How to Chop Samples in Logic Pro X like a Pro

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Chopping samples is the key to transforming existing recordings into brand new beats, melodies, and instrumentation. And Logic Pro X gives producers powerful tools to chop, slice, pitch, edit, and creatively mangle just about any audio Clip.

In this in-depth guide, you‘ll learn step-by-step how to chop samples in Logic Pro X for creative and professional music production. Whether you‘re a newcomer to sampling or a seasoned audio chopping guru, read on for techniques to expertly slice samples into slick new compositions.

Why Learn to Chop Samples?

Before we dig in, let‘s quickly overview why chopping samples is such an invaluable production technique:

  • Save time – Digging for the perfect kick, snare, chord hit, or vocal lick takes ages. With sampling, you can pull the sounds you want straight from existing recordings.

  • Economical – Building up a library of virtual instruments, synths, and loops is expensive. Sampling offers essentially free sounds to use in your own music.

  • Unique sound – Flipping and chopping up recognizable samples creates a fresh, distinctive sound. This sets you apart from producers only using stock sounds.

  • Better workflow – Having a personalized collection of go-to drum hits, chords, etc. speeds up workflow tremendously versus hunting for the right sound.

  • Creative flexibility – Repitching and editing individual chops opens unlimited creative options. The same sample can become bass, leads, pads, and more.

Now let‘s dive into step-by-step instructions for slicing up samples in Logic Pro X.

Step 1 – Import Sample into Logic Pro X

First, you‘ll need to import an audio sample into your Logic Pro X session. Here are a few ways to go about it:

  • Drag and drop audio files directly into Logic‘s timeline/tracks. Supports WAV, AIFF, MP3, etc.

  • Menu import by going to File > Import > Audio File. Logic will create a new track with the sample region.

  • Loop browser has a huge built-in library of Apple Loops samples. Browse by keyword or instrument type.

  • Sampler instruments like Quick Sampler often come loaded with sound banks accessible from the Library tab.

Aim for clean recordings without too much background noise. Short percussive hits, instrument riffs, and vocal lines/phrases work great for chopping. You can even sample right from a Logic session!

Once imported, let‘s load the sample into Logic‘s Quick Sampler for chopping…

Step 2 – Load Sample into Quick Sampler

Logic‘s Quick Sampler is the easiest way to slice and map a sample to your MIDI keyboard. Here‘s how to load it:

  1. Select the sample audio region in the track.

  2. Open the Inspector panel and under Audio Effects click an empty slot.

  3. Select Quick Sampler from the pop-up window.

  4. In Quick Sampler, click and drag the "Drag Audio Here" box onto the sample waveform to load it.

That‘s it! The sample is now ready for us to chop up.

Step 3 – Slice Sample into Chops

Here comes the fun part – slicing the sample into individual chops.

In Quick Sampler, click the "Slice" tab. This opens the slicing parameters:

  • Set Playback Mode to Polyphonic – this will allow playing back multiple chops at once.

  • Enable Use Loop Points if you want the sample to loop/cycle.

  • For Slice By: select Transient – this auto-detects transient starts of sounds.

Once sliced, tweak the divisions if needed:

  • Add/remove slice points by clicking directly on the waveform.

  • Shift divisions left or right by dragging the slice markers.

  • Quantize divisions to the grid for rhythmic precision.

Listen to each chop soloed by ⌥(alt)-clicking the transient markers. Delete any bad slices.

Step 4 – Map Slices to MIDI Notes

Now we can map the sample chops to different notes on a MIDI keyboard:

  • Logic automatically maps slices chromatically up from C1 by default.

  • To manually adjust mapping, drag slice markers up/down to desired keys.

  • Set note overlap amounts if you want chops to play polyphonically.

Tip: Map percussive hits chromatically up. For tonal chops, map by octave/fifth to enable playing melodies.

Let‘s record those slices into Logic‘s sequencer…

Step 5 – Record Sliced Sample as MIDI

With mapping complete, it‘s time to capture our chopped sample:

  1. Create a new Software Instrument track in Logic.

  2. Select Quick Sampler as the instrument.

  3. Enable Record and play notes on a MIDI controller or computer keyboard.

  4. Listen back to the recording to ensure the chops were captured correctly.

  5. Tweak any poor slice points and re-record if needed.

Once recorded, you can sequence, edit, arrange, and process the chops into a complete beat!

Step 6 – Sequence, Edit & Process Chops

Here are some ways to assemble your newly recorded sample chops into a polished beat:

  • Copy/paste chops as needed to duplicate or change pattern order

  • Quantize sloppy timing into perfect rhythm

  • Humanize programmed beats with subtle tempo variations

  • Transpose up or down to repitch chops into melodies

  • Edit velocities to create dynamics and accents

  • Reverse sample for cool effects; automate to flip back and forth

  • Layer complementary drums/sounds from other libraries

  • Add effects like reverb, delay, filters to gel chopped samples

Get creative with editing and sound design! The beauty of sampling is sculpting the audio exactly how you imagine it.

Pro Tips for Next Level Chopping

Here are some pro techniques for chopping samples efficiently and getting the most out of them in your tracks:

Clean Chop Transients

  • When slicing, ⌥(alt)-click transients to solo just that chop.

  • Tweak transients so chops have clean starts/ends with no clicks.

  • For drums: slice on transient starts, not decaying ends.

Humanizing Chops

  • Small shifts in timing/velocity add groove and realism.

  • For drums: nudge some hits early or late subtly

  • For melodic parts: add slight pre-delay to chops.

Simplify Busy Sections

  • Some sample sections like verses may be too busy to use all chops.

  • Mute or delete less critical chops to simplify arrangement.

Smooth Out Transitions

  • Pitch automation helps smooth transitions between tonal/melodic chops.

  • For drums, use clip fades or layer similar hits for continuity.

Control Dynamics

  • Use MIDI velocity to create accents and dynamics.

  • Or automate volume and compressors on sample tracks.

Original vs Processed Versions

  • Layer processed (pitched, reversed, filtered) chops with original versions.

  • Blend amounts to subtly reinforce rhythms and melodies.

Sound Design Potential

  • Don‘t just arrange loops as-is. Get creative with chop manipulation!

  • Repitch, filter, mangle, and warp chunks to build new sounds.

Sample Chopping Inspiration From the Pros

If you‘re struggling to envision how sampling and chopping can transform your productions, listen to some classic examples from the pros:

  • The beats on the majority of classic hip hop albums are built from masterfully flipped soul, funk, and jazz samples. Listen to the chopping and processing on classics like De La Soul‘s 3 Feet High and Rising, J Dilla‘s Donuts, and A Tribe Called Quest‘s The Low End Theory.

  • Pop and R&B hits also often repurpose audio from past songs in creative ways. For example, Childish Gambino‘s "This Is America" is based on a chopped gospel sample, while Dua Lipa‘s "Levitating" pitches up Earth Wind & Fire‘s "Let‘s Groove" into a catchy plucked riff.

  • Electronic genres like house and techno take sampling to more abstract extremes, using microscopic chops and sound design. Check out productions by Four Tet, Burial, and Bonobo for inspired electronic sample mangling.

The more music you critically analyze, the more your sampling intuition will grow. You‘ll begin recognizing sources and techniques that spark ideas for your own tracks.

Moving Beyond Quick Sampler in Logic Pro X

Quick Sampler is the fastest way to get chopping samples in Logic. But once you master the fundamentals, Logic provides even more advanced sampling tools:

EXS24 Sampler

Logic‘s fully-featured sampler offers deep sample manipulation:

  • More assignable outputs, zones, and layers

  • Robust filters, envelopes, LFOs, and effects

  • Graphical modulation matrix for dynamic sound design

Alchemy Sampler/Synth

Alchemy uses additive synthesis to stretch, warp, and transform samples:

  • Granular resynthesis – warp tiny sample grains independently

  • Complex morphing between four sound sources

  • Deep modulation options

Flex Time & Pitch

Logic‘s Flex Time algorithms modify timing and rhythm non-destructively. You can:

  • Conform and quantize audio to any tempo or rhythm

  • Tighten loose transients without chopping

  • Creatively twist timing for glitchy effects

While Flex Pitch retunes vocals, instruments, and more with pro pitch correction tools.

Creative Sampling Workflows

Some advanced/creative sampling techniques in Logic include:

  • MIDI triggering of one-shot samples

  • Recording live instruments directly into the sampler

  • Using external hardware like SP-404s along with Logic

  • Next-level processing like convolution reverbs on drum hits

  • Automating sample start positions for glitchy stutter/beat repeat effects

  • Using Logic Remote on iPad for intuitive sample slicing via touch

The more you explore all of Logic‘s sampling powers, the more creative possibilities open up. But it all starts with simply getting hands-on practice chopping. Follow this guide to learn the fundamentals, and you‘ll be sampling like a pro before you know it.

So here‘s a recap of the key steps we covered…

Logic Pro X Sample Chopping – Quick Recap

  1. Import a sample into your Logic session

  2. Load sample into Quick Sampler

  3. Slice into divisions using transients

  4. Map slices to MIDI notes

  5. Record played slices into sequencer

  6. Edit, sequence, and process creatively!

Learning to chop samples efficiently takes time and experience. But the payoff is the ability to flip existing sounds into brand new compositions.

So grab some records and start digging for those dusty grooves, hypnotic melodies, and ear-catching moments. With Logic Pro X as your audio slicing toolbox, the possibilities for creative sampling are infinite. Chop on!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.