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10 Things to Know About Calling up Software Instruments in Logic Pro X

Things to Know About Calling up Software Instruments in Logic Pro X

A reader recently brought up the subject of calling up software instruments in Logic Pro X. There are not only several ways to call them up, but several settings and functions to be aware of that affect their creation and operation. So, here is a laundry list of the top ten things you need to know about working with software instruments in Logic Pro X.

1. When using the New Tracks window, enabling the “Open Library” checkbox will instantiate a default channel strip that includes the Vintage Electric Piano along with a couple of bus sends going to a couple of newly generated Aux channel strips that host reverb plug-ins, Channel EQs, and muted Chorus plug-ins.

01 New Tracks Window

2. This behaviour can be modified. Set up a Software Instrument channel strip the way you want (with customized instrument, effects plug-ins, and send assignments of your choice). Open the Library, click the gear icon at the bottom left, and choose Define as default. Now whenever you call up a new Software Instrument when that Open Library checkbox is active in the New tracks window, this customized Software Instrument setting will be instantiated instead of the factory default Vintage Electric Piano.

02 A Define As Default

3. When using the New Tracks window without the Open Library checkbox enabled, an empty software instrument channel strip will be instantiated. You can then call up an instrument two ways. You can click in the channel strip’s Instrument field and choose from the list of available instruments. Or you can navigate to patches in the Library that will call up instruments (as well as effects plug-ins and send assignments).

4. You can navigate to instrument presets either directly from the preset menu in the open instrument plug-in window, or from the Library when the instrument slot has the focus (the blue triangle is pointing there)

02 B Presets

5. When creating a new Software Instrument channel strip by key command, or by double clicking at the bottom of the track list, the state of the checkbox in the New tracks window is acted upon. In other words, if it was left enabled when last used, the default instrument channel strip will be called up. If it was inactive, an empty channel strip will be created.

6. When deleting a channel strip that has sends on it, the state of the Automatic management of channel strip objects check box in the audio tab of the project settings is respected. If this checkbox is enabled, then deleting channel strips with bus sends will delete the associated Aux channel strips at the same time, provided they are not being routed to by other channel strips. This is great if you want to plough through and audition a bunch of Library channel strip settings. You will avoid populating your project with unused Aux channel strips and effects plug-ins. If this check box is deactivated, the automatically generated Aux channel strips and their plug-ins will remain in your project.

03 Automatic Management

7. When using the New Track With Same Channel function found under the Other sub menu in the Tracks menu, a new track will be created, but it will be assigned to the same channel strip as the one selected when you invoke the command. A lot of users are confused by this. It means that it will be connected to and trigger the same software instrument as the one you had selected. This is very useful for example if you want to have multiple tracks all pointing to the same drum kit. You could create multiple tracks for each drum kit element for example, in order to control the region parameters for them separately. The audio will all be coming out of the same channel strip, but the MIDI regions can be treated separately via the region parameters.

04 New track with same channel strip

8. Using a track’s mute button will toggle the mute status of the channel strip it is assigned to. If you have multiple tracks all accessing the same channel strip, they will all be muted together. When using multiple tracks pointing to the same channel strip, you must use the Power button to mute them independently. This is not visible by default. Use the Configure Track Header window to enable it for use.

05 A Configure Track Header
05 B Power Button
05 C Track buttons

9. When using summing stacks, regions recorded or played back on the main track will trigger all software instruments contained within the track stack.

06 Track Stack

10. Tracks can be deleted by dragging them to the left of the Track List. They will not only be removed from your session, but you will be treated to a gratifying puff of smoke and accompanying “vanishing” sound effect.

Eli Krantzberg
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Eli Krantzberg

Apple Certified Pro Eli Krantzberg is an internationally known author and music software trainer for Groove3. His instructional videos have helped demystify music software such as Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Sonar, BFD, Melodyne, and Kontakt for thousands of users all over the world. Based in Montreal, Canada, Eli is involved in all aspects of audio production. In his studio he works with various artists, as well as on commercial jingles, corporate videos, and original music composition.
Eli Krantzberg
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