glue Compressor below.
Drum Rack Overall Effect

Let’s now look at a Drum Rack with several samples.

Let’s start with the three small buttons at the top left:

Drum Rack buttons
  • First button displays the macros that are used to control one or more parameters of an effect with a single button.
Drum Rack Macro
  • Second button displays the chain for each pad.
Drum Rack Chain
  • Third button shows or hides the processing chain.
Drum Rack Chain view

Then we have the following 3 buttons

  • I/O: This button is displayed when the channel mode is activated. It displays the received note and the note played in Simpler, the Choke function, volume, pan, mute solo and hot swap. It also displays the output called Rack Output.
Drum Rack In/Out
  • S: Send button, this button allows you to view in the I/O chain independent effects sendings for each pad. Example how to put the sound of the snare drum into the reverb bus without affecting the other sounds. You must activate the R button and insert an effect.
  • A: Return button, use in conjunction with the Send button. It is possible as shown in the image below to set the output (a Reverb in this example) on a return track. This provides consistency throughout the song.
Drum Rack Send & Return

Let’s explore this tool further

1. Choke

As you can see in the image above, there is the Choke switch that allows you to assign the channel to one of the sixteen exclusion groups! In concrete terms, the triggering of a chain silences the other chains belonging to the same exclusion group.

This is useful for example to cut an open Hit hat (Charleston) by playing a closed Hit hat. This brings a more natural game, because in battery mode you can’t play an open Hit hat at the same time as a closed hit hat.

Drum Rack Choke

2. Layering of samples method 1


The layering technique consists in stacking several sounds to form one. This technique is used in the work of drum sounds. There are several methods to do this here is the first.

In this example I want my kick in C1 to play with the kick in C2. As shown in the image below, the note received by pad C2 (Receive) is assigned to the same note received on pad C1 (in example C1) the name of the pad changes and is called Multi. You are free to rename it at your convenience.

Drum Rack Layering 1

3. Layering method 2

As I explain at the beginning of the article, you can insert virtual instruments into the pads of the Drum Rack. For this layering technique, I will use a Rack instrument that I will place on note C1. In this Instrument Rack we will use several Simplers to perform our layering. An advantage over the previous method? This saves pads and no need to assign the received score to each Simpler string!

Drum Rack Layering 2

4. Midi Pitch

Let’s imagine that we have the sample of a kick that sounds good, but that we like to hear it more deeply in the octave below. We can in the Simpler transpose our sample, know there is another method. By using a midi plug-in!

As shown in the example below, the midi plug-in Chord is inserted between the chain and the Simpler. The Shift potentiometer 1 is set to the value -12, which corresponds to the octave below. This method can be easier to make pitch ramps in EDM production for you to see!

Drum Rack Midi Pitch

This example also shows you that midi plug-ins fit into the Drum Rack.

5. Copy values into chains Sibling

This is a very practical function in the Drum Rack, in concrete terms. You load several samples and the volume values for example in the Simplers are all at -12. There is a quick way to put all Simplers with the same output volume. Go to a Simpler and set the parameter to the desired value, example -6, right click with the mouse or on your trackpad and in the drop-down menu, click on copy Chain sibling value (6). In this example the menu informs you that it will change the settings of the other 6 chains. Practical, isn’t it?!

Drum Rack Chain Sibling

Be careful with this function, because the setting applies to all chains and not only to the chains you would like this is not yet possible.

6. Random Pan

A very practical function that is located in the Simpler. Make a Ran>Pan (Random Pan) setting in the Controls tab of the Simpler as in the example in the window below, here we see it dosed at 80% you will give movement to your shaker, tambourine and other percussion….

Simpler Random Pan

7. Synthesized in the Drum Rack

I often use different sounds in Epic music to create reminders. I use these synth sounds very often on a track called Fx Epic. Instead of loading 5 tracks with 5 synths, as I only use one note at a given time, I place my synths in the Drum Rack. Saving time and energy for me. It is up to you to see if you have the usefulness of this process… an example in the image below.

Drum Rack Synths

One last tip!

When you insert a Drum Rack on a track in session mode at the top right of the track. On the small arrow, click on it, you open the tracks created in the Drum Rack, as well as the effects tracks. You can make your settings directly in session mode. Practical if you find like me that the Drum Rack is not resizable.

Drum Rack Session

Of course there is a lot we can do with the Drum Rack and I haven’t shown you everything particularly I haven’t explained Simpler. It will be the subject of another chapter… If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email and if you need a composition or arrangement, a remix from your Ableton project, it’s possible

Understand the Logic Pro X Channel EQ.

Channel EQ

Understand the Channel EQ of your Stan Logic Pro X, how it works and when to use it. A subject that apparently means a lot to you when you see the number of requests I have received!

A quick recap!

Before we understand the Channel EQ, let’s review some basic principles.

Sound is composed of frequencies, i.e. acoustic vibrations transmitted through the air that are picked up by our ear. These captured data are interpreted by our hearing system.

The frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) and our hearing system allows us to hear frequencies ranging from 20Hz, known as low frequency sounds, to 20000Hz, high frequency sounds.

There are frequencies below 20Hz called infrasound you can’t hear them, but you can feel them while frequencies above 20000Hz can’t be heard or felt. This does not prevent some animals from being susceptible to it.

In this article I will explain as simply as possible the Channel EQ of Pro X software.

What is your type of EQ?

Without going in, in the different types of equalization know that there are several:

  • Graph: The frequencies are predetermined and it is only possible to adjust them
  • Parametric: It allows you to choose a frequency band and adjust its gain.
  • Semi Parametric: the user chooses the midrange frequencies but the bass and treble have preselected and fixed frequencies.
  • Adaptive equalizer which allows multiple and successive variations of corrections, predetermined by algorithms.

Let’s take a closer look at our EQ!

Logic Pro X’s Channel EQ is an 8-band Parametric EQ. This means that there are 8 filters defined by the manufacturer. Each of these filters contains three settings that we will discover as we explore.

Band 1: High Pass Filter

At the top the on/off button to activate or deactivate band 1 (same for all other bands).

High-pass or low-cut filters that allow high frequencies to pass through and reduce the level of low frequencies near the cut-off frequency. This band is used to filter the low frequencies of the track on which the Channel EQ is inserted. In the image above 39.0 Hz is the cut-off frequency. 48 dB/oct. This is the slope of the cut-off frequency. 0.10 is Factor Q.

To understand what is happening with the Q Factor also called resonance, look at the images below.

Band 1 with Q min and Q Max

On the left the Q Factor is 0.10 while on the right the Q Factor is 3.20. Take a good look at the bump it generates on the 62.0 Hz frequency. You know this principle about synthesizers, the famous cutoff and resonance pots!

A little tip….

It is not uncommon to use one of these types of filters on a track that apparently does not contain a lot of bass. For example on a Cymbal Crash. The purpose of this treatment is to clean the residual frequencies that still remain at the bottom of the spectrum. This brings sharpness to the sound and avoids a pasty effect within your composition. We often talk about removing the mud that can affect the quality of a mix.

Another advice, trust your ear don’t look at your screen constantly…

Band 2: Low-shelf filter

Low-shelf filter that adjusts the low frequency level and has a minimal impact on frequencies above the cut-off frequency. In this image the cut-off frequency is 79.0 Hz, the reduction value is -6.5 dB and the Q factor is 1.00.

This filter is used to reduce unwanted noise such as rumble.

Personally I use it to sculpt a sound and thus leave room or reinforce other elements of the composition.

Band 3 – 4 – 5 – 6: Bell filter

Bell filter with three controls per belt:

  • The frequency that defines a center frequency.
  • Gain defines the level in dB of the band.
  • The Q factor that determines the width of the frequency band around the center frequency.


Its use consists in boosting or attenuating a targeted frequency, without altering the original sound too much and its bell shape allows to gradually affect the frequencies around the target frequency according to the Q factor. It can be used to soften certain frequencies or to solve problems related to frequencies between instruments.

Mega trick!

If you are a fan of Apple technology, it is possible to control your Channel EQ via Logic Remote! Yes, imagine working on your equalization with your fingertips on your iPad!

Band 7: High-shelf filter

High-shelf filter that adjusts the high frequency level and has a minimal impact on frequencies below the cut-off frequency. In the image above we have the cutoff frequency set to 7500 Hz, the gain is +4.5 dB and the Q factor is 1.00.

It can be used to slightly attenuate a frequency from 7000 Hz or, more often than not, to lighten a piece of music by increasing the desired frequency by a few dB. Be careful not to generate too many trebles. This type of treatment requires careful consideration.

We also talk in some cases about giving air in a mix! The use of this type of filter on frequencies ranging from 8000 Hz to 12000 Hz is a significant ally, once again your ear will be the only judge. This being said, beware of voice sibilants that can emerge if they are not properly processed upstream.

Band 8: low-pass filter

Low-pass filter that allows low frequencies to pass through and reduces the level of high frequencies near the cut-off frequency. Here in this image, we have the cut-off frequency set at 14200 Hz with a slope of 24 dB attenuated per octave and a Q factor of 0.71.

This filter has a drastic effect. Most often, it is used to remove the high frequencies from an audio track. Very often used for a well-known effect of electro music: the famous door opening or closing!

Imagine yourself at the entrance of a Club, you only hear the low-pitched sounds of the music being played. As the door opens, the frequency spectrum is revealed to you! This is the famous door effect which is opened… we can do the same thing with the door which is closed…

Tips!!!!!

Concerning the use of the Channel EQ:

  • Use the Analyzer button to see an FFT (Fourier Transformed) analyzer appear that allows you to view the changes made to the frequency curve in real time, you can choose post or pre-analyzer if you want to do an analysis before or after processing.
  • If the command key is held down, the selected frequency can be dragged horizontally
  • If the command key is held down, the gain of the selected frequency can be vertically shifted.
  • Hold down the option + command keys and you can horizontally slide the selected frequency and the Q factor
  • Don’t forget with Logic Remote and the iPad it’s great….

In your compositions:

Sometimes it’s interesting to reserve space for the voices so they can come out, use the low-pass filter to cut through and get more space and margin. Then use a bell filter to compensate for the loss. As in the image below to be experimented according to the voice and musical style.

  • Use a low-pass filter and a high-pass filter to filter all low spectrum noise and noise in the upper part.
  • Cut first, boost only if necessary, sometimes replace the sound makes more sense.
  • Be careful with clipping and distortion when using the Channel EQ
  • Only use equalizers if you really need them, don’t be the one with 8 equalizers on a single console slice.
  • Find the problematic frequencies by scanning the frequency range with a narrow Q setting, then simply cut them off.
  • Does your kick catch on with some bass notes? Tune the kick or bass….

The final word

This is a brief overview for understand the Channel EQ. There are still more complex elements discussed regarding this module specific to Logic Pro. I plan another article to finalize your knowledge of the Channel EQ and if necessary for your mixes

How to build your studio? Episode 1

How to build your studio? A very important question these days, on which I thought it was very interesting to write an article. While thinking about how to write this article so that it is relevant and gives you answers to the questions you are asking yourself, I realized the need to do it in several episodes, like the blockbusters of the cinema!

Before we embark on this exciting adventure, let’s ask ourselves a few questions about the future studio of your dreams.

What kind of studio?

It is important to define specifications for the studio you want to create, for the following reasons:

  • The purpose of this studio: what will it be used for? Is it a mixing studio, a mastering studio, a beatmaking studio or a recording studio?
  • From the purpose flows the place: we do not set up a recording studio to receive the public, and more precisely groups, on the 4th floor of a residence…
  • From the purpose and the place comes the acoustics, because you do not isolate your Home Studio in the same way as a Mastering studio.
  • And the most interesting thing: the furniture. This is the position that suffers the most in all the configurations I have had the opportunity to meet since I started working in this profession.
  • The central core of your studio: the equipment, whether virtual or physical.

To resume, we can say that there are 4 configurations.

  • The Home Studio versatile enough to enjoy and practice at home.
  • The very versatile Project Studio with a fairly high pro level.
  • Studio Pro for recording, mixing and mastering.
  • The Nomad Studio to collaborate with other artists, or friends….

Let’s detail the configurations to better understand how to set up your studio.

Home Studio

Who doesn’t dream of having their own Home Studio? Still need to know what a Home studio is? Simply, a studio at home, in a room of his apartment, his house, or an outbuilding of his house. We then arrive at a very large home studio.

Moving to the countryside?

Personally, I know of some that are over 70m2 and others barely 9m2. You can choose to settle in the countryside in a place well isolated from the rest of the world, to make music and therefore noise without any concern for sound isolation.

In my opinion, this is a mistake in several aspects:

  • you isolate yourself from people who could collaborate or come to work with you because you are located outside a city and its means of transport.
  • you may not have access to the Internet with a speed close to or equivalent to that of fibre. We must now consider that many of our software tools and plug-ins require updates, not to mention sound banks. A small example: it takes about 4h30 with the fiber to make a complete installation of the Native Instruments KOMPLETE 12 ULTIMATE Collector’s Edition pack…
  • Another disadvantage of being in the countryside and this I have already seen several times alas, your studio may be visited and the equipment you accumulate will be stolen from you, which is not very reassuring.

And the city?

That being said, being in the city also has its disadvantages. You will have to make your Home Studio in a room of the apartment where you live or even in the dining room! Neighbours may often come to tell you that you make too much noise (this is an experience I personally had when I started more than 25 years ago…) If you buy your apartment, no worries about doing some small sound isolation work. If you rent on the other hand, it’s another story… The advantage is of course friends who can come and share and collaborate with you and even remotely, because with the Internet now everything is possible…

What are you planning to do with your Home Studio?

Let’s assume that every studio is alive and that as you experiment, learn and achieve, it will evolve. A Home Studio in general is made to please yourself, even if with time you can spend a lot of money and energy on it. So, whether you want to do beatmaking, electro music, rock, pop, dance hall… There is no need to think big from the start. One piece of advice I can give you: yes, you can dream, but not too much. Stay reasonable!

Project Studio

What is this word attached to the word studio?
It is true that in France we do not hear much about this term. It is used much more on the other side of the Atlantic, and particularly in the United States where it comes from.
To define a Project Studio and its role, it is a hybrid studio between the Home studio and the professional studio.
You can do recording sessions, vocals, guitar, solo instruments but this type of studio is not intended for group recording or re-recording only.
We also work on mixing, arranging, composition, recording, but also mastering. In general it is possible to work on the entire sound chain. In addition, it perfectly integrates all MAO tools, but also analog tools such as synthesizers, drum machines, electronic drums, but also compressors, equalizers and preamplifiers.

The clientele

Its target audience in terms of clientele is not very different from a professional studio. It is simply very varied: you can work for amateurs as well as professionals, labels or record companies. Important customers for a Project studio are television channels, and audiovisual production companies. Working for video games is not excluded, quite the contrary. To give you a simple example, this is the case of my studio, where I can modulate what I want as I want and define processes and working methods according to the needs of my clients. I don’t have the same constraints as the pro studios. In summary, a Project Studio is a professional studio without recording booths.

So where do you set up this kind of studio? It can be in the city or on the outskirts of a city. It requires good acoustics, a space reserved for the work part and a space reserved for the customer reception part. A good Internet connection is essential for a Project Studio, as many jobs are processed remotely. A parking lot for customers and musicians who come to work at your place is a significant plus. I say this from experience, because for my clients and the artists who collaborate on certain projects, it is very pleasant to be able to park next to the studio. The easiest way is to invest in a house that will allow you to install your Project Studio, without forgetting to foresee that it too will live and evolve according to the weather and technical and musical practices.

Studio Pro

Who hasn’t dreamed of working in a professional studio? Personally, I spent a lot of time there 15 years ago in the past. Today this type of studio tends to disappear and the reason is simple, because it is economical. Having a structure for recording, mixing and mastering with a sound recording booth and a control room capable of recording groups becomes a heavy financial burden.

The current trend is that more and more artists are producing themselves at home. Like many, they use Logic Pro X, Ableton Live or other software such as Pro Tools to make their models and find ways to finalize them at a lower cost. There are labels or professionals who are looking for suitable locations, both acoustically and technically, with a renowned mixing board (e. g. SSL or Neve mixing board) and interesting devices. From there to having a financial regularity in invoicing, it may become complicated. Unless you have a star who makes you the reputation of your studio.

There is a solution!

Find a very large room that you will equip acoustically, in terms of furniture and equipment. To make this professional studio profitable, you will need to build four rehearsal booths. Of course, as the booths are all connected to your control room, you will have the opportunity to offer an attractive rate for the rental and recording of the rehearsal sessions.

Album making will come naturally next, which will give your pro studio its reputation if you do a good job! However, expect to live on staggered schedules, and to have to manage the rentals of rooms, musicians and bands that come to work, which may leave you less time to focus on your work as a sound engineer.

Needless to say, the structure must be located on the outskirts of the city with impeccable sound isolation and good facilities. There should be no walls attached to a gym or repair shop, which could make noise and make your recordings unusable. Avoid renting! For example, one of my clients rented a room that is now completely unusable during the day because of the noise pollution caused by workshops with walls adjoining his professional premises. In addition, he does not have the owner’s authorization to carry out the necessary work for sound isolation.

If you wish to embark on this adventure I strongly recommend that you call me first via this link. I could give you some very good advice to avoid a lot of trouble. The ideal place for this room is to have a car park, with access via public transport, fiber, a nice relaxation area, and very good equipment.

Nomad Studio

It is becoming more and more common to have everything in your laptop. Example: his MacBook Pro, even if I see more and more people working on Mac Mini. The advantage of Studio Nomade is that you can work with friends, on the train and even on holiday. Studio Nomade is essentially ITB, i.e. In The Box. A lot of plug-ins, a software that we master ideally designed to make the stage! I will talk in a future episode of Ableton Live 10 about a very good sound card, and one or more good microphones and a very good headset.

Concerning the acoustics of a nomad studio

This is not the most important thing, but there are solutions like Filter reflections from sE Electronics.

Personally, I have a mobile configuration that I use when I go to some customers or when I work with friends or family.

But recently I also opted for another configuration, namely an H6 zoom magneto to record in any situation without having to bring too much equipment.

The objective is simple: this is only for sound design work. If having a Nomad Studio does not restrict you, it is also important to say that it can be used to bring sound material back into your Home Studio. A place where the sound card and your laptop are the heart of your configuration. In this case, a small room with a minimum of acoustics is required to ensure quality listening.

Let’s talk about acoustics.

Having gone through these 4 configurations, let’s now look at an important point: acoustics. Whether it is on the floor, walls, or ceiling, solutions exist depending on the result you are looking for.

The easiest solution: avoid egg boxes! It isolates very badly and interior decoration is not the best!

For a Nomad Studio or a Home Studio, I was talking about the Reflexion Filter. Another inexpensive solution is a library full of books. From experience, I have recorded many voices in reading spaces or libraries. In addition to the sound aspect, this brings a cultural touch, which can be useful. It doesn’t matter what the books are. The important thing is that there are many of them. For the record, it doesn’t work as well with vinyl libraries, which doesn’t mean you don’t have them!

Solutions

A solution from the United States: Acoustiblock, a viscoelastic polymer material that attaches to floors, walls and ceilings. It offers important sound insulation properties. I let you visit their website via this link.

Of course, if you don’t want to do major work on your home, your resellers can provide you solutions. Here are some examples here and there. Attention these solutions can be expensive….

Finally, alternative solutions can be put in place. As a floor and ceiling in Wooden bar, 15x15x30cm for the floor and 10x10x30cm for the ceiling. The part to be treated requires a large volume, as it will be reduced by about 60 cm in height (max 30cm for the ceiling with relief and 30cm without relief for the floor). The walls can be insulated with acoustic rock wool isolation. In double thickness, this reduces the noise by about 30dB.

Also think about the decoration. It’s important because it’s a room where you might spend a lot of time… So, you might as well make yourself feel good there…

The continuation of the next episode….

KOMPLETE 12 ULTIMATE Collector’s Edition

Why am I talking about Native Instruments KOMPLETE 12 ULTIMATE Collector’s Edition?

Native Instruments is a company that manufactures electronic musical instruments, mostly software, but also hardware.

These are intended for professional musicians, producers, DJs or sound engineers, as well as home-studists.

It was founded in 1996 and is based in Berlin.

This article is not intended to advertise the Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition. I just want to provide you with some information following a question I was asked about the need to buy such an important Native Instruments collection.

In the 25 years I have been working in the audio industry, software has evolved in terms of tools and functionalities to improve processes and workflows.

But there is a part that can be found in all software such as Logic Pro X, Live 10, Cubase, FL Studio and which has also evolved considerably: I mean sound banks.

Why is it that manufacturers are so keen to include sound libraries in their software?

The answer is simple, it’s to allow you to compose quickly and efficiently.

When you are in a creative process, making a sound bank is certainly part of the process. But it is also a good way to lose the musical ideas you have. This is why manufacturers have every interest in providing you with ready-to-use sound libraries in their software. Depending on the musical styles in which you wish to compose.

Bank format?

Today, the offer is much more important than what can be composed. 

If I have to review the sound banks I have, they use about 7 terabytes space in different formats.
We can distinguish different sound banks:
Virtual synthesizers
Samplers
Romplers,
Emulators.
Audio loops
The one Shots

You’re going to tell me: what’s the point of all this ?

Musical styles?

Depending on the musical style, we will have to use certain types of sounds types of samples. Especially since in today’s music, we now do “cross genre”, i.e. the crossing between different musical styles.

Here’s a very simple example: over the past 10 years, we’ve often heard about Epic music, which is a mix of contemporary and classical music.

It is a specific format for cinema, but variations have been made to make remixes or rework of existing music in this style.

We have the original.

And the remix…

You understand that for this kind of music, sound libraries are very important to recreate orchestral ensembles.

We have different types of formats, different types of banks… What I have found very interesting since the creation at Native Instruments of the Komplete collection. Initially created through Kontakt, is that in this collection we find all of what I mentioned above in all styles. In addition, it works on all studio software on the market, including Logic Pro X, Live 10, Cubase, etc. But also on Native Instruments Maschine‘s own sequence software. In addition to banks and synthesizers, there are also audio processing plug-ins. This is done in a format called NKS that is compatible with other plug-ins or banks that do not belong to Native Instruments.

Let’s develop the tools of the collection.

To illustrate my previous example concerning Epic music, the collection gives access to 16 orchestral and cinematic instruments. It is a complete section of sampled instruments that can be used in any project. This allows you to be in charge of a complete orchestra, either with sections or soloists thanks to professional quality banks, played and recorded by musicians and sound engineers from all over the world. All the necessary tools are available to create trailers and orchestral music.

In the collection, we will find synthesizers that I will not detail in this article. I invite you to visit the Native Instruments website to discover them! They are faithful reproductions of existing synthesizers. Some have an innovative sound design that exceeds the capacity and capabilities of most real models. Being with everything that exists in terms of synthesis and with all the tools necessary to create music such as EDM, Trap, Techno, Drum&Bass…, I must admit that it’s fabulous! The sound palette is extremely rich and we must be careful not to get lost in it…

Let me give you a tip:

Take the time to read the manuals of each of the synthesizers to understand how they work, but also how to create your own sounds. To learn and understand, there are some tools, the Trutorials, tutorials put online by Native Instruments!

For those who are sampling enthusiasts, the suite offers 30 quality sampled instruments such as pianos, electric or acoustic guitars, violins for pop music, organs, basses…

Not to mention to build his rhythmics 12 drum and percussion instruments. With Battery 4 the samplers dedicated to drum sounds, Damage for cinematic percussion, DrumLab, a sound laboratory to layer acoustic and electronic samples. And for those who dream of the Abbey Road studio, there is a collection of drums recorded in this mythical studio…

Of course Native Instruments has thought of the sound engineers that we are, with 28 effects to sculpt our sounds, our tracks, our recordings!
The icing on the cake, in the effects there is Guitar Rig 5 Pro, which alone provides 17 amp simulations, 27 speakers and 54 additional effects ! 

As we are in the Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition, we must not forget the 50 expansions!

These are sound packs specific to specific styles, containing synth presets, drum kits, samples in one shot and loops. And of course, they can be used with Native Instruments tools, but also in any Daw.

My opinion

I use it every day. Moreover, if you choose to use it with a Komplete Kontrol keyboard and/or Maschine, it is a Must have! 

Saving time is precious and important.

In the current operation of my studio, my configuration is based on Logic Pro X, Ableton Live 10 & Push 2, Native Instruments Komplete & Maschine. So you might ask me why so many software and tools? Because it’s a composition studio, and it’s interesting for me not to have any limitations in my creative process.

Last year, following the design of an album produced in one month, I developed a training course called CEMM (Compose, Record, Mix, Master). In this training, I use Native Instruments Komplete 12 Ultimate Edition in conjunction with Logic Pro X or Ableton Live 10Contact me if you are interested.

I regularly discover new sounds. The search for sounds by tag is very interesting and sometimes makes you choose a sound that you would never have been looking for spontaneously. One advantage is to be able to listen to them before loading the bank.

What fascinates me the most is the possibility of creating new sounds. I use it a lot for sound design and the integration of my own samples gives me even more important possibilities in my creative process.

And to top it all off, the Native Instruments suite also includes Creator Tools software to create your own Kontakt format banks !

Certainly the Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition has a price that may be out of reach for your budget right now. However, there are several versions of this fabulous collection and even a version called Komplete Start for free! And every year Native Instruments makes an offer called Summer of Sound with a 50% discount. Be careful, it ends on June 30th!