Image-Line’s crazy-popular DAW got a slick upgrade, and I love it (let’s welcome AI integration and smart library).
If you have checked out my other posts, you’ll find that most are related to FL Studio.
I’ve been using FL Studio for over five years and regularly use it to compose music, design SFX, and sync dialogues with video.
In this review, I’ll share what I like about FL Studio and possible improvements and break down what’s new and improved in the latest version, FL 21.
I’ll dish on the features and workflow that make this DAW so fun and inspiring to create.
|Intuitive step sequencer and pattern-based workflow make music creation fun||Interface still takes some learning for beginners|
|Improved audio recording and sample editing workflow eliminates the need for separate tools||Had to level up from the producer edition for a better vocal editing experience|
|Improved library with instant sound previews streamlines finding the perfect sounds|
|Customizable and shareable UI themes spark creativity|
|Undo routing changes enable complex effect chains|
|Condensed mixer layout improves workflow|
|Comes loaded with a large library of quality instruments and effects|
|Different editions are available; Choose what fits your needs|
|Lifetime free updates|
Stability: Now More Rock-Solid than Actual Rocks
First up, let’s talk stability improvements because I know producing tunes is no fun when your software’s throwing more fits than a toddler missing naptime.
In the past, FL Studio could occasionally get a bit…cranky. But FL 21 has been overhauled under the hood for smoother performance.
Image-Line rebuilt the engine from scratch to run natively in 64-bit. Testing showed zero crashes or hiccups.
Of course, your PC should have the potential to handle that kind of processing.
Rest assured, your projects will hum along happily in FL Studio 21, leaving you free to focus on the music.
Lay Down Tracks — No Extra DAW Required
One of the biggest improvements in FL 21 is indirectly recording and editing audio tracks right within the software.
When using the older versions of FL Studio, I recorded vocals in different DAWs, as I was not satisfied with the recording workflow.
Now, things have changed. No more janky exporting vocal takes or live guitar to another DAW to record!
Armed with my trusty mic and guitar, I gave the new recording features a spin.
- Recording acoustic riffs and vocal lines felt snappy and responsive.
- Waveform visualizations make slicing up recordings a cinch during editing.
Being able to record without leaving FL Studio removes major headaches. No disrespect to other DAWs, but who needs them?
I have written a post on recording audio in FL Studio. Check it out if you want to learn my process.
Sound Selection: Let Your Ears Be the Judge
FL Studio 21 makes it crazy easy to hunt down the perfect sounds and samples for your tracks, thanks to instant audio previews!
Just hover over or click a patch or loop in the browser, and it’ll auto-play a quick snippet. Also, it shows a sample preview.
These little playback and visual previews let me decide if a bass or synth patch would work rather than blindly loading it in.
Trust me, being able to audition sounds in context saves a ton of time experimenting.
It used to feel like wandering through a sonic warehouse blindfolded. Now, it’s like every sound calls out, “Hey, listen to me!” So handy.
You even have the flexibility to search different file types and assign tags to manage your library.
Customize ’til Your Heart’s Content
I don’t know about you, but I get bored staring at the same old DAW interface day in and day out.
Well, FL Studio 21 lets you customize colors and themes to your heart’s content!
Go for sleek dark mode, beachy colors for chill vibes, or make your own color combos.
I cooked up a rad neon blue and pink theme that looks straight off Miami Beach in the 80s.
The ability to personalize FL Studio to your own taste is so simple, yet it really inspires creativity.
There are even enough customization options to make a theme honoring your favorite sports team or superhero. Go wild!
After browsing Image-Line’s forum, I have curated a list of FL Studio themes. Check and see if you find something interesting.
FL Studio 21 also loads up some sweet new mixing tools.
Got a complex web of effect chains and buses that’s confusing as a maze? The simple routing setup lets you tweak routings without worry.
I felt like a mixing wizard experimenting freely with my dang-near endless plugin chains.
Other handy upgrades include new visual clip fades for audio edits and the condensed mixer layout for dialing in tracks faster.
Speaking of tracks, the customizable per-track effects chains give detailed control of every sound.
Overall, these mixer improvements translate to professional-grade mixing capabilities with FL Studio.
Fresh Sonic Toys to Play With
What’s a DAW upgrade without new sounds to geek out over?
FL Studio 21 delivers tasty new instruments and effects and upgrades to existing plugins to spark creativity.
The Wave Candy plugin is an insane spectral analyzer for obsessive mixers like myself. Vintage Phaser nails those trippy 70’s guitar tones.
I also loved the unique VFX Sequencer that turns vocals into a playable synth.
And LuxVerb reverb sounds so lush it’s like diving into a pool of sound.
More sonic variety means more creative possibilities – I’m still just scratching the surface of the new tools.
Exciting Features Available on The Latest 21.2 Version
With FL Studio 21.2, you’ll get the following additional features.
FL Cloud: Introducing A Treasure Trove of Samples
One of the standout features in this update is FL Cloud, which can be likened to having sample libraries like Splice or Loopcloud integrated directly into FL Studio.
FL Cloud offers access to an extensive library of hundreds of thousands of samples, providing an incredible resource to fuel creativity.
FL Cloud can get it all if you’re looking for drum loops, instrument samples, or vocal snippets.
Mastering Tool: Taking Control of Your Sound
FL Studio 21.2 introduces a new mastering tool that puts the power of audio processing in your hands.
With this tool, you can fine-tune your tracks to perfection, ensuring they sound polished and professional.
Having access to such a tool within your DAW is a game-changer. This also replaces the need for using cloud mastering services.
The Stem Splitter: A True Marvel
Arguably, the most captivating addition in this update is the stem splitter.
With just a single click, it allows you to break down a mixed audio track into its components—drums, bass, instruments, and vocals.
This is a game-changer for producers and remix artists, as it opens up a world of creative possibilities.
Using the stem splitter is incredibly straightforward. You select a mixed audio sample, open options, click “extract stems from sample,” and choose which components you want to extract.
FL then swiftly separates them. The speed of the process depends on your CPU and the length of the sample, but the results are remarkable.
While the stem splitter is a remarkable addition, it’s not without its imperfections.
Some transient attack and treble artifacts were noticeable in the separated stems.
However, considering the convenience and accessibility of this feature, these issues are minor and will be fixed in future updates.
To test the stem splitter, I used various audio samples, including loops from FL Cloud and full songs with vocals.
The results were astonishing. Even though some remnants and overlaps were present, which is common with stem separators, the quality was impressive.
Custom Waveform Gradients
In version 21.1, FL Studio introduced colored waveforms. Now, FL has the ability to customize waveform colors with gradients.
You can use it to adjust waveform colors to match the theme or for better visibility and separation of frequency bands.
And Much More…
The 21 upgrade is a no-brainer for existing FL Studio fans, with useful improvements across the board.
For newcomers to FL Studio, it’s arguably the most inviting version yet to jump into.
I could go on for days geeking out over the new features. But the bottom line is this…
FL Studio 21 inspires creativity and makes music production fun.oddplug.com
It stimulates ideas and lets inspiration flow freely thanks to the signature step sequencer, awesome sound library, and thoughtful interface.
For home producers, pros, and artists, alike, FL Studio 21 empowers creativity.
It’s the DAW that helps your musical ideas flourish.
So step into the playground, fire up those creative juices, and let FL Studio 21 be your musical playmate.
If you are looking to purchase FL Studio, understand the differences between various FL Studio editions to find the perfect fit.
Students, teachers, and academic institutes can get the academic edition of FL Studio. It costs less but does the exact job.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is FL Studio good for beginners?
FL Studio is an excellent DAW for beginners. The intuitive step sequencer and pattern-based workflow allow new users to start making music without deep knowledge of traditional recording. The visual interface is easier to understand compared to the multi-track timeline used in other DAWs. Also, there are abundant online tutorials and documentation due to FL Studio’s popularity, making it easy for beginners to learn.
Do professionals use FL Studio?
FL Studio is widely used professionally by musicians, producers, and composers across genres like EDM, pop, hip-hop, and rap, with many platinum hits produced in it. Professionals praise its workflow, MIDI editing, sequencing tools, and flexibility. FL Studio Signature Bundle provides the features needed for large commercial productions.
What are the weaknesses in FL Studio?
Although FL Studio is feature-rich, some weaknesses include its limited hardware integration capabilities compared to similar DAWs, lack of comping tools for vocal takes, and some interface quirks that still take time to learn coming from traditional DAWs. However, Image-Line has improved many weaknesses over time. Overall, FL Studio’s strengths far outweigh the limitations of most music producers’ needs.