MPC Series - Setting up Logic Pro for use with an MPC and a USB MIDI Controller

This video and accompanying download walk you though integrating Logic Pro into your MPC-centered studio.  In this setup, we use the MPC as the sequencer, with Logic Pro acting a sound module.  We also incorporate a USB MIDI keyboard controller.

 

 

This video and accompanying download walk you though integrating Logic Pro into your MPC-centered studio.  In this setup, we use the MPC as the sequencer, with Logic Pro acting a sound module.  We also incorporate a USB MIDI keyboard controller.

When integrating Logic into your existing MPC work-flow, producers and engineers face two primary challenges:

  1. By default, Logic Pro listens to input from all MIDI devices and channels. The MPC, on the other hand needs to communicate with multiple sound sources on different MIDI channels.  We need to get multiple instrument tracks in Logic to listen to multi-channel MIDI coming from the MPC.
  2. USB MIDI controllers like the MPK mini are an essential part of music production today.  Logic Pro doesn't provide an easy way for us to route MIDI from a connected USB MIDI controller out to external devices like the MPC. 

To overcome these challenges, we need to customize the hidden back-end of Logic's MIDI configuration: the Environment. 

We've created a downloadable Logic template to do this for you. The only reason we need the accompanying video is to show you how to assign the specific MIDI devices in your computer studio setup to the objects we've created in the template.

 

Contents

  1. Setup your MPC
  2. Download and open our Logic Template
  3. Follow the instructions in the video to setup the template with your particular system
  4. Save your completed setup as a new template
  5. Answers to common follow-up questions:
    1. This seems pretty difficult.  Do I really need to do this?
    2. My MPC has more than one MIDI output.  Why does your template only accommodate one MPC MIDI output?
    3. This guide doesn't describe how to customize the template further.  Can you go more in-depth on how the environment works?
  6. Ask questions and check back here for updates

 

Setup your MPC

  1. Connect a MIDI Output on your MPC to the MIDI Input on your computer MIDI interface.
  2. Connect a MIDI Input on your MPC to the MIDI Output on your computer MIDI interface.
  3. Make sure the MPC settings are as follows:
    • Set the Track Type for each MPC track to  MIDI (as opposed to DRUM).
    • Set the MIDI Channel for each track to a channel (1-16) to correspond to the instruments setup in the template
    • Set the Soft Thru option to As Track.  This is a global setting rather than a per-track setting and is found in the MIDI menu/page on the MPC.

 

Download and open our Logic Template

  1. Click the following link to download the MPC and MPK Logic Template.
  2. Once downloaded, unzip the file, and open the enclosed project file in Logic referenced in the video above.

 

Follow the instructions in the video to setup the template with your particular system

The MIDI devices in your studio setup aren't identical to the ones in ours (most likely).  Because of this, you'll need to do a little customization to connect the objects we've created in the template to the devices your particular setup.  This is fairly straight forward, and the video above will walk you through the process.

 

Save your completed setup as a new template

Once you've done the steps above, you can choose File > Save as Template in Logic to create a ready-to-go template you can start new projects with in the future.
 

Answers to common follow-up questions

 

This seems pretty difficult.  Do I really need to do this?

This setup guide and the work-flow it describes represent an MPC-centered studio.  Note that this setup is not for everyone, and is typically used by engineers and producers who work with the MPC as their primary instrument or as the center of their production environment.

There are many different ways to use an MPC in conjunction with Logic.  This guide describes just one of the possible scenarios.  For example:

  1. MPC as a MIDI controller.  This setup doesn't use the MPC sequencer.  MIDI data from struck pads is simply recorded into Logic.
  2. MPC as a sound module for Logic.  Logic is the sequencer, and is the center of the studio. All MIDI recorded in Logic, and is transmitted out from the tracks in Logic and triggers sounds in the MPC.  The MPC sequencer is not used in this scenario.
  3. MPC as the sequencer, Logic as the sound module.  This is the scenario described here.  During the music production phase, the MPC is the center of the studio, Logic just acts as a sound module.   Generally, once the music production is complete...
    1. The analog output of the MPC is then recorded into Logic (bounced), allowing the MPC to be powered down and taken out of the equation. Sync is important in this phase.  This is especially true if you bounce discrete tracks to Logic in multiple passes (since the number of analog i/o you have available may be less than the number of tracks). 
    2. Logic would then become the center of the studio for the vocal tracking, and final mix-down phase.
       
  4. Both the MPC and Logic sequencers are in use simultaneously. Instruments and MIDI are recorded to both devices at the same time. The MIDI for some tracks is recorded on the MPC, while the Audio or MIDI for other tracks is recorded in Logic.  This is a more complex scenario, and sync is even more of a concern than in scenario 3 above.  Generally this scenario is used when...
    1. A studio is transitioning from one method (MPC-centered) to another (Logic-centered) and hasn't decided which way works best yet. Our recommendation is to plan your work-flow carefully, and don't over-complicate things. This can kill creativity, slow your progress, and add frustration.  If you don't need to employ this work-flow, consider a simpler setup (such as 2 or 3 above) that will still give you access to all the sounds you need.
    2. A Logic-based studio collaborates with an MPC-based producer.  If you're the producer in this scenario consider planning your work-flow so that you can operate with scenario 2 or 3 above, either for the entire project, or for as much of the project process as possible.  Many songs start out using scenario 3 or 3 above, and transition to this scenario (4) only if/when required.

The method described in this guide covers scenario 3 above and approximates an old-school setup: a MIDI Controller connected via MIDI to an MPC, which is then connected via MIDI to a bank of sound modules (Logic).

old_school_setup

 

If none of this describes you or your work-flow, forget all this technical nonsense and get back to making music!

If you are new to the MPC, we'd recommend you spend significant time with the MPC alone to familiarize yourself with its operation and learn its work-flow. Then consider adding other elements such as sound modules and a connection to Logic.  

If you are new to Logic, and are an advanced MPC user who wants to integrate Logic into your existing work-flow, this guide may be just what you have been looking for!

 

My MPC has more than one MIDI output.  Why does your template only accommodate one MPC MIDI output?

Great question.  First... why we don't cover more here...

There are two approaches we can take with a guide like this:

  1. Keep it simple, and create a foundational resource that you can build upon for further knowledge.
  2. Create an all-encompassing template that covers all possibilities, but doesn't actually correspond to your setup or work-flow at all.
    Actually this second approach is what inspired this guide.  There are other guides and templates out there.  Some have 128 tracks, 24 Auxillaries, and have all the inputs labeled for every piece of outboard gear you've ever heard of and don't own.  These templates are confusing, and most people will take one look at these and run screaming.  Those that don't give up will spend more time deleting all the objects that aren't relevant to them than it would have taken to learn how to build their ideal setup for themselves.

With this template, we chose to keep it is as simple as possible in order to get you up and running quickly.

Also, in our experience, most MPC users (3000, 4000, 5000 etc.) don't end up routing all four MIDI outputs A, B, C, and D to their computers.  These extra outputs are sometimes not used at all, or are routed to other external hardware sound modules. 

If you do need to route more than one of your MPC MIDI output ports to Logic, and need our help, just let us know. Which brings us to the next question...

 

This guide doesn't describe how to customize the template further.  Can you go more in-depth on how the environment works?

You're right, and excellent question!

While this guide and the accompanying template set up almost everything for you, it doesn't show you how to connect the channel splitter object to your tracks on your own.  This means that if you want to do things a little differently, if you want to try this on your own without our template, or if you're just interested in knowing how it all works, this resource kind of leaves you hanging.

If you're interested in learning more, or have a different scenario in mind, just let us know.  We'll continue to create content based on the most popular questions from our readers.

 

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