Gear Review… Logic 9 continued…

20 Jul

Hey folks,

Now for the second instalment of my review/walkthrough of Logic 9.  Today we’re going to look at recording, importing and editing audio tracks in the Arrange window.


Step 1 – Create an Audio track.

As of last post, you should know how to start up Logic and create an audio track.  In this case you should be ready to select an input, record enable and then record.  Maybe you want to record a new track though, or you’ve loaded up a software instrument first.  Here’s a few pointers.

Settings for Record on the Track

There are three main ways to add a new track.

You can duplicate an existing track by clicking the duplicate button.  This will not only create the same type of track (e.g audio or software instrument track) but will also carry over all the plugins and eq settings you’ve used for the first track.

You can create a new track by either clicking the Create New Track Button or by selecting New… in the Track tab.  This will allow you to create a new audio or software instrument track with initialized settings.

You can also arm the track to record by clicking the record enable button in the track header.  Then, when you click the record button, you will start recording to that track (and any other record enabled tracks) from their selected inputs.

Alternatively, you can select record enable from the Channel Strip which is also where you will be able to select and change the inputs (and/or outputs) for that track.  See below.

Channel Strip record options

If you’ve got a stereo soundcard, then you will only have the one stereo option for input/output.  You could, depending on your soundcard, switch the audio track to mono (if you’re recording from a mono source such as a microphone) and then have two channels of audio (which would normally be your left and your right channel).  If you have a multichannel soundcard (such as the Mackie Onyx 820i that I use) you will have as many inputs available as your card provides.  The input selection button also allows you to record from any buss within the Logic 9 mixer – so you could, for example, send a bunch of tracks to a buss for effects and then record the effected sounds on their own track for further messing with.  This is quite handy if your Mac lacks the grunt to run a bunch of plugins as, once you’ve recorded the output of the buss, you could delete the buss entirely and free up some RAM.  Other than that, I can’t really see a use for it.

The next step is to hit record.  To do that you’ve got to look to the Transport controls at the bottom of the page.  This has some cool features.

Transport Controls

I’ve put a red box around the Transport control buttons.  These operate just like the buttons on your DVD player and don’t need any explanation.

Beside them is the transport readout which has a few useful features.

Firstly, the Transport Position readout tells you in both Bars and Minutes/Seconds where the Playhead is located in the track.  You can double click this and type in your own values to immediately move the playhead to a specific part of the track – very useful when you want to go to the first tick of a bar or beat and you don’t want to be scrolling the playhead tediously.

The Loop From/To box tells you the position and length of any sections in the arrangement that you have set up to loop – this is done by clicking on a grey box in above the tracks (it turns green if looping is activated).

The Tempo and Length settings show you the speed in Beats Per Minute of a track and how many bars it runs for.   It’s best to set your tempo before you start recording as, if you slice the audio up and then set the tempo, your slices will all go out of time.

The MIDI In/Out window seems pretty innocuous but is actually very useful.  Firstly, it shows you when MIDI notes are being sent and received (which is good when you can’t figure out why you’re pressing keys on your midi controller but not producing sound).  However, it also has a clever little function of telling you what notes you are playing and also what chords you are playing.  If your music theory is a bit weak (like… ahem… mine) this can be invaluable.   Plus it makes you look smart when you turn to the bass player and say, “The progression is D minor, B flat, D minor 6th.” like you actually know what you’re doing.

Lastly, there’s a couple of meters that show you how much strain you’re putting on your CPU and Hard disk.  Good. Useful.

Anyway, you’ll just want to choose your input and hit record.

What you should see when you’re done is something like this (this is an old session so there are a few things that I’ve added which won’t magically appear when you’ve finished recording – I’ve pointed them out):

Recorded Tracks

This is an image from a song that I’m currently working on for my album (“Making Space” – shameless plug).  I’ve stripped out most of the other tracks and just left the vocals so you can see what’s going on more clearly.  I’ve added some effects to the vocals (not much at this stage – for vocals less is more).  Anyway, read the annotations.

Aside from recording audio directly you can also import audio.  Lets see how this is done with a break.


Okay, so in the screenshot above I’ve imported a break.  Here’s how I did it.

Step 1 – Go to the browser tab and find your way to the folder with the file you want.

Step 2  – Select the file you want then click and drag it to an empty track in the Arrange window.   You can position it wherever you want.  If you drag it earlier than the first bar, Logic will automatically set it to begin playing at the very beginning of the track.

Step 3 – Adjust the tempo to match the break (that is, if you’re using it as a loop which I tend not to do but it’s a useful thing to know)

A few more things to note.  When I looped this break, it had a nasty click at the end.  I selected the audio file (now called an Audio Region) and turned up the Fade In and Fade Out settings in the Inspector window.  You can see the fades on the file (they’re the white bits at each end).

All very quick and simple – this is the beauty of the browser.


Slicing Regions

This is the last thing I’ll post about today because I’m beginning to ramble on.

Slicing regions is a process where you divide an existing audio (or MIDI) region into two or more regions but cutting it in to pieces.  These pieces don’t actually exist as separate audio files on your hard disk – they act more like cue points that tell Logic when to start and stop playing a section of a file.  The beauty of sliced regions is that you can shift them around and rearrange them to make new drum or musical progressions.

The process of slicing is relatively easy.  Firstly, you can move the playhead to the point where you want to slice the region and then select Region -> Split -> Split Region by Playhead.  You will then have two slices.  See below:

Sliced and diced.

This process can be a little laborious though if you’re doing more than some simple editing.  If you’re a hip hop producer you’ll probably be slicing everything into hundreds of little pieces.  In that case I would suggest going to Logic Pro -> Preferences -> Key Commands and setting up a keyboard shortcut for Split Region by Playhead (I’ve set mine to “\”).  That way you will not only be able to slice by simply pressing a key but you can in fact slice a region as you are playing through and listening to it just by hitting a key (very, very useful and quick).

Anyway, that’s it for the working with audio regions section.  If I haven’t explained something well (highly likely) or you haven’t read something well (come on… let’s be honest, that’s likely too) then just hit me up with a comment.  I’m more than happy to go into more detail for you or to try and help you with any problems you’re having with Logic 9.



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