6 New features-The Logic Pros

The Logic Pros is a new regular series exploring all of the most interesting gadgets and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a closer hands-on look at, let us know in the comments section below or shoot us an email.

In this week’s edition of The Logic Pros, we will be diving into some of the most tucked away and over-looked features packed inside the release of Logic Pro X 10.1. We saw a number of interesting new features get added including AirDrop/Air Mail, a host of new Drummers, and Retro Synth got a seriously powerful overhaul (something we will be looking at in the future). But there were also a few features that didn’t get much attention, whether it be Logic’s brand new MIDI performance creation tool, its simple embedded automation, smarter quantization, or its fully customizable plug-in menus:

Editing Features-Overall-The Logic Pros

Enhanced MIDI Editing:

The Piano Roll MIDI editor was already one of my favorite parts of Logic, or at least where I spend most of my time, and now it has received a couple new features to make it even better in the form of the Brush Tool and Time Handles:

Brush Tool-The Logic Pros

Bringing features some have considered missing from Logic for some time, especially considering similar options are available in its biggest competitors, the Brush Tool adds a whole new way for LPX users to work with MIDI notes. Found inside the Piano Roll’s Tools menu, the new editor allows us to create strings of MIDI notes with a simple click and drag. Once you click down, you can drag across the Piano Roll’s timeline to any pitch (even while Logic is in play) creating your melody, or back over them to adjust/change the notes. Clicking on already created MIDI notes with the Brush Tool brings up the Brush erase option with the same sort of swiping action, but to delete notes. Along the left panel of the piano roll you can change the length of the notes created with the Brush Tool using the Time Quantize pull down menu.

This can be a very effective way to quickly create drum machine-like parts that don’t require that human touch, or even for writing arpeggios/melodies. I really like to loop a bar or two in Logic, push play, and then start creating melodies with the Brush Tool by dragging right and left in a single click until I land on something desirable. This sort of live creation feature can be a nice alternative to traditional input on a MIDI keyboard, or the cumbersome (albeit precise) legacy Pencil Tool.

Time Handles-The Logic Pros

Time Handles are a very fast and efficient way to create speed-up or slow down sections of your MIDI regions. While it was certainly possible to do this previously using Logic’s MIDI Transform tools, Time Handles makes for a much more intuitive way of doing things. Once in the Piano Roll, you can enable (and disable) Time Handles in the Functions drop down menu along the top. Now you’ll notice you have a new selection tool. Select the part of your MIDI region you want to speed up or slow down with a typical click and drag, and then use the triangular shaped blue markers to compress or expand the selected region to the desired speed. This can obviously be a very handy way to create, half-time and double-time sections of your songs or beats, or even to create new and interesting drum fills.

Fully Customizable plug-in menus:

Once you add more plug-ins (and you likely will) to your set-up, LPX’s Plug-In Manager is a fantastic new addition. Anyone with a large list of third party plug-ins already knows how annoying it can be to go get that one effect you’re looking for when it’s buried in a plain text list of possibly hundreds. With Plug-In Manager we can completely customize the way our favorite plug-ins are stored in the Audio FX menu in Logic. For years, we have had to zip down past the stock Logic plugs to get to our list of third party options, but now we can arrange that top level folder structure anyway we like. We can insert third party plug-ins into Logic’s pre-made folders, remove the stock ones if we wish, and even create our own fully nested folders with custom titles.

Personally, I find the preset folder structure to be quite intuitive, so inserting my favorite third party plugs by category into those works great. But I also find that it is nice to create nested subfolders (folder within a folder) to break down particular effects even further. For example, I like to break my “Specialized” folder down into three categories: “Bass” for bass frequency related exciters and effects, “Multi-FX” for unique glitch modules and units that contain multiple/sequenced FX, and lastly, “Other” for exciters and other quirky/unique units. We can even get our favorite instruments into the top-level list, again, bringing our favorite third party instruments out of the depths of the audio instrument Input menu.

Here’s how to set it up:

Plug-In Manager-The Logic Pros

Open the Plug-In Manager: Head up to the Logic Pro X menu, then inside Preferences you’ll find Plug-In Manager:

Plug-In Manager-Top-Level-2-The Logic Pros

Adding Any Plug-In to Existing Folders:  Along the left panel we see our plug-in folder menus by category and below that, all of the plug-ins installed on our Mac categorized by manufacturer. From here we can simply drag a desired plug-in from the right hand panel into the desired folder on the left panel. Now those plug-ins will not only appear where they do normally in our list, but also in the folder you just chose.

Plug-In Manager-New Folder-The Logic Pros

Create Your Very Own Folders: We can also create our own folders. Click the + button above the Category folders to add a new folder. Name it, and start adding the desired plug-ins as described above. Your new folder will appear in the list alongside Apple’s when loading FX on the channel strip from now on.

Plug-In Manager-Nest-The Logic Pros

Nest Them Up: While there are some third party apps that will help organize your plug-ins, with fully customized folder structures and fancy cover views, Plug-In Manager seems to get the job done just fine on its own for me. To create folders within folders, use the following method: For example, to create a folder within the “Specialized” section, simply add a new folder to the list with the + button as described above. Naming the new folder “Specialized: Multi-FX” will result in a sub folder inside the Specialized folder called Multi-FX, naming the new folder “Specialized: Bass” will result in a sub folder inside the Specialized folder called Bass, and so on.

Plug-In Manager-Top Level-The Logic Pros

Tip: you can also drag your audio instruments from the lower manufacturers list into the folder above labeled “Top Level” to have your favorite synths and samplers appear within the main list.

And there you have it, we have a completely customized plug-in list, all included for the price of entry with Logic Pro X. Finally!

A Few More:

Region Automation-The Logic Pros

Take that sweet filter sweep with you wherever you go. With Region Automation we can embed all that animated filter action and those tedious automation moves directly into a region on our timeline. This way it can be looped and copied anywhere on the timeline, including new tracks and even imported into other Logic sessions. Now we could have just selected Logic’s option to always copy track automation when we move regions around our project, but anyone who has used that will know this embedded business is really good stuff: Simply create your automation moves as usual, then head up to the Mix menu along the top of Logic, hit the “Convert Automation…” menu and select convert Track Automation to Region Automation. Or just write Region Automation from the get go by clicking the toggle button labeled “Track” on the track header was automation mode is enabled (push the “A” key).

Smart Quantize-The Logic Pros

That thing that keeps ruining your drum pad performance is smarter now. For those looking for a more realistic quantize option, one that takes your performance into account as opposed to just locking it to the grid like a robot. Click on the word “Quantize” on the Inspector for any region on your arrange page to reveal the new “Smart Quantize” option.

Apple Loops-The Logic Pros

Speaking of the Region Inspector.  You may not have noticed the new Playback Speed parameter option for Apple Loops. Highlight and Apple Loops region on your arrange page, and then hit the “More” option in the inspector where you’ll find the Play back Speed options ranging from 8 times faster to 1/8 the speed.

If you’ve been putting any of LPX’s new features to work in your sessions, let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Justin Kahn

Justin is a senior editor covering all things music for 9to5Mac, including our weekly Logic Pros series exploring music production on Mac and iOS devices. Justin is an audio engineer/producer with over 10 years experience in the music industry.