Using Logic Pro X Smart Controls with Third-Party Plugins

In this tutorial, Groove3 trainer Doug Zangar takes a look at using Smart Controls with third-party plugins in Logic Pro X. Doug will be using Spectrasonic’s Omnisphere and Line Six Helix Native for the examples.

Smart Controls

Smart Controls have been around since the introduction of Logic Pro X. They are screen controls bundled in layouts that are mapped to parameters of plugins on a channel strip. They can be mapped to channel strip parameters such as volume and pan as well. It’s also possible to map a screen control to more than one parameter, thus creating custom macros. Additionally, the screen controls can be mapped to a fader, knob or button on an external controller. You can also automate Smart Control movement, either by recording in real time or creating off-line curves.

Smart Controls are Track Based

To view the Smart Controls window, you can use the default key B to toggle the window open and closed. Remember that Smart Controls are track based, so make sure you have the right track selected. If you don’t like the default layout, you can make a selection from the inspector’s Layout pop-up menu.

using smart controls in logic pro x

Using Stock Plugins

When using Logic Pro X’s stock plugins, Smart Controls auto-map very nicely. The mapped parameters are labeled for easy identification. Upon viewing, if Logic Pro’s mapping choices are not what you want, you can just re-assign.

Select the screen control you want to remap (note the blue halo showing it’s selected), select Learn in the Smart Controls inspector and then move the parameter fader, knob, etc. in the plugin that you want to map. Deselect Learn, and you’re done. There’s also an hierarchal menu for navigating to a particular parameter, but generally, the Learn method is faster.

Using Third-party Plugins

The problem with third-party plugins and Smart Controls is that the displayed information in Smart Controls can be, well, cryptic. And, the displayed information varies from plugin to plugin. It may require multiple steps to set up. The general idea is to work within the plugin to set up its automation, then map to Smart Controls.

Example 1 – Mapping Smart Controls for Spectrasonics Omnisphere

Let’s take a look at Spectrasonic’s Omnisphere for our first example.

Selecting a track with Omnisphere shows the default Smart Controls layout, screen controls, and mapping.

The parameters are 1LEVEL through 8LEVEL.

using smart controls in logic pro x

The screen controls are mapped to the multi mixer’s eight-part level faders. What is the mapping to Omnisphere, and how to change it?

using smart controls in logic pro x

Here are the steps to remap a screen control to a new parameter.

  • Select the screen control you want to remap.
  • Click on the parameter Learn button in the inspector (it will turn red).
  • Right or control-click on the Omnisphere parameter you want to be mapped, select Enable Host Automation from the menu.
  • Manipulate the Parameter, and it will be mapped to the screen control.
  • Turn off Learn, or select another screen control to map and repeat the process.
  • Rename parameter in the parameter name field.

Example 2 – Mapping Smart Controls for Helix Native

For our second example, let’s look at the new Line Six Helix Native plugin.

Here’s how it shows up in Smart Controls. You can see the default screen controls are labeled KNOB 1 through KNOB 8. Once again, not very intuitive. Those knobs are found in an assignment list within Helix Native.

using smart controls in logic pro x

The technique here is to go into Helix Native and select a block (amp, cab, plugin, etc.). Next, select the Edit tab in the Inspector and control or right-click on the parameter to automate. That brings up the automation list. Select the appropriate knob. Don’t pick a switch as those don’t map with Smart Controls. Rename the parameter in the Smart Controls Inspector, and you’re done.

using smart controls in logic pro x


While mapping Smart Controls using Logic Pro X’s native plugins is a breeze, 3rd party plugins have their own methods.

Typically you’ll need to do some assigning within the plugin itself to get things to work. Smart Controls are part of the track/channel strip, so you can save the plugins and associated mapping using Logic Pro’s Library Save function. You can also automate smart control movement.

Tip: As of Logic Pro X version 10.3.2, it’s possible to use the default key cmd Shift R to record any screen control movement you made while Logic Pro is playing, as long as you’ve used the mouse and not an external controller.

Logic Pro X 3rd Party Plugin Mapping with Smart Controls

For more in-depth information on using Smart Controls in Logic Pro X, you can view my new video tutorial series at Groove 3:

“Logic Pro X 3rd Party Plugin Mapping with Smart Controls”


“Smart Controls Explained”

Doug Zangar

Doug Zangar

A Logic Pro user since the late 80’s with its predecessor Notator, Doug has become an expert in Logic Pro and MainStage. He has been an Apple certified trainer since Logic 6, created and leads the Seattle Logic User Group, and has authored numerous video tutorial series on Logic Pro and MainStage as well as other DAWs and plug-ins.

Based in Seattle, he runs Apple certified trainings, teaches Logic Pro for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program Masters in Music degree and tutors individual users. His use of Logic Pro includes writing for film, commercials, web sites and working with singer/songwriters.
Doug Zangar

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