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Ultrabeat Syncing

Logic Tips & Techniques By Geoff Smith
Published December 2011

Ultrabeat isn't just a drum machine: it's great for tempo-sync'ed effects.

In this month's Logic workshop we will be looking at using some of Logic's tempo-sync'ed effects, starting initially with some of the simple insert plug-ins and then moving through to using Ultrabeat as a step-sequenced multi-effects processor.

The first thing to do is to create a software instrument track with a pad sound and an accompanying MIDI region. We will be using this pad sound for all the examples in this article. The first process we will consider is how to achieve a simple eighth-note auto-panning effect.

  • Go to the first insert of your pad sound's channel strip and load the Tremolo plug-in from the modulation section. This effect is not only great for simple tremolo effects, but it is also useful for tempo-sync'ed auto-panning.
  • From within the Tremolo plug-in, load the 'Slow Panning' preset.
  • Set the effect depth to 100 percent.
  • Use the Smoothing and Symmetry parameters to shape the waveform.

The left-hand portion of the Rate control allows you to set the musical division at which you want the auto panning to occur. If you click the disclosure arrow at the bottom of the plug-in, you can use the Offset slider to adjust the timing of the auto-panning relative to the sequencer clock. Try the setting displayed in picture 1 for an eighth-note auto-panning effect.1: This shows Logic's in-built Tremolo plug-in adjusted to provide an eighth-note auto-panning effect.1: This shows Logic's in-built Tremolo plug-in adjusted to provide an eighth-note auto-panning effect.


Logic's Autofilter plug-in is another great plug-in for tempo-sync'ed sound design. Call up an instance of Logic's Autofilter across your pre-programmed pad sound. The Autofilter plug-in is divided into three control sections: the Envelope section in the top row, the LFO section below it and the Filter section to the right. As an audio signal flows into the Autofilter plug-in, it analyses the amplitude of the incoming audio signal and generates a trigger signal that can be used for controlling the filter cutoff. This trigger generates an ADSR envelope to shape how the filter reacts to the incoming signal. The controls in the bottom half of the plug-in, under the title LFO, are for the tempo-sync'able LFO, which can be used to modulate the cutoff of the filter. It is these controls, and those for the Filter section, that we will focus on.

The Autofilter plug-in contains a multi-mode filter that allows you to choose from four different low-pass filters, a high-pass filter, and a band-pass filter.

    • Click the HP button to choose the high-pass filter.
    • Next, set the cutoff and resonance of the filter to 60 percent.
    • Now let's use the LFO section to modulate the filter: go to the LFO section and set the Rate control to an eighth note so our filter will pulse open and shut every quaver.
    • Set the Decay/Delay control to 2600ms. This will cause LFO modulation to gradually ramp up from nothing to the Cutoff Mod amount.
    • Set the Stereo Phase control to 180 degrees. This will split the modulation of each channel so that they are 180 degrees out of phase (ie. the filter on the left channel will open as the filter on the right channel closes).
    • Set the Waveform parameter to the pulse wave (see the yellow box in picture 1).
    • Use the accompanying Pulse Width slider to adjust the width of the pulse from a very short pulse (hard right) to a much longer pulse (hard left).2: Here we can see the Autofilter plug-in set up to create a stereo filter effect that jumps from left to right.2: Here we can see the Autofilter plug-in set up to create a stereo filter effect that jumps from left to right.

A Bit On The Side

Logic's most flexible tempo-sync'ed filtering can be found in Logic's Ultrabeat drum machine plug-in. Ultrabeat's side-chain input allows you to route audio through its filter and effects section. Different filter and effects settings can be stored in each drum cell and their parameters can then be automated using Ultrabeat's internal step sequencer, but first we need to set up our synth pad from the previous example as a side-chain source. To do this, route the output of the synth to bus 1 and then go to the auxiliary track that Logic has created and set its output to nothing. When you play the pad part you should be able to see the audio from your Pad track going into bus 1, but you won't hear it. Now to use Ultrabeat's internal step sequencer:

      • Create a new virtual instrument track.
      • Call up an instance of Ultrabeat and load the 'Side Chain Gate' preset.
      • Go to the Side Chain drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of Ultrabeat and choose Bus 1 as your side-chain input.
      • Loop your pad part and record-enable the track with Ultrabeat on it.
      • Play any notes from C1 to C3: listen to how each note you play triggers its own unique filter/amplifier and effects settings.
      • When you have a pattern you like simply record it onto the Ultrabeat track and you can then use Logic's quantisation and editing options to improve it.

In Control

Now you have heard some of the musical potential of Ultrabeat as an effects processor, let's take a closer look at its controls. To do this we need to initialise one of Ultrabeat's drum pads to its default setting. Still using the 'Side Chain Gate' preset, Ctrl-click on the lowest key of the virtual keyboard in Ultrabeat and, from the menu, choose Init, then Sine. Now go to the Osc 1 section and click the 'side chain' button so that it's illuminated (see picture 3, label 1).

In its default setting, Logic routes the side-chain signal through the filter section set to a low-pass filter. The filter section is in the centre of Ultrabeat (see picture 3, label 2) and has controls for the filter cutoff and resonance. Ultrabeat's filter is a multi-mode filter and you have the choice of low-pass (LP), high-pass (HP), band-pass (BP) and band-reject (BR) filters. Experiment with the different types.

Ultrabeat also has a distortion section (picture 3, label 3) directly below the filter section, which can be really useful for adding some grit to your filter effects. Click on the Crush or Distort buttons to turn on one of the types, and then adjust the effect to taste using the three controls above it. Ultrabeat also has a powerful EQ section (see picture 3, label 4) with which to further mangle your incoming audio. Experiment with setting up a bunch of drum pads with radically different filter, distortion and EQ settings and triggering them across your pad sound.

One of the most fun things to do when using Ultrabeat is to adjust the settings of Envelope 4 (picture 3, label 5) to create different gate effects. Envelope 4 controls the amplitude of each note, and adjusting its decay time to very short values results in a very abrupt gating effect, whereas long decay and attack times can be great for subtle pulse effects. Program a few keys in Ultrabeat with dramatically different settings for Envelope 4 and then experiment by triggering them in different patterns, using your keyboard to create complex gate effects.3: These five sections of Ultrabeat are the keys to using it as a powerful effects processor.3: These five sections of Ultrabeat are the keys to using it as a powerful effects processor.

Pattern Mode

Once you have created some drum pads with different settings you can then input different patterns into Ultrabeat and trigger them from the bottom octaves of your keyboard. With your customised version of the 'Side Chain Gate' preset loaded, go to the bottom right-hand corner of the Ultrabeat window and click the Full View button to display its in-built step sequencer. Within the Ultrabeat plug-in you can store and trigger up to 24 patterns. To enter a new one:

        • Click on the Pattern button at the bottom left of Ultrabeat.4: Turning the Pattern Mode on allows you to launch different patterns from B0 to C1 on your keyboard.4: Turning the Pattern Mode on allows you to launch different patterns from B0 to C1 on your keyboard.
        • Choose an empty location, then draw in your desired pattern. Repeat this so that you have entered at least three of them.
        • Next, to trigger these patterns from your keyboard, click the Pattern Mode setting on, and then set the menu to the right of it to Toggle (see picture 4).
        • Turn Ultrabeat's sequencer on and hit Play in Logic.
        • Use the keys B0 to C1 to switch between the different patterns you have added and those already programmed into the Side Chain Gate preset.

Remember you can record your performance into the Ultrabeat track and then edit that MIDI region to tighten up any triggering errors.  

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