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Computer music blog » How to use Spectrasonics easily in Logic Pro!
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The reason for this article “How to use Spectrasonics easily in Logic Pro” comes from an observation: I often receive Logic Pro projects that use Omnisphere, Keyscape, Trillian or Stylus RMX.

The virtual instruments of the brand Spectrasonics are not to be presented anymore! The quality of these instruments made by its founder Eric Persing and his wife Lorey and all the team of Spectrasonics make the unanimity of the composers of music and that in all the musical styles.

We all know that nowadays our computers have an impressive computing and storage power. But when I look at the use of these wonderful tools in Logic Pro, I discover that the management of these virtual instruments is inadequate and in the worst case requires freezing tracks.

Why talk to you about using Spectrasonics easily in Logic Pro?

Because different ways of using it exist: from the most consuming in terms of CPU resources to the most economical in terms of managing the virtual instruments from Spectrasonics.

But before getting to the heart of the matter, a reminder of the virtual instruments that Spectrasonics offers in VST / AU / AAX formats.

  1. Omnisphere 2 Spectrasonics’ flagship synthesizer.
  2. Keyscape virtual instrument of collection keyboards.
  3. Trilian bass plug-in.
  4. Stylus RMX plug-in of loops and drum one-shots.

The soundbanks used in Keyscape and Trilian integrate seamlessly as an instrument in the Omnisphere interface. Trilian and Keyscape will simply appear as a library through the Omnisphere synth browser. Provided you have purchased the plug-ins.

This capability offers Omnisphere 2 Module users additional functionality. But I won’t go into that.

Please note that the Stylus RMX banks do not work in the Omnisphere virtual instrument, as they use the SAGE engine whereas Keyscape, Trilian and Omnisphere use the Steam Engine.

Let’s find out the worst way to use Omnisphere in Logic Pro!

In Logic Pro, when you use an Apple virtual synth like Alchemy for example, you load an instance of this Audio Unit plug-in into the console slice of the relevant software instrument as in the example below.

Creation of track Alchemy 2
A software instrument track (in green) = a channel Strip (in orange) = a synth (in red).

Simple and easy to understand for everyone, a process used by many CAM sequencer manufacturers.

This has many advantages such as when you mute or solo the track.

If we apply this working process with the virtual instruments of Spectrasonics. Then very quickly, depending on the power of your machine, you can find yourself with CPU resources that reach the limit of calculation. And you will be forced to freeze some tracks to create new ones.

Fortunately, manufacturers have thought of everything!

Some have taken the decision to design monotimbral virtual synths.

Others like Spectrasonics who created multitimbral virtual synths with an exception for Keyscape oriented keyboard, know that they are used in Omnisphere as sound banks…

Well, I admit there is a third category like Native Instruments for example which uses the 2 modes of monotimbral and multitimbral design.

Are you familiar with multitimbrality?

We speak of multitimbrality on a physical keyboard when it plays several sounds. In general a piano on midi channel 1, a violin on midi channel 2 and a drum kit on channel 10 for example.

For those who don’t know midi, it is a standard for driving physical synths in computer music.

This standard also applies to virtual synths. Like Stylus RMX, Omnisphere, Trilian.

And here is an important originality in the use of these tools. Instead of loading 5 Omnispheres, 1 Keyscape and 2 Trilian each on their respective tracks, we can load all these sounds into one Omnisphere 2.

This virtual synth uses Logic’s multitimbral mode, which consumes less processor resources of your computer.

How do I optimize Omnisphere on a Logic Pro slice?

Example number 1

You want to use the “Ambient Space Piano” sound on your musical composition.

You have not used Omnisphere on any track, let’s go through the steps:

  1. Create a new software instrument track by selecting Omnisphere as in the example below.
Track creation
The track creation window in Logic Pro.

In this mode, we use the Omnisphere engine to drive a sound bank.

Remember: 1 track = 1 channel strip = 1 synth with a loaded sound bank

If we don’t intend to use other sounds from Spectrasonics, that’s fine.

Example number 2

Now let’s imagine that we would like to use the SID In The Water Amp bank in addition to the Ambient Space Piano sound.

The first step in Omnisphere: click on button 2 (in red) as in the image below.

Omnisphere channel 2
Loading the SID In The Water bank on the Multi n° 2

And then in the browser go and look for the SID In The Water Amp bank (in green) which is in the Retro Land directory.

In this case, the multitimbrality of the Omnisphere virtual instrument is exploited, with up to 8 channels.

Here are the 5 steps to set up Logic’s track to use the multitimbral mode:

  1. Go to the Track inspector and click on the disclosure triangle next to the “Track” label to open the Track inspector.
  2. In this inspector check the midi output channel as in the example below
  3. The information displayed shows you the “All” setting, change it to channel 1.
  4. Normally on the track you see the information CA1 (in red) for channel 1 very useful when using many tracks.
Configuration track multitimbral 1
  1. As in the image below you will create a new track by going to Logic’s main menu on “Track”, scroll down to “Others” select and click on new track with the following MIDI channel. Or on the track press ⌃ the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + Return).
New track with following midi channel
Creation of a new track with the next MIDI channel.

So if your musical composition does not require more than 8 banks from Spectrasonics’ Steam Engine collections, you will only need to load one virtual synth. CPU saving guaranteed!

Once you have got used to this mode of operation, you will discover a small defect. If you mute the track or perform a Solo as it concerns the same instrument, the tracks with the channels will all be mutated or all in solo mode as in figures 1a and 1b. Solutions:

Figure 1a
Figure 1b
  • Use the On/Off button in the track header to replace the Mute button.
On/Off without the Mute button

Concerning the use of the Solo button there are several possibilities:

  • Also in the track header, the On/Off button together with the Solo button.
Enabled/Disabled with the Solo button.
  • Solo the regions.
  • By using Omnisphere in multi-output and working with the mixer, a complex feature for which I will not go into detail in this article.
  • Formerly with the Midi Environment which goes into “Legacy” mode, meaning that it becomes a Legacy of Logic Pro, since version 10.7.3.
    • So the Environment window no longer appears in this version, if you want to know more about it, I invite you to read this information from Apple.

Why not manage everything in Omnisphere?

It is possible if you wish according to 2 cases:

  • 1 software instrument track that manages the 8 midi channels of the 8 sounds of an Omnisphere! Not very practical from my point of view. Yes, each region will contain the midi information on 8 channels which will not be easy to manage…
  • You wish to layering your sounds on the condition that you set the MIDI channel corresponding to the midi channel of the software instrument track.

Let’s detail the Layering together:

The midi channel settings are performed in the Omnisphere synth’s Multi mode as shown in the image below.

Multi Mode
Mega layer 1 with all 8 slots configured on MIDI channel 1

The MIDI channel settings can vary according to your needs, so it’s up to you to experiment, keeping in mind your CPU management.

For sound design this mode of operation can reveal nuggets especially in Orb mode…

Orb Mode
Orb mode on the Weathered Strummin sound… Controllable via iPad with Omni TR !

For example, midi channel 1 for a lead sound, midi channel 2 for a bass and midi channel 3 to play a stack of 4 tones from a Pad bank.

It’s easy to see why Spectrasonics appealed to film music producers. Here are some examples.

Logic Pro’s Multitimbral Tip!

When creating a new software instrument track, if you look closely at the details, you can directly choose the number of Multitimbral tracks to use in this window.

By default 4 is good, but if you have selected 8 and you only use 6 don’t forget to clean up by deleting the extra 2.

I’m coming to the end of this article if you want to ask any questions don’t hesitate to send them to me by mail or in the comments. Discover more about the use of Spectrasonics virtual instruments through my music composition service!

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