Quantizing is an integral part of modern music production. Logic Pro X has a few fun tricks up its sleeve, but there are also some great ‘best practices’ to think about when aligning parts to the grid in the studio. Here are my top 5 tips to take you beyond just picking ‘quantize to 16th notes’. Let’s make sure your music sounds tight, but not over-corrected.
If you’d like your overall track to breathe a bit more and remain unquantized but you have one section or group of notes that needs attention, double click the region and go into the piano roll editor. Select a group of notes and go to the ‘time quantize’ menu on the left side of the piano roll window. Choose a value and click the ‘Q’ button and *only the selected notes* will get quantized.
I have loved every second of using Smart Quantize. As more of a rock musician, I love the idea that notes are moved towards the grid quantize point but still maintain their order and flow. Smart quantize will keep your grace notes and other subtleties intact while still enhancing the rhythmic consistency of the entire track. Click on the quantize menu in the inspector to switch over to ‘smart quantize’ and give it a try.
This one isn’t specific to Logic per se, just a general rule of thumb. I try to avoid the ‘iron fist’ of quantizing every single track in a project unless I am specifically producing electronic music that I wish to have that sound. I’ll quantize a drum part but allow a keyboard part to breathe a bit. Or, I’ll quantize some orchestration but allow a bass line to have a little space to fluctuate. Experiment with quantizing some of your project while allowing other parts to flow a little more freely.
Logic Pro X’s time and pitch stretching algorithms are amazing tools to work with. The flex-time function allows you to actually selected an audio track and quantize it just as you would a MIDI track. It works similarly to Smart Quantize in that it will often ‘nudge’ things towards the grid while still maintaining the integrity of the audio to avoid artifacts, but it is an incredibly useful tool. Just make sure that you use phase-locked audio when quantizing parts that might bleed into other tracks (like the individual elements of a drum set).
I feel like people don’t use ‘groove templates’ enough! Select a region that really ‘defines’ a section of your music and what should be going on rhythmically. Click the quantize value drop down menu and you will be able to ‘make a groove template’ at the bottom. From here, you can select another region that you want to follow the same feel and pick the new groove template you just made in the same spot (quantize value drop down menu). This is especially helpful to make a bass part ‘lock’ with a drum part, or a rhythm guitar really sync up with another rhythmic element of your project!