Punching In and Out in Logic Pro

Made a mistake when recording? No problem. Mike Watkinson shows how the old skool method of punching in and punching out in Logic Pro can be used to make it sound perfect.  

When recording audio in Logic Pro, you have several choices when it comes to repairing a mistake. One approach might be to record on a completely fresh track. Secondly you may exploit Logic’s ability to create takes and store them in a take folder when recording on top of an existing recording. But there is another way. It makes use of a concept that was born in the days of tape when huge track counts were impossible and recording a fresh take meant recording over an existing take.

Punching in and out is implemented in two ways in Logic Pro: manually or automatically.


The Manual Method

In order to make Logic Pro behave like a tape machine, so that you have to act as tape op and physically punch buttons to drop in and out on a recording (as if you were stabbing the buttons on a Studer deck) follow these steps:

  • Click and hold the Record button and activate Punch on the Fly (this is also available from Options > Audio)

Enabling Punch on the Fly

Enabling Punch on the Fly 


  • Open the Key Commands window (Logic Pro > Preferences > Key Commands, or Option-K) and search for the word ‘Record’
  • Find and select ‘Record Toggle’. this is usually set to Shift-R but just in case it isn’t, set up a keyboard command in the usual way
  • Back up from your mistake, record enable the track(s) and hit the Play button
  • Hit Shift-R (or your own key command) at the appropriate moments (in and out) to punch in and out

Logic Pro’s default behavior is to capture your punch-in as a new take, which it will automatically select in place of the mistake. Both regions will be placed in a take folder for convenience:

Logic creates a take folder by default

Logic creates a take folder by default


Automatic for the People

If that’s all too much like hard work you can use Autopunch as an alternative, as follows:

  • Click the Autopunch button in the Transport

Autopunch (in red!)

Autopunch (in red!)


  • The Autopunch area appears in the Bar ruler. Adjust its left and right boundaries as appropriate

The Autopunch area - in red!

The Autopunch area - in red!


  • Back up a little way before the Autopunch area and hit Record
  • The Record button will flash until it gets to the Autopunch area, where it will go solid red and recording will take place. With nothing else selected in the Transport, a take folder will be created as before
  • You can also quickly define an Autopunch area without enabling Autopunch in the transport by making a Marquee selection and pressing Record

Autopunch can be defined by a Marquee selection

Autopunch can be defined by a Marquee selection


Replace

The Replace button

The Replace button


Clicking the Replace button in the Transport (next to the Autopunch button) stops Logic Pro from creating a take folder. Instead, one of two things happens:

  1. If you are using ‘Punch on the Fly’ the new region will replace the old one in the area where you punch in
  2. When using Autopunch, the Autopunch area is removed from the existing region as soon as you click Record in anticipation of the new material

Autopunch with Replace mode (and an active Cycle area!)

Autopunch with Replace mode (and an active Cycle area!)


Don’t panic! In neither case is the replaced audio actually deleted from disk (as it would be if this were tape). The simplest way to restore a missing section if you mess up is to use Command-Z!



Mike has been obsessed with music software since he first saw Fairlight's Page-R, and has tracked its development through his work as a performer, composer and producer. As a writer he has contributed articles to Sound On Sound since 1999, and currently writes their Apple Notes column. As well as being a certified Logic Pro and Pro Too... Read More

Discussion

davelopez
Having come from the world of tape and very familiar with manually punching or dropping in I find that Logic doesn't work well with the manual method.

The source audio drops out for a brief moment at the beginning of the punch and I haven't been able to figure out why. My buffer size for recording is set to 128. If anyone has a suggestion please let me know. I prefer this method because it's much quicker than resetting markers.

Auto-punch works great (no drop out), but it takes longer to reset the punch points therefore disrupting the flow or groove the artist may be in.
Gary Hiebner
Great advice. Thanks for explaining the punch in and out process so thoroughly.
Peter Schwartz
davelopez,

I'm from the tape world too, and I've always enjoyed how quickly Logic responds to manual punch-in/punch-out. If it didn't work as good or better than tape I'd have shopped for another DAW long ago. Here's the recipe for success:

- make sure the Punch on the Fly feature is enabled
- make sure Replace Recording is enabled
- use **only** the Record Toggle key command to get in/out

If you're still experiencing audio dropouts then I'd have to chalk it up to the possibility that you have latency-inducing plugins somewhere in your signal chain.
davelopez
Thanks, Ski.

Ingredients 1 and 2 are already part of my recipe so I think my problem may be because I haven't been using the Record Toggle key command. I'll give that a try.

If that works then you are my hero!

Thanks again.
sus4
When I use auto-punch-in and set my punch-in point at the 3rd beat of a bar it starts recording at the beginning of the bar which I don't want. Can't figure out why and what I'm doing wrong. Can you help?
Thanks.
sus4
I forgot to mention I'm working in midi not audio.
Thanks

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