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Using the Korg Monologue (Or Other Hardware Synths) With Logic Pro X

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Over at the Ask Audio website is an excellent article with a comprehensive explanation of how to use the Korg Monologue – and other hardware synths for that matter – with Logic Pro. The main points of the article are summarised below.

1. Making The Connections to your Korg Monologue

  • Ensure the Monologue is powered, either from the DC adaptor (separately purchased in some territories) or by batteries.
  • Connect a USB Type B cable from the Monologue to your computer’s USB port.
  • Connect a 1/4″ audio cable from the Monologue’s output to an available input on your soundcard. Take note of the input channel number.
  • If the synth is plugged into a mixer, ensure the outputs of the mixer are connected to available inputs on your souncard. Again, take note of the input channel number
The rear connections of the Korg Monologue
The rear connections of the Korg Monologue
The Maestro Software for the Apogee Quartet
The Maestro Software for the Apogee Quartet

2. Recording When Monitoring Through Your Soundcard or Mixer

  • If adding Logic or third-party effects to your Monologue sounds after recording them, then direct monitoring via your soundcard is the best option as there is virtually no latency
  • Perfect when adding the Monologue to an already complex song or production
  • Preferred way to monitor if you’re a player that needs very very low latency when recording
  • Ensure the Monologue is unmuted in your soundcard’s software, e.g. in the picture opposite, the Maestro software for the Apogee Quartet
  • If your soundcard is more basic with fewer inputs and no software, enable the “Direct Monitoring” function if it has one. This may be labeled on your soundcard as “DAW” and Direct.
  • If you’re using a phusical mixer, ensure that the relevant channel volume is turned up

3. Recording When Monitoring Directly Through Logic

One of the best reasons to monitor your hardware synth directly through Logic is that you can add effects to the signal as it’s being played live – and you can easily record both the unprocessed (dry) and processed (wet) sounds.

In order to do this you must:

  • Mute the channel coming in from the interface software or physical mixer so you don’t hear the Monologue in both Logic and the soundcard monitor software or mixer at the same time.
  • If you end up with a bit of latency when monitoring via Logic, open Logic’s Preferences and select ‘Audio’.
  • Next, lower the I/O buffer size to decrease the latency Try 128 or 64 if your computer can handle it
  • Another option is to leave the buffer size at its current value and to check the “Low Latency” button.

*NOTE: Some third-party plugins may require higher I/O buffer values like 512 for smooth operation. If this is a case, ensure that you switch back to the previous value after you’ve finished recording from the Monologue.

Logic Pro is highly customisable to your workflow.
Logic Pro is highly customisable to your workflow.
External Instrument settings in Logic Pro X
External Instrument settings in Logic Pro X

4.  Use Logic’s External Instrument Plugin

  • Open Logic Pro and create a new software instrument track
  • Choose the “External Instrument” plugin under the Utility category
  • Select the Monologue (or relevant instrument name) from the External Instrument plugin’s MIDI destination. It should appear in the list with the other connected MIDI devices
  • If the synth is being monitored via your soundcard or its software, then you can proceed recording MIDI.
  • If the synth is being monitored via Logic Pro X, select the interface channel you cabled the synth to via the External Instrument’s “Input” drop down menu
  • You should hear the Monologue play via either monitoring method by playing the Monologue or with another MIDI controller connected to the system

5. Double Notes Triggering? Local On/Off Is Your Friend

When monitoring via Logic’s External Instrument, you may get double triggering of MIDI notes on the Monologue/hardware synth. Turning OFF local mode on the Monologue/hardware synth will stop this from happening. To do this on the Monologue you must:

  • Enter edit mode by pressing the “Edit Mode” button
  • Select “Global Edit”
  • Move through the list of options to the “LOCAL SW” option and set it to “OFF”

If using a different synthesizer, look in your manual to see how to switch off Local Mode.

There are three instances where you may want to leave local mode ON, and they are:

  • Using the Monologue purely as a sound module and controlling it via another MIDI keyboard
  • When monitoring through your interface
  • Playing Monologue live without Logic

Note that when the Monologue is not being monitored via Logic AND local mode is OFF, there will be no sound coming from the Monologue when playing directly on it.

The Korg Monologue has a handy little OLED screen.
The Korg Monologue has a handy little OLED screen.
The MIDI track in Logic Pro X has been record enabled to record MIDI data from the Korg Monologue
The MIDI track in Logic Pro X has been record enabled to record MIDI data from the Korg Monologue

6. Record Some MIDI Notes

Once all the steps outlined above have been completed, you can record some MIDI notes into Logic.

Do this directly on the External Instrument plugin – just like any other software instrument. You can play either directly on the Monologue/hardware syntheszier, or on your preferred MIDI controller.

7.  Record And Edit MIDI CC Data

Most of the knobs and switches on the Monologue can send and recieve MIDI CC (Continuous Controller) data, in addition to the standard MIDI notes sent via the keybed itself.

In order to record the MIDI notes and MIDI CC data simultaneously, follow the steps below.

  • In Logic Pro, opoen the “Record” menu
  • Next, select “Overlapping MIDI Recordings
  • Now, select “Merge” for both no cycle and cycle

You can now record directly over your MIDI notes with Monologue’s knobs and switches by using Logic’s regular record button.

To edit and view the MIDI CC data you’ve recorded, elected “MIDI Draw” in the Arrange Window/Workspaces local “View” menu.

Logic Pro's LCD shows that MIDI CC 43 is assigned to the data being recorded from one of the knobs on the Monologue
Logic Pro's LCD shows that MIDI CC 43 is assigned to the data being recorded from one of the knobs on the Monologue

Once the knob and/or switch data has been recorded from the Monologue, you can use Logic to identify the MIDI CC number for each knob and switch. To do this, you must:

  • First adjust the track’s vertical height in order for MIDI Draw to be seen
  • Click Logic’s Local View menu
  • Select MIDI Draw, and then “Other”
  • You can select the MIDI CC number from the list that appears

If you don’t know the CC number of each knob or switch, the do the following

  • Ensure you’re viewing Logic’s “LCD” in custom view, you can do this by clicking the small downward pointing triangle on the right hand side of the LCD display in Logic 10.3 and up.
  • Next, perform a single turn on the relevant knob or switch
  • The specific MIDI CC number will be displayed in the Logic LCD

8. Get Monologue’s LFO and Sequencer in Sync

It’s a simple matter to synchronise the Korg Monologue’s LFO and in-built sequencer to the BPM in Logic Pro X. Follow the steps below to set this up.

  • In Logic, use the Option-P key command to open the Project Settings.
  • Now, click the synchronisation tab, and then the MIDI tab
  • At the top you will see MIDI Clock – check the “Transmit To” box OFF.
  • Now, select Monologue SOUND from the list
  • Next, go to the Korg Monologue to set up the LFO Sync. On the Monologue, LFO is handled independently per patch.
  • Press the Edit Mode button on the Monologue, followed by Program Edit.
  • Navigate to the fourth page of Program Edit. This is where you can set the LFO sync to On or Off.
  • Ensure that under Global Edit, Page 4, “Clock Source” is set to AUTO USB. When stopping playback in Logic, Monologue displays “CLOCK USB” on its display to show it it’s synced to Logic Pro’s BPM.

9. Record the Monologue As Audio

You should now be at the point where you are ready to record the audio output of the Korg Monologue into Logic by doing the following:

  • Create a new Audio Track in Logic Pro
  • Set the Audio Track input to the audio interface channel which the synthesizer is connected to
  • Check the audio input level to ensure the signal isn’t too hot or clipping
  • Begin recording

Once you’ve finished recording the audio from the synth, bypass the original external instrument plugin so that you don’t hear the live input from the synth and the audio you just recorded.

  • When monitoring through Logic Pro, you may want to record any effects you’ve added to the sound of the Korg Monologue. To do this you simply:
  • Create a new audio track
  • choose the bus you output the external instrument track to as the INPUT for that track
  • Press record
  • Stop recording when you’re done!

Again, remember to bypass the live input from the Korg Monologue on the External Instrument plugin after you’ve finished recording.

Record The Korg Monologue As Audio
Record The Korg Monologue As Audio into Logic Pro
Nudging Recorded Audio in Logic Pro
Nudging Recorded Audio in Logic Pro

10. Nudge Recorded Audio If Necessary

When recording external sound sources, such as the Korg Monologue, into Logic Pro – or any DAW for that matter, latency will always be present.

You can minimise latency by ensuring your computer’s operating system, soundcard drivers, DAW software are all up to date, and by tweaking settings.

But the simplest way to deal with latency is simply to nudge the recorded audio left or right until the timing is correct. Alternatively, you can nudge the audio slightly before or after the beat in order to create urgency and push the track forward, or create a groove or that elusive swing by pulling the track back. These are purely creative choices.

11. Saving Sounds for the Korg Monologue

To easily save, load, reorganize, and rename the Korg Monologue’s presets, download and install the free Monologue librarian software here.

If you’re using a different synth, consult your manual for further information on librarian software.

This post was inspired by this article by Darren Burgos.