How To Instantly Pitch / Tune Any Audio in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X has more tools for pitching and tuning audio than you may have realised, and it works just as flexibly as editing MIDI pitch does. Darren Burgos explains.  

Transposing MIDI regions in Logic Pro has always been a simple thing to do. Click the region to select it, then use the Region Inspector (at the top of the Inspector), or use the floating version by using key command Option - R. This is such a common thing to do in Logic when it comes to MIDI, you’d think it would be just as simple for audio regions too. In Logic versions prior to 10.3.2, only blue colored “Apple Loops” and audio captured directly into Logic via your audio interface could be transposed as easily as MIDI without altering the length.

Have a cool vocal stab you want to add to Logic’s Workspace/Arrange window from a WAV based loop pack but it’s out of key? What about “pitching” the toms to key in a chopped audio beat you’ve put together? Up until now, WAV loops/one shots could not be transposed in the same way as captured audio and Apple Loops. In the tips below, I’ll show you how to transpose/tune any audio with Logic’s new method via Region Parameters, and two other pre-existing methods. 

The Theory

Almost all pitch shifting is a digital thing, so you'd expect it to have many options in the computer world. The process itself requires the separation of pitch and time, and because this is mathematically difficult, there are not as many high quality options as you’d think. Two of the most popular offerings are Autotune and Melodyne. Both of these however are primarily focused on correcting the pitch of an entire performed audio recording like a vocal or instrument, not on a single piece of cut up audio. Most producers today are very familiar with chopping audio; using prerecorded snippets of audio for building beats, individual musical parts and creating entire songs. Now Logic users no longer have to think of what type of audio they’re using when pitching, it all just works.

Transpose Any Audio Region Via Region Inspector

First let’s look at 10.3.2’s new method for transposing and tuning. Open a song you’ve been making with plenty of audio regions. For this article I made a song with loops and one shot drum and vocal stabs. All of these are made via previously un-transposable WAV files. First, the kick in my song was a bit too high, so I’ll want to pitch it down and deeper. If the Inspector window is not already open, press the I key on your keyboard to open it. The Region Inspector is the top window of the Inspector. It’s a collapsable window, so if it’s closed, make sure to click the triangle to open it.

There you’ll find the newly available (to all audio) Transpose and Fine Tuning parameters. For my kick, I brought it down by two half steps (-2). Click, hold, and move the mouse up/down directly to the right of the word “transpose” to adjust. Many people don’t realize you can do this since there’s no indication it’s even adjustable as semitones, only by octaves farther to the right. As you can see in the image below, when zoomed in far enough, the regions themselves now indicate their transposition value.

I continued to adjust the vocals stabs, bass, and other audio elements to my liking. Literally all the elements in my example below are tuned/transposed, even the bass originally only played a single note. Remember there is also a very useful new “Fine Tune” parameter available there too. This is great for fixing out-of-tune guitars, synths and vocals that are consistently slightly sharp or flat.

This great new feature actually uses an old feature you might know called Flex Pitch. The moment you put a value in the Transpose parameter, the “Flex” checkbox is enabled. So what if the transposition doesn’t sound perfect, or there are unwanted artifacts? Just as you would in Flex, you can choose from several different “Flex Modes.” Right below the Region Inspector menu is the Track Inspector. Again, if it’s collapsed, open it, and there you will find the flex mode parameter. The “Slicing” value is great for most uses, but try some of the others if you are sensitive to the inherent degradation that all pitch shifting type processes add to your audio. In my example song, I used the monophonic setting on my bass for example. 

Create Pitch Risers With AUNewPitch

What about smooth transitions though? With the method above, I independently pitched each vocal stab to make it climb in energy, but each one clearly steps up/down to the next note. My song has a recording of a held-out chord that I’d like to make a smooth “riser” out of. I’ll use Apple’s mysterious “AUNewPitch” Audio Unit plug-in that appeared recently. I’m glad it did too, because it’s fantastic on vocals and for making smooth continuous pitch risers up to two octaves up or down.

This is not Apple’s old school “AUPitch”… this is something newer, and if my ears are correct, much better sounding, especially on voice and sustained synth/instruments with medium to slow attack. Add an effect as you normally would to one of your tracks, but instead of adding a Logic effect, move down to the “Audio Units” menu. Move up to the top of your list, and go to the “Apple” sub-menu, then select “AUNewPitch.” I’ll now press “A” to make automation viewable, then on the track, I’ll click the blue “track” button so it changes to “region.”

Now I’ll automate AUNewPitch’s Pitch Scale parameter. I simply click onto the automation parameter menu (directly below the blue track/region button) move up to the AUNewPitch menu, then onto the Pitch Scale parameter to bring it forward. I can now click onto the region to set my first automation point, then add a second point and raise it all the way at the end of the region. I now have a very clean riser effect added to my region. In the example song, I also used this on one of the vocal loops.

Better Sounding Classic Logic Pitch Shifter

Last, and not necessarily least, is a tip for using Logic’s standard Pitch Shifter effect that was updated recently. Apply it as usual to any of your audio tracks. I used it on the very last vocal loop in the example below to quickly get it in key with the other elements. First I turned the mix knob all the way over to 100%, then adjusted the semi tones knob till it fit with the song. I also enabled the latency compensation button, then picked “Pitch Tracking” from the timing menu. This new option is much cleaner than any of the others with much less artifacting, and makes this classic Logic effect finally useful. 

 

Here’s the example track I made while writing the article. Thanks for reading!

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Darren started making music on computers when he was a teenager in 1987. His first computer was an Amiga, and when he realized the power of computer-based production, his addiction for making electronic music began. Darren switched to Mac in 1994 and started using Logic Pro. He's been involved in many music projects over the years incl... Read More

Discussion

BJS
This is great. But have you heard of a glitch that sends Logic midi instruments randomly out of tune? It seems many people have had this issue (myself included) and no one has found a cure. This could help correct that, but it would be better if it didn’t happen in the first place.

Great stuff!

BJ

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