HomeAudio Production→ How to Sample in Logic Pro X: Step-by-Step Tutorial

T Mango

10 August, 2022

How to Sample in Logic Pro X: Step-by-Step Tutorial


If you’ve ever tried sampling music in the 1980s, you’d know that a decent quality sampler (i.e., using hardware) used to take up a lot of desk space and cost the equivalent of a small car.

Oh, how things have changed!

Software samplers today are powerful and inexpensive, and the samplers available in Logic Pro X (nowadays simply referred to as Logic Pro) are no exception.

With Logic Pro version 10.5, new samplers were introduced. Using these, you have access to impressive tools allowing you to generate, edit, and play different samples before adding them to your music or audio project.

In this post, we’ll step through some common features of the most accessible and easy-to-use of Logic Pro’s samplers—Quick Sampler.

Loading an Audio File into Quick Sampler

There are several ways to load an audio file into Quick Sampler. We’ll look at three commonly used approaches: presets the Recorder, or an instrument track.

For the first two approaches, you’ll first need to have Quick Sampler open:

  • Step 1: In your project, select Track > New Software Instrument Track.
  • Step 2: Click the Instrument slot in the track’s channel strip and select Quick Sampler from the pop-up menu.

how to sample in logic pro x

Using Preset Sounds

Quick Sampler has a range of preset sounds that you can use for your samples.

Step 1: Go to the menu at the top of the Quick Sampler window.

  • The menu title may show the words Factory Default—click on this.

Step 2: Choose the type of preset that you want.

  • From the pop-up menu, select from a range of present instruments. (e.g., Arpeggiator > Futuristic Bass)

The selected preset will be loaded and ready for editing.

Loading a preset sound

Using the Recorder

You can record audio directly into Quick Sampler using its built-in recording feature.

Step 1: Select the Recorder mode.

  • Go to the mode menu and select RECORDER.

Step 2: Set the input.

  • Assign the input from where audio will be coming into Quick Sampler, e.g., the input that has a microphone attached.

Step 3: Adjust the recording threshold.

  • Set the threshold to a level of sensitivity at which you would like Recorder to trigger.

Step 4: Record your audio file.

  • Press the record button and start the audio (e.g., start singing into the microphone attached to input 1), noting that Recorder will trigger only once the threshold is exceeded (i.e., the sensitivity that you have set.)

The recorded audio will be loaded and ready for editing.

Using the Recorder

Loading an instrument track

While the previous two methods of loading audio are done from within Quick Sampler, you can also load an audio file directly from the Tracks area of Logic.

If the audio track that you wish to sample is already in the form of a loop, then it’s ready to be loaded into Quick Sampler (go straight to step 4 below). If not, you’ll need to edit (i.e., trim) your audio track to create a loop.

Step 1: Upload an audio file from its source location (e.g., on your computer drive) to the Tracks area of Logic

  • Drag and drop your file from the Finder window to the Tracks area to create a new instrument track

Step 2 (optional): Use Logic’s Flex Time to identify the transients in the uploaded audio track

  • Select Flex Time in the menu above the Tracks area
  • Enable Flex mode in the audio track’s header
  • Choose the polyphonic mode from the Flex pop-up menu

Although optional, identifying the transients, this step will help you know where to trim your audio track to create a loop for sampling.

Using Flex mode to identify transients

Step 3: Select and trim an audio region to create a loop

  • Hover your cursor over the starting point of the region that you want to trim, and click (using the transients as a guide, if you’ve identified them)
  • Repeat for the ending point of the loop region
  • Move your cursor within the loop region (i.e., between the starting and ending loop points) and right-click
  • From the pop-up menu, select Slice at Flex Markers

Select and trim to create a loop

After you’ve created your loop (or if you already had a loop to start with), you’re ready to activate Quick Sampler.

Step 4: Upload your loop into Quick Sampler

  • If your loop already exists and is located outside of Logic (e.g., on your computer drive), drag and drop it, using Finder, to a new track header region in the Tracks area
  • Otherwise, if you’ve just created your loop (i.e., using steps 1 to 3 above) and it’s in an instrument track, select and drag it to a new track header region in the Tracks area
  • In the pop-up menu that appears, select Quick Sampler (Optimized)

Upload loop

You’ll notice that we chose Quick Sampler (Optimized). You can also choose Quick Sampler (Original). The difference between these is:

  • Original uses the tuning, loudness, looping, and length of the original audio file
  • Optimized analyzes the loaded file to calibrate its tuning, loudness, and length towards optimal levels

In our example, we’ll use Quick Sampler (Optimized) to take advantage of its optimizing capabilities.

Creating samples

Once you’ve loaded your loop into Quick Sampler using any of the above methods, it’s time to listen, explore, and edit to create your sample.

First, some Quick Sampler preliminaries.

Modes

There are four modes in Quick Sampler:

  1. Classic—when you trigger your sample, it plays back for only as long as you hold down a key (i.e., on your MIDI controller or Logic’s musical typing or on-screen keyboard)
  2. One shot—when you trigger your sample, it plays back in full (i.e., from the start-marker position to the end-marker position), regardless of how long you hold down a key
  3. Slice—this divides your sample into multiple segments that are mapped to keys
  4. Recorder—as we’ve shown, this lets you directly record audio into Quick Sampler that you can edit to form your sample

As we’ll see, the slice mode is very useful for analyzing and editing your sample to isolate a segment that you’re interested in, or to divide your sample into beat divisions when creating drum or percussion samples.

Other parameters

There are other useful parameters that you can use to modify your samples in Quick Sampler—we won’t go into detail about these but they’re worth being aware of:

  • Pitch—to fine-tune the playback tonality of your sample
  • Filter—to select a filter envelope including lowpass, highpass, bandpass, and band-reject
  • Amp—to set the level, pan position, and polyphony

There’s also a mod matrix pane, with LFOs, that allows you to control modulation parameters (e.g., oscillator frequency and filter cutoff).

Overview of Slice mode

Quick Sampler’s slice mode is a way of ‘chopping samples’ to create slices based on parameters that you set (e.g., transients). It allows you to extract a segment of interest from your original sample or loop.

There are three parameters that determine how slices are created and mapped:

  1. Mode—this is the method for creating slices based on Transient+Note, Beat Divisions, Equal Divisions, or Manual
  2. Sensitivity—when this is higher, more slices are identified based on the mode that you’ve selected, and fewer slices when it’s lower
  3. Key mapping—the Start Key (e.g., C1) is the key to which the first slice is mapped, with subsequent keys mapped chromatically (i.e., all semi-tones on the keyboard) or to only white or black keys

In our example, we’ll select: Transient+Note mode, a sensitivity of 41, and chromatic mapping.

Slice parameters

Edit and create slices

Once you’ve set your slice parameters, you can hear each slice by either playing its mapped key or by clicking the play button that appears below the slice.

Tip: To play a slice using mapped key you can use any of the following:

  • An attached MIDI keyboard
  • Another type of MIDI controller
  • Logic’s on-screen keyboard
  • Logic’s musical typing

Play the slices and listen to them—how do they sound?

Are you happy with the start and end points of the slices based on the parameters you’ve chosen?

If you are, then you’re ready to select one or more slices to form your sample. If not, you can edit existing slices or create new slices based on the characteristics that you want.

To edit a slice:

Step 1: Adjust the slice’s start and end points

  • Click and drag the markers at each end of the slice to where you want them (NB. the slice markers are yellow)

Step 2: Play and adjust the slice

  • Play your adjusted slice and control its start and end points by moving its markers until you’re happy with its sound

To create a new slice:

Step 1: Select new slice positions

  • Place the cursor at the point on your loop (i.e., waveform display) where you want a new slice to start, and click
  • Repeat where you want your new slice to end, creating start and end points for your new slice

Step 2: Play and edit the slice

  • Play your new slice and move its markers until you happy with its sound

Once you’re happy with your slices, you can:

  • Keep your loop as is, with all its slices, and this becomes your sample
  • Select a region of your loop that contains one or more slices that you want to use for your sample, and discard (i.e., crop) the rest

Sample containing slices—see its MIDI information in a MIDI region

When a sample contains two or more slices, you can see the MIDI notes that are assigned to each slice in the sample. You can do this by creating a MIDI region for your sample.

Step 1: Create a new MIDI region

  • Right-click in a space next to the Quick Sampler track in the Tracks area

Step 2: Load the sample into the MIDI region

  • Hover the cursor in the bottom half of the sample’s waveform display in Quick Sampler
  • Look for the curved arrow that appears
  • Drag and drop your sample into the new MIDI region

The sample’s information will be placed into the MIDI region—double-click on it to show its slices mapped to MIDI notes and the piano roll.

Viewing the sample in a MIDI region

Cropping a loop—edit to a smaller (new) sample

If you want a smaller sample containing only one or more of your slices, you’ll need to select those slices and crop the rest.

Step 1: Position the end-markers of the sample

  • Click and drag the end-markers to where you want them for your new sample (NB. the end-markers are blue)

Step 2: Crop your loop to create your sample

  • Open the drop-down menu just above the waveform display (i.e., the gear icon)
  • Select Crop Sample

Cropping to create sample

Well done—you’ve just created your new sample!

Sampling in Classic mode

Now that you have your sample, you’re ready to hear how the sample plays when you vary its pitch and tempo. A good way to do this is to switch to Classic mode.

You can hear your sample across different notes as you play up and down the keyboard (i.e., attached MIDI controller or on-screen). Your new sample plays just like a new instrument—a sampler instrument.

As you play, however, you may notice that the pitch and tempo of your sample decrease and increase as you play lower and higher notes. If instead, you want only the pitch to change as you play different notes while keeping the same tempo, then you’ll need to set the Flex mode.

Tip: Flex mode is a versatile feature of Logic Pro that you can use to tune pitch and timing—to learn how to easily tune pitch, check out How to Easily Edit Pitch and Timing

To set Flex mode to keep the same tempo:

Step 1: Locate and select the Flex icon

  • The Flex icon sits just below the waveform display

Step 2: Select Follow Tempo

Classic mode with Flex—Follow Tempo

After you set the Flex mode in this way, when you play lower and higher notes your sample’s pitch will change but its tempo will stay the same.

Create a sampler track with your sampler instrument

Once you have a sample that you’re happy with, you can use it as a sampler instrument to create a new track in your project, i.e., a new sampler track.

Creating a new sampler track

Conclusion

In this post, we’ve stepped through How to Sample in Logic Pro X using Quick Sampler. It’s a powerful and versatile tool that allows you to sample music (or any sound) in various ways, adding scope and creativity to your song or project.

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