FL Studio started its life humbly. Originally called Fruity Loops, the name suggests less of a workstation and more of a plaything. Now, FL Studio is over 20 years old, and has had many updates and new versions since its original release as a four-track MIDI drum machine.
Now boasting its own comprehensive selection of effects, instruments and add-ons, FL Studio is a serious contender in the professional sphere of music production. Indeed, many pros use it to create their tracks.
Despite how it is often portrayed as somehow less than other DAWs, as something that only the hobbyist uses, someone who is only playing at being a music producer, FL Studio has put its own stamp on the DAW world, and offers what is in many ways a unique approach to creating music.
What's more, with the update to FL Studio 20, it has now ditched its Windows only status, and is also available on Mac systems too.
So, I think it's fair to say that there is a lot that FL Studio has to offer, and in this article we are going to look at:
- some of its best and newest features
- some top tips
- and more!
Let's get started.
Putting the Studio in FL Studio.
There are plenty of new features within FL Studio in its current iteration, so here are a collection of some of the best. We will also throw in some handy tips here and there to help you make the most of your time in FL.
The Graph Editor makes its return.
Since being removed, FL Studio users have been vocal about their wishes to have the graphic editing feature return to the pattern step sequencer. Luckily, Image-Line have listened, and now with a right click on the sample in the Step Editor, you can bring up the Graphic Editor. It's a great way to adjust parameters with visual feedback, which is super valuable when working with things like velocity, panning, levels and notes.
Get more from Fruity Reverb
Fruity Reverb 2 has always been a solid reverb plug in. One of the drawbacks of algorithmic reverbs however, is the tendency for metallic and unnatural sounding aspects to the sound. The new Modulation section is a great tool for smoothing these sounds out, but of course, you can push the Mod Depth and Mod Speed values to get some more crazy results!
This has been a common feature in other DAWs for a long time, and it's nice to see FL Studio finally catching up. When recording, you can now get a visual preview of the audio signal in real time. It's a useful feature to see it happen as it is recording, because it lets you see instantly if there's an issue such as a dodgy gain level or a huge spike in the audio that isn't supposed to be there!
Now that you can use FL Studio on Macs, you now have access to Apple's Audio Units plugin format. So you can now use any AU instruments and effects in FL Studio!
I mentioned in my previous articles about FL Studio that one of its best features is how customisable it is. Nowhere is this more evident than its customisable Toolbar. You can edit it to suit your specific production style and needs, and save it for use later. You can drag and drop whatever elements you like into the Toolbar, which is a really great feature.
Building off the customisable Toolbar, another neat feature for customisation within FL is the plugin database. It's just comprised of a couple of folders on your hard drive, so you can edit and change this collection. Add, move, rename and copy folders just using Windows Explorer, or Finder if you're on Mac. They're all presets, so can save over them to build a load-state that suits your production style the most.
There are many scenarios where making multiple different arrangements of the same piece of music is necessary. In the past, this would have meant renaming and saving an entirely new version of the project, but no longer! Now you can create and have multiple arrangements of the same piece within the one project, and whichever arrangement is selected is the one that will be bounced out.
This is great for if you're wanting remixes, alternative versions, or you need to provide a client with multiple arrangement options, for example!
Loops are an integral part of electronic music, and making them couldn't be easier with Edison. Make a selection of the audio you want to loop, and hit Alt+L to create loop points and Ctrl+L to bring up the Tune Loop options.
Edison's WAV exporting capabilities get an upgrade!
Another great example of where Image-Line have been listening to the fans and implementing their requests is in Edison's latest upgrade. FL Studio's updates have been pushing it towards to high expectations from pro users, and now audio enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Edison can now export WAVs in 24-bit, rather than the previous 16-bit and 32-bit options.
Within Ableton Live, you can set a track's input as 'Resampling', which means it will then record whatever audio is playing within Live. This is a great feature for making your own loops (especially if you're using tonnes of CPU heavy plugins). In FL Studio 12.5 and later, all you need to do is to right click channels and select the 'Create DirectWAve instrument' option, and you've got an audio sample of what you've been working with!
You've probably read my descriptions on comping across our blogs, but if not, here's a quick reminder. Comping describes the process of stitching together sections from several takes of audio to create one super take. This has long been a feature in other DAWs, and now with FL Studio, you can do it too. Takes are grouped when you record something in looped mode, which means that they are automatically grouped in a collection of adjacent tracks. This means you can now easily create comped tracks from the best of multiple takes.
This is only a small selection of the many features and functions held within FL Studio. It would take hours and hours to list them all, so as one final tip, let's talk about RTM.
What does RTM stand for? A complex music production term?
Reading the Manual
There is no better place to go to in search of detailed information about a specific DAW than its manual. What's great about FL Studio's manual, is that it can open right from FL Studio.
Press F1 to open a context dependent iteration of the manual. What this means is that it will open on the page relevant to the last thing you clicked in FL.
Hopefully you found something useful in this little guide, and can use some of these features and functions to improve your production game within FL Studio. Let us know in the comments if there is anything we missed, or any great tips you have for FL!
As always, check out the rest of our site for some more great info and some deals on FL Studio project files, the perfect way to learn professional level production.