A Logic Pro Ultrabeat Tutorial

Written by chris anzalone
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A Logic Pro Ultrabeat Tutorial
(Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Ultrabeat is a drum synthesizer plug-in for Logic, Apple's professional music-editing software. Using Ultrabeat, you can create your own custom drum kits and incorporate the sounds into your original music recordings. By adjusting the different parameters in the plug-in, you can create a percussion section for techno, rock, R&B or any other style of music that suits your needs. Using a MIDI controller such as a digital keyboard or drum triggers, you can play your Ultrabeat percussion kit as though it were an actual drum kit.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Apple computer
  • MIDI instrument
  • MIDI cable
  • MIDI-to-USB adaptor

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  1. 1

    Connect a MIDI keyboard or other MIDI instrument to your Mac. First connect a MIDI cable to your MIDI instrument through the MIDI Out jack, and then connect the other end of the cable to a MIDI-to-USB adaptor through the MIDI In jack. Plug the adaptor into your Mac using the USB port, indicated by the three-pointed trident symbol.

  2. 2

    Create a "track," or recording space, for your Ultrabeat plug-in. First open your Logic software, and then open the Arrange window by clicking "Window" in the menu bar and selecting "Arrange" from the drop-down list. In the Arrange window, create a new Software Instrument track by clicking the "Track" menu near the top of the window and selecting "New" from the drop-down menu. When the New Tracks menu appears, select "Software Instrument" from the list of options and click "Create."

  3. 3

    Click "Window" on your menu bar and select "Mixer" from the drop-down list to open your Logic mixer, which consists of all of your Logic tracks displayed in columns. Then locate your new Software Instrument track by finding its corresponding number at the bottom of the screen. Note that every Software Instrument track begins with the letters "INST." Click the "Input" button on your software track and select "Ultrabeat" from the drop-down list that appears. Your Ultrabeat synthesizer will then appear on your screen.

  4. 4

    Open your library of Ultrabeat factory presets by clicking the "B" button on your keyboard and select "Library" from the tabs in the right-hand column. A list of preset options will then appear in the column, with drum kits for hip-hop, rock, techno, industrial and world music, among other genres. Click any drum kit on the list to select it, and begin playing notes on your MIDI instrument to generate the sounds of the drum kit. You can generate sounds and edit your settings regardless of your record settings, but in order to record from your Ultrabeat, you will need to ensure that your track is record-ready, or record-enabled. Software tracks are usually record ready by default, but if you have trouble recording Ultrabeat sounds, you can resolve the problem by clicking the "R" button to the right of your track title in the Arrange window.

  5. 5

    Edit your drum frequencies. In the main Ultrabeat window, you can change the settings of a drum or create new presets by adjusting the parameters on each of the two on-screen oscillators. Select an individual drum from the left column to begin editing. From there, you can adjust the Saturation bars to change the amount of distortion or noise, adjust the Velocity to impact the speed at which a beat responds, or adjust the LFO (low frequency oscillation) to create a vibration effect, in addition to other effects. Try adjusting all of the different knobs on your Ultrabeat synthesizer until you get just the right sound.

  6. 6

    Pan your drums. Just as with a live drum set, you can send different drums' signals to the left and right speakers. For example, if you want your snare drum to have a greater presence in the right speaker than in the left, locate "Snare" in the left column, and click the tiny grey knob that appears to the right of it. Move the knob counter-clockwise to pan to the left, and clockwise to pan to the right. As a rule, always keep your kick drum (which appears at the bottom of the list) in the centre, or your beat will sound unbalanced.

  7. 7

    Save your favourite settings by clicking the drop-down box at the top of the Ultrabeat window and selecting the option that reads "Save Setting." You can find your new setting in the Library on the left side of the screen.

  8. 8

    Program your step sequencer. Ultrabeat contains a pattern-based step sequencer, in which you can program repetitive drum beats using the grid in the Ultrabeat window. Each of the 32 columns represents a beat, and each of the rows represents one of the percussion instruments in your Ultrabeat kit. If you highlight every fourth column in one row, then the instrument (drum, cymbal, etc.) in that row will play precisely at every fourth beat. As an example, you can create an entire beat by clicking the "Kick 1" drum in the left column, then clicking every fourth beat on the step sequencer. Then click "Snare" in the left column and select every second beat on the sequencer to add a rapid snare over your kick. Add as many drum layers as you want by clicking additional drums in the left column. To hear what your beat sounds like, click the sequencer's "Power" button in the lower left corner and then the "Play" button directly to the right.

  9. 9

    Add your step sequence to a music mix. If you create a custom sequence and want to add it to a music mix in Logic, just press the "Play" button on the Ultrabeat and then press the "Play" button in your "Arrange" window. The Ultrabeat will play in perfect time with your other music tracks, and you can save the complete mix as a self-contained audio file by clicking the "File" menu and selecting "Bounce" from the drop-down menu. You can also import the pattern you've created into the Arrange window by clicking the textured button beside the word "Pattern" in the lower-left part of the Ultrabeat window and dragging it into your Ultrabeat track in the Arrange window.

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