How To Use 5 Logic Pro X Stock Plugins Like a Pro
My name is Julian Wharton, and I am a top-rated Logic Pro X instructor on AirGigs. When I’m not helping others, I am a professional producer who makes music for artists, podcasts and films from my East London studio.
This article aims to show you that while third party plugins are often amazing and undeniably necessary at a pro level, many of the functions people are paying for are actually available within Logic. Furthermore, it seeks to show you some tools you may not be aware you already owned!
We often take for granted the monumental shift in music production technology that has happened in the past twenty years. For just $199, Logic Pro X gives you an overwhelming bundle of technology which would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for previous generations. There are a range of DAWs, but it’s clear Logic offers easily the most accessible and in my opinion broad DAW, with pro level tools ranging from arrangement and sound design to mixing and mastering.
Despite the range of tools available in Logic, during my sessions one question keeps coming up – do I need to buy third party plugins? I understand why this is happening, the music production industry has fallen foul to some pretty ugly marketing in the last couple of years which essentially tries to neg you into buying things with headlines like ‘why your mix sucks’. It also likes to take the marketing approach of dieting products by saying things like ‘become the best producer in the world with no effort for just $5’ or ‘do you want to get 1,000,000 streams on your track in 3 weeks!?’.
Both of these are playing on the worst parts of creative personalities, self-doubt and visions of ‘success’. This is all meant as constructive, I’ve done exactly the same thing at different points in my career, but hopefully this has given you some pause for thought on how we act as consumers within the music production marketplace, which it’s easy to forget is a business.
I often encounter people who purchase third party plugins, for example a compressor, without actually understanding how a compressor works. Not only does this mean they won’t be able to get the most from the plugin, it also means that they’re unable to make a good comparison between products. This means that what they’ve bought into is the marketing and the feeling of quality, rather than the quality of the product itself. We’ve all been there, but it’s easy to confuse the feeling of accomplishment from buying a new plugin with progress.
Without further ado, here are 5 plugins which you should learn to make the most of in Logic Pro X before considering buying alternatives. There are many more, but these are the five I often end up discussing in my sessions.
Vintage EQ Collection
Since 2018’s update, Logic has included three vintage emulation EQs modelling the Neve 1073, API 560 and Pultec EQP-1A, each of which have their own idiosyncrasies. Logic’s channel EQ has a very digital workflow with endless possibilities, which also makes knowing what to do quite hard. As analog EQs are physical things, you can’t build endless possibilities into them, design choices need to be made and possibilities limited. This actually gives beginners a bit of an easier ride because there are fewer controls. There are a range of third party emulations of the same EQs available on the market, but you should learn how to use these first before considering buying anything else.
For me, compression is the number one most misunderstood part of mixing and production, but also an area where people seem intent on buying products they don’t need. A compressor is a little complex, but ultimately it’s about controlling your dynamics. Do you want your sound to be more punchy, or have more loudness through enhanced detail? Compressors can shape your tone like this, make your track sound larger than life and much more – but only if you understand how to use them. The vast majority of compressors work in a very similar way and Logic’s compression plugin includes emulations of seven types of hardware with great results. It’s a great compressor that I still use all the time and whilst there are benefits of third party plugins, you’re better off learning how to use compression first.
Flex Pitch & Pitch Correction
We all want to have great vocals, but many of the vocal recordings you hear have been pitch corrected using software like Melodyne and Antares. This takes nothing away from the vocalist, it just improved the performance and makes it even tighter. These softwares can be expensive but luckily Logic has Flex Pitch for individual note / timing correction, as well as the Pitch Correction plugin, which confusingly, is a pretty good auto-tune.
Lastly, if you’re looking for new sounds, or to learn more about sound design and synthesis, Alchemy is a brilliant tool included in Logic Pro X and it used to be a third party plugin. Not limited to synths, it also has a number of soundtrack fx and soundscapes as well as granular, additive and sampling options.
Logic’s reverbs were a little clumsy until they added Chromaverb a couple of years ago. It has an updated interface which is pretty intuitive, but crucially it also allows you to sync your decay and pre-delay times to the tempo (no more guessing!), which is a feature even some more advanced reverbs don’t have. Sounds great too!
All in all, the message here is that Logic is an amazing piece of software and it’s incredibly cheap, lowering the entry point to music production like never before. Each update adds more functionality so take some time to understand the tools Logic includes before you buy third party plugins. Rather, spend that money to buy either knowledge or time, both of which will go a lot further towards you achieving your goal of making and releasing music.