10 Tips For Logic Pro X

Here's a few tips to help Logic Pro X users move through their work easily. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!
10 Tips For Logic Pro X

Here's a few tips to help LPX users move through their work easily. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!

1- Enable Advanced Options
By default LPX launches for the first time in "GarageBand Mode". This hides many advance tools so you can work in a more simple environment. But for the real power, unlock the advanced tools. Go to the Logic Pro X menu, to Preferences, to Advanced Tools. There, click the Show Advanced Tools checkbox. Then at the bottom of the pane, click the Enable All button, and you're ready to rock!

2- Legacy Plugins (as if there's any use for them)
If you hold the Option key, while clicking the Audio FX drop down menu, you'll get a list of legacy effects. Bear in mind there are newer ones to replace these, which are WAY better than the legacy plugins, by far. The one that doesn't have a replacement is Denoiser. And IMHO it is best left in the past, is outdated and ineffective. You're better off with a third party who does it better (SoundSoap on the low end, iZotope RX on the high end). For you FCPX users, these are available in Final Cut. But they're old, so who cares, really? Still, they're they are, lingering like glitter on your clothes and in your hair after a bad date…


3- Manage Your Tracks
In LPX tracks can get very numerous very fast, and track management is key to staying focused, moving around easily, and spending more time being creative, rather than being lost and trying to find stuff. Fortunately Logic gives us some great tools to help with this. My previous blog post, "LPX Track Management" covers all of this. You can read that article by
clicking here.

4- Stack Your Tracks
Track stacks are fantastic. It basically is a wrapper that contains two or more tracks, inside of one master folder, or "Stack Master" track. There are two types, Folder Stacks and Summing Stacks. These can be great for combining various synth tracks for one larger full synth, or managing multiple drum tracks together.

Folder stacks are very basic, allowing you to control the volume, mute and solo the main folder, also called the Stack Master. They don't touch the any audio routing of the included sub-tracks. The downside is you can't use Smart Controls on the Stack Master, although you can for the individual sub-tracks. Also, the Stack Master, when collapsed has no regions you can work on directly. You have to open it and work on the sub-tracks' regions directly.

Summing Stacks allows you to control the volume, mute, solo, add plug-ins, and adjust Send levels. Yes, you can route the Stack Master output. And all of this effects the combined sound of the whole stack. You can also use Smart Controls on the Stack Master. Each sub-track can still be recorded to. And when the Stack is closed, if you record MIDI to the Stack Master, that will play on all MIDI tracks inside the Stack. Individual sub-tracks can also be routed to different outputs.

To create a Track Stack, Command-click each track to include. Once all desired tracks are highlighted, right-click on one of them. From the pop-up menu select Create Track Stack, or use Shift-Command-D. You'll then have the option to select which type of stack to create, with a brief description of each.


5- Resize Your Tracks
If you grab the lower edge of a track header, you can drag it up and down to make the track taller or thinner. Make it really tall for precision automation and other types of surgical work. You can pop it back to the hight of all other tracks by Shift-clicking the bottom edge of the track. To adjust all track hights at once, hold the Option key while dragging the bottom edge of a track up or down. You can also use the Command key with the up and down arrow keys will make all tracks taller and thinner, also.

To zoom in/out, or adjust with width of your tracks, simply pinch in or out with your fingers on an Apple Magic Trackpad (I love mine, will never go back to a mouse again). Or use the Command key with the left and right arrow keys.

6- Freeze Your Tracks
If your using a lot of MIDI tracks, especially with resource hungry add-ons such as Native Instruments stuff (which I thrive on), and have playback issues, or "overload" warnings, consider freezing those tracks. Right-click a track header, go to the last option, "Configure Track Header". There you can add or remove various elements. Simply enable the Freeze button to show in the track headers. Freezing simply bounces the track to a temporary audio file. So MIDI and complex filtering won't eat up so much hard drive and CPU power. While frozen, a track can not be edited. You'll have to un-freeze it for that. Then re-freeze it again when done.

7- Custom Presets Are Our Friends (but they won't pick you up at the airport)
Once you have settings for a specific plug-in setup, in its window, at the top left, next to the on/off button, there is a menu where you can choose "Save As" and keep this as a custom preset of that specific plug-in. Ready to use over and over in the future.

Once you have settings for several plug-ins set for your track, in the Channel Strip, click the Setting button to pull up the Channel Strip Setting menu. Choose Save Channel Strip Setting As, and you can then pull up that whole bundle again at any time you need it. I have a virtual guitar (Shreddage 2 with custom Guitar Rig and Channel EQ settings) that I love using, and have a whole Channel Strip custom preset so I can get back to it. This way my songs for that genre and mode are consistent in sound, and save me time setting this up over and over in the future.


8- Project Alternatives For Versioning
Project Alternatives are fantastic! For you FCPX users, you know about Project Duplicates and Project Snapshots. This is pretty much the same thing for LPX projects. I'll be working on a composition, I like it, and may want to call it done. The next day I have ideas to spice it up a bit. I don't want to lose what I already have. I could do a Save As, but that gives me duplicates of my audio recordings and everything on my hard drive. To save drive space, AND keep this one project all together, I use Alternatives.

When you want to deviate from your current project's state, but keep your current project's state in tact, first, save your work (Command-S). Then go to the File menu, to the Alternatives sub-menu, and choose New Alternative. Give the new Alternative (version) a name. You can now move forward working on your new version. Your original will not be touched. If you go back to the Alternatives sub-menu, you'll see an option to Edit Alternatives. There you can see the date and time each was created, rename or remove them. You also have an option in that sub-menu to export the currently open Alternative as an independent Project. Like if I want to send it to another studio for Mastering or something. I don't want to send them all my different versions, just the one I want to publish.

In the bottom section of the Alternatives sub-menu is a list of all the Alternatives you've created, which includes the original project. Pick one to switch to it. Super simple, super quick, super powerful.

9- Mastering With The Output Track
Once your composition is done, or pretty close to it, you'll want to start doing some mastering. We use the Output track for that. If you're working with a stereo project, it will be labeled Stereo Out. If you hit X to pull up the Mixer pane, you'll see it as the second to last track on the right. What differentiates this from the Master output track is that you can't insert plug-ins on the Master. You can on the Stereo Out. But even more important, you can apply automations to it. To utilize that feature, bring up the Mixer pane, right-click on the Output track, and choose Create Track (Control-T). Then you have the Output channel as an actual track in the Arrangement pane. You can automate pretty much any parameter in it as you would any other track.

10- End Of Song Marker
When doing a Bounce out of your project to an audio file on your hard drive, you are able to specify the start and end. The first thing you should do when the Bounce window opens is look at the start and end timecode! To get the whole song, first make sure nothing is selected in the Arrangement window (click a black space in it), and there is no active
playback cycle area. Then drag the End Of Song marker left or right to mark the physical end of the song. On a new song it is set to measure 130 by default. That's just over a 7 minute song.

Or you can type it in. Click the gear icon (action menu) in the LCD display (top center of window). From that menu choose the Custom option. There you can double-click the End Of Project display and type in the measure you want to set the End Of Song to.

Once set, your playback will stop at that point and not continue playing for what seems like forever. Also, when you make sure nothing is selected in the Arrange window to do a Bounce, the start and end of your song is automatically set correctly.