Using the new Multiport Layer in Logic Pro 9 with Vienna Ensemble Pro

The folks at VSL have created an ingenious solution to loading large libraries outside of an application. Logic composer and guru, Jay Asher, shows how Vienna Ensemble Pro and Logic Pro can gel.  

As I wrote in my book Going Pro With Logic Pro 9, I consider Vienna Ensemble Pro to be a total game changer. With DAWs like Pro Tools that are still 32-bit it makes a huge difference to be able to load your large libraries outside of the application. But even with 64-bit capable apps like Logic Pro, it is a great help to be able to do so and only have to load them one time and have them available, as well as spreading the CPU load throughout the cores, which VE Pro does beautifully. 

Until recently, there has been only one fly in the ointment for many Logic Pro users: the fact that audio unit plug-ins can only address 16 MIDI channels per VE Pro project (v-frame). This has necessitated opening a whole bunch of them in an m-frame and connecting in Logic to each project through a separate instance of the VE Pro server plug-in. In my case, I had 6 of them on my PC and six of them on my Mac, which is not that CPU-efficient and is, for want of a better description, inelegant. 

The brilliant folks at VSL have come up with a solution for VE Pro. It is an Environment layer they call the multiport and that can be copied into your Logic templates and projects. This now allows me to connect everything with just two VE Pro server plug-in instances, one on my Mac and one on my PC. (My only complaint is it consists of locked macros so I cannot analyze how they did it.)

In Pic.1 you can see a VE Pro 5 project that has four multi-timbral Kontakt 5 instances, each assigned to the same MIDI port with each one assigned to different outputs. The total number of MIDI channels I need to discretely address is 38. Without the multiport layer, this would require an m-frame consisting of three v-frames.

Fig 1.

Pic 1.

Step 1 - Reassign the MIDI port

In Pic. 2, you can see that in the second column of the Channel Selector area, I am assigning the Winds multi to VE Pro plug-in 1.

Pic 2. Assigning the winds to VE Pro.

Pic 2. Assigning the winds to VE Pro.

In Pic. 3, notice that the other three multis have been assigned to successive MIDI port assignments. All you need to do now in VE Pro 5 is save the project.

Pic 3. Save the project.

Pic 3. Assigned to successive MIDI ports.

Step 2 - Download the multiport layer

This will be available as a zip file to registered users of VE Pro 5 in their user area. See Pic. 4.

Pic 4. Download the Multiport layer

Pic 4. Download the Multiport layer

Once it is downloaded, unzip it. For now, I have placed it on my desktop for easy access.

Step 3 - Import the multiport layer into a logic pro project

As I said, it is possible to do this with an existing project or template but for demonstration purposes, I am going to start fresh. In Pic. 5, I have opened a new empty project with a single Software Instrument and a single External MIDI instrument. You can also see the Mixer layer of the Environment.

Pic 5. Empty project

Pic 5. An empty project.

Under the Options local menu, I navigate to Import Environment > Layer, as you see in Pic 6.

Pic 6. The Environment Layer menu.

Pic 6. Import an Environment Layer.

As you see in Pic 7, I navigate to my desktop and select the VEP Multiport Layer.logic project and in the lower righthand side, “Open” is flashing. 

Pic 7. Selecting the VEP Multiport layer.logic project.

Pic 7. Selecting the VEP Multiport layer.logic project.

This brings up a dialog box where I can choose which Environment Layer I wish to import (in this case, the layer named VEP Multiport) as you can see in Pic 8. I then click Import.

Pic 8. Choosing to import VEP Multiport layer.

Pic 8. Choosing to import VEP Multiport layer.

The Multiport Layer is now part of this project.

Step 4 - Move the multi-instruments (MIDI) from the VEP multiport layer to the mixer layer

Logic Pro 9 makes this task easy. All the Multi-Instruments are selected after the import. While holding the Option key, I need only navigate to the Mixer Layer (see Pic. 9) and they are now in the Mixer layer as you can see in Pic. 10, after I have moved them away from the other objects to be more clearly visible.

Pic 9. Navigate to the Mixer layer.

Pic 9. Navigate to the Mixer layer.

Pic 10. The multi-instruments are now in the Mixer layer.

Pic 10. The multi-instruments are now in the Mixer layer.

Step 5 - Connect “All ports” to the software instruments that will host the VE Pro Server Plug-In

In this example there is only one but you can use as many as you choose. I use two as I said earlier, one for my Mac and one for my slave PC. In Pic 11, I am grabbing the plug on the All Ports object and cabling it to Inst 1, which will be hosting the VE Pro 5 server plug-in.

Pic 11. Cabling All Ports to Inst 1.

Pic 11. Cabling All Ports to Inst 1.

I can now close the Environment Window.

Step 6 - Instantiate the VE Pro Server plug-in and connect to the VE Pro 5 project

In Pic 12, I instantiate a multi-output version of the VE Pro 5 server plug-in, which opens the GUI (see Pic. 13). Note that since it is on the same computer, I can assign the buffer latency to “NONE” (which should be fine unless you run into serious CPU issues).

Pic 12. A multi-output version of VE Pro 5

Pic 12. A multi-output version of VE Pro 5.

The GUI of VE Pro 5 Server.

The GUI of VE Pro 5 Server.

In Pic 14, I select the VE Pro project and Connect, which brings up another GUI, where I can check DECOUPLE. I strongly recommend you do this otherwise Logic takes a very long time to save the project and it can lead to instability down the line, at least in my experience.

Pic 14. Enable the Decouple checkbox.

Pic 14. Enable the Decouple checkbox.

I can now close the VE Pro server plug-in GUI.

Step 7 - create the MIDI Tracks

In Pic 15, notice I have selected the External MIDI instrument track and while holding the Control key, reassigned it to Mixer > VEP 01 > Channel 1. This will address the first instrument in the Winds multi in the VE Pro project discretely.

Pic 15. Select the Ext MIDI track while holding down 'Control'

Pic 15. Select the Ext MIDI track while holding down 'Control'

Now I either go under the Track submenu or use the key command tandem for "New with Next MIDI Channel". There are 9 woodwind patches in my multi so I repeat this nine more times.

Now notice Pic 16: I choose the last MIDI instrument track and reassign it to MIDI channel 1 of the second VE Pro port for the Strings multi. Continuing with this method, I create tracks to address 4 more strings patches, 7 brass patches, and 16 percussion patches.

Pic 16. Reassign MIDI Inst track to MIDI Channel 1.

Pic 16. Reassign MIDI Inst track to MIDI Channel 1.

I then follow all these steps for the VE Pro 5 project on my PC.

If you are like me, all that remains (and yes, it takes time) is to rename each track and assign it a proper icon and then save it as a template. My end result is partially visible in Pic 17.

Pic 17. End result.

Pic 17. The end result. Remember to save this as a template!

It's lot of work but now you have an awesome Logic Pro 9 template with VE Pro projects using the elegant workflow with the Multiport Layer that should serve you very well, indeed!

Jay is a Los Angeles-based composer, songwriter, arranger and orchestrator, conductor, keyboardist, as well as vocalist. As a composer, he is best known for scoring the New World Television series Zorro. Among the films and TV movies he has arranged, orchestrated and/or conducted are Paramount Pictures' Blame It On Rio Read More


Hey Jay your article has been a big help for me running VE PRO 5 on my MBP but when I use my 2010 Mac Pro as a Slave to run VEPRO I don't seem to be able to get the Multiport layer to work the same. I am reinstalling the layer into Logic 9s mixer environment and cabling it to Instrument 2 with VE server running and connected via a network cable and it seems to work for 1 multitimbral instance of Play 3 win which I have woodwinds installed but whenI open a second instance of Play I can't work out how to connect to it from Logic on my MBP. I always seem to be "talking" to the first instance of Play 3. Help!
Jay Asher
Hi, If you do it exactly the way I have outlined in the article it should work. Without seeing your templates I cannot know what is going wrong for you.

If you want to zip them and email them to me, I will take a look.
Brian Carr
Hi, I was hoping you could help me with a problem I'm having with VEP and Logic 9.1.7.

I follow your tutorial exactly, and it works fine up until I try to add auxiliary channels by pressing the + sign on the VEP Instrument Channel Strip in Logic. As soon as I do that, Logic suddenly will only address midi channel 1 of each of my Kontakt players within VEP, no matter which channel I'm addressing in Logic (2-16). It will address each of the 7 different Kontakt players I have in VEP, but it will only trigger the sample that is loaded into midi channel 1.

I'd be happy to send you the templates if you wanted to take a look. thanks,

I think you best address this problem to Jay rather than me. I have just been composing a long email to him with screenshots to outline my problem and, whilst typing, I noticed my error with midi settings on my slave instance of VE Pro and voila all is fixed. Purely pilot error on my part!

I just tried to replicate your problem with my setup but realised it is how I am setup anyway and it is working fine. I am running 5 stereo instances of Kontakt in VE Pro and have used the + sign on the Logic VE Pro multitimbral instrument to make 5 output stereo inputs and all is well. Cheers Jim
I tried this exact set up and it worked exactly as advertised. Unfortunately, track volume automation ( cc7) does not work with this set up, or at least not as described here. I went back to the orchestral template on the VSL site from one of the forums described in a PDF. It does require multiple instances of VE Pro but I don't really see that as inelegant. The instances can be divided up into logical groupings of instruments and once properly set up, can be left alone.

If there is someway to use cc7 with this set up, I would love to know.
Jay Asher
You use cc11 (expression) on the MIDI tracks or automate the auxes with cc7.

But yes, after my initial enthusiasm I have gone back to using separate instances as it is more flexible and less prone to glitches.

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