Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Syncing Logic Pro to Pro-Tools

Hey nerds.

In this blog post I'm going to show you in detail what I did today. I took on the task of syncing Logic Pro (8) to Pro Tools (8). I got a little side tracked, and I'm going to show you an example of how that happens to me.

Speaking of side-tracked, here's something (sort-of) cool. is a blog, or collection of blogs about VU meters. I found my blog on there! So at least people are getting use out of my random postings. Let's get back to it, shall we?


Alright, so let's start with the Pro Tools side. Open up your session and either at the start up window or if you hit "Command-(numeric pad) 2" change your startup timecode to be one hour. If you're doing music production set the frame rate to 30-ND (for non-drop cause we're not snoop dog) which is for music, unless you're doing NTSC video in which case you will choose 29.97. Choose your bit depth and sample rate (remember, multiples of 44.1 for audio and multiples of 48 for video) and honestly I don't really care what it is, just remember what you chose. Moving on!

Actually, I skipped a step, but it doesn't matter as long as we remember to do it now. Go to the Audio/MIDI Setup found in your applications folder and enable the IAC driver. Make sure the driver is online and the IAC Bus 1 has been created. You can create more if you'd like. It's fun.

Alright, so we've got the bus through which our SMPTE timecode will be transmitted from Pro Tools to Logic. Inside of Pro Tools, go to setup>peripherals>synchronization. Set both the MTC Reader And Generator Ports to the IAC Driver, Bus 1. I don't really know if you need to do both of them, but I figure it doesn't hurt. You probably only need the generator port, but in case we're trying to slave Pro Tools instead of Logic, we'll need the reader port to be Bus 1.

Now we've got our MTC Generator all set up to generate SMPTE timecode at 30ND starting at one hour. Open the transport window "Command-(numeric pad) 1"and click on the disclosure triangle on the upper right hand side, make sure "synchronization" is checked. Click the GEN MTC button so it turns blue.

Logic time:
Go over to Logic, click Settings>synchronization. Under the General tab, which will be the first to pop up, set the sync mode to MTC, the Frame Rate to the same you did in Pro Tools (30ND) and set the "plays at SMPTE to one hour, just like we did in Pro Tools. We have almost arrived. Control click the transport bar and click the pop down menu that says "Customize Transport Bar...". In there under "Modes and Functions" enable Sync. Click ok and go and press the Sync button in the transport bar. The bar ruler at the top will turn a nice blue color. Press play in Pro Tools and Logics transport will follow!

Why the heck would I do that?
I don't know. I've done it before in a pinch when I needed more inputs and all I had was a firepod. Anyways, the reason I wanted to do this in the first place was to play Logic's instrument plugins while working in Pro Tools. So this is what I came up with after much Google searching:


I don't like using Logic that much, but it's got some pretty sweet plugins. They just sound better, but who wants to work in Logic unless they're a musician or a circuit junkie?

Logic Pro comes with a program called Mainstage that tries to act like Digidesign's Eleven, or Native Instrument's Guitar Rig, but it's like comparing Photoshop to iPhoto. Anyways, it will work for our purposes, you don't need to even run Logic. Logic is a giant CPU beast anyways.

Using our IAC Driver Bus, we can route the output of a new Instrument channel in Pro Tools to whichever IAC bus we want. I don't like using bus 1, since that's my timecode bus. Just make a new one and name it whatever you like. The input is set to all on my machine because I only have 1 MIDI device. Set up your Logic instrument of choice by making it the input of your channel strip. You can make as many as you like. (remember though, unless you use the split keyboard function, they'll all receive the same MIDI information, but you can route them to different outputs.) So in Preferences, make your output the Digidesign whatever you have.

Here comes the headache. Unless you've got something that has more than "output 1-2" on it, you can only record back into Pro Tools 2 mono channels or 1 stereo channel at a time. If you have 3-4, 5-6 or whatever, you have more options to chose from, including the option to continue listening to your Pro Tools stereo output 1-2 while recording the outputs of different MIDI instruments. Basically what you do is patch the input to the output, and record it in Pro Tools. In Mainstage, route the outputs of the different instruments to separate outputs, and record them back into Pro Tools using the physical output to input connection.

If you can manage to do that, you're awesome! Basically you can record all the MIDI you want into Pro Tools, and on new Audio tracks monitor or record the output of Mainstage's channels using Logic's plugins.

Yeah, ok, I'm done. There is nothing else I would even consider wanting to do between Logic and Pro Tools now. Unless you want to bus audio between the actual two programs, at which point I say, "No." (But you can...)


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