FL Studio – The best or the worst DAW? Everyone knows what the best DAW is: your own! But when it comes to FL Studio, opinions can vary quite a bit. Florian Pilz and Julian Schmauch enter the Ring to find the answer! What is your take on the DAW? Are you pro FL or anti Fruity?
You might have heard from Florian Pilz under his moniker AudioPilz on YouTube. He is known for his rather opinionated takes on legendary synth gear. Florian recently got into FL Studio and is “this” close to becoming a dedicated fanboy. Julian Schmauch has seen them all, he’s tested, used, and abused just about every DAW under the sun. And he keeps coming back to his Ableton Love, pardon, Live. Julian had a short-lasting affair with Fruity Loops 3, but has been a loyal Ableton fan since then. He is not the biggest fan of FL, to say the least. Let the games begin!
Your first beat in FL Studio – piece of cake or land of confusion?
All beginnings are difficult, especially when it comes to music production. If you’re trying to get into a traditional DAW like Logic Pro or Pro Tools, it can be quite daunting. These DAW’s GUIs and workflows draw from studio workflows from the year 1577 and a musical tradition, that has little to do with contemporary electronic music. This is where FL Studio really comes into its own. You can play its software instruments instantly through the sequencer and the unorthodox routing. The almighty piano roll is loaded with features for those of us who ditched piano lessons. A chord function and an algorithmic pattern generator are just the tips of the iceberg here. The playful GUI makes FL an ideal candidate for newbies with a gaming background.
All DAWs are equal – none of them makes it easy for beginners. From the bland Excel sheet that is Ableton Live to the hilariously colorful Cubase to the grumpy grandpa Pro Tools – you need a dedicated tutorial for all of them. But FL Studio? How in the world are you supposed to find your way around this insanely cluttered interface, if you just want to make a beat? Well, let’s see. Pattern creation in the Channel Rack is a pretty easy way to get going. 1,2,3 – four-to-the-floor and me! And now, to make a song, I’ll just… take the pattern to the playlist, create a few bars… Oh, damn, right-clicked….EVERYTHING is gone?! Let’s see, where is that mixer for the effects… How are you not utterly dumbfounded as a beginner after 10 minutes of trying to make music in FL?
FL Studio vs. Ableton Live – switch or ditch?
I must admit, FL’s GUI is not exactly inviting when you first find your way around the DAW. The areas for arrangement, mixing, and sound design are only loosely connected. And even after many recent improvements, audio editing remains pretty rudimentary in FL. On the other hand, once you get the hang of the rather unusual workflow, the possibilities are endless. FL Studio is fully modular, only Native Instrument’s Reaktor surpasses it in that regard. Everything can be connected to everything else. The most complex modulations and sidechaining routings you can think of are only a few clicks away. And the included software instruments are more than impressive. Characterful FM sounds in Sytrus, additive synth heaven Harmor, and countless bread-and-butter VA-synth,s and sample-based plugins to name a few.
So. Many. Windows. Ah, channel rack and playlist, that must be like Session View and Arrangement View in Ableton Live, right? RIGHT? Speaking of confusion, whoever thought that it was a good idea to make recording audio and MIDI this convoluted? And while we are at it: have you heard of a concept called Comping? As an Ableton user, my eyes are bleeding when I look at FL’s title section. How crammed can you make a GUI? Oh, and automation clips – who thought this was an easy solution? Was there a completion over at Image-Line “How to make FL even MORE confusing“? My conclusion after I recently used FL for about two weeks: endless confusion and severe mouse wrist pain.
“FL crashes” – Where to get help
Regardless of how complicated or odd any idea in music production might be, chances are that someone in the FL community has successfully tried it already. For just about every question, you can find several YouTube tutorials with seven-digit views and hundreds of pages in various forums. In addition, the online manual is a pretty easy read. Keep in mind, though, that not every helpful tread is equally friendly. And at times there is a bit of a clash of generations going on when you dig deeper for solutions. Nonetheless, there are plenty of audio boomers with a background in more conventional music production after 25 years of FL Studio.
Tutorials for the FL Gang are among the few that go well into the millions of views. And FL producers keep flooding my timeline with “10 tricks in FL no producer wants you to know, not even your grandma“. But when it comes to more complicated workflows like using external synthesizers or producing in non-electronic genres, “prodby” and their buddies are a lost cause. Sure, Benn Jordan explains EVERYTHING in the end, but I feel much more at home in the different forums, the subreddit, and on Twitter when I’m looking for Ableton Live-based solutions.
Updates, Licenses and functionality
Compared to other DAWs, FL Studio offers one of the fairest licensing deals. If you buy it once, you get updates for life! Even if you bought a version for pennies in the 90s, you get to use the latest version for free. Many of the stock instruments and effects are also way above the competition. While I need to use a variety of third-party plugins when working with my beloved Ableton Live, you’ll get a fully-fledged mastering suite, a powerful visualizer, and just about every tool you could think of included in Fl Studio.
Image-Line FL Studio All Plugins Edition Download
Sure, it is tough to argue against “pay once, get updates forever”. Let’s just hope that Image-Line is able to keep up with exploding customer service costs with a model like this. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the development of new features slowed down significantly over time, given that income remains so stagnant. And when it comes to pricing for the intro versions, Image-Line might take a page or two from Ableton’s book. Their intro version “Fruity Edition” has no ability to record or edit audio. Excuse me, what? Even the very stripped-down Ableton Live Intro offers more in this regard. And just try to create a complex live set in FL Studio with the same ease you can do in Ableton Live. Have fun…
Ableton Live 11 Suite Download
Now it’s your turn! – Vote for FL or against it!
After Florian and Julian have made their points, what is your take on FL Studio? Was anything mentioned that changed your mind? We have just the poll for that. So, vote and make your voice heard! And if you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments!
Originally published on Gearnews.de.
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