A step by step guide to making your own playable instrument using Logics exs24 sampler.
As the esx24 instrument is a sampler, it can only play back audio files that you supply to it. So to create a new instrument, you need at least one audio file for it to play, and the exs24 instrument requires that to be either WAV or AIFF format.
Any sounds you load into it will be assigned to one or more notes on a piano roll graphic. Each note on the piano roll has a name comprised of a letter and a number. The letter is the pitch and the number is the octave.
You can see examples of this in the midi in/out display in Logic when you press a note on a midi controller, or look in the piano roll view.
When recording or creating your samples, it’s good practice to plan ahead as to how the sounds will be organised in the final instrument.
One of the interesting things about the exs24 sampler is that it can “map” a single sample to more than one note. You can set one sample file to be played on all the midi notes - and even choose to have it pitch-shifted to match the note name, or simply play the sample as it is.
But we’ll get into that later on.
For now you have two choices: name each file with the position on the exs24s piano roll that you want the sample to be assigned to before loading them into the sampler. Or load them first and move them into position later.
I prefer the first method when loading many samples, but if when using just a few then the second way is probably easier.
If you are creating a pitched instrument, like a guitar or electric piano, the samples will need to be loaded into the correct place on the piano roll, so that the pitches and the notes they are assigned to match up.
In this case, a sample of a low C will need to be assigned to the note C1 on the exs24 piano roll. You can do that by naming the audio file with the note position followed by the sample name, such as:
C1-ElectricPiano.wav while a F# two octaves higher would be:
This might seem fiddly, but it will save you time later on as the samples will be loaded directly into the right place and you’ll be able to play the instrument immediately.
If you are creating something like a drum kit where the pitch of the samples doesn’t need to match up to the notes used to trigger them, lthen you can just organise them in whatever way makes sense to you.
For example you might assign a bass drum sound to the note C1, and the snare drum to E1 on the exs24 piano roll like this:
C1-Bass Drum.wav or E1-Snare.aiff
There’s a convention with piano-roll-based drum kits to use a certain configuration, which can roughly be described as:
C and D =Bass Drum
C# and D# = rim shot or some kind of percusssion
E and sometimes F = Snare Drum
G,A and sometimes B = Low to Hi Toms
F# and G# = closed hihats
A# = open hihat
B = if not used for the hi tom then sometimes ride or crash cymbal
Back to the topic at hand, once your samples are recorded, named and ready to go, we need to get them into the sampler.
First you need to fire up your version of Logic. Open a new project, create a new track and select it to be a software instrument.
In the instrument column, you find some buttons labelled inserts, then sends, and under those a pair labelled I/O. The bottom one should say “Out 1-2”. Click on the one above that and select exs24 sampler from the menu.
At the top of the exs24 window, near the centre should be a black rectangle with three green dashes in (and a plus and minus sign on either side of the black part). Click on this and select “no instrument” from the menu, and then click the “edit button just to the right of it.
This brings up the editor window, which should have some drop down menus at the top and a piano roll running along the bottom.
In the second group of buttons at the top, click on the drop down menu named “Zone” and selected “Load Multiple Samples”.
This will bring up a window where you can navigate to the folder containing the samples you want to use, which will bring up a list of the samples in the top window.
Just below this you will find a button named “Add All” - click this and your samples should appear in the bottom window. Now go down to the bottom right and click on “Done”.
You will now get a pop up window asking how you want to load your samples.
This is where having named the samples in advance comes in handy.
You have three options:
Auto map - which will read the pitches from the name of the files you supplied and map them to those pitches - and crucially it will fill in the gaps by pitch shifting your samples.
Drums - this reads the pitches from the names of the files, but it just assigns them to one note and leaves gaps.
Contiguous Zones - which will put your samples in order one note at a time, starting at a point of your choosing.
For our purposes “auto-map” is the option to choose.
Your samples will load into the editor and will appear as a text list in the top half, and as rectangular blobs above the notes of the piano roll. If there are gaps in the notes you chose, for example one file called D2-Guitar.wav and the next one is F2-Guitar.wav - then the D2 sample will be assigned to D#2 and E2 and the sampler will pitch-shift the sound so it will still remain the correct note for that key.
Sometimes things don’t load up quite right - or you might make a mistake in your labelling system, and the samples overlap and look terribly confusing, piled up all over the piano roll.
Don’t panic - it’s not hard to fix. You can drag and drop those rectangles above the piano roll notes. You can drag the edges too to make them cover more or less notes.
Where notes overlap, they move up a level on the editor. So if all your samples are assigned to the same not, they will stack up vertically on the editor.
They will also all play at the same time if you press that note. It can be a pretty wild noise when this happens.
When you have dragged your samples to where you want them to go you can go to the top left and click on the little circular “close” button, at which point you’ll get a “save as…” option.
When you name it and save it, you are creating a exs file. You can save it into the folder you used for your samples if you like - this keeps things tidy. If you look in that folder you’ll find your sample file and then something named like this “myinstrument.exs” - where “myinstrument” is whatever you named the file.
This folder is now best placed in your “sampler instruments” folder which should be in a location something like this:
Intriguingly all you need to do is put the exs file in that folder and it will automatically find the samples. I recommend though that you put the exs file inside the folder containing the relevent samples, and copy the entire thing to the Sampler Instruments folder.
Your exs24 instrument is made! You now need to go back to the exs24 sampler, click on that black rectangle again, and hit “refresh menu”. Your new instrument will now be listed.
Enjoy, and have fun making more!