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August Issue
more... SoftwareGearHow-TosRecording TipsNew GearRecordingSeptember 2013Apple

Inside Logic Pro X

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There’s also big news on the bass front: Logic Pro X introduces Bass Amp Designer, the DAW’s first dedicated bass-amp modeler. The interface looks like the guitar-oriented Amp Designer, but with the addition of several bass-centric features. There’s a built -in compressor with selectable soft/hard response. You get dual tone controls—broad-stroke EQ knobs and a precision equalizer switchable between parametric and graphic modes. (You can position the latter stage before or after the compressor.) And there are also high- and low-boost switches and two input levels optimized for passive and active basses. A dedicated fader blends amp and DI tones.

The Bass Amp Designer only has four modeled devices—an Ampeg-style fliptop, an SVT-like stack, a modern stack from the Mesa/Boogie school, and a tube preamp—but between the abovementioned controls, three movable virtual mics (a condenser and two dynamics), and eight speaker and DI modes, Bass Amp Designer offers a lot of tonal flexibility.

There aren’t yet any dedicated bass effects plug-ins, but you can combine Bass Amp Designer with Pedalboard, which has many virtual stompboxes that sound killer on bass.

Logic gets its first dedicated bass-amp modeler with Bass Amp Designer. Here’s the ’60s-style fliptop model.

New Ways to Create Cool Sounds
As great as Logic Pro X’s new components are, they’re probably not the program’s biggest news for guitarists. A new category of files — “patches” — may change how Logic-using guitarists sculpt tones. But explaining how patches do this requires a bit of backtracking to explain another Logic feature that’s been around since before this release.

While all DAWs allow you to save plug-in settings to a user library, not all programs let you save an entire channel’s worth of settings. (I’m lookin’ at you, Pro Tools!) In Logic, these channel-wide settings are called channel strips, and you can think of them as “mega presets.” For instance, an electric-guitar channel-strip file might include a set of presets for Pedalboard and Amp Designer, post-amp compression and EQ processing, and more. So far, this is old news.

Patches, which first appeared in MainStage (Logic’s sister program designed for live performance), takes the idea further. These are mega-mega-presets that let you store and save entire multichannel mixer settings as instantly recallable files.

Now Logic has patches, and it’s is a pretty big deal.

Here’s an example of how a patch can work: Imagine you’ve created a guitar tone consisting of two virtual amps in stereo, each preceded by its own virtual pedalboard. Let’s say you’ve added a third channel with a direct guitar signal, and you’ve fine-tuned each of these channels with varying EQ and compression settings. Perhaps you’ve added send effects too—differing amounts of delay and reverb per channel, for example. And what the heck, let’s tie it all together by bussing everything through a single compressor on an aux channel. That gives us two amp channels, a DI channel, two ambient aux effect channels, and a master compressor bus—six channels’ worth of settings, each with its own plug-ins and mixer-strip settings. Logic can now store such settings as a single patch.

Sound complicated? It can be. But that brings us to another new Logic X feature: smart controls. These are control-panel templates in which the knobs and switches can be programmed to control individual or multiple parameters within the patch. Using our imaginary patch above as an example, you might assign one knob to simultaneously lower the output of one amp channel while raising the other. Another might set the relative balance between the two amp channels and the DI sound. A third knob could simultaneously set the delay and reverb levels for all channels, acting as a global “wet” knob. Before you know it, you’re wrangling a complex set of parameters via a few intuitive controls.

Smart controls are at the heart of Logic’s revamped sound library. Logic Pro X comes with over 100 factory smart-control patches, which you can use as-is or modify them to taste. Don’t think of these as individual sounds so much as entire rigs ready for the tweaking. You can also create your smart control sets from scratch, or skip this functionality entirely and edit sounds the old-school way. The sky’s the limit here.

One technique I’ve found particularly helpful when overdubbing guitars is to use a smart control as a “picker.” For example, there’s a factory patch called “Custom Cabs,” which routes the guitar signal through a pair of plexi-style heads, panned left and right. Meanwhile, one smart-control knob switches between Logic’s dozens of available cab models, with the polarity reversed for each channel. Turning the single knob yields dramatically contrasting variations. I often find this a faster way to fit tones into a mix than endlessly fiddling with small EQ adjustments.

Logic Pro X’s new “smart controls” let you pilot complex patches via a simple row of knobs.

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