How to Use Third-Party Instruments Inside Logic Pro X Drum Machine Designer

Logic Pro X's new Drum Machine Designer is a great plug-in designed to make controlling and creating drum parts easier than ever. Now, Darren Burgos shows how to use 3rd-party instruments inside it.  

Many of us have already delved into Logic Pro 10.1’s new Drum Machine Designer (DMD). If you haven’t yet, read my introduction article on it. There are so many reasons why Drum Machine Designer is great …for one, every sound is already set-up on its own channel so you can easily process them individually with Logic and other third-party effects. With the built-in smart controls within DMD, you can easily tune, adjust envelope parameters, and even EQ specific drums. It’s also easy to swap out specific drums with the collection of sounds provided by Apple. Once you click on a drum cell, the Library displays several dozen replacement options. But what if those are not enough?

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Drum Machine Designer can actually use any third-party general MIDI compatible drum module. This way you can easily replace a DMD kick using the drum instrument/sampler of your choice. It is not limited to Ultrabeat alone like many think (including myself when it first came out). In this quick article, I’ll show you how. By easily saving each of your drum modules to the Library, they’ll become available as sources to switch to in addition to Apple’s built-in sounds. DMD becomes a “layer” above its contained collection of instruments on channel strips.

Step 1: Save Each Drum Instrument as a Library Patch

First, open your favorite drum module, sampler, kick maker, FX synth, etc., and simply save its default setting to the Library. Press the Y key to toggle the Library first, then make sure its arrow is pointing to the top of the channel strip—this way you save the entire vertical strip as a Library Patch. Click the “Save” button at the bottom right corner of the Library. Repeat this step for all of your third-party drum modules (Read Tips Below).

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Step 2: Swap Out a Sound Using a Third Party Drum

Either open an Electronic or Hip Hop Drummer track, or open DMD directly from the channel and build a pattern. If you have a song you know needs a drum replaced, use that. Choose the drum cell in DMD you want to replace, and make sure the Library is open. You’ll see the usual list of Apple made replacements. Scroll to the far left of the Library to see the “User Patches” menu… this is where you’ll find the various drum synths/modules you saved above. Choose one, go for it… DMD’s single voice will swap out to the instrument you choose! Open the instrument’s interface, and you can now move through its various kits, or change out the specific drum. Since single DMD cells/voices only trigger on a single MIDI note, you’ll only ever hear that one sound from the instrument.

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Tips: For the sounds to “line up” for example, DMD’s open hat slot to correlate to the third party’s open hat sound, then the instrument should be General MIDI. This simply means that specific drum sounds are always in an expected location across a MIDI keyboard controller. For example the kick sound is always on C1, and the open hat is always on A#1. Many drum pad controllers have “general MIDI” or “generic” setting that set the pads to the standard MIDI positions. If you’re using a specialized instrument for kicks like Metrum, BazzISM, or Nicky Romero’s KICK synth, often these type of instruments trigger the same sound across all keys, so you won’t have to worry when using this type. Other instruments that are either completely general MIDI, or very compatible are EXS24, LinPlug RMV, Native Instruments Battery, and many more. Some modules like Microtonic allow you to change the MIDI notes each drum voice is received on, so even though it’s not general midi compatible immediately, it can be easily set this way. You can use regular synth instruments too! This is great for adding risers and white noise sweeps… keep in mind though that each DMD cell/voice only sends a single MIDI note. You can see the note each cell sends in grey at the bottom of each cell. DMD cells can be moved and re-organized.

Thanks for reading this quick tip, hope you enjoyed it!

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


Thank you for this; super helpful, when I want to swap kicks quickly and then maybe mix and match!

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