Hey friend, Chris Vandiver here from wild Logic Pro rules, the website that helps you get the most you can out of Apple’s Logic Pro.
This month on the channel and website, we’re talking about gear that is budget-friendly, that has great quality.
And that works well with logic or is just really easy to use in general.
Last week, we talked about audio interfaces, and through my research and testing out different devices, I came across what I believe were two really great options for those who are on a budget who are looking for something easy to get right down with and also a great device.
And those two were the Focusrite Scarlett series, the generation three series, and also the Moto M series.
They’re both great for those exact reasons, just easy on your wallet, easy to get started.
And they truly are plug and play.
I mean, you plug it in and away you go.
This week, I want to cover USB controllers. This is something that has become kind of like a pet project for me, or just something I’ve been trying to figure out what is the best controller for logic users.
Now I maintain that the logic remote on the iPad is definitely the best user experience because it’s so much more than just a keyboard controller.
You know, it’s a live loop launcher, a step sequencer, a mixer, and so much more.
But it is a little odd to play keys on a screen.
And for those of us, whether you’re a virtuoso on the keys, or drum pads, or you’re like me, and you’re tapping away one finger at a time, you’re still looking for a tactile experience, because there’s just something a little easier or better about it.
And I don’t know about you, but I am so sick of hearing about how every controller on the market is the best optimized controller for Ableton Live use.
Now, that’s not a knock against Ableton users, or Ableton in general.
But what about the rest of the audio world, you know, whether it be logic or Pro Tools, or whatever?
But obviously, for our purposes, I want to know what the best controller is for logic users.
And for my research and testing stuff, I found two that I think are the best compromise, and again, won’t break the bank.
And also, you know, they just integrate well and are great devices and come with some extra features.
They’re pretty cool.
Now the two controllers that I’ve landed on are number one, the Novation launch key mini Mark three, or just the launch key series in general, and also Native Instruments, complete control m 32, or the S series as well, because those are fantastic.
And I own an S series controller, but we’re talking budget-friendly, you know, easy to use, etc.
Now let’s take a quick look at the launch key mini Mark three. I have it right in front of me.
It’s very colorful, it’s got eight knobs, it’s got 16 drum pads. All the pads double for other functions, the keys as well.
25 keys. It’s pretty awesome.
What I like about this particular controller is how deep it can integrate with logic. There’s a session mode, so you can have access to record, enable, solo, or mute the different tracks in your session.
There’s also a drum pad view or mode.
So if you select that now, the drum pads are exactly that, they’re drum pads.
But again, these double for other functions.
If you switch to device controls, you can use the eight different knobs for adjusting the Smart Controls. You don’t even have to set them up, they’re just automatically mapped to the first eight Smart Controls within logic based on the instrument or channel strip that you have selected.
On top of that, you can adjust volume, or panning, or send. You just have to hold the shift key and press volume pan or cents.
And then the different knobs right above the drum pads correspond with the different channel strips. If you are in the session, they’ll correspond.
Of course, the controller has all the usual controls for you know, working with the keyboard. You can go up and down in octaves. You can adjust the modulation and pitch.
But what’s really cool about the controller is that has its own standalone arpeggiator and chord trigger.
Now, of course, we have many effects on logic.
And you can do exactly this. You can load up the arpeggiator or the core trigger and get it all set up.
But it’s kind of cool to have it available from the keys themselves.
If you just hold the arpeggiation button, the keys and the drum pads now allow you to choose the different modes, or the rate, the octaves, or even different rhythms for the arpeggiator.
Once you get set up, you know you just hold down some keys and away you go.
The same thing for the chord trigger. You hold down the core trigger or the fixed chord button.
And then you press the keys that you want to create a chord with, so you hold the fixed cord and press three or four, however many keys once you let go.
Now you can play just one note at a time, but it’s playing an entire chord at a time and that’s pretty awesome.
Now Novation is owned by Focus, right, so the experience of plugging in the controller for the first time onto your Mac is just like the Scarlet series audio interfaces.
And AP will load on the desktop. If you double click, it will take you to your web browser and send you down the path of getting registered with your device and getting all set up with it as well.
The setup with logic isn’t too bad. You do have to download a script installer.
So you just download it from your account and then you go through the process of installing the script and this will integrate with logic.
So when you go to Logic Pro, you go to controllers and setup from that drop down to add a different controller.
Now the Novation mini key will be available within that setup window.
And then you just select the launch key Mini, hit Add.
And then you go to the input and output ports and set them to the launch key mini dock ports.
And once that’s set up, the controller is all set with logic.
And it just integrates and works really well, based on everything I’ve just explained.
There was one hiccup in session mode, and I actually tried out to launch key minis.
And they both exhibited this behavior when you’re in session mode, and you’re able to record enable or solo or mute. When I would press the drum pad for those functions, it wouldn’t change the state completely.
Like, if I press the Record Enable button for a track or the solo button, it will only stay record enabled or solo.
As long as I held down the drum pad, it would just toggle as long as I held the pad.
And that’s not really what you expect.
So I contacted Novation. Their tech support was awesome. They had an awesome guy on the phone with somebody.
And we found a workaround. This was very specific in language. They said this was a workaround, not a fix.
But what we had to do as a workaround was go to Logic Pro, go to control surfaces, and then go to learn controller assignment.
And then a window will pop up where you can adjust the different controller assignments. We went to the drum pads section under the mute and solo toggle section.
And then there’s an option to switch each of the drum pads, one through 16, from toggle to rotating.
So we had to do this for each drum pad under each category.
And once we did that, now all of the records enable mute and solo functions will completely toggle between states.
So you wouldn’t have to hold the pad to set that particular state, you could just press it and you know it flipped and it was good to go.
Now again, this is an affordable controller. It’s like 110 bucks. It’s very inviting and integrates with logic really well.
So there’s not, in my opinion, a lot to complain about that really fits the bill for a lot of people.
But if I could make some suggestions to Novation to make it that much better, it really boils down to the drum pads. I think that we could integrate step sequencer and live loops right into the controller. I mean, we know that the launch pad series of control surfaces works really well with live loops.
So why not extend it to this keyboard controller as well? We have 16 drum pads. You know, I’d love to have access to the step sequencer or live loops, even in just a very basic manner.
I also think it’s kind of weird that in the drum mode, the pads are just blank, there are no colors at all.
And you can go into a separate app called components. I didn’t get into components just because I found it sort of uninviting and weird to get into.
But I just feel like the drum pads could be lit up as well, instead of just being blank.
So you have some colorful indication of what’s a kick, and what’s a snare, so on and so forth.
The second controller in my list of budget controllers that I think are just fantastic for Logic Pro users, is the Native Instruments complete control M series, the 32.
But this extends to the A series. This extends to the S series.
I mean, they really are fantastic controllers, and I’ve had the M series and S series for a while.
And actually, this comparison and, you know, checking out different controllers really made me remember how awesome this controller actually is.
And let me just hold it up.
It’s a little bit different, not as colorful.
Just like that.
It’s got 32 keys, as the name states, plenty of transport functionality, and eight endless rotary controllers.
And if you can see, there’s a little OLED screen that tells you just basically whatever you’re looking at, or touching, and I’ll show you some other B-roll footage, but it is fantastic for identifying what you’re controlling.
And that’s always been a hang up for me when it comes to USB controllers.
It’s like, what am I impacting?
If I press a button or a knob, what am I actually impacting?
And that’s why I think the logic remote is great, because you know exactly what you’re working with.
Because you’re interacting with the screen, you see what you’re working with.
What I like about this particular controller is a lot. I mean, first, you have 32 keys, so you’re not just stuck with 25.
And it always kind of seems like that the key that you need is right outside of that 25 key zone. 32 keys. You are covered. You can play with two hands, you know, comfortably and within 32 keys.
Additionally, the keys, the knobs, the buttons, they all feel very sturdy, they feel quality, even for a plastic controller. They don’t feel flimsy, they feel like they’re gon na last a while.
Also, you have an advanced integration with Logic Pro and other da W’s beyond logic, but it’s just a deep integration, you just plug in the controller.
And once you download whatever you need to download from Native Instruments, really just open up logic and logic immediately identifies itself as a controller that can integrate with logic. Would you like it to just click Yes, and away you go.
So then you have access to play and stop loop, the metronome count and you can even tap tempo if you’d like undo or redo steps.
The knob on the right hand side of the controller allows you to go up and down or through the different channel strips or tracks so you can select what track you’d like to work with.
You can also use it as like a jog wheel to travel through the main tracks area so you can go from bar one to bar 50 you know decide where you want To play a record, it’s really handy.
And I actually never thought I’d care much for a jog wheel, but it’s actually super helpful.
By default, the different rotary controllers allow you access to adjust the levels of your different tracks in logic, you can mute or solo different tracks as well.
And just by pressing, or really not even pressing, just touching the individual rotary controllers, the little OLED screen will tell you what control or what track or channel strip, that particular encoder will affect.
And so it makes it very easy to navigate through logic and also complete control.
Because you can see what each of these rotary controllers do, what they are going to impact if I change them. It is super, super helpful, much better than not having a screen at all.
And of course, a big selling point of owning any Native Instruments control surface is the fact that you get a select few Native Instruments, instruments and also the complete start package.
So complete control is really where this thing blooms. It’s not really meant to be a controller. I would say, if I were to speculate, it’s not really meant to be a controller that integrates with logic.
Instead, it’s a controller that really integrates with Native Instruments and complete control so you can get the most out of it, navigate through the different menus of instruments, and loops and one shots, pick different presets, hear those presets, and then get right down to working.
For example, you can access an arpeggiator, a chord trigger, and even a scale mode from the controller.
But these only work with complete control.
They’re not just standalone functions like the Novation controller had, these are really only four complete control because it you know, works off of the arpeggiator, the core trigger and the scale mode in complete control.
It’s not just this random thing that pops up in logic.
But, you know, since the Novation controller has a standalone option, I feel like this could have as well.
Again, setup is super easy.
Once you get registered on Native Instruments website, you know, you’ll download the needed installers for native access, which allows you to download your different instruments from Native Instruments, and also complete control.
Once you load complete control, and it scans your plugins and your instruments, and, you know, gets you all set up with the controller, then you’re pretty much off to the races to open up logic.
And once logic identifies that there’s a controller connected to your Mac, it’s going to pop up with an OSC app that says, hey, do you want to integrate this with logic?
Unlike the Novation controller, it’s not automatically mapped to Smart Controls, you do have to open Smart Controls, and then go into the info pane.
And then start the process of learning external instrument controls, you then hold shift on the controller and press the plug in or MIDI button, which will then shift the rotary controllers from doll mode to a MIDI mode.
And then you can start to map the individual controls.
So you can start with knob number one, select the control and smart control the first one, adjust the first knob, go to the eighth Smart Control and then adjust the eighth rotary encoder, and then go back to the second control.
And once you start to adjust that second control logic, you should then ask Hey, we noticed that you’re mapping controls. Do you want us to just map the rest of them sequentially? Just say yes, and then you can turn off learning for external assignments.
And then you’re all set up in MIDI mode to work with Smart Controls.
But you have to remember to press Shift and press the plug in or MIDI button to go into that MIDI mode.
Sometimes it resets on its own based on what you’re doing contextually on screen. That is a little bit of a hang up that I don’t like.
But really, you get full access to Smart Controls from your controller.
I’m not going to cover the integration of this controller with complete control. That’s outside the scope of this video.
But you just load an instance of complete control. Wait, the aeons for the plugin to load.
And then you press the browser button and you can start to navigate through the different instruments, the different patches, the presets.
And it’s pretty handy.
It’s not as fast as just doing it on screen.
But hey, if you don’t want to touch the mouse on the keyboard, if you really want to be in the mode of creating from the controller, you know, absolutely, you can work with it, especially thanks to the OLED screen that helps you navigate through the different menus.
Again, this controller has awesome integration with logic. You have great transport control, you have great dog control, where you can adjust faders and mute and solo. You also have a jog wheel for navigating the session.
And on top of that, everything that goes into working with complete control and Native Instruments bundles, but if I could say some things that I think could be improved upon, it’s number one. I think the arpeggiator, the chord trigger, and the scale mode should be a standalone thing if it’s possible.
If there’s a firmware update, that could happen.
This should be a standalone thing that can be utilized regardless of whether you’re using complete control, in my opinion, at least.
Another thing is, even though each controller requires some degree of holding Shift and pressing different buttons for different functions, it just doesn’t feel like as much of a chore with the Novation controller as it does with the complete controller.
And you know, it’s a subtle difference, but I don’t know why, for some reason, the vision controller feels much more accessible.
When you’re having to dive holding Shift and then looking for different functions where the complete controller feels like you know a little more, you got to pay attention a little more to what you’re pressing.
So again, if you’re looking for a budget controller that’s really easy to use, that has integration with logic, and just has a little extra, I really think you should check out the Novation launch key series, specifically the mini Mark three, and also the Native Instruments complete series.
The M 32, I think, is great, but you know, even the ACE series or the S series, but if you’d like to take it to the next level, I highly, highly recommend checking out one of these controllers and also getting an iPad.
So you can use a logic remote because it’s the best of all worlds.
You get a tactile controller to work with that has integration with logic, but then you have the logic remote experience where you can get right into anything that you want to work with in terms of instruments, live loops, steps, sequencers, mixers, etc.
I hope this was helpful for you.
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Thank you so much.