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Logic X How to record automation from an external synth

Discussion in 'Logic Pro X' started by lukewells, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    I'm trying to learn how to automate parameters on my external hardware synth (Prophet 12 Module) in Logic X. the people who make this external synth and the people at logic x both said they can't help me so this forum is my last resort. I'm really surprised it's been so hard to find a tutorial on this popular synth and my popular DAW and it would be huge bummer if I had to return this amazing synth just because I can't automate it in logic.

    I Attached is a screenshot of how far I've gotten, which is after I have pushed record and moved the HPF cutoff knob on the hardware synth. I'm confused as to why it's creating region based automation and why it created these four different kinds of automation when I move one knob. I'm pretty sure this is the wrong way to do it because it's glitchy when recording the movement of the knob sometimes when I do it (the recorded automation line will move around on it's own out of the path I record with the knob movement), also because when I try and move around the automation after it records it, it just won't move sometimes... really glitchy. Could someone please explain how to properly record automation and if there are some tutorials out there on this (preferably video tutorials.

    Thanks so much for your time!

    Logic X 10.2.4
    OSX 10.11.6

    Attached Files:

  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    First, whenever you work with MIDI, install the freeware Midi Monitor to see whats going on at your out- and in-ports. Midi Monitor shows you almost all MIDI events travelling to and from your computer. You have various options to select in/out ports and it has filter options. For a clear readout, open the preferences and set "Controller format" to "Decimal number".

    Yes, you are working with region automation, which is the only way for external MIDI.
    (Unless you convert MIDI to track automation and vice versa. Not recommended and does not solve the problem.)

    The short answer to your question:

    Main menu > File > Project Settings > Recording > MIDI / MIDI data reduction
    Try to disable MIDI data reduction and record again. But turn only one knob (see below).
    Reason to avoid data reduction: Your synth works with NRPN and you must not lose events.

    Make sure that the synth does not send other CCs on the same channel while you move the knob. This may mess up the NRPN stream. If it happens, try to set input/output channels (don't use Omni).

    NRPN works with "blocks of data". Each NRPN message consists of 4 Control Changes with numbers 99, 98, 6 and 38 with their corresponding values. CC6 contains the actual parameter value, the others describe what to control and how. The 4 events must be sent in the right order.

    Recording and sending data for one parameter on one MIDI channel should work.

    If you have more parameters, you got to send them consecutively. Means for your synth: move one knob, but not two or more at the same time.

    Sending multiple parameters (several knobs, a pedal etc) on the same MIDI channel at the same time does not work. At least it makes no sense to record/send multiple parameters because the event-grouping (groups of 4) for NRPN is not maintained by Logic (does this work in any DAW?). It would be possible if you had one MIDI channel for each NRPN stream. But I am not sure if there is any synth or other device out here, that allows it.


    The long answer:

    I spare you the long answer unless you are really interested why multiple NRPN streams don't work ...
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  4. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    Thanks for your clear communication and help, Peter! I disabled midi data reduction and tried recording automation by turning the knob after pushing record and it seems to be doing the same thing.

    Also, if I go into the pop up window in the arrange area in Logic X and select "81 = HPF Frequency" and then draw out some automation, it won't actually modulate the HPF when I play the song.

    I bought this plugin to control the P12 but it doesn't seem to be working and I can't get ahold of the people who made it. Which has been a big bummer too.

    "Make sure that the synth does not send other CCs on the same channel while you move the knob. This may mess up the NRPN stream. If it happens, try to set input/output channels (don't use Omni)."
    Regarding that comment: What do you mean by send input / output channels? I don't know what Omni is. The global settings in the Prophet 12 (that I'm guessing are related to what we are talking about, there are others that probably relate) have been set to: "Midi Parameter Send" has been set to NRPN (instead of CC or off) and Midi Parameter Receive has been set to the same thing.
  5. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Does it send data to the synth? Have you checked with Midi Monitor?

    Ah, you use a special plugin, this is probably a game changer. I don't have a Prophet but installed this plugin. Looks nice, but only the very first knob, the very last X/Y control, PitchWheel, ModWheel and keys send data to the outside. The billion of other elements are dead. In my opinion the plugin should send data, regardless if there is a synth or not. I may be wrong – does your plugin send data for all knobs? Check with Midi Monitor.

    If they don't answer, this would be a good reason not to work with their software.

    It's a usual setting for MIDI gear. "Omni" or "All" means that a device listens (and may accept data) on all MIDI channels, not just on one. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not.

    Why NRPN? If CC is available it would be a better choice for your situation. And the plugin sends CC either.
    Try CC.

    If CC with the plugin does not work, try without the plugin. According to the Prophet 12 manual, CC is implemented for many parameters. Of course, then it's your choice to work without a nice interface or don't use the synth at all. For me, a photorealistic interface plugin wouldn't be the first criteria for a synth. Its all about sound, isn't it?
  6. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    I changed the two global settings in the P12 I was talking about to CC. Now it seems to be recording the automation properly and it's recording one line of automation but it's blocking the region with the midi notes... I don't understand what's going on. I wonder how I can separate regions so I can work on them separately.

    I may just forget about the plugin and not try to get it to work. thanks though.

    I had it set to NRPN because I heard that has more detailed automation as it goes from 0-300 or something instead of 0-127.
  7. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Did you test with or without the plugin?

    I guess you still haven’t installed Midi Monitor, right?
    Please do that. It is very hard to help you if you don't know which data you receive and send. And hard for you too, kind of a blind flight.

    Actually NRPN has 16,384 possible values for one "event". What exactly is used as parameter value depends on the device. Maybe the Prophet uses 0-300 for values, I don't know. This may give you smoother transitions on oscillators or filters. But try without the plugin and with CC first. If this runs properly you can experiment with NRPN later, to see if the sonic result is worth the effort.
  8. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    Thanks for your help Peter! I got midi monitor when you first asked and changed the setting you recommended. I'm not seeing anything in the event list after recording the prophet in logic X though.

    I did see some activity in the Midi monitor after figuring out how to get this plugin to work though (screenshot attached). the audio signal from the P12 doesn't show up in the plugin channel strip so I created an auxiliary channel strip for the audio from the P12. Now my problem is that the audio for the prophet is delayed from the clock in Logic. If I give it a bar of catch up time it is in sync sometimes but most of the time it isn't. I tried 256 and 512 bugger sizes and it doesn't work.

    Attached Files:

  9. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    According to your MIDI Monitor readout:
    The Prophet sends 2 bank and program changes per second? Something is wrong.

    My suggestion: Back to the basics ...


    Step 1
    • Close Logic.
    • Reboot the Prophet.
    • Make sure the Prophet is set to send and receive CC.
    • Open MIDI Monitor with the setting below, that allows you to see
      all incoming ("From Prophet") and all outgoing ("To Prophet") messages.

    • Turn one knob on the Prophet, MIDI Monitor should show a single controller "From Prophet" with a changing value .

    Everything ok?
    Continue with Step 2.


    Step 2
    • Open a fresh Logic project (no template).
    • Create an External MIDI channel, check "Use External Instrument Plugin".
      (Or create a software instrument channel and insert the External Instrument Plugin yourself.)
    • Set the MIDI destination to the Prophet port, MIDI Channel "All".
    • Set the audio input to the Prophet audio port of your audio interface.
    • Selet this track, start recording, move the same knob on the Prophet you moved for the previous test.
    • While recording, you should only see "From Prophet" events in MIDI Monitor.
    • If you also see "To Prophet", you got a MIDI loop: Logic sends the received events back to the Prophet. In this case, set the MIDI destination of the External Instrument to nothing, just for recording.
    • Now Logic should clearly record the controller that comes from the Prophet. Nothing else.
    Everything ok?
    Then continue with Step 3.


    Step 3
    • If you disabled the MIDI port in the External Instrument, enable it again.
    • Start the playback in Logic.
    • Watch MIDI monitor. Do you see only "To Prophet" messages?
    • If you also see "From Prophet", you got a MIDI loop: the Prophet sends your MIDI back to Logic and you have to forbid this feedback on the Prophet.
    Everything ok?
    Then your basic setup is ready.


    After you got all 3 steps right, you know how to do a clean recording and a clean playback of your controller data. Audio should be ok also, because with a slick and one-directional MIDI stream the Prophet has no reason to stutter or run out of control.

    If the Prophet needs MIDI clock, you can send it from Logic. In MIDI Monitor, open the Filter section and deactivate the checkbox "Clock". This way you don't see the clock messages, which is what you want.

    I think you can use MIDI data reduction for normal work, turn it on again. If you feel that the playback sounds more coarse than while recording, try if it goes better with full resolution. This is an early decision, once recorded you can't change the resolution of MIDI data.

    If you want notes and other controller data on separate tracks, make that your notes and controllers are on different channels. Logic has a function "Auto demix by channel if multitrack recording". This can be set as project default (File > Project Settings > Recording / MIDI) or executed manually at any time for each recorded track. You have to tell the Prophet about the channels.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
  10. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    Regarding your step 1: Attached is a screenshot of how I'm confused as to where I can switch the setting in Midi Monitor that you recommend. This screenshot also shows what is shown after moving one knob with the P12.

    Attached Files:

  11. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    For some reason when I take the screenshot it closes the pop up menu in Midi Monitor. The only option to put a check by in the "Sources" menu is "Prophet 12 module". "Act as destination to other programs" is the only other option I see.
  12. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Don't know why your Midi Monitor does not show the option "Spy on output ..." Try to activate that in Preferences>Sources.

    But the readout does not look good. Try other knobs and look if they send normal CC events (not number 32 and no Program Changes).
  13. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    That setting is now changed in preferences. I tried other knobs and the seem to be doing the same thing (screenshot attached)

    Attached Files:

  14. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    I wonder if anything in Global settings in the P12 should be changed, I'm not sure if any of these apply:

    Midi Multi mode - off
    midi clock mode - off
    midi clock cable - midi port (instead of being set to USB)
    midi control enable - on
    midi sysex enable - on
    midi sysex cable - USB (instead of midi port or off)
    midi out select - usb (instead of midi, usb+midi, or off)
    midi program send - on
    local control - on
  15. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    No, the data in the screenshot are ok!
    It's channel 1, CC07 (Control Change number 7) and nothing else. That is good.
    The only strange thing is, that almost all messages come twice. We can look into this later.

    What about other knobs, do they also send such clean controllers?
    We don't need screenshots for everything, just look at the data you get:


    Message Type should be "Control" (means "Control Change" or "CC")
    MIDI channel ist most likely always the same.
    Controller number is different for each knob/function.
    Value changes when you turn the knob.

    Normally each knob or function has its unique controller number and sends only this number. Only the value changes while you turn the knob or press a button.


    Regarding your Prophet global settings:

    How are your connections to/from the synth – USB or cables or both?
  16. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    Well now Midi Monitor seems to be glitching out. There's no events when I turn knobs. I noticed on the front panel I'm not able to check the box for "Midi Sources" or "Spy On Output To destinations", however they are selected in preferences. I restarted my computer, didn't help.

    My connections to and from the P12 is both USB and cables (cables are going to my Duet 2 audio card).
  17. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    According to the Midi Monitor Website (newest entry in "News"), problems can occur if some old MIDI drivers are installed. But you are the first person I know of, who has troubles with Midi Monitor. The program is definitely ok, it's the standard tool. You may ask snoize if they have an idea whats going on. I don't know another standalone monitoring program.

    I meant only the MIDI connections. For easier testing in this early stage you should only use one MIDI cable from the Prophet to a MIDI interface. No USB. Is this possible? If yes, set the global settings of the Prophet to cable, MIDI port, however the names are. If you don't have a MIDI interface, use only USB and set the global settings accordingly.

    Please ask the Prophet manual about the terms
    Midi mutli mode
    local control
    I would like to know if they mean what I think they mean.


    Currently we check what the Prophet sends. While you are turning knobs, select an audio track in Logic to avoid any MIDI answer back to the Prophet.
  18. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    I'll look into the problem with Midi Monitor as soon as I get a chance.

    I don't have a midi cable and here is what those terms mean in the manual:

    midi multi mode: Off, On-allows the A & B layers to be controlled by separate midi channels. When on, the midi channel for layer B will be the channel (A+1) and shown in parenthesis, i.e. (B:2) in the MIDI channel display (above).

    Local Control: Off, On - When on (the default), the front panel controls directly affect the Prophet 12. When off, the controls are transmitted via MIDI but do not directly affect the "Local" synth (that is, the P12). This is primarily useful for avoiding MIDI data loops that can occur with some external sequencers.

    Thanks Peter!
  19. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I see. An option you may use in future or not.

    Important, we will keep this in mind.

    I will wait if you get your MIDI Monitor running. We can test without, but it is more complicated.
  20. lukewells

    lukewells New Member

    Midi monitor is working now.

    When moving different knobs with the P12 with logic x closed, they are doing the same thing (with multiple events per second) but with a different control number for each knob. They are all on midi channel 1.

    At this point I have gotten through your steps 1 and 2 that you brought up earlier, and it appears I don't have a midi loop. Everything seems fine but I have multiple event per second when turning knobs.

    Regarding Step 3: I'm getting neither "To Prophet" or "From Prophet" messages in Midi Monitor when playing logic x.
  21. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    And you see the function "Spy on output ..." now in MIDI Monitor? Would be fine.

    Multiple value per second are ok, we just do not like different types or more than one number per knob in the same stream. The values in the last column of MIDI Monitor change while you turn a knob and yes, they can come in quickly. But if the Prophet knobs send only Control Changes and with a unique number for each knob, we are fine.

    I think the only function that should send Program Changes and probabaly additional Control changes is the program selector. Don't know the name on the Prophet – the thing where you load different sounds.

    Let's try again.
    MIDI Monitor: check the boxes "MIDI Sources" and "Spy on output ..."
    Logic Software instrument track
    "External Instrument" plugin inserted in instrument slot:
    - MIDI Destination: "Prophet 12"
    - MIDI Channel: "All"
    Remove old MIDI regions if there are some.
    Start recrding, turn a knob on the Prophet in a slow, regular manner.
    MIDI Monitor shows "From Prophet ..." messages (and nothing else)
    and data gets recorded in Logic, correct?
    Stop and playback the data.
    Do you see "To Prophet ..."?
    Do you see "From Prophet ..."?

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