The Logic Pros is a new regular series exploring all of the most interesting gadgets and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a closer hands-on look at, let us know in the comments section below or shoot us an email.
In this week’s edition of The Logic Pros, we will be looking at how to map all those fun looking sliders, switches, buttons and encoders on our controllers to various functions inside of Logic Pro X. In many case, we get home with our MIDI controller, plug it in, and it just works. The keys/pads function just as they should, but the plethora of other dials and faders available generally won’t do much, unless you tell them to.
We will be covering the basics of how to get our MIDI keyboard/controller mapped to just about any parameter in our session, along with a few creative ways to bring some of Logic Pro X’s more powerful features into the real world:
Control Your Controller:
There a number of customized controller options (some of which we will be taking a closer look at in future Logic Pros articles) that are specifically tailored to software counterparts like the Native Instruments Complete Kontrollers, or the popular Abelton Live grid controller options. While these might work great for some, with a few simple moves, we can have just about any MIDI controller communicating with Logic Pro X in a completely customized way.
Nobody wants to spend time mapping controls when it comes to LPX, but we’ll just need to fire off some quick messages using Logic’s “Learn” function to make this happen, and then it’s back to the music. After making the assignments, LPX will remember your set-up and have it just as you left it every time you open another session up.
Along with traditional functions like volume, mutes and solos, I also like to have permanent hardware controls for some of my favorite effects, Logic’s Channel EQ for basic filtering, third party virtual instrument macro controls, and LPX Smart Control (more on this below). As far as transport controls (play, stop, skip, etc.) go, on some devices there are dedicated buttons for any DAW that will need to be configured on the hardware itself, and in other cases we can use Key Commands. It is also a good idea to check with the manufacturer to see if they have a Logic Pro X map that can be downloaded. Combining/adding-to a pre-made map using the steps below can be a great way to get started:
Note: while every mapping assignment we make below can be altered at a later date with ease, it’s always a good idea to take some time think about what functions you use most and which hardware controllers you would prefer them on. I always like to leave a few open so that I can make assignments on-the-fly based on a particular creative situation.
1. First let’s open up Logic’s Controller Assignments window (shift + alt + K, or Logic Pro X > Control Surfaces >…..).
2. From here, we have two options: Easy View and Expert View. First, let’s pop over to Expert View by hitting the tab along the top of the window.
Note: If you can’t see the Expert View option, it is likely because you don’t have Advanced Tools showing in your LPX Preferences. Command + comma, then select the Advanced tab along the top, and enable
3. Optional. Simply click the small plus sign on the bottom most left corner of the window to create a new “Zone” or group of assignments. I like to name the zone whatever the controller is I am signing controls to, in this Akai MPK61. While this step is optional, we won’t be spending much time here and it is always a good idea to keep things organized.
4. Now let’s head back to ≈by clicking the tab along the top of the window to start making assignments. After enabling “Learn” mode in the bottom right corner, simply click and move any control you desire. At that point you will notice Logic recognize that control in the “Parameter:…” field. Now interact with the hardware fader, button or rotary encoder on your device you would like it to control, and you’re done. Disable “Learn” mode by deselecting the button in the bottom right corner. Repeat as desired.
If you need to delete an assignment for any reason, simply open the Controller Assignments window and head to Expert View. From here, select the folder or “Zone” you created earlier, and delete the desired assignment in the right most panel where it is listed.
Make Your Controller Even Smarter
Logic Pro X’s Smart Control offer an untold number of creative possibilities, one of which we detailed in last week’s Logic Pros article, especially due to level of user customization it offers. Not only can they simply set-ups and offer handy macro controls for Logic Remote users, but they can also be mapped to your hardware controller just as easily as anything else in Logic.
This effectively allows us to map multiple (any number) of track parameters in Logic to a single hardware control! While this may be more of an advanced set-up, tinkering with multiple parameters on a single control can render some pretty interesting and unexpected creative results. There are two options for mapping smart controls to hardware, either follow the same steps as above or the slightly quicker built-in Smart Control mapper:
1. Hit the “B” key or the Smart Control icon in your toolbar on Logic to view Smart Controls for the selected track.
2. Click the “i” icon in the top left corner of the pop-up Smart Control window, where you’ll find the “External Assignment” mapper.
3. Just like above, use the “Learn” button and then interact with the software control, followed by the desired hardware control.
While a particular track’s Smart Controls will only offer parameters pertaining to that track, placing a number of tracks in a Summing Stack will open up your options considerably.
Note: Personally I prefer the to go directly into the Controller Assignments window. But only because it can be easier to keep things organized (especially with multiple controllers in your set-up), creating quick assignments with the Smart Control mapper can be very handy and I will use it to assign the few hardware controls left open on my controller I described above.
If there any questions or issues with your set-up, be sure to let us know in the comments below and we’ll see if we can help get to the bottom of it. Also, let us know what your favorite controllers are and how you like to have them mapped up Logic etc.