One exciting and unexpected addition to Logic X is the new Smart Control feature. Smart Controls allow the user to assign various instrument and effect parameters to an accessible and modifiable control panel. In this tutorial, we will look in-depth at this new feature and how it interacts with some other commonly used Logic X tools.
To start, I have instantiated Logic's Sculpture instrument, Logic's Bass Amp, and the Waves Rverb reverb plugins on a single channel strip and added a MIDI region to the track. I also went ahead and opened the Smart Controls pane by clicking on the Smart Controls button in the upper left.
The first thing to notice about the Smart Control Panel is that the knobs are automatically assigned to different parameters of all three plug-ins on the channel strip, even the reverb plug-in which is not part of the Logic suite. Logic guesses at the most used parameters of the plug-ins and maps them to the Smart Controls automatically on start-up.
To change the default assignments, simply open the Smart Controls Inspector via the toggle button, select the control you want to change on the panel and navigate to the new parameter by clicking on the Parameter Mapping Menu and selecting the new parameter.
Alternatively, I can click on the Mapping Learn button, click on the control I want to change, open the plug-in window (beyond the standard methods, you can now open plug-ins by clicking the button below the Learn Button which looks like two slider controls, or right-click a Smart Control Knob and select Open Plug-in Window) and adjust the parameter I want to control. The mapping assignment will automatically be changed and relabeled.
As you may have noticed, there exist a few unique mapping commands (found in the Mapping Menu) which deserve some explaining. These commands can be a huge time-saver when used properly and are outlined as follows:
- Map all Controls Choosing this command will reset all control mappings to their default assignments and create assignments for unmapped controls.
- Map all Unmapped Controls Selecting this command will automatically assign an available parameter to an unmapped control.
- Add Mapping This command will add a parameter slot to the selected knob (e.g. one Smart Control Knob can be set to control both cutoff and resonance).
- Delete Mapping This command will delete the highlighted mapping assignment (e.g. the cutoff mapping, leaving the knob described above to control only the resonance).
- Delete all Patch Mappings This command will leave you with a completely blank Smart Control Panel.
- Copy Mapping Copies the highlighted mapping to be pasted elsewhere.
- Copy all Mappings Copies all mappings of the highlighted knob to be pasted elsewhere (e.g. the cutoff and resonance mappings are copied from a single control).
Range & Scaling
Often, you will come across instances where you will not want a parameter to directly reflect the positioning or movement of a Smart Control (e.g. the cutoff completely open while the resonance remains at 75%; both parameters assigned to a single Smart Control).
This is easily achieved by using the controls directly below the list of mapped controls in the Smart Controls Inspector. For simplicities sake, I am going to use the Bass level Smart Control assigned to the Bass Amp since I definitely do not want it to hit 100%. With the Bass control selected, I can set a range minimum and maximum with the controls directly below the Mapping Menu.
I have set the minimum output to 1.2 (12%) and the maximum to 7.5 (75%). Now, the Smart Control is automatically scaled to work within only those values. A value of 0 on the smart control translates to a 12% value in the Bass Amp and a Smart Control value of 100 translates a 75% value in the Amp with those values in between scaled accordingly.
For even more options, you can open the Scaling Parameter (the Open button) and draw a virtually unlimited number of different graphs for the selected Smart Control to follow-even within the selected range. The top-left row of six icons will set the basic shape of the graph.
After setting the basic shape, double clicking along any point of the graph will create a node which can then be dragged to alter the graph's shape. The Invert, Reset, Copy and Paste buttons along the bottom act as expected as well as the additional range controls in the upper right.
There are a good number of alternative Smart Control Panel layouts available which can be selected by clicking on the top menu in the inspector. This menu will reveal around 20 different layout options while scrolling down to the Factory Layouts menu will reveal about 40 more.
Each one does essentially the same thing while offering different types and numbers of controls. To get a good idea of these different control flavors, I suggest simply taking a few minutes and going through them all to get a look at each one for yourself.
One layout I do want to take a closer look at is the one labeled General Audio, as there are a few unique control options. When opening this panel type, you can immediately see there are not only knobs, but switches with lights over them and a panel of virtual LEDs. With this panel option we can assign the Led bank, the switches, even the single LEDs above the switches to different plug-in parameters. To exemplify some of the different assignment possibilities, I have inserted Logic's Compressor plug-in in insert slot 4 of the track.
To assign the switches and LEDs, you do it in much the same way as the knobs as described above, but assign them to parameters that make sense for the function of the control. For the switch, I have clicked and highlighted it and navigated the inspector menu to assign it to the compressor bypass (Smart Control Menu/Main/Insert # 4 Bypass). The single LED above it, I assigned in the same way to the same option (somewhat counterintuitively, it lights up when bypassed and is unlighted when active). I assigned the panel of LEDs to the compressor's gain reduction (Smart Control Menu/Non-automatable/Compressor/Gain Reduction) to create a gain reduction meter out of the LEDs.
To map a smart control to an external MIDI device, simply click on an assigned control (e.g. click on knob 1 assigned to the Compressor Ratio), click the Learn button next to the External Assignment disclosure triangle and turn the knob on your MIDI controller you want to assign the knob to.
Alternatively, you can assign the MIDI control first in the same way as described above and then later assign that control to a plug-in parameter. By clicking the External Assignment disclosure triangle you can determine what control a particular knob is assigned to or if it is assigned at all.
When creating a summing track stack (not to be confused with a folder track stack) Logic will automatically create a Smart Control for the summing bus. These controls can be mapped and modified the exact same way as the individual track Smart Controls, the only difference being that they control the plug-ins of the summing bus which in turn control the output of all the tracks running into that particular bus.
Smart Controls can be automated in much the same way as regular plug-in parameters. Clicking the Show/Hide Automation button (the yellow button in the image below) or pressing the letter A will open up track automation lanes and the various automation menus. In the below image, I selected touch automation and played around with the Smart Control knob assigned to the high frequency.
The important thing to understand about this is that the automation is written for the Smart Control itself and no automation is written for the parameters mapped to the Smart Control. In other words, you will only see automation written for the smart control and none written for the control(s) mapped to it. In addition, if you write Smart Control automation and then later change mappings, the newly mapped parameter will follow the automation and the old parameter will no longer be affected.