Join Scott Hirsch for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding audio interfaces, part of Logic Pro 9 Essential Training.
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Logic can use the sound card that is already inside your Mac. But if you are serious about recording and mixing, it will behoove you to learn about how you can use external audio interfaces along with Logic Studio 9. Out-of-the-box, the Macintosh audio interface includes a 1/8-inch or mini connector for both input and output. Software that is part of your Mac's operating system is called Core Audio, and is referred to as Built-in Input and Built-in Output by Logic. You can see some options for the Core Audio if you go to your Apple pulldown menu > System Preferences, and click on the Sound.
Here are some options for our internal Mac sound card. Your Mac's built-in audio sound card is great and you can always use it when you take your laptop on a plane, train, wherever you go. But for more professional sounding inputs and outputs, including more than one stereo pair of outputs, you should think about getting an external audio interface. They come in all shapes and sizes. They connect usually via FireWire or USB, but some higher end ones connect with the PCIe slot. External devices handle audio- to-digital conversion or ADC.
This turns sound into numbers that computers can understand. And digital-to-analog conversion, or DAC, turning numbers back into sound that humans can understand. Many audio interfaces also include preamplifiers that are able to take in and deal with any signal, whether it is from a microphone, guitar, or keyboard. Most interfaces also handle headphone and monitoring options to manage sound feeding studio speaker monitors. Some common two-channel interfaces include Apogee Duet, a simple and sleek two-channel audio interface with special features designed for Logic.
There is the Metric Halo ULN-2, a higher end two input, two output interface. And there is the Digidesign MBox, which is in its own special category, because it also comes with Pro Tools, a very popular digital audio workstation you may have heard of. This might be advantageous to you since you can use Pro Tools and you can use the MBox as Logic's interface as well. There are many more two-channel interfaces ranging in price from about $60 to upwards of $5,000. If you are interested in either recording more than one person at a time, or mixing in surround, you have to get an interface with more inputs and outputs options, or I/O.
Some common multichannel interfaces include Apogee Ensemble, with specific features that work with Logic. There is the Mark of the Unicorn, MOTU 896, or there is Digidesign's 003 rack. This also comes with Pro Tools. There are many more of these multichannel audio interfaces out there ranging anywhere from about $200 to $20,000. Once you are in a Logic project, you can configure your audio interface by going to Logic Pro > Preferences > General, choose the Audio tab, Devices, Core Audio.
Here you can choose the input and output device that is connected to your computer. Right now we are using the internal Mac card, as you can tell because it says Built-in Input and Output. But if I wanted to use a external device, which I have here, it's called a Hammerfall DSP, I would select it from this menu, for both input or output. Also, if you ever need to reset your device, you can come to this window and uncheck the Enabled box, recheck it, and hit Apply. It will reload and reset. Your audio interface is the only thing standing between your music and Logic.
There are many good ones out there and they are only getting cheaper as time goes on. Although Apple has a special relationship with Apogee, it is good to know that Logic supports almost all interfaces out there.
- Navigating the Logic Pro interface
- Setting up for recording
- Enabling multiple inputs for a live performance
- Exploring Logic's arsenal of virtual instruments
- Working with powerful MIDI editors and sequencers
- Beatmapping, varispeed, and tempo adjustment in the timeline
- Creating and re-using Apple loops
- Editing music: Moving and snapping regions, cutting and looping
- Transcribing a score and creating lead sheets in the Score Editor
- Syncing with video
- Mixing audio and creating dynamic mixes
- Understanding surround sound requirements
- Exporting a song from Logic Pro