Hoo boy... my spidey senses are already tingling as Logic users the world over wince at the title of this post. But I'm standing my ground here:
I prefer Flex Pitch Over Melodyne For Pitch Editing in Logic.
First off – pitch editing has been par-for-the-course for the audio world for a long time now. It's almost more disconcerting to not hear it. Of course, Antares' Auto-Tune came first. But Celemony's Melodyne set the standard for what was achievable. To think – instead of finessing static scales and notes, we're able to edit the actual notes themselves? A new world of correction and carpal tunnel was now available to engineers everywhere. And as the audio community's baseline expectation to edit pitch and time grew, Logic jumped into the fray with Flex.
Flex - A Story of Love Lost (& Found Again)
Flex is Logic's proprietary system for bending and stretching time and pitch. Flex Time made its way into the Logic vernacular back with Logic Pro 9. And after years of speculation, Flex Pitch made it's debut with Logic Pro X.
Personally, I had been hoping for Logic's answer to Melodyne for years. I always found transferring recordings into Celemony's plugin to be an agonizing process. And historically I always felt Logic was a bit more elegant than most when it came to presentation.
So when Flex Pitch hit the scene, I couldn't contain my excitement! The thought of never having to transfer vocal tracks was music to my ears. The MIDI block visuals of Flex were far more familiar to me than Melodyne's orange "blobs."
Not to mention accidentally hitting Command-Z when the last thing you did was open the Melodyne plugin... But alas, Flex Pitch's debut was, for lack of a better word – disappointing. Much of Flex Pitch was spot on though:
- Instantly analyze monophonic signals
- Classy presentation of MIDI style blocks and visual waveforms
- "Handles" for managing Pitch Bend, Vibrato and Formant
Unfortunately, none of that was worth much since Flex Pitch mangled audio signals. Upon Flexing, vocals were subjected to all sorts of digital artifacts:
- Zipper noises
It was horrendous!
I couldn't help but wonder why Logic shipped with Flex Pitch when it was so clearly not ready for prime-time. But once I got a taste, I couldn't stop dreaming of a Flex-driven world to replace Melodyne. So with each new Logic update, I'd immediately load up a vocal take to test-drive Flex Pitch. Waiting for Flex Pitch's erroneous behavior to get sorted...
And although I'm merely one user, I'm happy to report I've been using Flex Pitch reliably since 10.3. At the time of this writing, I'm firmly entrenched in 10.4.1 on High Sierra. Last week I edited all the vocals for an EP using only Flex Pitch – and everyone was happy.
So I'd like to distill down my favorite parts about Flex Pitch, and why you should consider relying on it as well:
1. Flex Pitch is Native to Logic
I don't think I can overstate this enough. Long gone are the days of transferring audio from Logic into the Melodyne plugin one track at a time. And how not fun is it having to remember to set paths for transfers?
I know Apple made the uncharacteristic move to open Logic up to ARA 2.0. But indulge me:
- Instant analysis? Amazing.
- Logic key commands still apply? Perfect.
- I get to still enjoy the fluid experience of Logic's Zoom Tool? Boo yah!
Personally, I find Logic to be very elegant and pleasing to look at. It probably stems from Apple's relentless focus on aesthetics and user experience. So it makes me happy to work within the Logic ecosystem.
2. Handles For Everyone
Full disclosure – before Flex Pitch, I've only ever used Melodyne Essential for vocal edits.
That might seem ludicrous. But I've just never been keen on companies that throttle features in favor of upgrade paths. (A bias probably tempered by Apple's commitment of offer Logic in full for a flat, reasonable fee.)
For those who need reminding, Essential is pretty limited. You really only have 2 options for editing pitch:
- Pitch Center
- Pitch Drift
Beyond that, you've got to pay the piper.
But Flex Pitch bestowed us with no less than 6 Pitch Editing options:
- Pitch Drift (for the beginning of a note)
- Fine Pitch
- Pitch Drift (for the end of a note)
- Formant Shift
The opportunity for some serious fine-tuning comes at no extra cost.
3. The Quality IS There
I bring up Flex Pitch's harried past because I know it's going to haunt Flex Pitch for a long time. It's unfortunate that us audio enthusiasts still hang onto first impressions for what feels like an eternity.
(How many people still think Logic is only good for MIDI production?)
With each new update, Flex Pitch has improved in performance and stability. And even if you're still bucking up against some weird behaviors, the Pitch Correction plugin is still a very viable option for pesky phrases.
Don't forget – most people are blissfully oblivious to edits. You can get away with more than you think. And at the end of the day, all pitch processing is changing the fundamental tone of a recording.
Whether it's AutoTune, Melodyne, or Flex compromises will be made. I'm just happy I don't have to look any farther than Logic anymore to get great vocals.