FL Studio: Still fruity after all these years
Can FL Studio be that vehicle to allow a deeper pool of creators to make fast, cheap, (and hopefully) good Techno music?
When you think of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) for Techno production, the all mighty Ableton Live would probably come to mind. It is universally accepted as ideal for EDM production mainly because of its alter ego as a live instrument. Ableton Live uses beat matching, cross fading, and synth producing features to work in conjunction with turntables to create music as the party goes.
But what if you’re not a professional DJ? What if you are not even a musician at all? You’re just a kid who likes to stay home, play video games and create your own Techno music. If that’s the case, then FL Studio might be good enough for you.
FL Studio is the more mature, sophisticated rebranding of “FruityLoops”, the audio program that revolutionized hip-hop. Created in 1995 by a couple of Belgian video game developers, this innovative program was different from most DAWs in the sense that it wasn’t created for the professional musician. It was intended for the fans to create their favorite genre of music as quickly and easily and as fun as gaming itself.
Scott Fisher, COO of Image Line, FL Studio’s parent company, says, “The simplicity and speed with which users could make something that sounded like music was a big part of its early success.”
The DAW that’s like a video game
It makes sense that video game makers would create such a deliciously colorful interface that. FL Studio is also less restrictive than Ableton pro in the sense it doesn’t force you into a workflow that you don’t like. You create the playlist the way you want according to your style. FL Studio is so lighthearted and enjoyable, that it is almost like a childish toy. But this seemingly juvenile method of production works as a ticket to freedom for every DIY, musically untrained fan.
FL Studio is not just for hip hop anymore. The program's influences can be felt in the EDM world in general, as well as many aspiring Techno dj’s who are using the software. FL Studio Pro has a kick ass piano sequencer and recently added a frequency splitter and vocal tuner. These bells and whistles, along with others, are now part of the standard package of FL Studio.
What also sets this product apart from Ableton, Logic and other DAWs is an appealing free trial system. The free trial is measured in creative time actually using that product and not set to a specific expiration date. FL Studio also includes a lifetime of free updates to make the creative experience even more boundless.
Of course there are drawbacks to using FL Studio. Some complain about the limited mixer slots, but in actuality, the 256 slots or much more compared to other programs. Others notice an inferior handling of CPU loads but this is often due to using effects in the wrong way and overloading the CPU. Regardless, the CPU load can always be adjusted. Another irritation to some is the perception that some sounds still sound “fruity” or generically 90s or early 2000s. But for the most part, the dated sound issue was resolved when it went to 16 bit. Nevertheless, the positive attributes could make his program a game changer in terms of future techno music production. FL studio is cost friendly. User friendly. It's just a friendly program. We could be on the cusp of a revolutionary era of Techno production that mirrors that of hip hop over a decade ago. More kids, from more places and different economic backgrounds could have the potential to be the next Juan Atkins or Carl Cox or perhaps someone even more influential. Of course, this always depends on the scene itself, but the tools are now more accessible than ever before. FL Studio, the light hearted DAW from Belgium, has come a long way from its fruity beginnings.