If you are new to Logic Pro, whether you want to use it as your only DAW or to supplement another DAW you are already familiar with, there are a few concepts that are unique to Apple’s in house DAW and we’ll cover them here. By the end of this tutorial you will be able to understand some of Logic’s strengths and or translate your previous DAW knowledge into Logic terminology. And if you are a blind user using Voiceover, you’ll be able to follow along.
Remember to [join the mailing list to get the getting started course to continue familiarizing yourself with Logic. There is also the member’s area for when you are ready to go in-depth with tutorials. Also, don’t forget that[one on one] training(training) is also available.
Tip: 1 – Recording
Logic Pro, unlike a lot of other DAW’s, does not require you to arm a track before recording to it. In fact the only time you need to record enable a track, (Logic’s term for arming a track), is if you want to record to multiple tracks at once. The tutorial demonstrates how you can start recording to any track you have selected immediately. Any track you navigate to in the track headers with up or down arrows or VO up/down arrows is automatically selected. That being said, you can also use this hack to record to multiple MIDI/Software Instrument tracks with out having to record enable them as well.
The Getting Started Course covers how to set your metronome count in, and check out this tutorial to see how to improve how input monitoring works. There is also a tutorial on Fixing Issues At The Start Of Your MIDI Recordings.
Tip 2 – drummer
A lot of people new to Logic confuse Drummer with Logic Drum sounds or Drum Virtual Instruments. While they share the same sounds, they are actually two different things. Drummer is its own instrument that requires you to add a Drummer track to the project in order to use it. When a Drummer track is added to the project, it also includes an 8 bar region with a pattern suitable to the genre or style currently selected. However, these aren’t just simple drum loops, but patterns that can among other ways of customizing, be made to follow the rhythm of another track in the project. Whether it’s audio or MIDI doesn’t matter to the Drummer. The Drummer will analyze the selected track and come up with a rhythm to follow the regions on the selected track. You can also use the X/Y pad to have it simplify or or increase the complexity and you have many Drummer’s from a variety of Genres and sub genres to choose from. Check out this intro to drummer tutorial.
Tip 3 – Difference Between Drummer And Logic’s Drum Virtual Instruments
So what if you want to play in your own drum parts? Well you can do that too, just add a MIDI or Software instrument track to the project and select one of Logic’s Drum Patches to get started. These are using all the same sounds as Drummer but allow you to play in your own beats, and you can edit the performance like any other MIDI performance in the Piano Roll or the Event List.
Also as demonstrated in the tutorial… by default Logic is set to merge MIDI recordings, that’s why I was able to record the kid and snare, and then record the cymbals on the same track and it got added to the previous recording instead of overwriting it. The Producer Kit sub folder in the library has Multi Out patches ready to go, and if you open the software instrument itself, you can change the entire drum kit, swap out individual kit pieces, tune or dampen the kit piece, adjust it’s level and even choose if it’s sent to the overheads or rooms etc. Tons of Flexibility and it’s all accessible!
One point of clarification, a Software Instrument track is generally what is referred to as a MIDI track, especially as you may be familiar with it in another DAW. External MIDI tracks are for sending MIDI data you have recorded in Logic to an external hardware synth or MIDI module to trigger sounds on it.
Tip 4 – Track Stacks
Track Stacks are what most other DAWs refer to as Track Folders. There are two types of Track Stacks in Logic, Summing Stacks and Folder Stacks. A Summing Stack is just that it sums the output of all the tracks inside of it to a bus so you can affect all the tracks inside the stack with the same FX. In addition you can also use the Summing Stack track as a “master” fader for all the tracks inside of it as well as adjust panning, solo or mute for all the tracks as a whole. A Folder Stack is essentially a VCA or a way to control Volume, Pan, Solo Mute etc for all the tracks inside of it but doesn’t pass Audio like a summing stack does. The tutorial really only touches on Summing Stacks as that is the most commonly used option. For Everything Track Stacks go deeper with this tutorial using Track Stacks with VoiceOver.
Tip 5 – Patches And The Logic Library
A lot of people think that patches are just presets, which in a way they are, but what they really are is a full signal chain ready to go as a starting point. In the case of an audio track, they could include effects like EQ and compression on the track as insert effects, and a send or two an Aux Track with reverbs. When it comes to an instrument track, they will include the instrument, like Drumkit designer, Sampler, Retro Synth etc, and possibly effects like EQ, Compression, delay, etc as well as sends to reverbs too. In some cases like The Piano and Upright bass, the patch is a track stack that has a Piano and an Upright bass tracks in it. In addition there is a keyboard split as part of that patch, so the lower range of the keyboard is the Bass sound and the higher part is the keyboard. In the case of the tutorial, I believe what I played was just in the bass range of the split, hence why you didn’t hear any Piano. To see how to put multiple instruments into a track stack check out this tutorial.
In addition to adjusting the send level, you can also open any of the plug ins on the tracks to edit the parameters. It’s also possible to start with a blank track and add effects yourself, but the patches are a great way to get up and running quickly. Also you can use Shift Y as a quick way to get into the Library.
Tip 6 – Aux Tracks
Where are my Aux tracks you may ask? They are in the mixer only by default. You can add your Aux track to the track header though by selecting them in the mixer and pressing Control T. You can also press Command Shift M to add the Master or Stereo Output to the track header.. Once the Aux is added to the track headers, you can move it wherever you would like. Case in point I move it to be under the vocal track. Select the track with VO Command Return, Mark it for drag and drop with VO Comma, and Then Navigate to where you want to drop it and use the appropriate drop command. In this case I used VO Shift Period to drop it Below the selected track.
Tip 7 – Save As vs Project Alternative
Most DAW’s save your project to a folder which is usually the project name. Inside that folder you will find a file that is the project file plus an audio folder that has all the sounds used in the project. Logic, however, by default saves projects to a package file. This is a single file that has all the audio etc embedded inside of it. The problem with this package file is if you do a save as to work on another version of the project, it will create a duplicate of the package file and thus take up more space on the hard drive. This is where Project Alternatives come in handy. It’s a means of essentially having another version of the project but it’s all part of the same package file and makes it easier to manage. Also if you need to get into a package file to see the audio folder, you can absolutely still do that. Just right click on the .logicx file with VO Shift M in Finder, and select Show Package Content from the menu. Now you will be able to navigate through all the Audio files like you would if you had the project saved as a folder.
Hopefully this cleared up some of the initial confusions you had regarding Logic Pro. If there is anything I missed, let me know and I’ll see about doing a follow up to this.