HomeAudio Production→ Flex Pitch Logic Pro X: How to Easily Edit Pitch and Timing

Giri Rabindranath

27 July, 2022

Flex Pitch Logic Pro X: How to Easily Edit Pitch and Timing


This blog post is a quick tutorial on How to use Flex Pitch in Logic Pro X, including the steps you can take to easily edit the pitch and timing of your audio recordings.

If you’ve ever recorded a vocal track and felt that it’s “nearly there”, but not quite perfect pitch and needs tweaking in a few small areas, then Flex Pitch may be just what you need.

Flex Pitch comes native with Logic Pro X (nowadays referred to as simply Logic Pro) and is a convenient way to edit multiple notes, one at a time, for pitch correction of your vocals.

In this post, we’ll look at Flex Pitch: what it is, what it can do, and how to use it.

What is Flex Pitch in Logic Pro X?

Flex Pitch is a powerful tool in Logic Pro that lets you easily edit the pitch and timing of audio tracks in your project.

Flex Pitch works on any monophonic track in your Logic Pro Tracks area, such as vocals and single-melody instruments (e.g., bass or lead guitar), but most people use Flex Pitch for tuning vocals.

There’s an algorithm that works behind the scenes—the Flex Pitch algorithm—that does all the hard work.

When you apply Flex Pitch to a track, the algorithm automatically identifies the individual notes that align with the different parts of the track. This may seem obvious for an instrumental track in your mix, such as a bass line, but it’s less obvious for a vocal track. Yet, it’s all taken care of by the algorithm.

With Flex Pitch you can:

  • Change the pitch of a note
  • Move, resize, split, or merge notes
  • Edit the characteristics of notes such as pitch drift, fine pitch, gain, or vibrato

You can even turn parts of your audio files into MIDI, allowing you to create new and interesting performance dimensions in your music projects.

You get the full functionality of Flex Pitch (i.e., all the above features) in the Audio Track Editor, but you can also do some quick, limited edits in the Tracks area of your Logic workspace.

When Would You Use Flex Pitch?

You can use Flex Pitch whenever you want to make pitch adjustments to your monophonic tracks—as mentioned, this means vocal tracks in most cases.

One thing to remember is that Flex Pitch is most useful for making small adjustments to your track’s pitch. If your original take is woefully out of pitch, it’ll be hard to make the adjustments that you need—it pays to start with a good, “almost there”, performance.

Keeping this in mind, you could use Flex Pitch when:

  • You have an audio track with a few moments that are out of tune
  • You want to control the gain of individual notes
  • You notice a part of your track where the melody slides from one note to another, but you want to separate the two notes
  • You want to alter the nuances of a vocal harmony that was created from the lead vocal track—with Flex Pitch you can modify individual notes to create the exact harmonic effect you’re after

These are just some of the areas where Flex Pitch can be helpful in producing great, tailored results quickly and easily. It’s a powerful tool, however, so you’ll probably find several other ways that Flex Pitch can help as you experiment with your own tracks.

Getting Started with Flex Pitch in the Audio Track Editor

Let’s now get hands-on and look at how to get started with Flex Pitch and do some simple editing, step-by-step.

In the following examples, we’ll use a vocal track that’s available from the Apple Loops Library. If you’re not already familiar with it, the Apple Loops Library gives you a great, royalty-free selection of instruments, vocals, and other audio loops that you can use in your audio projects.

How to turn on Flex Pitch in Logic Pro X

You’ll get the most out of Flex Pitch using the Audio Track Editor in your Logic projects, so we’ll work with that.

  1. Select the track that you want to edit using Flex Pitch and double-click on it in the Audio Track Editor to open it (you can also click the Editors button—a scissors icon—in the control bar, or select View > Show Editor from the top menu)
  2. Once the editor window opens, locate the Flex icon and click it to turn on Flex Pitch (the Flex icon looks like a “sideways hourglass”)
  3. From the Flex Mode pop-up menu, select Flex Pitch as the algorithm that you want to work with (the other algorithm choices relate to Flex Time, a separate set of specialized algorithms that let you precisely edit the timing of individual notes)

How to turn on Flex Pitch

Pro Tip: Turn on Flex Pitch in the Audio Track Editor using COMMAND-F

You’re now ready to start working with Flex Pitch on the track that you’ve chosen.

Flex Pitch Formant Parameters

Formants are resonant frequencies of the human voice that vary for each person. There are three formant parameters that you can set for Flex Pitch, and these are located in the Track Inspector:

  1. Formant track—the interval at which formants are tracked
  2. Formant shift—how formants adjust to pitch shifts
  3. Formants pop-up menu—choose either process always (all formants processed) or keep unvoiced formants (only voice formants processed)

Flex Pitch formant parameters

The Flex Pitch algorithm tries to maintain the natural sound of a vocal recording by preserving the formants. It does a good job of this, and you’ll rarely need to adjust these parameters, but in some cases (e.g., for large pitch movements) you may wish to do so.

Overview of Flex Pitch in the Audio Track Editor

When you first view Flex Pitch in the Audio Track Editor, you may notice it looks a lot like the Piano Roll Editor when working with MIDI. This shouldn’t be surprising, since Flex Pitch identifies notes for different parts of a track (as mentioned)—just like what’s done with MIDI.

There are four things to be aware of that will help during editing:

  1. Each note is marked out by rectangular boxes based on the notes of the Piano Roll
  2. Within each note’s rectangular box, you can see the actual waveform of the audio track within the pitch region of the note
  3. The time duration of each note is indicated by the length of each rectangular box—again, in much the same way as you would see when working with MIDI tracks
  4. Each note (i.e., rectangular box) contains handles (marked by small circles, also called ‘hotspots’) that you can use to edit individual characteristics of the note

Piano roll, rectangular box around note, and handles

The available handles are (clockwise from top-left):

  • Pitch drift (top-left and top-right handles)—to adjust the drift of the note at its beginning (top-left) or its end (top-right)
  • Fine pitch (center-top handle)—for fine-tuning the pitch of the note (i.e., make it slightly sharper or flatter)
  • Formant shift (bottom-right handle)—to adjust the tonal characteristics of the note
  • Vibrato (center-bottom handle)—as the name suggests, to increase or decrease the vibrato effect of the note
  • Gain (bottom-left handle)—to increase or decrease the gain of the note

How to Edit Pitch and Timing with Flex Pitch

Now that we understand the basic layout of the Flex Pitch editing space, let’s look at some simple edits.

Edit the Pitch of a Note

It’s simple to edit the pitch of a note using Flex Pitch—just grab the note’s rectangular box with the cursor and drag it up or down vertically.

Change the pitch of a note

The screenshots show a vocal note being dragged from G# to A. As you drag the notes, you can hear what they sound like.

Edit the Timing of a Note

There are two ways to edit the timing of a note:

  1. Move a whole note—just like changing the pitch of a note, grab the note’s rectangular box with the cursor but rather than dragging it vertically, drag it left or right horizontally.
  2. Resize a note—you can drag the left or right edges of a note and move them horizontally to change the note’s time duration

Split a Note

Splitting a note is easy. Just select the Scissors tool, place it where you want to split a note, and click.

Split a note

Merge Two or More Notes

To merge two or more notes:

  1. Select the notes that you want to merge (hold down SHIFT while selecting the notes)
  2. Select the Glue tool
  3. Place the Glue tool over the notes that you want to merge and click

Merge notes

Edit Individual Note Characteristics Using Handles

As described above, there are several handles that can be used to edit the characteristics of each note. Each handle appears as a circle at different points around the edges of the note’s rectangle.

To edit any one of the characteristics, simply grab the circle for that characteristic and drag it vertically to change its value.

For example, you can edit the fine pitch of a note by grabbing the center-top handle and dragging it up or down.

Adjust the fine pitch of a note

Edit the Vibrato and Gain of a Note Without Using Handles

Although there are handles for adjusting the vibrato and gain of a note, you can also edit them using the Vibrato and Volume tools directly:

  1. Select the Vibrato or Volume tool
  2. Select the note that you want to adjust using the tool
  3. Drag up or down to raise or lower the vibrato or gain

Quantize the Pitch of One or More Notes

You can automatically fix the pitch of one or more notes (i.e., auto-tune) using Flex Pitch. This may be useful, for instance, if you have a vocal track that sounds good and is in time, but not perfectly in tune.

Once you select your notes, drag the Pitch Correction slider to the left (decrease the amount of adjustment) or to the right (increase the amount of adjustment) to quantize your notes.

You can even choose the key (e.g., C or C#) that you want to quantize your notes to—simply select it in the Scale Quantize drop-down menu.

Flex Pitch Logic Pro X

Final Words

As we’ve seen, Flex Pitch is powerful, versatile, and easy to use.

Since it comes native with Logic Pro, you don’t need to mess around with (and pay for) external plug-ins, and it works seamlessly.

But Flex Pitch does have its limitations—some users have found that noise is added (e.g., ‘pops’ and ‘clicks’) when using Flex Pitch, and it has a limited ability to handle complex vocal timbres. The tonal character that Flex Pitch produces may also not be to your liking.

To an extent, it comes down to personal preferences.

And there are some excellent alternatives, such as Melodyne. But these are external plug-ins that take more time to learn than Flex Pitch and, sometimes, have compatibility issues with Logic.

All considered, Flex Pitch will probably suit the needs of many users, so unless you want to make specialized or sophisticated edits that call for dedicated software, Flex Pitch may be all that you need to get the job done. And done well.

FAQ

Is Logic Pro Flex Pitch Good?

Yes, Logic Pro Flex Pitch is good, since it’s versatile, easy to use, and does a good job of editing the pitch and timing of monophonic tracks. Although it has its limitations, it will likely suit the needs of many users. And since it’s native to Logic Pro, it works seamlessly.

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