Logic X Upgrade: Day 2.5 – Porting a song to Logic X

Hey Folks, I’m back with another installment in my Logic 9 -> Logic X upgrade saga.  Hopefully this thread doesn’t turn into a rant but I’m definitely having some early adoption pains.  To help learn what’s good and what’s not in Logic X I’ve taken my almost complete song – “Irony” – and have ported it to Logic X.  This song was in the final mix stages and used a large number of Logic 9’s feature-set so I thought it would be a good experiment.  Its certainly helped point out a number of bugs, porting issues, and those little workflow changes you expect (but Apple doesn’t mention).  Alright, here we go…

Logic X Upgrade:  Day 2.5

Long story short: this release could have been better.  Its buggy and the more I use it the more bugs I find.  This is to be expected to a point but considering the vast majority of the system wasn’t re-written some of the new bugs surprise me. Irony loaded mostly fine in Logic X but not quite.  The devil’s in the details…

In today’s article:

  1. Porting Issues
  2. Bugs
  3. Backup, and Alternates Review
  4. Sound Cloud Uploader Review
  5. Thoughts

Porting issues

I’m not sure that this is an audio term but its definitely a software one.  Porting is the process of moving something to a new version of a platform or a library or whatever.  Your existing sessions will definitely go through a porting process.  The more complicated the session the more issues you’ll likely come across.  I didn’t catch them all; share em if you got em.

Issues 1 – Region Fades

I mentioned this in my last article but ranting makes me feel better.  In this song I took a lot of improvised vocals and cut them up into an arrangement that worked for the song.  As you know, if you cut audio fades can help avoid clicking and popping.  They are also a powerful editing tool to boot.  I use them all the time when I’m editing vocals (or any audio for that matter).  They even have a handy keyboard shortcut (Shift-Ctrl – this is present in L9 and LX btw).

Just about every region fade I had in the song was broken.  And by broken I don’t mean that they just didn’t do the fade – they glitched and they glitched hard.  As the region would start playing, at the fade, you’d hear audio from some other portion of the recording from which the region was clipped.  Oof, what a pain in the ass.

Solution:  If you re-apply the fades the newly applied fades will work fine.  For the whole song this took me about an hour (keyboard shortcuts are your bff here).  With that being said, some of your fades might be fine tuned and the idea of re-doing them all might make your head sweat a little, but never fear.  I noticed some behaviors that proved to be useful when re-establishing the fades.  Basically when I re-did the fades  the curve remained in-tact.  I used this process to re-apply all of them quickly:

  • Zoom in on region
  • Move existing fade over just a little bit
  • From the point where the existing fade used to be, draw new fade through to end of region
  • Fine tune if necessary

That’s it.  I was able to blow through all my audio regions in the song in around an hour.

With that being said, drawing fades is more or less the same.  It “feels” different but just pay attention to where your mouse is.  Remember:

  • To change the length of your fade position your mouth at the edge of the fade (Note the cursor).
  • To change the curve of the fade position your mouse anywhere within the fade (Also note the cursor).

Again, it feels different, but its subtle.  I just seem to think about these actions more in Logic X.  Not sure why, but its not worth looking into either.  If you want to dig in and let me know.. I’m happy to listen.

Issue 2: Flex Time

I don’t use flex time extensively but I had used it to slightly adjust the timing of some singing.  It took a while before I noticed but eventually all the markers in the file were turning into a jittery nightmare.  This wasn’t natural.  I even went back to Logic 9 and sanity checked.  Nope, not the same.  Logic X had a couple extra transient markers and well, sounded like shit.

Solution: Similar to my region fade issues I just re-did it.  My Flex time changes weren’t exhaustive so this didn’t take much time.

Issue 3: Track and Region Colors

I suppose I should have expected this but the reality is that Logic X’s color picker is much simpler than it was in 9.  As a result, if you are like me and heavily color your tracks/regions, those colors may not exist.  Logic does its best and using a relevant color but you’ll probably find that a lot of tracks that were different colors in Logic 9 are now sharing some colors.  Talk about annoying.

Solution: Fix all the colors for the tracks then select all and apply those colors to your regions.  Not bad, just irritating.

Issue 4:  Tremolo

This was a bit of an odd one.  I’m using the tremolo plugin for some fun effects on a shaker.  Given how tremolo works and my needs, even in L9 I had some weird issues where things would sound odd if the instrument stopped playing for a period of time.  I found that if I bypassed and then re-enabled the tremolo using automation it would remove this weirdness and things would sound fine.  This didn’t work in Logic X the same way it did in 9.  I have no friggen clue as to why.  I’m sure there are some other plugins that don’t quite behave the same way.

Solution: Fuck automation.  Bounce the audio that sounds good and loop (why lie.  hell, I should have just done this in the first place).

::Edit:: All things aside I ended up tossing this whole channel after writing this article.  Sometimes when things get shitty they help you realize what’s important.


Its new software, we expect it to have some issues right?  Right.  Although its got enough that I’m going to stick to 9 for a bit longer.  Not that these are things you can do anything about but perhaps they’ll apply to you and, if nothing else, help you feel more sane when (if) you run into them.

Bug 1: Confused Sends

This was a strange one that happened last night.  I was working on the track and all of a sudden a track started sounding whacky.  The track was sending to my delay bus.  The thing is: the send knob was all the way down.  Yep, bug.

Workaround:  Restart Logic X

Bug 2: Channel Selection Hiccup

This may only matter to people working with control surfaces, so if you don’t use one you may skip this.  For those of you that have control surfaces, check this out.

You may be familiar with a setting that has your control surface follow your track selection.  That is, when you select a track, that track also becomes selected/paged in/whatever on your control surface.  I.e. I click on a track and my MCU Pro banks to whatever eight tracks surround the chosen track, reading pan settings, fader settings, what have you.  In Logic 9 this works very well, not so much in Logic X.  Well, it works but not as well. In my complicated session, when playing, if I select a track and my MCU Pro banks over, I get an audible hiccup.  Since I never saw this in L9 I blame Logic X.

Solution: Use Logic 9

Bug 3: General Instability

Yea, I don’t know what this is yet.  In my four hour mix session last night I had to restart Logic X about three times.  To quote a not yet famous guy (me): Shit got weird, yo.

These kinds of slow downs in my workflow may cause me to wrap up my more mature tracks in Logic 9 and wait for updates of Logic X before I really give it a chance.

Solution:  Use Logic 9

Backups, and Alternatives

Its not all bad but bugs certainly motivate me.  In particular, I have been pretty happy with Backups, and Alternatives.  These features all save me a huge headache and help me manage the session.

Now backups are pretty straight forward.  When you save you get a backup.  You can then revert your session to any of the last ten backups.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  I think this is worthy of a screen shot:

Logic X Backups Screenshot
Save often my friends!

Alternatives are also a nice workflow improvement.  This is something I would often do.  I’d get a track to a certain point and then, prior to making some crazy changes, I would fork the track (another software term, I know..).  I would ‘save as’ and give the track some other name.  Then in my folder I’d eventually have a bunch of these varied session files.  I’m sure many of you do this.  Alternative streamlines this process for you and takes a little of the work out of it.

When you create an alternative you are essentially doing what I described above.  Its a new name, it represents a different version of the session.  The extra nice part is, its all associated with the project.  Instead of digging around in the finder looking for the sessions you made, you can see a list of all your alternatives from within the app.  By default they use the same assets so making them is simple and the reduce the chance of you doing something silly, like creating a new session somewhere where the assets aren’t (or where you don’t want the assets copied).  Furthermore Logic X has a nice little Alternate manager for you.  It looks like this:

Alternative Manager ScreenShot
It was a little late for this project, already had 5 session files 🙂

Soundcloud Integration

Another new feature:  send your shit straight from Logic to Soundcloud.  Could save a user an extra couple of clicks, cool right?  Not exactly an original idea (Ableton Live has done this for a while now), its still a nice workflow nugget poised to take the edge off.  With that being said this could be better (and this isn’t to say that Live’s implementation isn’t perfect… its far from it).

When you want to send to Soundcloud you have a couple of options.  You can either:

  • Bounce and send
  • Upload a file

Here’s the dialog for the curious:

Share to Soundcloud Dialog Screenshot
These are literally all of your options. If you need more options you have to bounce the old fashioned way and use the ‘file’ method.

Uploading a file is pretty straight forward.  You bounce through your normal means and you can use Logic to do the upload.  Imho this is a waste.  If I’ve already got the file I’ll just fire it up in my web browser.  Its the “bounce and upload” all in one step that I find appealing (it saves me like three clicks, important stuff).  But its bounce and upload that was lacking.  When you bounce via the Sound Cloud pain you aren’t given the full spectrum of bounce options (see the dialog above? that’s all you get.  Its even more limiting when you see the pull downs).  This is crap.  They could have very easily just plopped you into the normal bounce dialog and let you do whatever.  But no, apple screwed the pooch.

Limitations when bouncing via the Sound Cloud dialog:

  • You can only bounce in apple formats or wave.  No mp3 (you can still bounce an mp3 the normal way though).  
  • You can’t bounce in realtime, only offline.  Shitty if you’re using outboard gear and have commit-o-phobia.

These two were enough for me to skip this altogether and just do it the old way.  Apple: if you’re gonna give us a feature give us the whole damn feature, not some half-ass implementation.  Now sure, I could bounce in in mp3 and then use the sound cloud uploader in two steps, this might save me the two seconds it takes to load firefox but I guess that’s it.  Oh well.

Feelings on Logic X thus far

Well, its got some problems and so far I haven’t really been able to get a lot of miles out of the new features.  I’ve spent some time with Flex Pitch but I had a hard time understanding some of its editor features (like cut didn’t work the way I thought it would).  I need to spend some more time playing with these features before I get into them though, otherwise my rant will just be me being upset that I don’t know more things.  With that being said, the instability is expected and is a total pain in the ass.  Furthermore, the porting issues cost me a couple of evenings dealing with bullshit.  However, I think I can finish the song I have moved forward, so its not that bad.  With that being said, here are my thoughts:

  • If you’ve got a track that’s pretty far along – stay in logic 9
  • That is unless you really want to use flex pitch (this is why I ported this particular song but I didn’t end up using it).
  • I wouldn’t move a track to Logic X just to use the new plugins like Bass Designer, although they are neat.
  • New tracks – pick your poison.  If you start from updated Logic X templates you won’t have any cost at all, minus the instability of the new platform.
  • New features – I haven’t played with them all but so far they are hit or miss and may not be worth the instability.

The cost to port an existing session over just isn’t worth the extra two nights (or more) of effort to clean them up.  Finish them in Logic 9.  You’re already good at it and we know it can make the right sounds.  Its the new stuff.  And let’s face it, Logic X does have some cool features that will change your workflow.  Your new tracks may absolutely benefit from these workflow enhancements (namely track folders and the arrangement track among others).  But thing about it, if you’ve already got a big fancy track and setup a ton of sub-mixes and what not all a track folder is going to buy you is a bunch of time re-wiring stuff.  So yea. My two cents.

Coming soon I’m hoping to spend more time with Flex Pitch, Track Folders, and the Arrangement Track.  I think these will be a lot more useful when I build tracks using them.  Not so much to convert existing projects though.

::Edit:: Well, one thing to apple’s credit – it only took one week for the first update and it fixes more bugs than the last 4 Logic 9 updates combined.  Let’s hope they stay with it.