FL Studio has one of the most intuitive and customizable interfaces of the music production programs we reviewed. You can detach and resize all its windows to speed up your workflow and make the tools you use most easy to access. Our reviewers didn’t recognize a few of the icons, but FL Studio has a help window in the upper left corner that displays the tool’s name as you hover your mouse over its icon. It also displays the keyboard shortcut when available.
The software’s main beat-creation tool is its step sequencer. You can drag and drop sounds from the browser window into the step sequencer and click buttons to arm and disarm them within the sequence. The loop library is vast, but most of the drum loops sound outdated compared those in other programs we tested like Logic Pro X and Ableton Live Intro.
This beat making software’s recording prowess doesn’t match its production capabilities. It isn’t as easy to record with external instruments in FL Studio as it is in most programs we reviewed. You can record up to 103 audio tracks. However, if you record one or two sources of audio, you have to load an effect called Edison into the channel strip. If you want to record multiple audio sources simultaneously, you need to enable the disk button on the mixer for the channels you’re using.
Having two separate recording processes is frustrating, but you can use FL Studio as a plugin in other programs to use its instruments and loop library. We suggest recording audio in a different program.
There’s a good selection of effect plugins that add texture to loops and make them sound unique. The mixer has 18 presets that add effects like compression, EQ and tape emulations to the master bus. The effects have a ton of usable presets to help speed up the mixing process, and using presets can teach you about the popular tools professionals use for specific functions. FL Studio is compatible with all third-party VST plugins, in case you want a bigger selection of effects that comes with the software.
One of the biggest advantages of this program is its free updates for life – all the other music production programs we reviewed require you purchase newer versions. Some of FL Studio’s new modules and virtual instruments are available for purchase, but any updates to the user interface or bug fixes are available for free. You can also download previous versions at no cost if you prefer them.
At this time, FL Studio is only available for Windows computers. However, there is a beta version that adds support for the Mac operating system.
FL Studio has a good selection of instruments and samples for hip-hop and electronic music producers. The loop library is huge, but some of the drum samples sound outdated compared to those in the best programs we tested. If you plan on recording and editing multiple audio sources, consider using FL Studio as a plugin in a different music production program that has more comprehensive and intuitive recording features.
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