In this adapted excerpt from chapter 3 of my MPC Logic tutorial book, ‘Using Logic Pro With The Akai MPC‘, I’ll take an initial look at MIDI Clock sync with Logic as the ‘master’. This full book covers everything you need to know about using any hardware Akai MPC successfully with Logic Pro (and Logic Express), from initial hardware and software set up, to using Logic as a sound module for your MPC, syncing your MPC with Logic using MIDI Clock and MIDI Time Code, and tracking both MIDI and Audio data into Logic ready for a professional mixdown.
To buy and instantly download the complete 116 page book with all the project files you need to recreate all the tutorials in both your MPC and Logic, head over to my site MPC-Samples.com.
More than a Sound Module
As we saw in chapter 2, Logic can be a valuable sonic resource for beats and songs written within an MPC, working as a ‘sound module’ that can provide quality sounds triggered by MPC MIDI events. The idea here was that your entire beat is written and played back within an MPC.
Taking this idea a little further, you could also use your MPC to ‘trigger’ other sonic resources from Logic. Remember, Logic is a complete digital audio workstation (DAW), so is also able to record complex MIDI sequences and even complete audio performances. These Logic sequences and audio tracks can also be ‘triggered’ by your MPC when required.
So for example, you’ve written a cool beat in your MPC, but it needs some scratching. You could record your scratching onto a Logic audio track and as you continue to work on your beat within your MPC, you can have Logic automatically play this scratching back in perfect synchronisation each and every time you hit ‘PLAY’ in your MPC.
And when it becomes time to create a polished stereo master of your beat, Logic is ready to show you its true power, as you can transfer everything from your MPC into Logic, either as MIDI information or as pure audio. Once completely transferred into the Logic environment, we can then apply further processing, effects, edits and other essential mixing techniques to create a polished, professional master.
MIDI Sync Overview
In order to perform many of these tasks, we must ‘synchronize’ the MPC with Logic. We do this using the MIDI protocols we mentioned in chapter 1 – MIDI Beat Clock and MIDI Time Code (MTC). These MIDI protocols continually send MIDI instructions from one machine to the other, ensuring that both machines retain a tight sync with each other.
MIDI Syncing Protocols
There are two MIDI syncing protocols used by Logic – MIDI Clock and Midi Time Code (MTC).
- MIDI Clock is a signal that represents the current tempo of the music, but contains no time or location information. It can be used to keep two MIDI devices synchronised, and can also allow the ‘master’ device to start and stop the ‘slave’ device.
- Midi Time Code is a signal that continually tells the slave device what time and location the master device is currently at.
When syncing via MIDI, we have to assign one machine as the ‘master’; this machine will send out all sync information, including tempo, time code, and transport control data (i.e. stop, play, forward, back etc). The machine receiving these commands is referred to as the ‘slave’. In this book, we will be providing examples where the MPC is either master or slave depending on the specific requirements of the task.
Let’s dive in – and don’t worry, MIDI sync is actually really simple to set up!
First, you’ll need a beat sequence loaded into your MPC – in the full book I use the ongoing project for this example, but in this adapted version, I’ll provide you with a simpler version to cover specifically everything covered in this free tutorial. Locate the ‘MPC Files’ folder from the tutorial files download and locate the folder suitable for your MPC model. If you have an MPC1000 or newer, load up the LOGIC.prj project file. MPC4000 owners should load up ‘Multi 1.AKM‘, while anyone running an older MPC need to load up the LOGIC.APS and LOGIC.ALL files.
Once loaded, select sequence 1, which is just a drum beat with a tempo of 80 BPM – press PLAY START to hear it. Now in Logic, open up ‘MIDI Clock Sync.logic’. This project contains three Logic Software instrument tracks all containing pre-recorded MIDI data, with a session tempo set to 80 BPM to match that of our MPC sequence.
The first example will be for MIDI Clock as this is the only MIDI sync protocol available in all MPCs.
Syncing With MIDI Clock
MIDI Clock is a syncing protocol present in all MPCs. It is a signal that continually tells the ‘device the current tempo of the ‘master’ device.
When syncing via MIDI clock, all MPCs can be either the ‘master’ or ‘slave’ device. However, Logic can only be a MIDI Clock ‘master’ – hence in this example, we’ll be using Logic to control the playback of your MPC. Hence when you press ‘record and play’ in Logic, the MPC begins to play back as well, and at the same tempo as Logic This means that in theory, there’s no need to worry about the tempo in your MPC, as it will be overridden by Logic.
Firstly, be aware that in order for Logic to control the MPC, the MPC must be able to receive MIDI instructions from Logic. This means we need to have a MIDI cable going from Logic’s MIDI OUT to the MPC MIDI IN. This should already be set up as per the instructions within chapter 1 (as part of the ‘MIDI handshake’ which I also cover here on MPC-Tutor.com). If this is not set up, make sure you now connect a MIDI cable from your audio/MIDI interface’s main MIDI OUT to your MPC’s MIDI IN 1.
MIDI Clock Set up – Logic
In Logic, go to ‘File > Project Settings > Synchronization’
On this page, just make sure ‘Sync Mode’ is set to the default ‘Internal’. Now click the MIDI tab (not the MIDI icon, the third tab along under ‘synchronisation’):
Here, make sure ‘Transmit MIDI Clock’ to ‘Destination 1’ is checked. In the ‘Destination 1’ select box, you can either choose ‘All’, or choose the specific MIDI port you wish it to be sent via, either setting will work.
How do I make my MPC MIDI IN port appear here?!
As mentioned previously in chapter 1, Logic will reference all MIDI ports in relation to your audio/MIDI interface, so by default, you’ll most likely see something like ‘Edirol FA66 Plug 1’ – i.e. ‘Send MIDI Clock out of Edirol MIDI Port 1’. That’s fine, and it will work perfectly well.
However, if you wish to see everything in terms of MPC MIDI Ports, you can first set up your MPC as an official MIDI device using the built in Mac OSX app ‘MIDI Studio Setup’. In this software, you ‘add’ your MPC as a device and then graphically configure all MIDI connections. The end result is that Logic will actually reference any MIDI connections from the perspective of your MPC, as in the screen shot above – ‘MPC2500 1’, which effectively means ‘send MIDI Clock to MPC2500 MIDI IN port 1’.
You can learn how to do this in the bonus chapter at the end of the book, but just be aware that this is purely optional.
Finally, at the foot of this page, make sure that ‘Transmit MMC’ is checked. MMC stands for ‘MIDI Machine Control’ – this sends ‘transport’ signals between the two synced machines, such as ‘PLAY’, ‘STOP’ and ‘GO TO BEGINNING’ etc. While this is not ‘essential’ to syncing your two devices together, it’s a nice extra feature that can come in handy, as most MPCs have the ability to receive (and transmit) MMC messages.
That is the only system settings required for MIDI Clock to function with Logic as ‘master’. Now, over to the MPC…
To access the sync page, go to MODE & pad 8 > F2 (SYNC), and set up everything as per the screen shot below:
MPC1000/2500 (including the free JJOS)
To access the sync page, go to MODE & pad 9 > F2 (SYNC), and set up everything as per the screen shot below:
If you have JJOS 2/XL, then set up as follows:
Access the MIDI/SYNC page via MODE and pad 7. Jog wheel to the ‘Sync’ option and set to ‘Slave’:
Access the MIDI/SYNC page via SHIFT and 9. Set everything as below:
Access the SYNC page via [MISC.] > F2. (SYNC) Set the ‘Sync in’ section as seen as below:
To access the sync page, press the TEMPO/ SYNC key, followed by thesoft key. Set up everything as below:
Now return to the MAIN sequence screen (this is important as with some MPCs, your sequence will not play back if you remain on the MIDI SYNC page).
That’s it, all done. In Logic, hit the PLAY button and your MPC sequence ‘1’ should begin playback. Press STOP (or space bar) in Logic, and your MPC should stop. Press Logic’s forward and rewind buttons and you’ll see both Logic and the MPC sequencer forward/rewind by a bar at a time in unison.
Your MPC will also ‘adopt’ the tempo of the Logic project as Logic is the MIDI Clock master, so even if the MPC sequence had a tempo of 150 BPM, it will always play back at the 86 BPM of your Logic project. In many MPCs, this will be shown in your MPC sequence, where the tempo parameter will change to read ‘EXT’.
If your MPC is not playing back when you hit ‘PLAY’ in Logic, go back through all the above steps and ensure everything has been set correctly. Also, check your MIDI cables and ensure they are plugged all the way into the MIDI ports.
If you get a CPU overload error in Logic, try enabling the ‘Low Latency’ mode option, to the right of the transport controls:
If you continue to have problems, quit and restart Logic, as this can sometimes solve random MIDI problems.
In chapter 4 of ‘Using Logic Pro With The Akai MPC‘, we’ll look at using MIDI Clock to record MPC MIDI and audio data into Logic, as well as how to handle the common problems that may occur.