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How to create A PWM Pad and make it unique in Logic Pro X

How to create A PWM Pad and make it unique in Logic Pro X

In part one I showed you how to sound design a Pulse Width Modulation pad using Logic Pro’s ES2. In this Logic Pro X Quick Tips miL goes one better and shows you how creating a track channel chain along with bus channel chains can make you ES2 creations sound more professional and unique to you.

Check out part 2 here!

Below is the transcript from the video

Making It Sound Professional

Welcome back to mastering in logic’s quick tips in part one of How To Create A PWM Pad In Logic Pro X’s ES2 we created a Pulse Width Modulation Pad and in this lesson we’re going to finish the pad by adding some plugins and automating the track in different ways.

If you’ve not seen out part one I highly recommend you go check out that lesson first!

So our pulse width modulation pad is sounding great but if you compare it to my original pad it still falls short of sounding close and there’s good reason.

Before we get going I want you to notice how the use of automation helps to thin the pad sound during the verse and even adds some sound design elements to the mix giving it structural and arrangement interest serving both the chorus and verse sections.

Watch the video now to remind rourself of the track and listen to the processing.

As you can here the original pad that I created using the ES2 is much wider and edgier and there’s good reason. The channel strip has distortion, compression and EQ and the track is bussed to a stereo delay, tremolo and stereo-spread chain. It’s the combination of these extra elements that add to the sound and in my opinion make the pad that much more interesting.

Let’s start by looking at the track channel chain.

Processing on the track channel

To add edge to the sound and break it up so it’s not quite as clean I loaded one of my favourite Logic X plugins the Bitcrusher and applied 7dBs of drive, broke the sound up by reducing the Resolution to 8bits, applied a tiny bit of downsampling and finally reduced the Mix so the distortion is blended back with the original sound.

To keep the part as even as possible I instantiated the compressor and applied enough to give around 5dB of gain reduction. I wanted the compressor to hold on the part continuously so reduced the threshold enough to constantly compress.

I also wanted to take advantage of the compressors distortion stage brightening the part with upper harmonics.

Soft clip is the best choice here so as to ensure the distortion is continuous and progressive. I usually always use Soft Clip when adding distortion to Logic’s Compressor.

The attack and release is slow and medium again this helps to hold on to the signal constantly.

I could have side chained the part to the kick drum but personal preference here I like the sustaining sound, which ultimately makes it feel bigger because we judge loudness over time.

It’s worth thinking about that for you own music, if you want something to feel loud long sustaining notes, chords, pads, beats can help achieve that. Not always the but it is a good rule of thumb!

Finally in my chain I have Logic’s Channel EQ. Its set up is dead simple a low cut filter removes the unwanted low end; remember the dirty bass covers the lows already.

A small dip around 200Hz helps to clean the part up and ensure the mix doesn’t become cluttered.

The key element of the EQ is I used it to create both movement and sound design by automating the low cut and Q factors.

I did this for two reasons:

  1. Automating the low cut from the chorus part to the verse allows me to control how full and thin the part is throughout the music. This gives more creative control over the pad and helps to keep the music interesting throughout the arrangement.
  1. I made use of automating the low cut and Q Factor sweeping up through the frequency range to create a pad sweep at the end of the verse part. This helps give more interest in the pad as well as create a sound design element that functions as a transition from the verse back to the chorus. Pretty useful.

Using EQ to both tailor the part for the mix and adding sound design with automation is a great way to get more out of Logic’s humble channel EQ.

If you’re not sure how to automate a plugin it’s dead easy.

There’s many ways to do it but I often like to simply hit the A key, which activates automation lanes and then click on the dialog in the track channel.

From there I simply select channel EQ and then scrolled down to Low Cut Q Factor for example and then draw in the automation with the mouse on the track. Easy!

You can check out how the channel processing affects the pad part by watching the video.

The Bus FX Chain

So once the channel was sounding good it was time to bus the pad to the fx chain to add the final touch to the sound.

I wanted the pad to have sustain, width and movement all affecting and interreacting with each other so on the same bus strip I loaded the Stereo Delay, Tremolo, and Stereo Spread.

I used the Stereo Delay over the Tape delay because it adds both space and width, to find the sound I wanted I first went through the presets and then from there tailored the delay.

The 1/8 Note Dotted preset seemed to work ok but I reduced the low and high cut so the delay was only audible from around 2-4k. This means the delays wouldn’t fill up the mix or get in the way of the pad part.

I further tweaked the delay times, feedback and Crossfeed so the delay worked with the music and sustained as I wanted it to.

The Crossfeed is set to 0 ensuring the delays don’t cross over to the other opposite side of the mix.

In your own music it’s important to ask yourself how does this sound with the music and what is it I want the delay to do. Once you have answered those questions you’ll have a delay part that will fit better with your mix.

So, to really give my delays movement and separate them from the actual pad sound I used Logic’s Tremolo to flutter back and fourth across the stereo field, this was further enhanced by the Stereo Spread pushing the upper frequencies of the pad’s delays further out to the sides.

This makes the pad much more animated in the music and of course the bus responds to all the automation changes as well.

Combining all these elements from the sound design creation in the ES2 through to the bus chain adds to the overall quality of the sound, making it both more unique and a better fit for the mix.

The track channel chain and bus is a big part of the final sound and really brings the pad to life.

On it’s own the Pusle Width Modulation patch works well but coupled with the Bitcrusher, compression, automated EQ, Stereo delay running into the tremolo and spread make for a much more animated bigger more interesting sounding pad.

Have some fun!!

The other thing is it’s a great way to spend your time playing around with and inventing new chains to make up new and exciting sounds that are most importantly unique to you.

Try it yourself perhaps using the videos from How To Make A Dirty Bass to programming a PWM pad as a starting point for coming up with something far more creative than what I’ve demonstrated here!

Thanks for watching if you like this video and want to learn more from miL you can sign up to our mailing list and get free lessons focused on mastering in Logic and more helping you create better sounding music.

Happy pad making, mixing and mastering!


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