Logic Pro X 10.3 – Direct Side Chaining in Action

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There are some nice new signal flow enhancements in the Logic Pro X 10.3 update. Here I’ll walk you through a little exercise using two of the new features, to help stimulate some ideas on how they can be used.

Direct Side Chaining in Action

• Start a new Logic Pro X project and set the tempo to 108 BPM. Call up a Drummer Track to start with.

• On the new Drummer Track, select Maurice from the Hip Hop genre, and use his groove called Freestyle. Populate the Tracks Area with at least one eight-bar region of him playing this groove.

01 Maurice

• Next, open your Apple Loops Browser. Click the Percussion filter so that you are viewing only the loops with the Percussion Tag. Type in “latin roja” (no quotation marks) in the search field. You should see five results in the search result section (bottom) of the Loop Browser. Drag the loop called Latin Roja Percussion 03 into the Tracks Area. A new Software Instrument Track will be created with the Drum Kits instrument loaded and the Latin Kit called up within it. Loop the region on the track so it fills at least eight bars.

• Next, create a new Software Instrument track and load in the ES 2 synthesizer. Call up the first preset in the Synth Pads category, called “Astral Pad”. Program a simple three note chord so that it plays for the full eight bars. It can be either a single eight-bar region, or re-triggered with two four bar regions, or four two-bar regions.

Set the levels of the three tracks to approximately – 6dB, so that the master bus doesn’t overload. Your tracks Area should look and sound something like this.

02 Tracks Area Overview

So far it’s pretty bland. Let’s start with some processing.

Noise Gate – Direct Side Chaining

• Insert a noise gate plug-in on the ES 2 Instrument track. In the side chain input menu, select the Software Instrument track hosting the Latin Kit. This ability to have a Software Instrument available directly as a side chain input source is new in Logic Pro X 10.3. It simplifies the signal flow by avoiding the necessity of routing the desired side chain input instrument through a bus. Set the Noise Gate’s Threshold to approximately -19 dB, and the reduction to about -30 dB.

03 Noise gate setup

The sustained pad sound will now be chopped up based on the rhythm and accents in the Latin Roja 03 groove. By putting the reduction knob up at around 2:00, the sustained chord will not be completely muted when the gate is open, but simply reduced in level. Experiment with the Reduction knob value to hear how it affects the level of the audio that still gets through the gate.

Your eight bars should sound something like this:


• Next, call up a Modulator plug-in from one of the MIDI FX slots on the ES 2 instrument track. Open up the ES 2 window, so the two windows are open side by side, or at least both visible. In the Modulator plug-in, click in the “To” field at the lower left of the window. At the top of the list of available sources is a new entry in Logic Pro X 10.3 called – Learn Plug-in Parameter -. Select this. Now, the next parameter you touch of any plug-in on that channel strip will be modulated by the LFO settings in the Modulator plug-in.

ES 2

Move your mouse over to the ES 2 interface, being careful not to click anything erroneously on the way. When you are over the ES 2 interface, click on the Cut dial associated with Filter 2 in the big circle at the center of the ES 2 GUI. Once you release the mouse, you will see it oscillating at the rate and range determined by the Modulator’s LFO settings. This new Logic Pro X 10.3 ability to modulate plug-in parameters based on LFOs (and/or envelopes) is a nice addition to the automation palette.

04 ES 2 cutoff dial


• Back to the Modulator plugin. Choose the sign wave shape. Set the Steps per LFO Cycle to 8, and the Rate knob to 1.5 bars. Leave the Output slider at 50% and push the Offset up slightly to about 28%. These are values I chose, but take some time to experiment with different settings and hear how the results affect the ES2 cutoff response.

05 Modulator Settings

Adjust the blend of the three instruments to taste, and your project should now sound something like this:


This is just one idea of how the new direct side chaining can be used, and how the MIDI plug-ins can be used to modulate plug-in or instrument parameters. It is also possible to set up multiple MIDI plug-ins on the same channel strip, each set to modulate (at either the same or contrasting values) different parameters in the instruments or effects plug-ins hosted below it.

Groove3 – Logic Pro X 10.3 Explained

For more ideas on how to use these features, and more info on the Logic Pro X 10.3 update in general, check out over 86 minutes of video content here:

Logic Pro X 10.3 Update Explained.

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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