Find the Tempo of a Song | Using Smart Tempo in Logic Pro X

find the tempo of a song

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I always thought it’d be practical to have the ability to play along to your favourite song using your DAW, but there was one issue… In order to synchronize your session to your chosen track’s tempo, we’d need to have access to some sort of analyzer. When I discovered what Logic Pro X’s Smart Tempo feature was capable of, I was able to find the tempo of a song at the click of a button.

If you’ve been wondering how to find the tempo of a song, you’ll be learning about the possibilities that Logic Pro X’s Smart Tempo can provide. Whether you’re analyzing tracks that were synchronized to a “click” or that were recorded live, Smart Tempo will produce an accurate tempo track that synchronizes the rest of the session to the designated audio file. It’s easier than you think and has made my workflow much more pleasurable.

Why find the tempo of a song?

There are many reasons you may want to identify your given song’s tempo. For example… DJs may be looking for tracks with specific BPMs, music producers may want to synchronize their reference track’s tempo to their project and the list goes on.

Screen Shot 2020 02 29 at 5.35.10 PM 1

As you can see, Logic Pro’s Smart Tempo feature analyzed this audio file’s tempo quite accurately.

I even tested its work using the metronome and everything lined up nicely. It’s not perfect, but it provides more than enough precision for a variety of tasks. I use it all the time when working with reference tracks.

Each music producer has his/her own way of working with reference tracks, but I personally like to loop sections of 4-8 measures. It helps me pick up some of the “vocabulary” of any unfamiliar styles. I play-along and replicate different parts of the recording (drums, bass, guitar, keys, etc…)

Professional music transcribers can use Smart Tempo to assist them in transcribing their projects in these same 4-8 measure sections, making it easier. You can even play-along and add your own parts to the mix (for remixing purposes)! 

I believe each DAW has an equivalent feature, but today we’ll be working with Logic Pro X. If you haven’t used Smart Tempo before, we’re going to be setting that up right now!

How to find the tempo of a song using Smart Tempo

  • Open your new project and import your audio file.
Screen Shot 2020 02 29 at 5.33.25 PM
  • Right-click your audio clip. Go to: Tempo > Smart Tempo Editor
find the tempo of a song
  • Select the “Analyze” button in the editor window.
find the tempo of a song
  • Once it’s been analyzed, right-click your audio clip. Go to: Tempo > Apply Region Tempo to Project Tempo
find the tempo of a song
  • I usually select “Align downbeat…”. It makes editing easier, but feel free to uncheck this to retain the audio clip’s original position.
Screen Shot 2020 02 29 at 5.34.58 PM
  • Now take a look at your tempo track. Your entire project’s tempo should be synchronized to every little nuance of that audio file’s performance.
find the tempo of a song

Smart tempo can do more than find the tempo of a song

Now that you’ve got your project synchronized with your song’s tempo, we can do many things! In this particular case, Smart Tempo really comes in handy since this performance was NOT recorded to a “click”.

You can loop 4-8 measures, you can add parts to make a remix or simply slow-down/speed-up the entire thing to make transcription easier.

For that last one, you’ll actually need to get used to making any future changes using the tempo track. You’ll also need to set Flex & Follow to “On” for any changes to affect the audio file’s speed.

find the tempo of a song

Another of Smart Tempo’s features is the ability to track any given performance’s tempo using the “Adapt Project Tempo” option.

find the tempo of a song

In other words, you can record without using a metronome and Logic will adapt its tempo throughout the entire recording process.

What this means is you’ll be able to add overdubs and any additional parts while being synchronized with the original recording’s tempo. If you forgot to do this, it’s no trouble… You can use the previous step-by-step process to analyze your band’s performance post.

I know for a fact that Cubase can do the exact same thing. It’s becoming standard.

Find the tempo of any song using Logic Pro X’s Smart Tempo

I still can’t get over how far sound technology has come. From playing-along to vinyl or even old cassettes to jamming out to your personal computer’s DAW. It’s inspiring!

I forgot to mention how you could easily use Smart Tempo to sample from pretty much any audio file.

It really comes in handy for music producers who sample from vinyl. By analyzing each track’s tempo, you can easily make quick and accurate cutdowns.

I find it especially useful for working with tracks that HAVEN’T been recorded to a “click”.

How do YOU intend to use Smart Tempo? Let us know in the comments and feel free to share this post with your music producer friends if you’ve found it helpful. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest content on a weekly basis. Thank you!

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4 Responses

  1. Woooooow! this is indeed the peak of decibels. I just learned some amazing features that i never imagined were possible. Thank you so much for the detailed explanation. The smart tempo is really revolutionary and this will certainly yield us more flow in mix productions as we can now generate a wide list of songs with the same tempo. Cheers! and i’ll look forward to more of your updates.

    1. Hey Creators Hub,

      I’m glad you found some use in this tutorial. The biggest perk of using this feature is you won’t need to spend time figuring it out on your own with a metronome.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

  2. Thanks for the useful info and insights. I am trying to synchronize voices of a virtual choir with Logic Pro X, because for obvious reasons we can not sing together. The total choir is 90 people. We started with 4 voices and the piano track. I can easily get them started simultaneously, only they seem to get out of sync during the song. For one obscure reason they almost end at the same time. I need almost to sync 90 voices in groups of Tenors 1 + 2, Bass and Baritone. They need to be synced in their respective groups and then I need to get these 4 groups harmonized. If you have additional tips and tricks I would love to hear them. You have a great way of explaining these points, I was able to do the analyses in a few minutes after I spent almost an evening trying to figure out how to use the beat and analyse function. I am just starting to learn how to use Logic Pro X and I am overwhelmed by the possibilities. She people seem to get this done in Final Cut but I believe the sound is more important and inconsistent lip sync on one of the 90 people is harder to find. The ear is unforgiving hence I would like to hear your opinion.

    1. Hey Edward!

      From what I understand:

      – you’ve got 4 audio tracks for the male choir (Baritone, Bass, Tenor 1, Tenor 2) and 1 audio track for the piano
      – you’re trying to add the remaining voices using a software instrument track (the virtual choir)
      – the audio tracks you’re using as the foundation aren’t lining up correctly

      Did I get all of that right?

      If so, it seems like you’ve done the analysis using one of your audio tracks (which has changed the tempo of your project), but the other tracks haven’t followed. The reason this might have happened is that you need to activate “flex & follow” for each audio track. Make sure it’s simply set to “ON” and not “Bars” or “Beats”.

      Assuming the tracks have been recorded in time, this should fix your problem and you can then proceed to add the remaining voices using your software instrument.

      If you need more assistance, you can always send me your project through WeTransfer at stefan@decibelpeak.com. I’d be more than happy to take a look for you!

      Thank you for reaching out, great question!

      – Stefan

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