Fl Studio is one of the easiest if not the most popular music production software out there in the music world.
It’s used by famous musicians such as as Martin Garrix, Boi-1da, Metro Boomin, Alan Walker, Southside, Mike Will Made, Slushii, and even Afrojack.
If you are new to Fl Studio and you’re just getting started, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming learning process as many legendary music makers start from the beginning and eventually become professionals through dedication and commitment.
Fl Studio has proven its worth within circles in the music industry based on its user-friendly interface and being equipped with the latest and most powerful technologies.
Below is a beginners guide on how to use Fl Studio with a general overview on most of the things you’ll encounter frequently.
This will help you get comfortable and become familiar with the music production workflow in order for you to navigate and make music within the shortest time possible and with little to no effort.
Fl Studio Overview
1. Navigation: The Browser
The FL Studio Browser is where you’ll navigate to your saved projects, samples, preset libraries, and VST plugins. The browser is sort of like a table of contents with three essential parts: All, Current Project, and Plugin database.
The current project section of the browser will show you the resources and history from the project that is currently open. By clicking on history, you can see all of the recent changes made in your project. Clicking on one of these will revert your project back to the selected history’s data.
The plugin database will allow you to select and browse both VST and effect plugins. You can also add new plugins with this section by clicking “more plugins” in the add section in the menu bar. The packs section of the browser is where all of your samples will be organized. This includes most your drums, percussion and loop samples.
The browser can be detached to a separate window or docked on the right side of the FL Studio desktop. You can load files by dragging from the Browser onto a compatible location in FL Studio such as the FL desktop, Plugin, Channel, Mixer, etc.
2. Adding Instruments: The Channel Rack (Step Sequencer)
The FL Studio Step Sequencer is where you add your individual instruments as plugins. Plugins are the main way you add new instruments, and you can use instruments such as drums, pianos, guitars, and synthesizers either individually or in combination and up to 999 unique patterns.
It is also useful for creating simple percussion or drum loop patterns. The Step Sequencer is also called the Channel Rack, where you can place all the instruments you want to use for your projects. Each color change from grey to red represents each beat in the time signature. This is considered a 4/4 time signature. The height of the rack will change as you add or remove plugins.
3. Composing & Sequencing: Piano Roll
The Piano Roll is where you lay down the notes of your various instruments from the Channel Rack. It offers more flexibility as you get to create and vary the length of each note or pattern to form bars. Pitch is displayed on the vertical axis, and time is on the horizontal axis.
This display will help you track visually what you’re playing musically. You can enter notes using your keyboard and mouse or with a MIDI keyboard. The Piano Roll is where you will write all of your melodies, chords, bass lines, and manipulate things such as pitch, velocity and panning of each note.
4. Arranging & Editing: The Playlist
The playlist is where you arrange your patterns into a full song. This is where you organize all the elements of the project that you have used to make the final song. The Playlist can feature Pattern Clips, Audio Clips, or Automation Clips. You can arrange clips in any order you like and overlay clips as well. You can even think of clips like notes in the piano roll.
This is the stage where you drag, drop, cut, trim, copy, paste, and nudge the various parts of a song to fit together such as the intro, verse, chorus, bridge and outro. Recorded sound will be displayed in the Playlist as an Audio Clip. Use the Playlist window to play back audio and rearrange clips. This is where you also get to tweak and clean up transitions and remove any unwanted tracks which are less desirable in the overall mix.
5. Mixing: The Mixer
The FL Studio mixer is where you get to adjust audio levels to give a desirable sound and effect. All audio passes through the mixer. Your channels on the channel rack are bound to the mixer tracks. Just like the channel rack, clicking the green ‘lights’ can be used to mute or solo the insert.
Most importantly the Mixer is used to set levels and add Effects (FX) such as EQ, Compression, Panning, Reverberation (reverb), Chorus and Delay. This helps in creating the final stereo sound that you want.
6. Exporting audio & saving
Normally you will want to export your project to .wav or .mp3 audio files so as to be played in a media player, car stereo or hi-fi audio sytem. Before you export your song, you can go into options and modify the “project info” or metadata that a media player will display.
Here, you can change such things like the name your song, the artist’s name, comments, and the song’s genre. The final mix is exported from FL Studio using the export option in the file menu in a non-real time process called ‘rendering’.
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to play back saved projects in the FL Studio Demo version. To open saved projects fully, you’ll have to register FL Studio and plugins.