In the first part of this Feature Tutorial we discussed how to configure external MIDI instruments in Logic that is, setting up a hardware MIDI keyboard or drum machine as both a MIDI controller, from which you can record MIDI information, and a MIDI sound source, to which you can send MIDI data from Logic. That configuration assumed that your MIDI instrument was connected to an external mixer, and that you were using Logic strictly as a MIDI sequencer.
Logic is an audio workstation and not just a MIDI sequencer of course, and setting up your MIDI keyboard as a simple external MIDI device shuts you out from all the powerful plug-in effects processors and other audio features available in Logic. There is, however, a way to use your MIDI device as an audio instrument in Logic and treat it the same way you would an internal software instrument, including processing the device's audio outputs with Logic's internal audio processing plug-ins, and even bouncing a recorded MIDI track to an audio track. You do this with Logic's External Instrument plug-in, and in this tutorial we'll show you how to set it up.
We're going to start by assuming that you've configured your MIDI device in Audio MIDI Setup, as described in Part 1. In my case, the MIDI input and output of my Kurzweil K2500 keyboard are connected to my MOTU Express 128 on Port 8:
We also want to make sure that Local Control for the keyboard is disabled (Local Control: Off), so we won't be double-triggering notes when we play. Next, however, instead of plugging your keyboard into your mixer, you need to connect it to a pair of audio inputs on your audio interface. This is so Logic is able to process and control the audio from the device. In my case, my 2500 is connected to Inputs 3-4 on my MOTU 896HD interface. It isn't necessary for the MIDI ports and audio inputs to correspond to each other; you just need to remember which ports and inputs your device is connected to.
Next, start Logic, create a new Empty Project, and when you're asked to create New Tracks, choose one Software Instrument track:
Make sure that the 'Open Library' option is also checked. A standard Arrange window will open with the default EVP88 instrument set in the first channel strip, and you'll see a new audio track in the main window.
Next, click and hold on the EVP88 button in the I/O section of the channel strip on the left, and choose 01 Logic Instruments > External Instrument from the pop-up instruments menu:
If the External Instrument plug-in window opens when you choose it, close it; we have to configure the MIDI instrument in the Environment to use it with the External Instrument plug-in. The Environment can seem a little daunting if you haven't used it before, but our configuration is actually very simple and will just take a moment.
Open the Environment window (Window > Environment or Command-8). Click the Layer pop-up menu in the upper left and choose MIDI Instr. to open the MIDI Instrument layer:
Next click on the 'New' local menu and choose 'Multi-Instrument' (assuming you're working with a multi-timbral, multi-channel keyboard like the K2500) to load a new multi-instrument object:
Now, if your instrument can receive MIDI data on all 16 channels, all you need to do is click the 'Port' pop-up on the left side of the window and select the MIDI port on your interface to which your device is connected.
This will set the MIDI configuration for the instrument globally for all 16 channels. If, on the other hand, your instrument is multi-channel, but doesn't use all 16, you'll need to specify the MIDI port on a channel-by-channel basis by clicking on each channel number in the Multi-Instrument object and setting it on the left in the Inspector:
Finally, double-click the generic (Multi Instr.) name at the top of the left-hand column and change it to your instrument's name—in my case, K2500. Then close the Environment window; that's all you need to do there.
Now that you've defined your MIDI instrument in the Environment, you can set up the External Instrument plug-in. Double-click the External Instrument plug-in in the input insert (directly below the I/O label) to open the plugin window:
Click the MIDI Destination pull-down menu and choose your MIDI Instrument from the list:
Next, expand the Input pull-down menu and choose the inputs on your audio interface to which your MIDI device is connected. In my case, it's Inputs 3-4:
Your External Instrument is now ready to go! Record-enable the External Instrument track and play a few notes, and you should hear the instrument. Keep playing while adjusting the channel strip's input level slider, and you'll hear your hardware instrument fade up and down just as if it were an internal software instrument. Now load a few effects processor plug-ins into the Inserts in the channel strip, and you'll hear your instrument effected by them as well. Finally, record something into the enabled track, and you'll record MIDI data into what otherwise appears to be an audio track. You can even bounce this track down to actual audio data for further processing or distribution. Just be aware that when you bounce an External Instrument track, you have to use Real time mode, instead of Offline mode. That's because the Offline mode can't be used when bouncing External Instrument tracks.
And that's it! You can see the power that using the External Instrument setup gives you over the standard MIDI Instrument. As always, experiment, and have fun!
Bewildered by the Logic Environment? Check out these two tutorials;
Need to understand MIDI from the ground up? Check out this tutorial by Peter Schwartz: