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.