Saturday, April 09, 2011

Logic gotchas and finally Reaper to the rescue!

The Studio got a Macbook Pro for Mandir recordings along with Logic Express for multi-tracking. According to the Wikipedia, the only differences for me between Logic Pro and Logic Express are the lack of 5.1 mastering and extra content - so Logic Pro is not required for my use. Anyway, when I tried to use it with the Tascam US-1641 and the Korg NanoKontrol and chronicled my adventures.

Initially when I created multiple inputs and tried to record-enable (arm) only one of them, all of them were being armed! This turned out to be a problem with the control mapping (I think) where the control was set to "arm selected track" instead of "arm track 1", and by creating multiple tracks simultaneously Logic had also selected all the tracks. Later, using the Deselect all menu item, this was resolved.

One of the most important things was a control room mix - doing an AFL (After-Fade Listen). Googling gave this google books link which confirmed my hunch that the only way to do an independent AFL would be to make sends to duplicate tracks (Buses in Logic) which are routed to a different output and mute those buses which I don't want to listen to. All right, I did that.

Then, the mapping of the NanoKontrol buttons and faders. Logic too has a "Learn Mode", but it is somewhat less user-friendly than the Reaper one, at least in my opinion. Click Learn Mode (it is difficult to see if it is enabled or not - this is a general problem with the MacOS buttons) and move a fader or button, then click on the onscreen control you wish it to be mapped to. Logic does the mapping without any success dialog box, and silently waits for the next fader or button. This caused some initial confusion till I got the hang of it. Also, Logic goes the route of allowing multiple actions per button press (or fader move) on the control surface, instead of Reaper's more elegant 'Actions'. So, for my requirement of muting 13 (out of 14) Aux Buses for AFL of one channel, I needed to map that button 13 times to 13 channel mutes. Makes a big mess on the MIDI mapping page. But at least it works.

Then another small gotcha - Logic by default trims any send to -inf dB! Tried buses, couldn't hear any output, till I figured out that the sends needed to be manually set to 0 dB or whatever using the dinky rotary control next to the send!

More Reaper features which I missed were: no customization of filenames of recorded files, un-intuitive LED graphs where -20 dB shows up as only a sliver of light! and far less complete realtime updating of recorded track. Also, probably it does not have the ability to add markers directly to the recorded wav file as in Reaper, though I did not test for this.

Then came the slow realization of the vital missing feature - without which Logic would be almost useless for me - cannot enable or disable EQ, effects etc on the fly onscreen while a recording is going on! (except maybe with mapped MIDI commands). So I went on a lookup and saw this DAW comparison wikipedia page, which mentions that Reaper has a MacOS version. Immediately downloaded, so now I can put my license in it due to Reaper's generous license terms,

Your license allows you to use REAPER on one computer at a time. Multiple REAPER installs for use by the same person are fine (home/studio/laptop, Win32/x64/OSX).
and get going.

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