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Setting up External MIDI Instruments in Logic Part 1
Richard Lainhart on Sat, May 28th 15 comments
Using Logic Pro's built-in software instruments and controlling them with an external USB controller is pretty straightforward, and many people work in Logic this way exclusively. But suppose you have

Using Logic Pro's built-in software instruments and controlling them with an external USB controller is pretty straightforward, and many people work in Logic this way exclusively. But suppose you have a multi-timbral MIDI keyboard or drum machine with standard MID ports - how do you go about setting that up to work with Logic? In this tutorial, we'll show you how. We're going to assume that you have a standard MIDI interface connected to your system, and that you have at least one standard MIDI sound source with an integrated controller, such as a MIDI keyboard, that you've patched into an external mixer of some sort for monitoring.


Step 1 - Open Audio MIDI Setup

The first thing we'll need to do is configure the OS X Audio MIDI Setup utility - Logic needs that configuration to know how to route your external MIDI instrument into and out of Logic itself. So, open up the Utilities folder in your Applications folder, locate Audio MIDI Setup.app and double-click it to launch it. If you don't see a window labeled MIDI Studio, choose Window > Show MIDI Window. You should see something like this:


You'll notice that Audio MIDI Setup has automatically recognized the MOTU 896HD audio interface, the MOTU Express 128 MIDI interface, and the Korg NanoPAD USB controller that I have connected to my computer via FireWire and USB. But it hasn't recognized my Kurzweil K2500 keyboard that I also have connected with MIDI cables to the MIDI interface, as pre-USB MIDI communication doesn't allow for that kind of auto-configuration. We'll need to do that manually.


Step 2 - Add Your MIDI Keyboard to Audio MIDI Setup

To add your MIDI keyboard, click the Add Device button at the top of the window, which will add the generic new external device icon to the window:


We could just leave it at that, but it makes more sense to name the keyboard correctly, as that is the name under which it will appear in Logic.


Step 3 - Name Your MIDI Keyboard

To name your device correctly, double-click the new external device icon to open its Properties window:


Next, for Device Name, type in the name under which you want the keyboard to appear - this could be the actual model name for the device, but you can name it anything you like, really. You can also add the manufacturer's name and the keyboard's model number if you like, although that's optional. You can even change the icon to something more closely resembling your device. To do that, click the Open Icon Browser button on the left, and choose from the available icons:


If your keyboard doesn't transmit or receive on all 16 MIDI channels, you can disable the inactive ones by clicking on the blue boxes under Transmits and Receives. My K2500 can use all 16 channels, so here's what my final configuration looks like:


Click the Apply button to finish the configuration, then close the Device window.


Step 4 - Connect the MIDI Ports

Our final step in Audio MIDI Setup is to connect the MIDI ports between the keyboard and the MIDI interface. In my case, I have physical MIDI cables connected from the MIDI Out of the K2500 to MIDI Input Port 8 on the Express 128, and from MIDI Port 8 Out on the Express to the MIDI In on the K2500. 

Of course, the MIDI Out from the K2500 could connect to any port on the Express, just as any MIDI Out port on the Express could connect to the MIDI In on the 2500 - for me, it's less confusing to use both Port 8s on the Express for the K2500, but you might have your own reasons for doing otherwise. However, we do at least want to have MIDI going in both directions between the system and the keyboard, as we'll be using the K2500 as both a controller and as a sound source.

In any case, you need to tell Audio MIDI Setup which physical ports on the MIDI interface you have connected. You do this by connecting virtual MIDI cables between the keyboard and the interface - click on the MIDI Out port on the keyboard, and drag from that to Port 8 In on the interface. Do the same from Port 8 Out on the interface to the MIDI In port on the K2500:


If you make a mistake, you can remove a patch cable by clicking on it and hitting Delete. At this point, if you have other standard MIDI devices in your system, you'll want to add, name, and connect those too. Otherwise, our work here is done and we can close Audio MIDI Setup and move on to Logic Pro.


Step 5 - Launch Logic and Create a new Empty Project

Next, for the purposes of our tutorial launch Logic, create a new Empty Project, and when you're asked to create New Tracks, choose one External MIDI track, making sure that the Open Library option is also checked. Your standard Arrange window will open with the generic General MIDI Instrument chosen by default, with the GM Grand Piano selected as the default sound or patch:


Next, with that new track selected, go over to the Library tab on the right side of the screen, where you should see a list of MIDI interface ports, along with the MIDI instrument you configured earlier in Audio MIDI Setup - in my case, the K2500 on Port 8. Click on your instrument, and choose Channel 1 in the right-hand column:


We've just assigned the K2500 as the MIDI instrument for the new track, and set that track to output on MIDI Channel 1.


Step 6 - Turn Local Control Off

Our basic configuration is just about done, but there's one last important step you should take before continuing on. Right now, if your MIDI keyboard is in a typical configuration, it will be set to Local Control On, meaning that when you play the keys, the keyboard is generating sounds from the instrument's own sound engine, as well as sending MIDI to Logic. Logic, however, is configured to loop that MIDI data through the active  track (when that track is enabled for recording, as it is now) and back out to the keyboard's MIDI In port, meaning that every note you play will trigger two sounds. When you think about it, this MIDI loop makes sense - we want Logic to send MIDI data out from each track to the appropriate MIDI channel, especially if we're going to be using the keyboard as a multi-channel MIDI instrument - piano on Channel 1, bass on Channel 2, drums on Channel 10, and so on. In this way, Logic, will do our MIDI channelizing for us, so we don't have to change channels on the keyboard itself.

However, with Local Control On, playing a note triggers two voices, because of this MIDI control loop. At the very least, playing two voices for each note will greatly reduce your available polyphony. And, worse, some keyboards react badly to this kind of MIDI loop and can start acting weird or even lock up. So, what we want here is to "disconnect" the MIDI keyboard from its own sound engine, so that playing the keyboard won't trigger notes directly. That's what Local Control Off does - it disables the keyboard from triggering notes directly on its own sound engine, and separates the keyboard from the sound-producing part of the instrument, thereby disabling the MIDI loop. Local Control Off is a feature that most multi-timbral keyboards support, for this very reason, although it may be called something else on your particular instrument.

So, before moving on, set Local Control to Off, if possible. You can confirm that Local Control is off by disabling Record-Ready for your first track and playing the keyboard - you should hear nothing. Enable Record-Ready again and play, and now you should be sending MIDI from your keyboard through Logic and back to your instrument again.


Step 7 - Choose A Sound

Now, finally, it's time to record something. You can choose the sound you want to use directly on your keyboard, if you like, or send a Program Change message to it from Logic instead. To do that, double-click the Track Name section of the track header in the Arrange window to open the Program Names window:


In this window, just click on one of the program numbers to send that Program Change to your instrument and choose that sound. Of course, you have to know first which sound is where on your instrument. If you do, you can make this process a little more intuitive by changing the generic program numbers to the actual sound names in your instrument. To do that, just double-click on the appropriate program number and change it to a sound name, as shown above. When you do, the track name will change as well. If you have the patience, you can go through the list here and enter all your sound names at the correct Program Change locations - it will be a tedious process, but you'll only have to do it once, and from then on you can choose sounds by name rather than by number.

[A quick internet search can help you find existing Logic templates for your External MIDI Instrument. Also remember to save your project as a template so you don’t need to go through this setup procedure every time you create a new project! - Ed] 


Step 8 - Record Some Tracks

Once you've chosen your sound, hit the Record button and record a few bars into the first track in Logic. Play them back to be sure you've recorded them correctly. Now, to record another track with a different sound on a separate MIDI channel, add another MIDI track by clicking on the Track pull-down menu above the tracks in the Arrange window and choosing New With Next MIDI Channel, or by typing Command-Option-M:


To specify the sound or program change for this new track, roll down the arrow next to the instrument's name to the left of the new track, then click on the Program number to open the program names list and choose a program:


(Note that the Moogy Bass sound I chose here was one who's name I had entered when I was in the Program Names window - unless you entered specific program names too, you'll only see generic program numbers.)

Now record the second track. From here, you can continue on adding new tracks and recording MIDI notes into them, up to the maximum 16 MIDI channels, or as many as your device supports.

And that's it! I hope you've found this tutorial useful, and do check out the Logic 101: Core Logic and MIDI 101: MIDI Demystified tutorials.


Comments (15)

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  • Anne
    I can't get sound when I set up the audio track. My synth is connected to my computer via USB and I have instrument cables connecting the synth to my audio interface. The input in Logic are the same as the input I plugged my cable into and there is no sound in my audio track.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Anne
    Reply
  • Anne
    I'm not getting audio in my audio track. My yamaha motif xf8 is connected to my computer via usb and I have an instrument cable connecting it to my audio interface. The inputs in Logic are correct. Logic is receiving the midi data just fine but it's not receiving audio from the audio track. What am I doing wrong? Do I still need to connect my yamaha to the interface in the audio midi set up even though the midi data is been transmitted through the usb cable?
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Anne
    Reply
  • Matthias
    Hey I got a new question. I bought a microkorg xl plus and i did connect it with logic pro via usb. Here is my question: When I record notes from my microkorg and i want to do a new audio track with different settings the old audio will change too. Does have anybody advices? thanks :)
    • 2 years ago
    • By: Matthias
    Reply
  • Zoniruy
    Hi Richard, I've followed your tutorial to the letter, but I'm getting no sound from my microkorg. Midi messages are being sent, and when I change the patch name via logic, the microkorg's display also changes, so they're definitely connected. But no sound from the korg! Any thoughts?
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Zoniruy
    Reply
  • Rounik Admin
    Hi RIchy, Do you have the audio outputs from your MicroKorg connected to the inputs on your audio interface? You will also need to create an audio track in Logic and set the input for that track to match the connected input on your audio interface. Remember to click the "I" (Input Monitor) or "R" (Record-ready) on the track so you can hear the Microkorg's audio coming through Logic.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
    Reply
  • Zoniruy
    Thanks for your quick reply, Rounik. No, my audio ouputs from the Korg are not connected to the inputs on my audio interface (which is a focusrite saffire pro, if that helps). I know how to record the audio form the Korg, but I want to record the Korg's sounds using MIDI for greater flexibility.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Zoniruy
    Reply
  • Rounik Admin
    Hi RIchy, Sure. I understand what you're saying. But it's important to remember that MIDI isn't sound. MIDI is information or data - there's no sound contained in a MIDI message. That's why, if you wish to hear the sounds generated by the Microkorg, you need to route it's audio output through Logic. You don't "need" to record it - you can simply record the MIDI data sent from the Korg, and monitor the audio created by the Korg within Logic or via a separate headphones or speakers connected to the Korg. Hope this helps, Rounik
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
    Reply
  • Zoniruy
    Thanks. I just wanted to know if it was possible to record with midi data instead of audio, but from what you're saying, it isn't possible.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Zoniruy
    Reply
  • Rounik Admin
    Hi Richy, Well, you can of course record the MIDI note event data from the MicroKorg. Think of it like recording your performance without any sound. MIDI data and cables don't carry audio just this "performance data". And that is the beauty of MIDI... you record the MIDI performance and then change the sound source later. so you might record a piano sound... but you can change the sound source on the MicroKorg or in Logic to create completely different sonic possibilities. Plus, even though you need to monitor your audi signal to actually hear sound generated when you play MIDI notes, you don't need to record the audio... just record the MIDI and then the MIDI notes will trigger the sound source on your MicroKorg synth. Hope this helps and makes sense. R
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
    Reply
  • Zoniruy
    "you can of course record the MIDI note event data from the MicroKorg". HOW?! I've been through this tutorial and I still can't do it! That was my original point.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Zoniruy
    Reply
  • Rounik Admin
    So you've followed every step... OK. What happens for you in step 08 when you hit record in Logic and hit the keys on your Microkorg? Are all physical connection setup correctly? What about in your AudioMIDI Setup? In Logic, when you hit a key on the Microkorg, do you see the note data begin received by Logic? (Look in the Transport display).
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
    Reply
  • Zoniruy
    Thanks Rounik. When I hit record and play some notes, the MIDI data is displayed as usual in the piano roll, and the transport bar is showing the note data received by logic. The audio midi setup is correct as far as i can see (i followed this tutorial to do it) and the physical connection must be fine because i play all the other synths/instruments perfectly fine using the Korg.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Zoniruy
    Reply
  • Rounik Admin
    Thanks Richie. That's great. SO it sounds like you simply need to - set some cables and take the audio output from the synth into your Mac's Audio Interface. This will carry the audio sound waves from the MIDI device into your Mac and into Logic. (The other MIDI connection only outputs notes into Logic - but no sound. When used with Software Instrument tracks the sound is generated by the Instrument in Logic - not from any external source). - Create an audio track in Logic - Set the inputs to match the inputs on your audio interface. - record-enable that audio track - Play some keys on the Microkorg and you should see the MIDI notes being recieved by Logic (look in the Transport display)... and you should see some audio signal in the audio track. Hope this helps R -
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
    Reply
  • sus4
    Hello, I have a Korg X5DR sound module and I can't get Logic Express 9 to recognize it. This is my set up: KaySound keyboard controller. (no sounds) Technics 88 key weighted keyboard which I also use as a controller. I like playing the weighted keys. Midiman midisport 2x2 interface Korg X5DR sound module. I'm able to record using the sounds from Logic. My KaySound controller is going in the "in" of the Midisport. My Technics is going into the other "in" of my Midisport and the Midisport goes into my iMac via USB. Now just that set up alone allows me to record using the sounds from Logic, but shouldn't I be able to see the Midisport in Library of Logic. It's not there, but I'm still able to record. I don't understand that. Now as far as the Korg module, I tried every conceivable set up going into Midisport and cannnot get Logic to see it. At one point about a year ago I had it working and recording in Logic, but I don't remember how it was set up. I tried checking for a driver for the Korg, but all I could find is one for a PC. I don't remember having a driver for the iMac. This is driving me crazy. Thanks for any help. sus4
    • 7 years ago
    • By: sus4
    Reply
  • PDXstudio
    Is it necessary to check "receives MIDI beat clock" in Audio MIDI Setup if the synth needs to receive clock for tempo synchronized modulations (LFOs, delays, etc.)? I usually leave it checked just in case, but, as far as I've seen, the only parameters that are critical are the modules internal settings (receive clock=on, or whatever it is for that device), and the Logic project setting>synchronization>MIDI tab>Transmit MIDI clock destination (must be checked and specified. I leave it set to All). Thanks for your helpful tutorials.
    • 6 years ago
    • By: PDXstudio
    Reply
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