How to Connect Your MIDI Devices to Logic Pro X

By Graham English

MIDI devices can include keyboards, drum pads, alternative controllers such as guitar MIDI systems, and more. Although you don’t need a MIDI controller to make music with Logic Pro, it’s a lot more fun if you have a way to play software instruments. And trained players can make use of their skills to input music more quickly and accurately.

Connect MIDI controllers

Many MIDI controllers will send and receive MIDI through USB, eliminating the need for a third-party interface. Older MIDI controllers may use 5-pin DIN cables and require a third-party hardware interface. Connect your controller to your MIDI interface or to your computer’s USB port.

Connect external instruments

If you’re connecting a MIDI synthesizer or workstation to Logic Pro, in addition to making MIDI connections, you must be able to monitor the instrument’s audio. If your audio interface supports hardware monitoring, you can monitor the instrument through your hardware. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to add an audio track to your project to monitor the instrument.

When you play the keyboard, the instrument is sending and receiving MIDI at the same time, so sounds are doubled. Most keyboards have a Local Off function, which you’ll want to use to stop the sound from doubling.

Exploring MIDI preferences

Global and project preferences are similar to audio preferences. To open the Global MIDI Preferences pane, choose Logic Pro X→Preferences→MIDI. Here’s a brief description of three tabs in the MIDI Preferences pane:

  • General: If you have MIDI communication problems, click the Reset All MIDI Drivers button.

  • Reset Messages: If your MIDI controllers get stuck, including stuck notes, select the controller you want to reset on this tab.

  • Sync: If you want to sync Logic Pro with another device or adjust the timing of your MIDI, you can do so on this tab.

To open the Project MIDI Preferences pane, choose File→Project Settings→MIDI. Here’s a brief description of the three tabs on the Project Preferences pane:

  • General: You can set up MIDI to scrub with audio in the tracks area. Scrubbing means to audition audio while you drag your cursor over it.

  • Input Filter: If you’re not using certain MIDI functions or don’t want these functions to be sent or received, you can select them on this tab and they will be filtered out.

  • Chase: Use this tab to set how MIDI events will behave when you start your project after a MIDI event has been triggered. For example, if you play your project in the middle of a pitch bend, selecting the Pitch Bend check box will ensure that the bend is synchronized correctly.

You can use the Audio MIDI Setup utility to set up devices connected to your computer. (Audio MIDI Setup is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.) You can test MIDI and audio devices, set audio levels, and much more. Check out this video tour of the Audio MIDI Setup utility.

Now that you know the fundamentals of digital audio and MIDI, you’re well on your way to recording your own audio and MIDI. With your hardware set up and your audio and MIDI preferences chosen, you’re ready to begin recording some great sounds.