Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Configuring multitimbral software synths

Something that often comes up with new Logic users is how to best use multitimbral software synths in Logic. Often they can get one MIDI channel working, but then struggle to access parts on other channels.

Watch the tutorial movie illustrating this tip:

5.6 megs, Quicktime 7 required
Click to view movie, right click to download

Normally, we'd put our virtual instrument (in this case, we're using Spectrasonic's Stylus RMX) on an audio instrument channel, and assign that audio instrument to a track in the arrange window so we can play it. As long as the "MIDI Channel" parameter is set to "All", you can access the eight Stylus parts by changing the MIDI transmit channel on your keyboard between 1 and 8, but it's not a very good way of doing it. What we really want to be able to do is to have a dedicated track for each MIDI channel that our multitimbral instrument supports.

So, what we do instead is to use Logic's "multi-instrument" environment object. This was originally designed to work with hardware multitimbral synths, but it works just as well with software instruments.

Open the environment window - I'm on my layer called "Instruments" here, but you can use any layer that makes sense to you.

Select the New -> Multi Instrument option, and Logic will pop a new object on the screen. Select it, and call it "Stylus RMX Multi". While we are here, uncheck the tick box next to the icon - we actually don't want to see this master object in the environment, we only want to see it's "sub channels" - each of the 16 boxes inside the multi instrument corresponds to the 16 possible MIDI channels. Click on boxes 1 through 8 to enable them (Stylus RMX is 8-part multitimbral, so we will only be using the first 8 channels of this Multi Instrument.)

"Multi Instrument" objects in Logic let you use instruments on up to 16 MIDI channels at once.

Copy this Multi Instrument into your autoload song, so it's available whenever you start a new song.

Ok, Multi Instrument created - now what?

Ok, we want to sort out how we use our new Multi Instrument in the arrange page. Go back to your arrange window, select your "Audio Instrument 1" track, and create a new track. Click-hold on the track instrument, and select Stylus RMX sub channel 1. Use the "Create Track with Next Instrument" 7 times to create tracks for MIDI channels 2-8.

Ok, we now have 8 arrange tracks that correspond to our 8 MIDI channels, and thus our 8 parts in Stylus RMX.

Instantiate Stylus RMX onto Audio Instrument 1, select a groove, and select the channel 1 track. You'll notice that you don't hear Stylus when you play. That's because we are playing notes which are getting sent to the Multi Instrument, but they are not going anywhere from there - it's not connected to our Audio Instrument.

Go back to the environment, and select the multi instrument we created. Hold OPTION and click on it's output cable, and from the menu that appears select "Audio -> Audio Instruments -> Audio Instrument 1".

We've now connected our multi instrument object to Audio Instrument 1 (where Stylus RMX is), and we should now be able to hear the groove on part 1. Try out the other 7 parts.

Whenever you want to use your multimbral instrument in a new song:-
- Select the Multi Instrument you've created in the environment,
- Cable it to whichever Audio Instrument object your plugin will be on
- Click-hold on an arrange track and assign the first sub-channel of your Multi Instrument to it.
- Use the "Create Track with Next Instrument" command to quickly create tracks for the other subchannels

Further reading: Logic Pro 7 Reference Manual - page 214


At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't understand that nobody has written a comment for this one yet!
I have been struggeling with multichannel instruments, thanks for this great tutorial!

Keep up the good work,


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