How to record the sounds in the TD-50 or TD-50X in addition to MIDI data using Apple’s Logic Pro by connecting the TD-50(X) to your Mac via USB cable.
This post will show you how to connect your Roland TD-50 or TD-50X to your Mac and record drum tracks. I’ll show you how to record the sounds internal to your TD-50(X) and also record the MIDI data at the same time. This setup offers you lots of options.
Recording the audio out of the TD-50(X) and recording the MIDI data simultaneously allows you to fatten up your sounds using some of the great samples in Logic (or any MIDI device or Logic plugin for that matter) and also allows you to send either the TD-50(X) sounds or the MIDI data (or both) to your client.
Now obviously you could use the XLR balanced outputs on the TD-50(X) and plug those into an Audio Interface and record that way. But that approach seems silly because you are doing a digital-to-analog conversion going out of the TD-50(X) only to do an analog-to-digital conversion at the audio interface. Those XLR outputs on the TD-50(X) are more suitable for live performances. Why not keep it digital all the way through the signal chain when recording?
Plus, using the method I describe below will give you more control over the individual drum tracks than just a Left/Right Stereo mix AND you can record the MIDI data at the same time you are tracking with the internal sounds of the TD-50(X).
Let’s Get Started
If you have not yet made the jump from the TD-50 firmware to the TD-50X upgrade I recommend you update your Roland TD-50 to the latest firmware first. We paid a sh*t ton of money for this thing, why not keep it updated with the latest firmware.
Having said that, upgrading from the TD-50 to the TD-50X firmware is entirely up to you and not required to make any of this work. I personally did it and I’m very happy with the upgrade but be aware you will loose everything on the TD-50 when you move to TD-50X.
Again, the instructions in this post for recording with Logic will work fine with the TD-50. But if you run into problems, you might consider at least upgrading to the latest TD-50 firmware. I believe the latest is Ver. 1.09 as I write this. Here is a handy link to the TD-50 firmware download and device driver updates.
To determine the firmware version your TD-50(X) is running:
- Press the SETUP button.
- Use the PAGE UP or DOWN buttons to display the screen with the INFO icon.
- Press the F3 button to select INFO.
- Press the F1 (PROGRAM) button to see the firmware version. Compare that version with the versions available on the Roland Support site for Drivers and Downloads.
Follow the upgrade instructions very carefully if you choose to update your firmware or move from TD-50 to TD-50X. I highly recommend doing a back-up first. Installing the update will wipe out any kits you’ve created and saved, including third party kits such as the ones from VExpressions. And also be aware the TD-50X uses different internal kit formats so you won’t be able to reload any custom kits you’ve purchased or created for the TD-50.
BACK UP YOUR TD-50 FIRST BEFORE YOU UPDATE THE FIRMWARE. I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU WIPING OUT YOUR SYSTEM BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T READ THE ROLAND NOTES CAREFULLY.My disclaimer
What You’ll Need On Hand to Record to Logic Pro
Since Logic Pro is only available for MacOS I’ll assume you are using a MacBook Pro or an iMac capable of handling multi-track recording.
Next you’ll need the proper USB cable to connect your TD-50(X) to your Mac. If you have a newer Mac you’ll need a USB Type-C to USB Type-B cable. Click here for an example on Amazon. Obviously you could use a converter if you don’t have a USB Type-C cable but I prefer to skip the converter and go right into the Mac. Here’s what the cable looks like:
Steps to Get Going In a NutShell
- Install the latest firmware for the TD-50 or TD-50X (optional).
- Install the Roland MacOS driver.
- Connect the TD-50 to your Mac.
- Launch Logic Pro.
- Create tracks with proper input assignments.
- Add another track to record the MIDI data (optional).
I’ll go into details on each of these steps.
Install the Roland MacOS Driver
This is separate and completely different from the Roland TD-50 firmware. In order to record using the USB Type-B port on your TD-50(X) you need to install Roland’s Driver. You can find it here. Make sure you download the correct version for your version of MacOS.
And while we’re on the topic of MacOS, resist the urge to update your Mac immediately after Apple releases a new MacOS version. Lots of audio stuff stops working when Apple makes significant OS changes like they did with Catalina which ended native OS support for 32-bit applications. If I remember correctly, it took Roland and entire year to release a new driver. So make sure you check with all the vendors that make the plugins and drivers you use or you could be introducing a whole bunch of pain for yourself.
A NOTE ON UPGRADING MacOS:
Before upgrading your MacOS version always make sure the Roland Driver is available for the MacOS version you are upgrading to. Audio companies are typically behind by a few months. Otherwise you’ll be on hold for recording until Roland releases an updated driver. This is true for any MIDI drivers or Logic plugins you are running.My MacOS upgrade advice
Read very carefully the Readme.htm file that comes with the Roland MacOS driver you downloaded. The most important thing in that Readme file is the requirement that you go to SETUP, then USB Audio – Driver Mode and set that to “VENDOR”. Otherwise, nothing is going to work. Meaning your Mac will not recognize the TD-50(X).
Hit the SETUP button then choose “USB Audio”. Here’s what that screen looks like. Nothing is going to work until you do this:
Connect Your TD-50(X) to your Mac
Before you turn on the Mac, connect the Roland TD-50(X) to your Mac and let it start up. Or if you just installed the Roland driver you should be good to go.
One quick test to see if your Mac is seeing the TD-50(X) is to go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences and then Audio. You should see the the TD-50(X) there, such as in this screenshot:
If you don’t see the TD-50(X) in the system preferences dialog make sure you set the USB Audio Driver mode to VENDOR on the TD-50(X) as I mentioned above. You might need to restart everything after you change that.
Launch Logic Pro
With the Roland TD-50(X) powered on and connected to the Mac via USB, launch Logic Pro and make sure it recognizes the TD-50(X). You can easily do that by going to Settings in Logic and click the Audio Icon on the top. You want the output and input devices set to TD-50 or TD-50X, whichever you are using.
If Logic is not recognizing the TD-50(X), double check the SETUP, USB Audio – Driver Mode on the TD-50(X) as I mentioned above. If you don’t set it to “VENDOR” your Mac will not see it.
Next create a new, empty project in Logic.
Create Your Tracks in Logic
With a new, empty Logic project created it’s now time to create your tracks. From the Logic menu select Track, and then New Tracks…
This next part is a little weird even if you are familiar with Logic. Here’s the deal: the TD-50(X) has predefined inputs for each instrument (meaning kick, snare, toms, etc.). Just like you may have input 1 and input 2 on your audio interface. For example, you might plug your guitar into input 1 of your audio interface and then tell Logic in the New Tracks window you want to use Input 1 to record the guitar.
With what we’re doing in this post, the TD-50(X) IS THE AUDIO INTERFACE. You are going to hear playback through the Roland unit and Logic needs to know what inputs to use for each track you create.
Hopefully that made sense. The TD-50(X) has these inputs configured right out of the box:
- Inputs 1 & 2: The Stereo Left & Right outputs
- Input 3: Kick Drum
- Input 4: Snare Drum
- Input 5: Hi Hat
- Input 6: Ride Cymbal
- Input 7: Toms (Stereo)
- Input 8: Crash Cymbals (Stereo)
So given that bit of detail, creating the tracks as follows should make more sense.
First, create 4 ascending tracks starting at Input 3. Note in the image below the Ascending check box is checked and the Number of tracks to create is set to 4. Also note the Device is TD-50X.
When you hit the create button you’ll create 4 tracks starting using Input 3, Input 4, Input 5 and Input 6.
You should see this:
Note in the image above, in the Inspector pane to the left of the tracks, you can see Track 1 (Audio 1) is using Input 3. If you check the others you’ll see Audio 2 is using Input 4, Audio 3 is using Input 5, etc.
Next we’ll create the two stereo tracks for the Toms and the Crashes this time starting at Input 7 and setting “Number of tracks to create:” to 2 as in the image below:
Clicking Create will create 2 new tracks.
Next, I recommend you rename the tracks for ease of mixing and to avoid confusion, as in the image below:
Next we’ll add a track to record the MIDI data. This is optional of course, but if your Mac is up to the task, meaning it can record all these tracks while playing back whatever you are recording to, why not do this? It’s free.
Create a New Track to Record the MIDI Data
Create a new Track but this time we’ll create a Software Instrument Track:
After clicking Create you should see the new track created. Go find the Drum Kits in the Library pane and select “Producer Kits”. Pick any one of those. You can change them at any time. This is an awesome thing. A “Producer Kit” mimics a fully mic’ed drum set and contains what I call “sub-tracks” for each “component” of the recorded kit, even a bottom snare mic, for example.
You should see something like this after selecting a Producer Kit:
Now here’s the really cool thing: If you expand that Producer Kit drum track (by clicking the “>”) either in the track list shown above or in the mixer window, you see all the “sub-tracks” within that Producer Kit track:
And notice in the mixer window, you can manipulate each sub-track, meaning mute it, turn it up, pan it, etc.
This is super cool. It lets you enhance the sounds you recorded coming out of the TD-50(X). I sometimes only use the snare and the toms and mute the rest, but the options are numerous.
Before you hit record you need to “arm” or “record enable” all the drum tracks. So select the Kick track and shift click the MIDI track and then click the R on any of them. Make sure all of them are record enabled before you hit record as in the image below:
Next, hit record and ensure you are getting audio on all tracks. You should see something like this after recording a few bars:
You just recorded the sounds in the TD-50(X) AND the MIDI data coming from the TD-50(X) all simultaneously. This is extremely valuable because I have some clients who want MIDI data only and others who want Audio Only and others who want both. It’s the same performance captured two different ways!
Next, save yourself from having to repeat this exercise and save this project as a Template in Logic.
Create a Template
Finally, a real time saving feature of Logic is the concept of templates. Once you’ve set all of this up, and before you record any audio, go to File and then Save As Template…
Call it something like TD-50 or whatever. When you create a new project from that template it will be created with these tracks already in place. It’s a huge time saver.
Using an External Click
If you want to customize the click sound you hear while tracking, there are a few options but you’ll need an external device like a drum machine or a MIDI keyboard. Check out my post on how to use an external click when recording with the TD-50 and Logic here.
As you probably already know, the TD-50(X) is a beast when it comes to capabilities and custom options. I’m sure you can assign the inputs and outputs differently and customize them (among a multitude of other things). I simply have not had the time to dig into the box more but I hope this post will save you a few hours of time and frustration and get you started on recording the TD-50(X) with your Mac. Good luck and happy recording!