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Logic Pro X Smart Controls Tutorial – Vocal Delays

logic-pro-x-smart-controls-tutorial-2

Got time for a little Logic Pro X Smart Controls Tutorial? In it, I’ll build a custom vocal delay effect, and use Smart Controls to roll my own Waves One Knob Series, and control multiple plugins with just one knob. If that sounds like fun to you, read on…

Logic Pro X Smart Controls Tutorial – Vocal Delays

This is what my initial setup for pop vocal delays often looks like:

danski-go-to-vocal-delay

Some notes (please ignore my habitual choice of Waves plug-ins) :

  • The vocal track sends to aux bus 1. Keeping bouncing stems in mind, I use buses for the effects.
  • I’ve got a quarter note Ping Pong H-Delay, set to 100% Wet.
  • To keep the delays behind the lead vocal, I’m scraping off some low and high-end by using the H-Delay High- and Low-Pass filters.
  • As the delay ping-pongs all over the place, I’m narrowing its width down with the Direction Mixer set to a Spread of 0.30.
  • With Waves RVerb, I’ve got a short 0.60 second Plate reverb, to achieve the effect that the delays are behind the vocal.
  • The Compressor plug-in keeps levels in check, but just slightly.

Now, to find the sweet spot of the delay effect – find the right position in the mix – there’s multiple plug-in parameters to consider:

  • The H-Delay’s filters.
  • The Direction Mixer’s Spread parameter, to control the width of the Ping Pong effect.
  • The Dry/Wet balance of the RVerb reverb.
  • With Smart Controls, managing all this has become a lot easier.

    Setting Up Smart Controls In Logic Pro X

    By control-clicking on the effects bus and selecting “Create Track”, I’ve added the bus to Logic Pro X’s Workspace, so I can automate a Smart Control knob at a later stage:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-tutorial

    With the newly created selected in the Workspace, I can bring up Smart Controls by pressing B:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-tut

    Thanks to Automatic Smart Controls, some useful parameters are automatically mapped. Just not all of the parameters I need. Let’s edit!

    Editing Smart Controls In Logic Pro X

    Control-clicking a Smart Control’s knob is a quick way to map it to a parameter:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-tutorial-2

    By choosing “Open Plug-in Window”, I get to select the parameter in RVerb (the Wet/Dry balance of the reverb plug-in in this case) and be done. This should work, but in my case it didn’t. I’m not sure yet if this “bug” is related to third-party plug-ins only. Luckily, we can make Parameter Mappings in the Inspector too.

    Smart Controls – The Inspector

    By clicking on the icon in the top-left corner of the Smart Controls window I activated the Inspector. Here, plug-in parameters can be mapped with surgical precision.

    See here:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-inspector

    To assign the Smart Control knob to Waves RVerb’s Wet/Dry parameter, I clicked on “Learn” (annotated in green), then on the little fader icon below it (annotated in red). Then I clicked on RVerb’s Wet/Dry slider. Presto. For my typical setup, I did the same for the H-delay filters, and the Direction Mixer. Now I have one central hub to tweak three plug-in parameters from three different plugins. Sweet. This already is a huge workflow improvement – compared to the way things were in Logic Pro 9.

    But as always, there’s more fun to be had.

    Smart Controls – One Knob, Multiple Parameters, and Range

    By following the procedure I mentioned in the previous section, you can map multiple plug-in parameters to just one knob. Introducing Danski’s One Knob Series:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-danski

    Back to the Inspector:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-range

    In the Inspector, I gave the unassigned knob a cool name. Notice the multiple Parameter Mappings. Also note that for each parameter, a range can be defined (annotated in red). Personally, I think this is Smart Controls’ coolest feature. With these Range Min and Max settings, while my knob is at 0%, the H-delay’s Low-Pass filter will be at 8Khz. When I push my knob to 100%, the Low-Pass filter will be at 4Khz – sonically pushing back the delays.

    The same goes for the H-delay’s High-Pass filter: Range Min 200Hz, Max 500Hz. Direction Mixer Spread: Range Min 0.30, Max 0.60. Finally the RVerb’s Dry/Wet balance: Range Min 35, Max 100. These numbers are irrelevant, they’re just there for illustration. But as I push my custom Smart Control knob from zero to 10, the vocal delay gradually will be pushed back, get wider and wetter. And as a bonus, I easily get to play with all this throughout my arrangement.

    Automation, Audio Example

    For the audio example, I’ve automated the custom Smart Control knob, as you can see here in the Workspace:

    logic-pro-x-smart-controls-automation

    The final result (and thanks for holding on…):

    As you can see and hear, Smart Controls make controlling (multiple) plug-in parameters a lot easier than it used to be. There’s a lot more to explore though! In this tutorial I’ve just used four plug-in parameters, and I’ve not even played with the Smart Controls Scaling function – allowing for all kinds of non-linear goodness. I’ll leave that for another article, on another good day.

    Have fun.

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