Starting out from square one with software as complex as this – I’m both amazed at some of the things it will allow me to do and also perplexed at how difficult little things can be. So, I spend plenty of time searching on Google for answers. Here are some things I’ve learned this week:
- to reverse phase on a track you have to insert the gain plugin on that channel and then open it up to reveal a “phase invert” check box … I nearly pulled my hair out for 2 days searching for this on the mixer screen and inspector strip (click an empty insert box on the channel strip > Utility > Gain > Mono … now you’ll see the Gain plugin and a “Phase Invert” check box)
- external firewire devices don’t work well with Mac OS 10.5.5 – you are not nuts! I hooked up a Mackie Onyx 1200F. I use this to plug all my mics into for recording drums and guitar live. It’s got 12 channels and preamps and it’s all digital. The future! But nyooooooo … there’s some kind of Apple firewire driver bug whereby external audio firewire devices no workie. In my case the playback of audio was so stuttered that it was unlistenable. The fix: you have to find an older firewire driver and install it. Not a perfect fix, either, but the Onyx thing is working pretty well at this point
- rendering preview – basically when you record audio into Logic it draws a picture of what that audio looks like as you record. Well, when I stopped recording the strip of chunky audio would turn into a smooth strip, meaning I couldn’t see where I hit the drum or played the guitar note. Apparently some obscure preference was turned off. Two solutions: either manually get the preview to render (select Options > Audio > Refresh Overview) or do this once and it should work (select Logic Express > Preferences > Initialize All Except Key Commands …). I have no idea what that last thing means, but it seems to turn that preview rendering on.
- overdub latency – when you overdub tracks with a firewire device, there is a lot of latency. In my case I’d lay down some live drums and guitar, then would go back and overdub another guitar or keyboard. It would sound like I was playing in time – but when I replayed what I’d just overdubbed it was way out of time by something like a quarter or half second. So, I’ve learned it takes a long time for the overdubbed audio to make it through the firewire device (probably processing time and getting converted from analog to digital, and through the firewire cable into the computer with Logic) and that latency sounds not-so-pretty. I’m going to work on adjusting this thing called “Recording Delay” (select Logic Express > Preferences > Audio … then you’ll see a Recording Delay slider). This turns out to be a pretty complicated calculation that you want to get right to avoid potential phase issues, which I’m beginning to understand is a sneaky culprit in the whole recording process.
- click track – if you’re into playing to a click, I found out that’s easy enough to enable. You just turn the metronome on, set your speed and select the preferences for playing the metronome back during recording, playback, both or not at all (select File > Project Settings > Metronome … you’ll see all the checkbox preference therein)
There are plenty of shortcuts to all these things, but I find it useful to have the full description of how to get to these things as that is often lost when people are describing these features online. Okay, another week of finishing off the studio and learning this software and I’ll probably know a ton more.
I suckered Bob Power into giving me Logic pointers this weekend. It was great to get insight and techniques from someone who has used Logic since before it was Logic (I believe it was called Notator) and someone who uses it for a living. I had 4 or 5 “aha” moments … thanks Bob.
Actually, I ordered it from Apple. That puts me in at $499 total for the software. I just couldn’t resist.
Thank you Martin Sitter for making these Logic 8 tutorial videos. I bought them for $35 as a download (there’s a promo code out there on the internet that gets you 20% off). The pacing of these videos is great. It assumes you don’t know much, but moves along so quickly that I’m picking little things in each lesson. Also, the lessons are bite size (1 to 3 minutes each) so it never feels weighty or like homework.
So far I’m blown away by a few things:
- caps lock turns my computer keyboard into a real keyboard, allowing me to trigger midi instruments for quickly putting some notes down on tape
- swipe editing multiple takes couldn’t be easier – and who the heck thought this whole feature up because it’s awesome
- customizable key commands so I can set it up how I like it best
With all that praise, it’s still a strangely non-intuitive software. Some things just jump out and make sense but there are many basic functions (example: how do I return the playhead to the beginning of the track? In Garageband ‘z’ jumps me back to the beginning of the track) that are bafflingly complex. But this is one of those software packages that is highly complex because recording is highly complex so I’m happy enough to have the videos and to plug away through them and learn something every day.
A few things I want to learn:
- how to record about 12 tracks all at once – I know how to set the tracks up, what type of hardware is needed? Also, what types of preamps are necessary—all that stuff confuses me now.
- how to import and export sessions from Protools. I want to be able to grab a Protools session from a friend a mess with it in Logic, then be able to hand it back to someone in Protools so they can finish a mix or what have you.
- I don’t fully get clipping and sound levels. According to Martin I’m supposed to aim for 6db without any clipping – I need more practical knowledge on this stuff.
In general, I think the learning curve is steep for the first few days but then it starts to come together. The preferences are a bit overwhelming, too. There are so many things to consider with sample rate, bit rate, buffer sizes … it’s a lot to understand. And I still think that Logic could take a few simplicity lessons from Garageband.
Based on this Macforums post, I’m thinking for spending $50 on a complete set of video tutorials. I tried out some Logic Express 8 free online video tutorials yesterday and found them useful, so I’m thinking I just may make the leap. Thoughts?
I watched the introduction and it seemed pretty legit. I’ll check these tutorials out in the coming days.
For years I’ve been telling myself I’m going to learn some form of music editing software. At first it was going to be Cakewalk, then Cubase, then Protools LE … but it always became too much work with little immediate return. I went so far as to get an Mbox and downloaded Protools LE, but it was just too much for me to get going.
The one bright spot in all of this deferred learning has been Apple’s Garageband. When that program was released as part of OSX I was blown away. When people ask me what it is I tell them it’s Playskool Protools – that is, a dumbed down intuitive version of what I imagine Protools to be. A couple years ago I learned that Apple bought the company that makes Logic and that’s part of the Garageband happening. This makes me think that Logic Express 8 (only $199) will integrate and grow with Apple’s OS. Plus, it’s only $199. I bought it and it’s on my laptop. Now I just have to learn it. Time to dig in.