Its official launch was in earlywhen it was still a four-channel  MIDI drum machine. FL Studio has undergone twelve major updates since its inception. Software overview[ edit ] FL Studio Express – This version allows for step sequencer -only editing and is chiefly suited for step loop creation. Instruments in the pattern can be routed to the Mixer tool for effects processing, and effects as of version As of version
FL Studio Producer Edition 12.4.2 Full Version
It does include a good selection of synths and effect plug-ins, though, as well as automation support, the step sequencer, the piano roll, and the event editor. Regardless of which version you purchase, you get free lifetime updates from Image-Line—and that includes full number revisions as well as point updates. Considering Image-Line has been around almost 20 years, chances are good it won’t go out of business tomorrow, either.
The program is a MB download, and takes up just 1. It also comes bundled with a version of ASIO4ALL, a driver that gives you low latency audio recording and playback even without a proper external interface, and one that works with multiple applications open simultaneously. For this review, I tested FL Studio Interface With the advent of version 12, the program’s entirely new vector-based interface has become much sharper than before, especially on Retina-class monitors. The UI is fully scalable, even across multiple displays.
It also supports multitouch; with an appropriate touch-screen monitor, you can use it like a live physical mixing board and move multiple faders simultaneously. View All 9 Photos in Gallery Starting from the left side, the Browser contains all of your presets, instruments, audio clips, project files, and other assorted material to work with. The Channel Rack contains whatever sound generators are in use in the current project. The Pattern list shows all of the clips in use.
The Playlist serves as the main arranging window, and looks a lot like the view in other DAWs. You can also bring up the piano roll and step sequencer, both of which let you edit more closely.
The mixing console and meter bridge view can be set to multiple sizes. You can adjust the borders of or hide any of these windows as you see fit. If you’re used to an earlier version of FL Studio, prepare to get reoriented; a number of main pieces like the Channel Rack and Pattern Menus have been moved around. You can create new tracks from a number of basic templates; the Channel Rack, in some of the default templates, auto-populates with a basic style kick, snare, claps, and hi-hats.
The program also makes a point of automatically strapping a limiter across the master bus in some cases to get your mix levels pumping but not clipping immediately, at the risk of causing fainting spells in some professional mastering studios.
There are plenty of nice touches in the interface. The song position marker glows, as if it was backlit, when it moves. Open up the 3x OSC three oscillator synth and you’ll see its knobs all move to reset itself automatically.
The meter bridge responds to incoming audio with analog-like precision. It all looks quite sharp. Recording The way each project works is as a collection of patterns—beginning with Pattern 1, which you can find underneath the transport. You can start a song just by clicking on the 16th-note step sequencer buttons to lay down notes, or by right-clicking the channel and choosing “fill in steps” to speed up the process. To record from a MIDI keyboard instead, click the Record button, and then choose Everything at the bottom of the dialog box asking what you want to record.
As you create new patterns, you drop them into the Playlist, where you can then duplicate them, or zap them with the right button if you change your mind. It’s easy to cut and paste notes, drag them around, adjust their size, and so on; the pattern automatically lengthens and snaps to make building longer ones a quick process. As you work, you can alternate between Song mode, to hear everything, or Pattern mode, to focus on and develop individual patterns. Most of this is easy enough to grasp, but there are a few odd interface conventions.
And while the interface contains a lot of small, obscure icons, no tool tips seem to appear when you hover over them. Instead, look up and to the top left, where a small window displays the purpose of each element of the interface as you pass the cursor over it.
There’s no score editor, so you’ll need something else if you prefer working with music notation. Once you get acclimated, it’s very easy to get things going by creating patterns and painting them on the screen, laying down new material with the left mouse button and removing it with the right button.
You’ll need that right mouse button for other common tasks as well, like opening projects from the Browser, which is an unusual quirk double-clicking the project name does nothing. But if you’re new to digital audio workstations, you just might intuit how to use FL Studio more quickly than other apps. Where the program still falls down, though, is in straight audio recording.
You record audio from a microphone or instrument input in either of two ways—into the Edison recorder, which lets you manipulate samples, but isn’t ideal for acoustic instrument or long vocal takes; or into an audio clip, which is easier to place on the timeline, but still Playlist-based and also not automatically routed to a mixer track more on this below. Both ways are convoluted and geared more toward the “s sampler” mentality of vocal snippets for EDM than for, say, recording a live band.
Again, if you live and breathe FL Studio, you can probably work around these limitations. But if you’re coming from another DAW, don’t expect to record a lot of live audio tracks easily; a program like Reaper or Pro Tools is much more suited for the task.
Sounds Most of the included instruments are fun to play and tweak, but are generally a bit simplistic, and in some cases, outdated. The flip side is that with some work, you can make them sound quite good thanks to FL studio’s easy automation and manipulation. Plus, a lot of the synth presets bundled with FL Studio seem to be high-passed drums and bass excepted , which makes mixing dance music that much easier and clearer. For example, there aren’t a lot of full-frequency, giant pads and synth stabs that sound impressive soloed, but are virtually impossible to sit in a mix correctly without heavy EQ carving.
The master bus limiter acts quickly, too, with no perceptible latency, if you do decide to leave it enabled while working. Some plug-in highlights: Effector gives you easy effects timed to grid divisions.
You can control the size as well as the rhythm division, and it also has a filter you can adjust on the matrix; right-click to create an automation clip and adjust the sound over time.
Soundgoodizer I wonder what it does? You can also install additional third-party plug-ins, and put them on an additional drive instead of your SSD to conserve space. One way to speed up the process is to create presets of favorite generators and settings. That includes menus and submenus in the browser; you can set it up so that you go right to the sound subcategory you want every single time. You can even set a preset up as pictures of the plug-ins that you just drag into your project.
This works especially well when you’re using third-party plug-ins. You can do this kind of thing in other DAWs like Logic, by saving them in the Library or as Channel Strips, but it’s particularly intuitive here. Mixing and Automation As you record tracks and create new ones, you’ll notice the mixer window remains mostly empty—even if you’ve already got some tracks full of instruments recorded.
Unlike with other DAWs, you must right-click each mixer channel to assign a generator to it. Once you do that, you can apply effects just to that track, or mix its level relative to other tracks. You can also assign multiple channels to the same mixer track, which for me would be confusing, but I can think of some cases where you may want to combine sounds kind of like Groups in other sequencers, but in a single channel here. That said, no matter what, you always must manually assign channels to tracks first before you can mix them, a process that’s automatic and frankly more intuitive in other DAWs.
On the plus side, automation clips appear on their own tracks, which is also different than how most DAWs work, but in a good way. The visible clips make it easy to make your songs breathe, ebb, and flow organically. For example, you can duplicate automation clips, make a single edit that affects both of them simultaneously, or select “make unique” on a given clip so that you can start with existing automation and then make changes to it.
Because the automation clips are separate and easy to generate, you can lay one down for everything automatically, and then make visible moves and edits as you listen back to the song. The automation isn’t hidden away in a separate view that’s more difficult to work with. Conclusions While there are some clear limitations, you can produce exceptional work using just FL Studio. The preloaded demo song honestly sounds amazing: There are dozens of such demo tracks included; stepping through them is a great way to learn what’s possible with the program, and you can break each one down by its individual pieces to get your own ideas for sounds.
I started recording music in the s using pattern-based sequencers found in drum machines and in keyboard workstations like the Korg M1, all with very limited memory. Now I enjoy the freedom of linear open tracks and unlimited hard drive storage we have today.
As a result, I don’t personally take to an environment like FL Studio, which is largely pattern- and loop-oriented and I felt this way about Ableton Live as well when I tested that program, so read into this what you will.
The obvious difference is while you’re still creating patterns like we did back then, the process in FL Studio is visual and flexible in a way it never was with lists of numbers in tiny two-line LCDs, my original point of reference for pattern-based recording.
Starting out today with something like FL Studio, you could easily become a natural with the technique. FL Studio Producer is flexible enough to get everything you need done for in-the-box composition, and without unnecessary restrictions on vocal clip recording or sample editing that the base version brings. If you’ve got the money, by all means spring for Signature or All Plugins, though you may want to put that cash toward some third-party virtual instruments instead.
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