Apple bought Camel Audio back in 2015, and integrated their synth called Alchemy into Logic Pro X. We’ll walk through how to use it. Alchemy in Logic Pro X comes with three tabs, and we’ll break down the tutorial by those tabs.
Alchemy Browse Tab
The Browse tab is where you navigate the presets. You can filter by Category, Subcategory, Genre and Timbre, each selection filters the list. For example, select “Guitar” from “Category” and the “Subcategory” options will be reduced to just those that are for Guitar. Now select “Electric” from “Subcategory”. Notice that the options available to you will stay in white text, and those filtered out will be in gray text. (You can still click on them even though they are gray, but nothing will happen.) Now select “Ambient” as the “Genre” and “Complex” as the Timbre, and you’ll be left with a patch called “Rain Strum”. (Note that you can also navigate to the next/prior preset by clicking right or left next to the patch name in the drop down.)
Click on the “Rain Stum” preset, and now that’ll be the active patch. Go ahead an play on your midi controller (or draw in the midi window) and see if you like the sound. The rating defaults to 3 stars. If you love the sound and think you’ll use it in the future, go ahead and click the stars and drag to the right to give it 5 stars. If it’s the worst thing you ever heard, give it a 1 star. This will be useful in the future to quickly get to the presets that you like.
Now click on the “Edit” button to the left of the search bar (under the “User Tags” button.)
Here you can edit the meta data for the preset. Let’s say you take issue with calling it “Ambient”. You can click that to remove it as a filter option going further. You can also edit the Comments section if you don’t like the description, as well as add your own User Tags to make future searching easier. Let’s give it a user tag of “Best Ever” and you’ll see it show up in the “User Tags” column.
Close that and back on the main screen select All for the Category, Subcategory, Genre and Timbre.
Now click on the Rating heading, and all the patches will be sorted by Rating. Notice that Rain Strum is at the top of the list if you gave it 5 stars.
Alchemy Simple Tab
Click on the Simple Tab. You’ll notice that it’s the same thing as what was on the bottom of the Browse Tab. It basically just collapses or hides the browse section. This is called the Perform Section.
You’ll see 8 options and the first one has the corners highlighted in blue. Click that and drag down and to the right. You’ll notice as you move it, the knobs and the 2 X/Y controllers move as well. Each of these options is a perform preset called a snapshot, and the names are different for each of the patches.
As you slide between the snapshots, it’ll blend the two or four presets that you have the slider on, and alter the sound accordingly. Go ahead and right click the first snapshot, select Swap Current Snapshots, and select the number 2. You’ll notice that the first and second snapshots have now swapped places. This is useful if say you liked the first snapshot, but thought it would blend well with the last snapshot. You can now move them around to create different combinations.
If you adjust any of the knobs, they will stay that way if you switch to another snapshot. If you right click on any of the knobs, and look under Delete Modulation, it will show what parameter is assigned to that knob. Likewise if you right click on the X/Y controllers, you can see what is assigned to each, and delete them if you like. All the way to the right are the standard ADSR controls found on most synths.
Logic Pro X Alchemy Advanced Tab
The advanced section is worthy of an article all its own, so we’ll just focus on a few key parts to get you going. The main thing to know is that there are 4 oscillator sections, A through D. Clicking each of these will let you adjust the parameters of each. The Morph option lets you blend all four of these (or however many you have enabled.)
Let’s start on the morph tab as this interface is a little less busy. For source A, let’s set that to Saw by clicking next to the On button, select Load VA (for Virtual Analog) then Basic, and then Saw. Now set source B to Square, source C to Sine and source D to Triangle.
In the window to the right you can drag the blue dot around to blend the four sources. Above the 2 knobs on the right is a tab bar. Select the third option called Morph XY, and slide the dot around to see if you like the sound.
Alchemy is an under appreciated synth and often overlooked just because it’s included. There’s this feeling that the free plugins aren’t as good as the 3rd party, but that’s not necessarily the case. The Perform pad is something unique to Alchemy, and having 4 oscillators is no joke!
Hopefully that gives you enough insight to start playing around with Alchemy in Logic Pro X. The blend function and Simple interface are great for “playing” and the advanced section can be very powerful. The interface is arguably a bit clunky and dated compared to some other modern soft synths, and we can only hope that the rumors are true that Apple plans on updating it a bit to put it on par with Serum and Massive.
For more info, check out Apple’s included Logic Pro X Plugins.
Check out our article on How to Create a Riser in Alchemy.