Normally, when you use a professional Digital Audio Workstation such as Logic Pro X, you have the ability to see how loud your music is through its audio metering facility. This enables you to make sure that your music isn’t clipping, which means it’s so loud, it’s digitally distorting. However, as of Logic Pro x 10.1 metering isn’t currently accessible.
But wait, the folks over at Queen Mary University London have produced an accessible peak meter that works beautifully with Logic Pro X and VoiceOver which enables us blind Logic users to hear whether our audio is clipping. This is a fantastic interim solution and this post will show you how to get going with it.
Sounds great, where do I get it?
You can read all about the accessible peak meter
on their website and, if you want to here it in action, they’ve done a neat video on that site or you can watch it below.
The plugin is absolutely free and you can download the version you need for Logic right here. Have you got it? OK, let’s get started.
There’s no Installer, where do I put the file?
To install the plugin:
- go to your downloads folder, then into the
AccessiblePeakMeter_MacAU folder and find the file called
- press command+c to copy the file
- press command+shift+g to bring up the Go To Folder dialog box
- press the slash key then type the word library and then press enter.
You’re now in your library folder which is hidden by default in Yosemite.
- type AU to get to the audio folder and go in there
- press p to land on the plugins folder and go in there.
- press c to land on the components folder and go in there.
- drop the file here with Command+v.
You’re now all set and the accessible peak meter is installed, so start Logic Pro X and, open an existing project if you’ve got one to hand or create a new empty project if you haven’t with 1 audio track in it.
If you went for the empty project option, record something onto your audio track so that you’ve got some material to work with or plug a mic into your audio interface.
How do I add the accessible peak meter to a track?
If you’ve been using Logic for a while, you’ll know that there are a couple of ways to add a plugin to a track. You can either use the inspector or you can do it through the mixer. It’s not always immediately apparent when the inspector is open to us VoiceOver users, so I prefer to use the mixer.
There are 2 ways of invoking the mixer in Logic, but I prefer to work with the mixer in its own window, so press command+2 to open a mixer window now.
In this example, we’re going to put the peak meter across our output channel so bring up the item chooser with VO+i and type the word out. You’ll land on the output checkbox, so down arrow once to the output channel strip and press enter.
Now, interact with the output channel strip and you’ll hear VoiceOver say Insert Group so interact with that.
You’re now on the insert popup menu and here is where you can add the plugin. Open the menu with VO+space and come down to the audio units option, then, right arrow to open the audio units submenu.
come down to the Queen Mary University of London option and press right arrow. You’ll land on the accessible Peak meter so press enter here to add the plugin to the output channel. The Accessible peak meter will now open in its own window.
We’ve put it across the output channel so that we can hear if any of the tracks in our project are clipping.
Now, play your project or speak through your mic. If you’re hearing beeps along with your audio, then you’re too loud. You’ll need to find the loudest track at those peaks and turn it down.
The trick to getting access to the plugin controls
If you VO around the plugin window, you’ll find that you don’t see any of the plugin parameters. This is because Logic Pro X has 2 ways of showing plugins. The default way is the graphical editor view and the other is the controls view. Fortunately for us blind logic users, for most of the plugs in Logic, the Controls view is beautifully accessible with VoiceOver.
To switch to the controls view
- VO to the right as far as you can in the window and then come left one time. You’re now on the View menu button.
- Press the button with VO+Space to open the menu, come down to controls and press enter to switch to controls view.
- VO to the right until you land on a scroll area then interact with it.
You’ll now be able to change the various parameters in the plugin, the most important of which is the threshold. This is currently set to 0db, the loudest volume possible before distortion occurs, but, in practise, when mixing, you’ll want to set it lower than that.
VO down to Threshold come to the right and interact with the slider and set this really low just so that you can test the plugin. use VO down arrow to set it to say minus 20, then play your project again. You should be hearing the meter in action now as demoed in the video.
You’ll now need to raise the threshold to an appropriate level and then close the plugin window with command+w. You can also close the mixer window in the same way.
My audio is not clipping but how loud should it be?
If you’re new to audio recording, you might not have come across the concept of headroom. This is basically how close to clipping you should allow your audio to get.
Everyone has a different opinion on this but a ballpark recommendation is that you should keep your main output channel peaking at somewhere between minus 6 and minus 10db. This will allow your mix to breathe and you can always get a louder volume once the mix is complete with limiting etc, and now that we have the accessible peak meter, we can do this like the pros!