fl8box Not everyone agrees with all my raves about FL Studio 8 — including some loyal FL users. Whereas Ableton Live has taken some flak in recent upgrades for catering to requests for more conventional functionality, even some FL lovers are frustrated with the program’s quirkier bits. Evan X. Merz writes a rant on FL Studio and version 8:

FruityLoop’s approach is so unique that it negates the value pricing. If you want to use FruityLoops, you basically have to commit to another DAW. So while you will save money by getting everything you get with FruityLoops, you will still find it necessary to purchase another DAW to streamline your recording … so the final price you pay will end up being about as much as if you had just bought another product in the first place. …

His principle complaints: the lack of a dedicated timeline view (interestingly, something Ableton added out of the gate with Live’s Arrange view), and limitations to the number of inserts on a channel. It’s not all rants — Evan also raves about some of FL8’s new features. But the timeline view issue is, of course, the big one, and I think it’s a big reason readers seem to be split — even among those who love FL — between using FL alongside other apps and producing start-to-finish in FL. (The opposite reason: despite FL’s Playlist features, many FL users prefer Ableton’s more non-linear approach to performance, dumping FL tracks into Live for playing out and improvising.)

Some of you do use FL to complete entire songs, however. The February Thaw mentioned some of his work, including the all-FL8 track Alcion.

And Ronnie from Rekkerd.org also stepped in to defend the do-it-all-in-FL approach. He notes on his site that one description (aside from the meaningless “DAW”) of what FL is about is right in the press release:

FL Studio is a fully featured, open-architecture music creation and production environment for PC. No extra software is required to produce any style of music, as the complete set of instrument and studio tools is included in the cost of the package.

And, of course, for every critic, there’s an equally-passionate defense of FL. And I guess, warts and all, that’s why I like FL — it has a point of view, one worth criticizing or defending.

I just might not personally make it my only tool. Then again, I was the guy always plugging the modular Moog system into the modular Buchla. Paul Davis, creator of Ardour and JACK, argued these apps create what he calls a “single-app ghetto.” But I still like the possibilities of using more than one all-in-one tool. And, hey, you can do that for still a tiny fraction of the cost of a far more limited hardware “workstation.” (Sorry, Roland.) Not that I wouldn’t be even happier with native JACK support in FL and Live, of course.

  • I really want fruity loops for mac. End of story. With that I want it wrappable in an AU plugin just like its (was) wrappable in VST for windows.

  • kris

    is there a way we can still get the old fruityloops legally?

  • I'm not sure that I understand what the author means by "dedicated timeline view." There are a lot of ways you can view the playlist in FL. You can make waveforms and sequences visible, or you can use the more traditional pattern based timeline (although even patterns are now sliceable too)

    And as for a lack of available inserts in channels, that's a misunderstanding. Channels are easily chained.

  • I've always done complete songs in FLStudio. I've never felt the need to use other stuff (except for CoolEdit 2K for some post-render mangling and sample tweaking).

    What's a timeline view? 😛

  • You know, I'm a huge fan of FL for composition. It's true that you cannot edit the midi of multiple "channels" all on one screen. Whether that bothers you is a matter of workflow and such. I am not a "loop" sort of person, but I've learned to work around it. I'm still not real happy about the way any DAW handles tempo, either (except Usine, which has per-track tempo, per-track swing and the ability to "average" those things from the tap tempo, which is insane).

    The rest of that "rant" is nonsense. "Professionals" who expect to work with video in FL? Is that a joke? It's a 150$ program.

  • Hey, thanks for the press! I haven't gotten this many plays… ever. I should point out that every song on the page is done entirely in FL… Voicemail was FL 6, Alcion is FL 8, and the rest are 7. Thanks again!

  • Would someone mind explaining the me the differences between FL's Playlist and this more ubiquitous timeline being spoken of? Where, then, does Reason's sequencer fall into that fray?

    I've been at this home recording thing less than two years, and I have to tip my hat to the folks at ImageLine for helping get me started. Though I began working with Reason, I quickly moved to FL and learned most of my basics that way.

    While I agree it can be someone's primary sequencer, I think there are just too many great tools out there to ignore…ca$h allowing, of course. I recently picked up Live and have been enjoying the Session view, yet I still bring in Reason and FL all the time. My most recent track, "Groundout," is an example of using that trifecta, as is my crappy first attempt at a house song, "Kids Like House."

    Anyhow, as much as I like talking features and comparing options, I think a few tutorials here on CDM would be great (like you mentioned to someone else the other day, Peter). Personally, I've always been hesitant about lots of the effects in FL…not sure of the quality. Maybe something with taking a bare track and mixing sounds? I know there are other places on the net to find such things…but it'd be nice to see here.

  • Tutorials? Yeah. Well, and now we have some pretty definite votes for *which* things should get tutorials…

    And I still say, a good sign of a product worth talking about is one that creates some disagreement.

  • vvvoid

    I also don't get the "no timeline" argument – what is the difference between, say, Cubase's main sequencer window and FL's? Both hold Audio and midi clips, and allow inline editing.

    You can obviously count me in to the FL fanclub, but there's also several (IMO, backward, awkward, annoying or just plain anachronistic) things about it that really bug me.

    Still, the power and relative grace of the app outweighs these concerns every time.

    An added bonus is the look on the faces of "knowledgeable" idm dicks when they ask what software you use (like it matters). Ah, simple pleasures.


  • someone had to say i

    man, in every CDM article about any cheap plugin or software, some fool has to whine in the comments about their poor macintosh and how X is not available for it. Why don't you install industry standard Protools or Logic and be happy with that? That's what you should have bought your industry standard mac for. Stop being such a poser by expecting to find a vast archive of cheap/free offbeat tools & plugins written for your hardware-locked OS. It's gotten to the point where Peter now preempts mac whiners in articles concerning free plugins (see March 18th's Beatburner article). Use bootcamp or a virtualizer or something, but spare us your whining of how smaller developers aren't bending over backwards to accommodate you.

  • Oh, and while we're pimpin' FL tunes, almost every album on my name link is almost 100% FL-powered.

  • 7oi

    all my three released albums are fl studio made. then one unreleased album and another one using fl studio as a vsti in cubase for everything but the guitars. Look at all albums but the "other" section in my music player.

    I love FL studio, but now I'm a mac person. Although, yesterday I became a mac person running FL studio in vmware fusion. 🙂

  • One of Floop's is biggest benefits and downfalls is the UI. The dark interface with high contrast other parts make it excellent for working. They nailed the piano roll interface years ago and the new waveform interface they implemented is fantastic as well. The problem however I also have with the program is that the UI is so embellished in the areas that really don't need that nice of an interface IMO. It is also extremely mouse oriented which again makes it a sort of love or hate relationship for so many people.

  • maxamillian

    I don't see why every app has to turn into every other app. By that I'm not defending FL – to me it's a horrendous frankenstein of bolted on bits of various licensed pieces. I can't really understand the JACK guy's sentiments about a 'single-app ghetto' either. I'm all for using different things to make music, but chaining them up with crappy latency-ridden software wires? No thanks… I'm more in favour of avoiding a 'single-computer ghetto'. Computers are great'n'everything, but boy do they *suck* for REAL real-time use.

  • i dont know, i've never been able to make music using FL. the interface is really weird, makes no sense at all to me. i began making music (digitally) with cakewalk (long before sonar), only midi and 4 channel audio and got used to that sequencing thing. then after sonar and protools i began using Ableton and i think it's the best thing ever, specially for playing live (honoring the software's name).

  • I think if people put as much effort in composing music as they did complaining about software features the world would be a much better place 🙂

    All software has limitations, I use Live and there are features missing that drive me mad, but you just roll up your sleeves and work around them 🙂

    Just use what ever make you feel most comfortable.


  • i dont know, i’ve never been able to make music using FL. the interface is really weird, makes no sense at all to me.

    That's exactly what I think about almost everything that isn't FL. Different strokes and whatnot.

    (Granted, I haven't tried Live — but I don't really feel the need to, to be honest.)

  • kris

    The only complaint I've ever had about it was the crammed GUI, but a widescreen monitor takes care of that problem real quick. I'd love to see some new skins, and not user-created skins either (because some elements of the GUI can't be customized). But any way, the debate over which DAW is the best oughtta just be dubbed, "This is the DAW I started with and I know it best, so it's the BEST!" Bet that's the case 95% of the time…

  • kris

    btw this is a different kris……

  • you know what else takes care of the crammed GUI?

    two widescreen monitors.

    proemland is Native Instruments and FLStudio powered since '03

    my singular complaint

    which has been mentioned

    but it bears repeating.

    it's terrible mouse based

    and mouse based software SUCKS

    i love my 10-key and i know how to use it

    i've been holding my breath for FL8 for the last few months since they started with the public betas

    i started using nothing but modedit and an 8bit sound card,… it certainly wasn't the best

  • After another crash last night, I've decided what I want most out of FLStudio is an auto-save feature. Once per minute, plus every time I tell it to load another plugin.

  • @foosnark — auto-save is a great idea. But FL's been really stable for me. Have you tried disabling your VST plug-in library and just using internal plugs, maybe weeding out one that's causing problems?

  • I <3 FL Studio. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi-Ope_OJpQ
    Can you see the happy?

  • Gnostic

    I have been using fl since fl3, skipped 4, still use 5, recently began trying out 7 (skipped 6).

    I have to say I have also tried: Reason 3+4, Ableton Live, Garageband, and Orion (synapse)…and FL is by far the best thing I have used…from start to finish except work in cooledit/Audition 1.5 for sampling.

  • yaaseen

    i've tried ableton live, reason and cubase, but i still come back to flstudio. i wouldnt work with it alone as i use a variety of effects and instrument plugins, i also rewire reason to it occasionally. but then again i could never use another daw. all my tracks start and end in fl7

  • Kp_Painter

    Still using fl5. I've been through all the other daws and still use some of them on occasion. Started out with a 4 track, mixer, drum machine and a keyboard. Switched to software and its been smooth ever since. After the old days of ping ponging tracks and such, I really can't complain about anything FL has to offer.

  • VeXy

    I can't seem to make the transition to fl8. too many small and anoying changes from fl7-8. Is it just me or are there others like me?

  • Julio

    I thought I was the only one that tried 8 and went back to old trusty number 7. When I loaded 8 and it put a limiter/comp on my master channel by default, I immediately went back to 7! I know you could modify it to load up how you want. But, it was fine how it was…

  • Just one thing to say: where is autosave?