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Working with Logic's Environment

May 22, 2002 - by Danny M
Logic Audio is a very complex program. There, I've said it. In fact, I'll say it again. Logic Audio is a very complex program. Logic is particularly complex in that it has a mysterious sort of basement attached to it, a basement called "The Environment." (Insert lightning flash and thunder sound.)
    To be fair, I recommend staying away from mucking around in the Environment if you do not have a solid grasp of MIDI and how your particular setup deals with it in a general sense. If you do not know these things and you start "futzing" indiscriminately, you run a high risk of making a bad situation worse, or even causing something that is working correctly to cease doing so. However, if you are in fact armed with enough knowledge to know how your gear works and why, then you are probably ready to deal with Logic's Environment directly.

    Working with Logic's Environment has had the effect of impressing a major point on me: Much of the Environment exists more for human convenience than actual system operation. Obviously, Logic won't work correctly with physical MIDI devices if you, say, delete its inputs However, most of the other elements (except for the audio layer) merely provide a quick shortcut for getting at various elements of your MIDI setup. For instance, you don't actually need to set up a multi-instrument, even if you have a multitimbral sound module. You can just use one of the "M Cha" instruments for each part that you need (as long as they are reconfigured as necessary). It isn't exactly graceful, but it will get you the same sonic results. (It should, anyway. I like to allow for the possibility that strange and unexplainable things do occur, especially when you mix computers and audio together.) Further, the Environment's multiple "layers" are little more than logical groupings of Environment object.

    So, the question one may ask at this point is, "What does all of it do?" Here it is, blow by blow. (Some, or even all of this may be review, as Logic ships with a decently sized manual. No, I didn't read all of it. Sue me.)

    The All Objects layer is a list of every object on every layer of the Environment. It allows you to change an object's parameters, and also to go to a particular object and its associated layer instantly via a double-click.

    The Global Objects layer is a grouping of objects that is always shown, without regard to what layer you are otherwise in. As I said earlier, this is handy if you have an object that needs to be visible often, as you can save yourself the hassle of having to constantly flip from one layer to another.

    The Click And Ports layer contains everything necessary to make Logic communicate with external devices. The Physical Input not only allows MIDI interfaces an initial pathway into Logic, it allows you to route specific input ports and sub-ports (MTP ports) through different paths. Different versions of Logic have different levels of functionality for the Physical Input, and different MIDI interfaces also differ in the number of ports they have, the designations of those ports, and whether sub-ports are supported or not. The Sequencer Input (it may have another name, but it's object type will remain the same) is what actually allows you to pass MIDI data into Logic's MIDI system. I would surmise that the thinking behind separating the Physical Input and the Sequencer Input is that of allowing the user to put other objects between them. The Port objects themselves will vary from system to system, but they also exist as objects that may have specific MTP ports (sub-ports) set as parameters.

    The MIDI Instr. layer contains representations of your MIDI setup that make it easy to access certain devices and sounds from the arrange window's track list. This part of the Environment generally contains multiple "M Cha" instruments, a "Layer 1+2" instrument, an "All Channels" instrument, a "Drums Mapped" instrument, and a couple of Multi-Instruments by default. (There may be more or less objects present depending on your version of Logic and whether or not you've played around in the Environment before.) The "M Cha" instruments are preset to transmit on a specific channel, and transmit a certain program change to the device connected to their assigned port. They can be reconfigured as needed. The "Layer 1+2" instrument seems to be a "demo" instrument, designed to show you how you can get a blended sound by sending data through two "M Cha" objects simultaneously. ("Layer 1+2" is cabled to two of the "M Cha" instruments.) The "All Channels" instrument transmits on all MIDI channels.

    The GM mixer layer contains a mixer or mixers (you don't say) that allow you to control the various blending parameters of your GM/ GS/ XG sound modules from the comfort of your Logic Environment. (Level, pan, muting, etc.)

    The Audio Layer is a very special beast, as it contains the controls that let you mix and process actual audio that Logic is playing back. Each audio track is controlled by a special "instrument" that looks remarkably like a channel strip from a recording console. (Audio Objects) It is important to note that the cabling on these Audio Objects is still a routing system for MIDI data, and has nothing to do with any audio in a direct sense. Audio Instruments are special Audio Objects that can pass appropriate MIDI data (note information, certain controllers) to plug-in instruments contained within the object, and then send the audio information from that plug-in to the audio engine.

    See? It's not really that scary. Guys? Guys? Who turned out the lights in here?

    Daniel "Danny" Maland.

    Freelance Engineering
    My Instrumental Rock Project
    Virtual Artist Community, A Friend's Project
About the author: Danny M
Recording/ Live Sound Engineer, Audio/ MIDI Consultant, Musician/ Composer
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