This is the FAQ/How To for Logic Pro, which is installed on every computer in the department. Feel free to add any material you may think is useful, and always take screenshots!
Logic Pro is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) made by the Apple computer company. Like most any DAW, it can be used for recording, mixing, editing, and many other things.
Opening and using Logic Pro for the First Time
Find Logic Pro the same way you’d find any other application. Open a new Finder window and go to the Applications. Click the icon highlighted in the picture. If you’d like to, drag this icon to your dock bar so that it will always be there for easy access.
When Logic opens, a dialogue box will come up asking you what sort of project you’d like to open. Most likely – unless you’re opening an already-prepped Logic session – you should open an “Empty Project.” This will open up an empty Logic session into which you can record, drag and drop audio files, etc. If you’re opening a pre-existing Logic session, just find that file and open it with a double-tap of the mouse.
Creating New Tracks
If you’ve opened an empty project in Logic, the next dialogue box that comes up will be for creating your new tracks. The default number of tracks created is one, but you can make as many as you think you’ll need or want. The Type of track you make is determined by your needs.
- An Audio track is a track used for recording audio or bringing in pre-existing audio for modification or mixing.
- A Software Instrument track allows you to use Logic’s built-in software instruments or synthesizers. Using an external controller (such as the KeyStudio keyboards in the CAML) makes creating sounds with Logic’s built-in instruments and synthesizers a joy.
The other options – Format, Input, and Output – are also useful. If you want your track to be a stereo track (left and right channels), then change the Format to stereo. Format, Input, and Output can all be changed later on after you’ve created the tracks. If you've already started your session but want to add more tracks, going to the Tracks pulldown menu near the top of your screen (pictured below) will bring up the same dialogue box.
Dragging and Dropping Audio into Logic
So you’ve created an Audio track and you have some pre-recorded sounds you’d like to bring into Logic. All you need to do is drag and drop your audio file from the Finder window onto that track. Logic will take a moment to analyze the audio file to create the viewable waveform. If you drag in multiple audio files, Logic will ask you if you’d like it to create new tracks for each file or use the tracks you’ve already created. If you drag in one audio file but don’t drag it to a pre-existing track, Logic will automatically make a new track for that file.
Where’s the waveform? Perhaps your audio file was rather quiet so now you have a track with a big blue strip in it but no visible waveform. In the lower-right corner of the scroll bars, you’ll see a small waveform icon. Click and hold on this button and a slider will pop up, allowing you to make the audio waveform of your track more visible. The sliders next to the waveform size adjuster allow you to change the size of the track strip itself. Say you have a 20-track recording, but you can only see a few tracks on the screen and you can’t see the whole thing from beginning to end. Use these sliders to adjust the size.
In the lower-left corner of your screen, you’ll see Mixer, Sample Editor, Piano Roll, Score, and Hyper Editor. Click the Mixer button. This is where all of your channel strips will show up. Each track you create gets its own channel strip so that each audio file can be modified individually as you see fit. Going to the Window pulldown at the top of the screen allows you to put the mixer into a separate window from your Arrange window (the window where your waveforms are). This can be useful for working with large multi-track recordings or if you’re working on a smaller screen. The keyboard shortcuts Command-1 (Arrange) and Command-2 (Mixer) allow you to quickly toggle between the two.
So what’s on the channel strip? The channel strip is where you get to do all the fun things to your recorded audio. Besides housing the basic fader and level meter, the strip includes your EQ, Inserts, Sends, Automation, and everything else that you’ll do to make your sounds awesome.
Inserts (often referred to as plug-ins) are the places where you can modify your audio beyond basic equalizing and volume by inserting effects. Click and hold an empty, grey Insert box and a menu comes up with all the different sorts of inserts that are installed on your machine. What’s the best way to learn what they are and what they do? Play with them!
A Send (or Auxiliary Send) is a great way to reduce CPU usage and ensure that multiple tracks get the same insert or plug-in applied to them. Say you have a multi-track recording and you want two of the guitars to have the same reverb effect. By using a Send, you can use just one reverb plug-in instead of two, which reduces CPU usage (a very good thing when working with lots of tracks!) and ensures that the two tracks get the same treatment. The Send sends the signal from that channel to an auxiliary channel strip where plug-ins can be applied. So, you could send both of your guitar tracks to one auxiliary track that has the effects you want them both to have. (How to create and use a Send will be covered later.)
- Automation allows you to tell Logic to do things to a track automatically for you. For example, you want to create a basic fade-in or fade-out of the audio track. To view and edit your automation, simply hit “a” on your keyboard. Your waveform will become greyed out and a black line will appear over it. Logic defaults automatically to the Volume automation. By clicking at any point along this black line, you create a point which you can then drag up or down to adjust that track’s volume. Right-click automation points to delete them.
- Do not use Write automation. Logic Pro itself even warns you not to use it if you select it. Latch and Touch are far less destructive.
- Say you don’t want to use lines and points to do your automation because you want to be awesome and do it live. Well, that’s totally doable. In your mixer window, you’ll see a grey button that says Off. If you haven’t created any automation yet, the default will be Off. If you want to do your automation on the fly, click this button and select Latch. This tells Logic to latch on to whatever it is you do as the audio plays. If you want to do a manual level fade, turn on latch and begin playing the audio where you want the fade to begin (or a few seconds before it so you have some time to prepare). Click and hold onto your channel fader and drag it up or down. Logic will read what you’re doing and write the automation for you. Once you’ve latched any automation, be sure to switch the automation mode back to Read or else it could overwrite what you just latched! You can automate virtually every parameter of every plug-in by navigating the automation pulldown, pictured below.
- If you mess up or the latched automation doesn't turn out quite like you thought it would, simply go back into Latch mode and re-do your automation. It will over-write what you did previously, which is why you should always go back into Read mode when you've latched automation.
The EQ (EQualizer), is where you can change the volume of certain frequency bands. Double-clicking the grey area on your channel strip that says “EQ” brings up Logic’s standard channel EQ. You can control the EQ in different ways. Running your mouse pointer over the middle line will highlight different colored dots that represent different frequency bands. Click and hold these dots to drag them up, down, or sideways to boost or cut the frequencies you want. The numbers below directly correlate with the dots in the equalizer. In the lower-left corner of the EQ, you see Frequency, Gain/Slope, and Q. Frequency is, as I'm sure you guessed, the frequency that the dot is at. Gain/Slope is the amount of boost or reduction you're applying. The Q represents bandwidth, which allows you to make the EQ cut or boost at very narrow or very wide frequency bands (or somewhere in between). A higher Q is a narrower band, a lower Q is a wider band. The dot that appears represents the center of the band.
The Compressor is a tool that you can use to boost quiet signals or reduce louder sounds to "compress" your audio signal (make it narrower). If you click on one of the empty plugin slots on your Logic channel strip, the variety of selections of plugins will show up and if you select "Dynamics" and then "Compressor" (in "Mono" or "Stereo" depending on if your track is mono or stereo) then the compressor plugin will load up in your Logic file.
On the compressor plugin, there are many buttons and knobs that control a variety of things relating to your audio signal. Here is a little information on what each of these tools controls:
Circuit Type: A selection menu allowing you to choose which type of compressor you would like to use:
- Platinum: The Logic digital Platinum compressor, it is highly versatile and can be used in almost all situations.
- ClassA_R: A VCA compressor that gives a lot of character when compressing, it is good for use on the master bus (for mastering your track).
- ClassA_U: A tube compressor that gives a warmer tone and vintage sound, this can be useful on vocals, strings, and pads.
- FET: A field effect transistor that has the capabilities for very fast attack and release times. The draw back to this compressor, though, is that it can't handle a large amount of audio signal.
- VCA: A voltage control amplifier that responds quickly to the input signal, can create bigger vocals, and works well with electric guitar and sharper percussion. Unfortunately, it does take out a bit from the higher-middle frequencies in your audio signal.
- OPTO: Optical Insulator: Works well with vocals and on a master bus, giving your signal a natural, larger tone.
"Information for these specific circuit types provided by http://www.kosmonavtstudio.com."
Compressor Threshold: The level the audio signal must go above in order for compression to be applied to the signal.
Gain: Obviously this controls the gain in the compressor, allowing you to boost or lower the audio signal by increasing or decreasing this level.
Limiter Threshold: The level at which the audio signal cannot cross, anything above this threshold will be cut off so that the signal doesn't break the limit.
Attack: Determines the time it takes for your compressor to start working after your signal crossed the compressor threshold.
Release: Determines how long it takes for the compressor to stop after your signal falls below the compressor threshold again.
Auto: This switch allows the compressor to estimate the general attack and release for your audio signal.
Ratio: Your level of compression, so if the ratio is 5:1 then your signal will need to be 5db over the compressor threshold before the output is increased by 1db.
Knee: How your compressor acts towards a signal crossing the compressor threshold, if you have a big knee then the compressor will clamp down as soon as it your signal crosses the threshold. However, a smaller knee, or soft knee, will gradually compress as the signal crosses farther past the compressor threshold.
Peak/RMS: This determines whether your compressor is looking at the RMS signal (the average) for when your signal crosses the threshold or not, or if your compressor is looking at the peak signal as for when your signal is crossing the threshold.
Auto-Gain: Sets and monitors your gain without you needing to adjust your gain knob. Not suggested as you should become familiar with the compressor so you can set the needed gain at any given moment.
Limiter: Simply enables or disables the limiter within the compressor.
Side Chain Detection: Allows you to monitor another channel and based on what that channel is doing, it will enable your compressor or not.