After some time making beats I was ready to buy FL Studio. But there are several versions and I didn’t know which one was the best for me. So I found out and I wanted to share my results.
FL Studio is used by many of the world's top DJs to produce the highest quality music. The way FL Studio is set up is ideal for beginners to wrap their heads around. DAWs tend to be complex, like Logic Pro X. Studio also beats out Logic because it is available for Windows and Mac. FL comes with included VSTs and synthesisers, like Sytrus. FL Studio coffee mug 11oz mugs cups coffee gift gifts fun funny personalized cafe TshirtMax 5 out of 5 stars (35) $ 13.97. Add to Favorites More colors. FL Studio 11 is a complete software music production environment Audio editing and manipulation including pitch correction, pitch shifting, harmonization, time-stretching, beat-detection & slicing, audio warping and standard audio manipulation FL 11 has the ability to simultaneously capture all the inputs on your audio-interface.
The best version of FL Studio that most of us should buy is the Producer version, because this version offers pretty much everything you will need to make beats in your home studio, at an affordable price. Specially if you want to make full songs with vocals and other instruments, instead of only basic loops. The Producer version is the cheapest one that lets you record and manipulate audio to come up with a final product.
The cheapest version of FL Studio is the Fruity version. This is the one I was tempted to buy when I was researching. But I soon realized that it was not really worth it, even for my needs as a beginner producer. I will explain why and I hope my experience helps you make the best decision.
Before we dig more in this topic, you might want to check the current price of FL Studio, so that you keep in mind your budget while you are reading this article. You can check the current price in this link.
The Fruity flavor is the entry version of FL Studio, and it lets you compose rather basic melodies and loops. This product targets the very beginner user. As I mentioned before, it is the cheapest version.
Basically, with FL Studio Fruity you will not have access to the audio manipulation features. Let me explain what the impact of this is.
FL Studio, as other beat making programs, works with virtual or sampled instruments, that you “control” with MIDI data or MIDI information. For example, you draw notes in the piano roll (that is the MIDI data) that tell the music production software when to play a virtual instrument.
In that process, the audio is already recorded and present in FL Studio as a virtual instrument. If you want to understand more about virtual instruments or sampled instruments, you can read this article I wrote about this topic.
So, if everything is already recorded and present in FL Studio, you don’t really need to be able to record nor manipulate audio, right? Because everything is already there.
Wrong! There are important reasons why you would want to be able to record and manipulate audio.
The first reason is, what if you want to add vocals to your songs? If you are a rapper or you know someone who raps you could add vocals to your beats. Or you might also want to add a very realistic acoustic instrument to your beats. Say you know how to play the guitar, and you want to add your performance to your project. Well, that would not be possible with the Fruity version.
OK. You cannot record audio, but you can import it, right? That should be enough.
Well, with the Fruity version, you can import samples. All the instruments present in FL Studio are samples. They are real audio files that you can put in the channel rack and then add them to the play list to make them sound. It should be the same.
Unfortunately it is not the same. All the sounds are actually audio files. But you cannot manipulate the audio files with the Fruity version, because the audio clip feature is missing. I will explain the audio clips in the next section of this article.
In FL Studio you have for example, an audio file that is a kick drum. You can use that audio file and even modify its parameters, such as the envelop (decay, sustain, release, etc.). The kick drum sound is a very short audio file, so you don’t really need to do much in terms of manipulating it. You usually just create MIDI data to use this audio file.
But for longer audio files, such as the vocals of your song, you do need to manipulate more the audio itself. You might need to cut it. Or to blend two audio takes. Again, you can’t do that with Fruity.
So, with Fruity you are pretty much limited to use MIDI and create basic loops. The audio manipulations is left out of this version.
With FL Studio Fruity you will be missing these two features: audio clips and audio recording. I will try to clarify here why they are important. These two features are present only from FL Studio Producer.
When I was investigating the differences between the versions, I struggled to understand what the audio clips feature really was. It was difficult to understand what you have and what you don’t have in the Fruity version.
So, the audio clips feature gives you the chance to add any audio, of whatever length, directly to the play list. You will see the actual audio wave instead of MIDI notes.
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This is how the audio clip looks like in the play list:
And this is how the track looks like in the play list when you use the audio in a pattern from the channel rack:
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So, with the audio clip feature, you will see the actual audio wave in the play list (like in the first image) and you will be able to edit the audio as you want. Without that feature, you can only use the audio within patters and you see just the MIDI information (like in the second image).
It is very important to be able to manipulate audio (not only MIDI information) if you want to create full songs. In general, you want to include and edit audio tracks within a project.
The recording feature is easier to understand. Basically, you will be able to record any audio starting from the Producer version. If you have a recording capable FL Studio, you can record your audio directly to the play list or to a plug-in called Edison, which is an audio editor and recorder present only in the Producer version and above.
A decent amount of plug-ins are present in the FL Studio Producer version.
Regarding the synthesizers, you will have access to 12 out of the 22 plug-ins that are available in the full version. However, it is only one more synthesizer compared to the basic Fruity version. That is not much! And the next version (Signature), has only one more synthesizer! Honestly they should give you more synths with each version! It is clear that the plug-ins business is very important for the company.
Regarding the effects and the rest of the features, FL Studio Producer already has almost everything. There are, however, some features that are missing. Let’s review the most important ones.
The things that you will not have with the Producer version that I think are the most important are the following ones:
This is a pitch correction tool. It is the auto-tune equivalent for FL Studio. With New Tone you can correct your vocal tracks, for when the singer is not in tune. You can also correct the pitch for instruments or other recordings. In fact, it is really nice to have a pitch correction tool. If you work a lot with singers, or if you like to sing for your beats, probably you would like this tool.
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New Tone is available in the next version, the Signature version, but is more expensive. If you really need this kind of tool, you might want to consider this version.
Pitcher is another pitch correction tool that is unfortunately not present in the Producer version. It can create really cool effects with vocal or speech samples, where you can tune several short vocal samples each to a specific note, and then play a melody with them. I am sure you have heard that effect somewhere.
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As I mentioned before, with the Producer version you get more than half of the available synthesizers, which is more than enough. Anyway, to have all of them, you would need to buy the “All plug-ins bundle”, which is pretty expensive. So, in terms of synths, the best approach is just to buy them separately, when you want or need one. Plus synthesizers are difficult and tricky for the beginner user.
FL Studio Producer does not let you play video, which is important if you need to synchronize your audio with a video. This would be useful for video producers.
Other missing stuff
- DirectWave Full: it lets you manipulate your samples with filters, reverbs, etc.; the player version is included, but you need the full version to be able to edit patches, to add samples, recordings and sampling VST instruments, and to be able to use other file formats such as WAV and SF2 files.
- Transient Processor: allows you to edit the dynamics of your samples, this is to amplify or suppress transient peaks of your audio files.
- Hardcore: effects for guitars.
- Gross Beat: lets you manipulate the time and volume of your loops.
I hope you have a better idea of what you get with each version. Then, it is up to you to choose the one that fits your needs.
This was my conclusion when I researched on the different FL Studio versions:
If you want to make more basic beats and work only with MIDI notes and simpler loops, you can get the Fruity version. Also if you think you will not need to record, import nor edit any audio.
The Producer version is, in my opinion, the best option for most beginner producers. Specially if you want to record anything at some point. The only things that I would really like to have in this version are the pitch correction tools.
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If you think that you really need the pitch correction tools, then probably the Signature version is the one you should get.
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The bundle, in my opinion, is too much. If you want any of the tools not included in the Producer version, you can always buy them later.
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I hope this information was useful for you!