FL Studio (formerly "Fruityloops") is a DAW by Image-Line currently only available for Windows. The program's strength is its pattern-based philosophy which it inherited from its MIDI drum machine pedigree. The program has continued to evolve over the years, and now has features that rival other popular DAWs. The different editions of the program range in price from USD$49 to $499.
This article was previously published on the AudioJungle blog. We'll be bringing you an article from the archives each week.
This is our fourteenth article in the series “Exploring Digital Audio Workstations”. If you’ve missed the earlier articles, you can find them here:
- Exploring Digital Audio Workstations
- Discover Pro Tools LE
- 11 Essential Pro Tools Tutorials
- Discover Logic Pro
- 11 of the Best Tutorials for Logic Pro
- Discover Propellerhead's Reason
- 18 Reason Tutorials That Cover All the Bases
- Discover Steinberg’s Cubase 5
- 20 Instructive Cubase Tutorials
- Discover Cakewalk’s SONAR
- 14 Tutorials that Make Using SONAR a Piece of Cake
- Discover Ableton Live
- 17 Amazing Ableton Live Tutorials
Now let’s have a look at FL Studio.
History and Background
Fruityloops had humble beginnings in 1998 as a MIDI-only drum editor. Version 1.0 of the program was never released. If you enjoy playing with old technology, you can still download the program from a link at the bottom of Image-Line's FL Studio History page.
Over the eleven years since then features have been continually added until it became the fully functional virtual studio we know and love today. The change of names from "Fruityloops" to "FL Studio" reflects this change.
FL Studio is still centered around a pattern-based sequencer, and this emphasis gives the program a different workflow to other professional DAWs. I haven't used the program extensively myself, but I have watched my kids play with Fruityloops for hours at a time. They seemed to enjoy the way it worked, and found it easy to create some (basic and repetitive) songs. If you've tried FL Studios, do you love or hate this different way of working?
FL Studio is produced by Image-Line, a Belgian company who focus on audio software. The program is currently only available for Microsoft Windows, and the latest version, FL Studio 9, was released just a couple of months ago. Most significantly, this version added multithreaded generators and effects. In a welcome move, they are starting to work on Mac versions of their software.
FL Studio's Features
The FL Studio features page lists the following features across the various editions of the program:
- Multi-out VSTi, Rewire & DXi softsynths
- VST & DX effects
- FPC: Fruity Pad Controller
- FL Studio Generators & FX
- Usable as multi-out VSTi client in hosts like Cubase
- Usable as multi-out ReWire client in hosts like Sonar
- Usable as multi-out DXi client in hosts like Sonar
- Use external midi keyboards & midi controllers
- Import & export midi files
- MIDI SysEx input and basic MMC functions
- Full audiotracks with WAV form display
- Reads .WAV, .MP3, .SYN, .DS, .Speech files
- Edison Wave Editor ($99 value) included
- ASIO-in recording
- Step sequencer with integrated Piano keyboard
- Pianoroll (allowing chords)
- Full realtime recording & automation of all parameters
- Internal controllers
- Automatic slicer (that reads .REX files)
- More than 15 generators (softsynths) included
- Over 40 HQ FX (effects) included
- Pattern (midi) clips in the playlist
- Pattern-based event automation
- Envelope automation of all parameters in playlist
Mixer & FX rack
- 99 Insert & 4 Send Tracks with 8 FX channels each
- Post FX Parametric EQ, Volume, Pan, VU meter
- Full FX (re)routing
Updates & Online features
- Lifetime Free updates
- Download more than 2GB of HQ samples on SampleFusion
- Watch dozens of online Video Tutorials
- Exchange songs & tips with users & developers in our forums
- Multi-out ASIO
- Midi out
- Render to .WAV (16bit, 24bit or 32bit)
- Render to .MP3 (32kbit up to 320kbit)
- Render to .OGG (32kbit up to 450kbit)
- Render separate 'stems' for each mixer track
- FL versions of SimSynth Live, DX-10, DrumSynth, WASP, WASP XT, SynthMaker Player
- Delay, Delay Bank, Equo, Flangus, Love Philter, Vocoder, Parametric EQ & EQ2, Multiband Compressor, Spectroman, Stereo Enhancer, Wave Candy, Wave Shaper, Soundgoodizer
- FL SynthMaker Full, Slicex, Vocodex
- 3xOsc, Sampler, BooBass, Beepmap, Plucked, Fruit Kick, Chrome ,FPC, WaveTraveller, Dashboard, KB Controller,Fruity Vibrator, Midi Out, FL Slayer, FL Keys, Granuliser
- DirectWave Player
- Maximus, Hardcore, VideoPlayer, Sytrus, Soundfont player, DirectWave Sampler
- Deckadance, Poizone, Toxic Biohazard, Morphine, Gross Beat, Ogun, Sawer
- +1900 presets using 600 wav files
- Generic Sample CD
- $49 Virtual Cash card
But Image-Line don't just want you learning about the features from a boring list. They make a fully-functional demo version of FL Studio available for download, though the link doesn't seem to be working a the time of writing.
Moving away from software features, some unique aspects of the software are that it comes with free software upgrades for life, and has some very affordable editions.
What do FL Studio users think of the product? Here are some comments by users and reviewers that I found around the Net. I’d love to hear from you in the comments too.
- "FL Studio offers a tremendous value for what you get. Comparable products cost nearly twice as much. FL Studio's quirky sound generators and interoperability make it a great addition to any studio. Be warned, though: several versions of FL Studio are available, so more features are included as the price goes up." (CNET Staff)
- "This is a very high quality professional studio for music production. It does not take a lot of space compared to other programs like Cubase. It works faster and has a easy and intuitive feel to it which accelerates learning. Other programs seem to be very hard to learn. Free unlimited updates rock!" (michalkun)
- "i dont mind FL's look i just wish that the vsti thing was set up like cubases and other daws are. i dont want a vst to be set on a certain channel i want it to be in its own host so you can set the channels accordingly. now for the library i think that their best synth is morphine (i actually use it) and for the drums and stuff it doesnt even matter cause i dont even use i never use any daw stock sounds (besides reason). Reason is supposed to have good sounds out the box because it doesnt allow any 3rd party synthisizers or vsts to work within it. so yeah pretty much fix that vsti thing and it will be ok in my book." (Cheta)
- "Fruity Loops has long proven that not all music making apps have to look the same way. FL is quirky and different. Its editing interface is built as much around step sequencers and pattern sequencing as the conventional, mixer and audio-tape-derived views. But perhaps some of its real draw is that it packs, in its mid-level-and-higher packages, it’s packed with fascinating and unusual sonic toys. FL 9 looks to continue that tradition. And because it’s FL, if you’ve ever bought FL, you get a free lifetime upgrade to this version. (Seriously, if you’re pirating FL, stop. You have absolutely no excuse.)" (Peter Kirn, Create Digital Music.com)
- "With a newly-designed, graphically-driven interface, customizable workflows and workspaces and intuitive MIDI mapping features, quickly recording and editing or composing and sequencing MIDI files is a facile process, far removed from the rough-hewn, guesswork that typified MIDI software programs and applications nary a decade ago. With 255 ports available for MIDI data, as well as automated features like MIDI "Master Sync" and stops/starts-on-a-dime synchronization features, performing MIDI-related tasks is virtually a plug-and-play affair for the initial recording process, while its composition, sequencing and editing features streamline the other processes to take loops, parts or entire projects from scraps, bits and loose threads to ergonomically-sealed quilts." (TopTenREVIEWS)
Have you used FL Studio? Do you love it or hate it? What are your favorite features? Let us know in the comments.