Logic’s Smart Controls allow you to create hands‑on effects macros.
Logic Pro’s Smart Controls seem to be somewhat neglected by seasoned Logic users, and I suspect that’s because they offer a simplified, GarageBand‑style view of plug‑ins that is at odds with the way most experienced users tend to interact with Logic. I have to admit to neglecting them myself as I couldn’t see what benefits they would bring to my workflow — until I explored one of their under‑appreciated superpowers.
I was reviewing Slate Audio’s Storch Filter plug‑in, a simple one‑knob affair that simultaneously closes down a filter while increasing the amount of added effects as the cutoff frequency is turned down, and wondered if I could set up something similar in Logic. It is certainly a useful effect for use in EDM to create a sense of distance: adding reverb and possibly some kind of modulation as the filter closes gives the impression of the sound melting away. It turns out that the solution to controlling multiple plug‑in parameters from a single knob is tucked away in Logic’s Smart Controls section.
By default, Smart Controls will typically show the most relevant controls of the first one or two inserted plug‑ins, depending on whether you start from a preset or not. The actual controls you see are different on an instrument track, but these general instructions work on those too. Any of the knobs that appear can be reassigned to control any of the parameters on any plug‑in inserted on that track (or bus or master) and the parameter name shown above the knobs can also be changed as required. If you’re using Smart Controls on a bus or main output, these first need to be made visible in the Main arrange screen, which you can do by selecting the required bus or output in the mixer view, then using Ctrl‑click to open a menu, from which you select Add Track. You can also use the key command Ctrl+T.
Smart Controls are, at their most basic, a very useful tool for cutting through the clutter of very busy plug‑ins when you just need to access a small number of parameters. The Smart Control knobs can be automated in the same way as most other plug‑in controls, but to create our ‘several things happening at once’ control, we need to assign multiple plug‑in parameters to a single Smart Control knob to create a macro. Each parameter can be given its own control range and can go in either a normal or reversed direction plus, if you need it, there’s graphical adjustment of the control range for each parameter to allow its default linear operation to be changed.
For my take on an effected filter, which I am using as my example here, I set up a high‑cut filter followed by a SilverVerb reverb and a Flanger plug‑in, the idea being that as a Smart Control is turned anti‑clockwise to close down the filter, more reverb is mixed in and the...