FL Studio, the program once known as Fruity Loops, is one of those indestructible gems of music software. It’s the thing people may sheepishly admit to using – only to proceed to gush about their love for it. And it just keeps chugging along with updates. It’s a reason to love music software: while some creative tech turns into a monoculture (cough, Adobe), music remains obsessively eclectic.

This update’s surprises? How about a US$49 add-on emulation of the 303? Oh, and, Willy Wonka style, that enters you to win an original 303 or a modded TT-303 hardware clone?

Or what about all-new vectorial UIs, beautifully scalable on your new high-density PC screen?

FL's massive suite of devices, like the innovative Patcher (and other modular goodies!), now increasingly supports scaling and vector graphics.

FL’s massive suite of devices, like the innovative Patcher (and other modular goodies!), now increasingly supports scaling and vector graphics.

Or did we mention that, kind of just because they can, they’ve built a visualizer that uses an open source game engine so you can make 3D mods with interactive meshes and textures and 25 layers and terrain and particles and physics. (I hadn’t looked at this recently. The darned thing supports DMX. Wow.)

And now you can use video as an internal controller – making a video a source for manipulating other elements.

zgameeditorvisualizer_settings

There’s also a plug-in that’s just there to support the color features on the Razer kit.

There’s Maschine Jam support, too. (More about why Jam is becoming interesting as a host-agnostic controller in a separate article.)

Image-Line are basically the Xzibit of music software developers. (You know.) It seems like these developers just treat every day as a hackday – and so FL is a giant bag of fun toys, in a way that’s kind of awesome.

You can see the surprisingly entertaining changelog for 12.4 here:
FL Studio 12.4 Released

All of this is supported by their lifetime update policy, so you’re getting things for free – making spending the fifty bucks on the 303 more manageable.

But outside that random set of goodies, there’s one rather important development.

Mobile integration

FL Studio Mobile 3 represents a complete ground-up rewrite of their mobile app. It was Android first, but will shortly support every platform – iOS, Windows Phone (really), Windows app, and FL Studio Plugin.

The Plugin one is the interesting one. It’s identical to the app you run on other mobile platforms, but it runs inside FL as a native device. That means you can seamlessly import mobile projects and use them directly in your desktop projects. There’s no translation whatsoever – you aren’t exporting or importing content, you’re actually running the mobile app inside the main app. (I didn’t call them Xzibit for nothing.)

It’s a clever idea. And as rivals stumble a bit with the exchange between mobile and desktop, the makers of FL are really onto something. They’re on every platform, effectively, and they’ve found a novel solution to how you bring mobile ideas into your desktop environment.

Now, the sudden interest in switching to Windows given Apple’s pricey and somewhat disappointed MacBook Pro revision means, well, FL got more interesting, too. But Image-Line are still working on a native Mac version. That’s not the hacked, WINE-based port you saw recently; they really want to make a real Mac app.

And last year’s FL 12 update really made the app a more modern choice – not least for a reworked UI that’s far, far easier on the eyes. (That alone might be reason to give this app another look….)

FL's new look, as of version 12, won't burn your retinas.

FL’s new look, as of version 12, won’t burn your retinas.

http://www.image-line.com/flstudio/

  • Vecchiarelli

    Visually speaking, FL Studio is probably the best looking DAW on the market. I doubt I’m alone in thinking that it may become my software of choice once a stable Mac version is available.

    • itchy

      looks like it has a lot of great features but visually speaking its way to busy for me. this is the reason why i love ableton looks perfecto

  • I’ve always been fond of the zero-to-aha moment with FL. You open that app the first time and it immediately clicked, “This is the sequencer, this is the sound it triggers.”

  • LLCoolJeans

    FL is a funny daw… I moved on to Bitwig but I may try FL Mobile as I have just entered the smart phone world.
    I found version 12 to be very buggy though and moved back to 11 when collaborating with another FL user.
    Hopefully they’ve smoothed things out, its a great DAW.

  • DPrty

    I use Reaper cross platform Mac&Windows then Ableton but may start messing about with FL as a third option.

  • Joel Sampson

    I’m a Reaper user, but own FLS (I never mastered the FL workflow). It does look great though.

    FL Studio Mobile is excellent on Android, very low latency and a good GUI.

    • Dante

      Basically anothwr mobile app rebranded – Kinda meh – Caustic was miles ahead , Now its about to change

  • ramin

    I used to be a big FL studio user. I knew it inside out. But then I switched to ableton because I switched to mac. I tried bootcamp for a while but it was too much of a hassle. They really made a mistake by waiting so long to develop a mac version. I know this was due to the way it was developed. (programmed in delphi).

    FL’s piano roll is miles ahead of ableton’s and some of their plugins like the Love Filter are really good.
    But apart from that I’m very happy with ableton and I probably won’t be switching back, even if the mac version comes out of alpha eventually.

    PS. Do you really have have to mention in (literally) every article about FL studio that it used to be called fruity loops? I think it’s been a decade now that it’s called FL Studio. It really isn’t relevant anymore to give this information.

    • Rocketpilot

      I’ve used it since it was called Fruity Loops and the name is music to the soul. To be honest I still call it that.

  • Brandon Briones

    “Now, the sudden interest in switching to Windows given Appleā€™s pricey and somewhat disappointed MacBook Pro revision means, well, FL got more interesting, too.” http://www.zdnet.com/article/new-macbook-pro-sales-are-surging/

  • cpc464freak

    The FL Studio Mobile and FL Studio Mobile, that’s right, use it on your phone on iOS then its a 3rd cheaper than on your tablet, the code is the same, the gui is HD on one. This has stopped me buying FL at all. I simply can’t justify the extra 3rd just to run it on my tablet.