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Power User
Preferences and Setup for Logic Pro X

One of Logic’s greatest advantages lies in it’s ability to be customized; but, out of the box, Logic is “dumbed down” to the lowest common denominator. Not to worry. I’m  going to pimp your Logic install. Follow the guidelines below and you’ll be off and running. You’ve been driving an automatic, economy car. It’s about to become a Formula-One monster. When we are done, all that will be left is for you to learn how to drive it.

by Nathan Rosenberg

If you just want to skip ahead, there is a way to do this all at once. See this section under “Preferences and File Management”. 
 
If you do that, here are a couple things to understand about what we are changing.

Preferences

  • These settings are saved when exiting Logic and applied to all sessions (globally). Opening any one of them will bring up a tabbed window in which any/all of them can be changed. Settings that I recommend as important or differing from the default values are noted below. 

  • IMPORTANT: If  Show Advanced Tools in the ADVANCED tab is not selected (and all of the advanced tools activated), the settings below will not all be available. This is the first thing you should do!

General

Editing​

  • Right Mouse Button: assignable as TOOL

  • this is possibly the single biggest time-saver ever.​

  • Select Regions on track selection: ON

  • Select Tracks on region selection: OFF

  • Fade Tool click zones: ON

  • Limit Dragging to one direction: BOTH (piano roll/score, tracks)

Cycle

    • Pre-process: 1/96

    • Smooth Cycle: ON

Catch

    • When starting: OFF

    • By position if catch and link are enabled: ON

Audio


General

  • Sample Accurate Automation: volume, pan, sends, plug-in parameters (i.e. ALL)

  • Software Monitoring: ON

  • Input monitoring only for focused track… : OFF !!!!!

  • Independent monitoring level for record enabled channel strips: ON

Editing​

Scrubbing with audio: ON (normal speed for both)

I/O​

LRC-Lfe-Ls Rs

MP3​

Use VBR: ON

Recording

  • These are important settings! Note that in Logic 10.2 they were in the “Song Settings” folder.

    • Overlapping recordings

      • Cycle off

        • MIDI: “Merge” — Audio: “Create Take Folder” 

      • Cycle On

        • MIDI: “Create take Folder” — Audio: “Create take Folder”

      • Replace: “Region”

Midi

  • Should be okay left at default values

Display
General 

    • Wide Playhead: ON

    • Show Help Tags: ON

    • Show Default Values: ON

    • Show icons in New Tracks dialogue: OFF

Tracks

    • Background: Custom 

    • Grid lines: Auto

Mixer

    • Show recent plug-in list: ON

    • Scale: Sectional dB-linear

    • Channel Order: SMPTE (L R C LFE Ls Rs)

Editors

    • Bright BG

Score
Movie
Automation
Control Surfaces
My Info
Advanced

    • Show Advanced Tools: ON

    • ENABLE ALL!!!!

Project Settings

  • These settings are local to your current session/project file. But as it is very helpful to create a default starting template (see below), it is recommended to set these for the way you generally like to work.

General

    • Use musical grid: ON

Synchronization
Metronome
Recording

    • When Beginning: Count-in: 1 BAR

Overlapping

  • This setting was moved to Preferences: Recording:

Tuning
Audio

  • General

    • Pan Law: -3 dB compensated

    • Apply Pan Law Compensation to Stereo Balancers: ON

  • Channel Strips

    • Automatic management of channel strip objects: ON

    • Automatic naming of channel strip objects: OFF

MIDI
Score
Movie
Assets
Template

  • The next thing you should do is set up your project/session the way you like to work. This is where the fun starts. When you are done, you will be saving it as a “template" (not a song) so that you can use these settings as a starting point in the future. But before you do…

Start with a “clean” song

  • No, not one with all the cursing beeped out — I mean lets make sure that we don’t have lots of tracks, effects, and unnecessary stuff in our project. Start a new song or remove, rename, colorize things to your liking. Think:“simple” for now.

Taming the library

  • Easily the most annoying thing to a seasoned Logic user, the Library is a quagmire of presets. We will be using it rarely. Logic, however, will be trying to open it every chance it gets. For example when creating a new track. Let’s take care of that first:

 

  • New Track > “Open Library” checkbox: OFF

  • Now it should remember that setting 

Re-claim your screen-space

  • Logic for babies-time is over. Let’s make things look professional

Mixer

    • View: HIDE LEGEND (this will give you easily another track of space)

    • View: Configure Channel Strip Components

      • Get rid of the icons

      • show colors

      • basically, check everything except ICONS and NOTES 

        • I like track name set to “one line”

Inspector

  • Now do all the same settings (or adjust to taste) in the channel strips of the “Inspector” (left side of the arrange window). These settings are separate from the ones you set for when you view the mixer.

Track Header

  • This too, is configurable. Lets make available some of the cooler, advanced features, at the same time, getting rid of the fluff. Right click on the track and choose customize track header. 

    • On/Off button: ON

    • Mute: ON

    • Solo: ON

    • Protect: …maybe??

    • Freeze: ON

    • Record Enable: ON

    • Input Monitoring: ON (but learn to use it)

    • Volume: ON

    • Pan: ON

    • Additional Name Column: OFF

    • Control Surface Bars: ON

    • Track Numbers: ON

    • Color Bars: ON

    • Groove Track: ON

    • Track Icons: OFF!!!!!!!!

    • Track Alternatives: ON (but learn to use them)

Toolbar

  • Hide it! You’ll almost never need it once you learn some key commands

Control Bar


The control bar comes pre-configured for different types of projects. The problem is that none of them are probably yours. You can always go back to the old “Beats”, etc. settings, but we are going to create a custom control bar that will give us all the info we need at a glance and provide a bunch of cool buttons.
Customize Control Bar and Display
right-click the control bar or choose this from the main view menu.
Save it as the default when you are done. 

 


Views

  • I turn off:

      • Toolbar

      • Editors

Transport

    • Get rid of all the transport elements

LCD

  • Here are what I think are some good settings for smaller screens:

    • Under the LCD section dropdown choose: CUSTOM!

    • Positions: ON

    • Locators: OFF

    • Sample Rate/Punch: OFF

    • Varispeed: ON

    • Tempo/Project end: ON

    • Signature/Division: OFF

    • MIDI activity: ON (*screen-space permitting)

    • Load Meters: ON (*screen-space permitting)

Modes and Functions

    • Master Volume: OFF

  • This is the most important. This is a disaster waiting to happen. TURN IT OFF!

    • Tuner: OFF

    • Auto Input Monitoring: OFF

    • Pre-Fader Metering: OFF

  • The rest is up to you. My favorites:

    • Cycle

    • Solo

    • Count-in

    • click

  • REMEMBER TO SAVE THIS AS THE NEW DEFAULT!

Song (Changes to Default)


Tools

  • Super-important: Set up your new tool (the one we enabled in Preferences>General>Editing)

  • This will open up very fast navigation and editing combinations.

  • I suggest:

      • Left-click: POINTER (arrow)

      • ⌘-click: SISSORS

      • Right-click: ZOOM (magnifying glass)

Snap Settings

    • Smart Snap

    • Snap to Zero (from dropdown menu)

Drag Settings

  • X-Fade

Global Tracks

  • Lets turn them all off except for the “Marker” track. 

  • Track > Global Tracks… 

Key Commands

  • I could write a book on this. The default is Option-K. Get to know this screen! Create your own set or pull from the preset list.

Preference and File Management

  • Okay, I get it. That’s a lot of stuff to do. So what if I just want it set like that without reading all of that? Well, yes, there is a way to do that. You need to understand a little about how Mac OS handles preference files, where it keeps them, and what changing them involves. Because I am hesitant to change your system preference for you or to do anything that is difficult to reverse, I have found a fairly simple way to take care of this.

Setup new Logic prefs… automagically!

    • Install Preference Manager

  • This FREE software from Digital Rebellion will backup and restore preferences from various applications.

    • Backup your existing preferences (just for Logic — although you can backup ‘all’ if you like)

    • Unpack this file to your desktop: 

 

    • The .plist file goes to:

  • ~/Library/Preferences

    • Open Logic (re-select your own key commands or choose the defaults, otherwise you will end up with my personal, crazy key commands).

    • You will be greeted with a “Welcome to Logic” screen. This is normal.

    • Close Logic again. This will make sure they are saved.

    • Backup the preferences (with a new name) again using Preferences Manager. 

Now you will have a way to undo all these changes. Next you will need to create a default template. I’ve already done that for you as well:
 
Open the other file

  • This is a Logic project. When it opens, save it as a template: 

  • File > Save as Template…

  • Accept the default location. This template will now be available to you when you start a song. You can even set Logic to open a new project using this setting every time you launch the app. This setting is found in Preferences > General