FL Studio: The Holy Grail?
As an artist, composer and producer of music the search for the ultimate creative workflow is, in some ways, similar to the search for the holy grail. The pre-requisite of laying down fragments of ideas and musical sketches should be complimented with by those production tools which help to push the idea closer to a musical work. Periodically, we may hit a block and get stuck in the mud of an agonising creative rut. In these times of soul searching inspiration we need to react quickly and throw out the old and bring in the new.
My curiosity with FL Studio heightened after reading a monthly tech magazine review of version 7. Although I didn’t buy into the software at that time, I found myself online and searching for more information. When the opportunity came around I registered with FL Studio Producer (Signature Bundle) version 8. Like any new software there was a learning curve in getting the flow up to speed and, in this regard, FL is no exception, but within a few sessions I knew this music creation software would really compliment my way of working.
FL Studio is a fully featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for Windows PCs which supports 32/64bit VST, DX & ReWire plugins and can record up to 99 simultaneous tracks of audio through the 105 channel mixer (soon to become unlimited tracks in version 11). The Playlist workspace can contain an unlimited number of audio tracks and the audio channel tools enable time-stretching, pitch-shifting using the highest standard of Z-Plane algorithms. Through FL’s own plugin architecture full expressive control is achieved by linking controls and automation using multi-point envelopes.
Working with Audio
FL Studio is fun, its exciting, it’s a serious piece of music making intelligence. Much more than the sketch pad I originally perceived it to be. The wide range of VST plug-ins and generators exported with FL Studio provides you with many alternative sources of inspiration and approaches to music making. One of my favourite tools is ‘Slicex’ an audio slicer that chops audio files using markers as regions. After the audio is sliced, a simple click of a button immediately assigns midi triggers for each newly created piece of audio making each slice available for playback and re-arrangement via midi in the piano roll. Through Slicex, audio slices can be assigned to ‘Articulators’ a series of filter envelopes that sonically shape and sculpture the individual slices for an unlimited source of frequency twisting.
As for FL’s processing plug-ins; check out the Fruity Limiter, Maximus and PEQII with their spectral visual displays. The Stereo Shaper, too, is an amazing plugin for voice separation and stereo placement. For beat creation you have Slicex, the pattern sequencer, or the MPC style FPC (Fruity Pad Controller). Each of these groove machines provide separate audio outputs to be assigned and routed to the mixer. In Directwave you have an onboard sampler which loads and edits most of the existing sound formats out there: wav, SF2, AKP (Akai), Propellerheads Recycle, Native Instruments Battery, Kontakt *(nki), GIGA *(gig) & eMagic EXS24, it can even sample your existing VSTi instruments
The online forum for FL Studio is excellent at http://forum.image-line.com. Where FL users from around the globe openly contribute with such enthusiasm on ideas and recommendations for workflow improvements. The admin who offer such fantastic support, have recently started a ‘Guru’ series of short video tutorials which highlight shortcuts and speed tips in FL Studio:
When you buy into FL Studio you receive a lifetime of free version updates, which is worth the asking price alone. This policy is a credit to Image-Line the developers and it is a huge benefit for all registered users. With version 11 announced for spring 2013, I have received 5 major release updates to-date, along with all the new VST instruments and plug-ins released with them.
Working with FL Studio has been a revelation and a real education. There are many workflow angles to adopt and the results are very fast. I never anticipated the depth of the program’s Audio & MIDI capability. As a complete professional grade music production environment it continues to open my mind. I get a buzz every time I boot the PC.
My cup over-floweth
Its a good life!
A fully functional demo of FL Studio is available for download. Should you purchase FL Studio you will receive Life-Time Free Updates to all future versions of the product. Spend a minimum of $90 on ANY Image-Line products and receive a 10% reduction…
Brought to you courtesy of Soundwrx Digital