You are on page 1of 71

FL Studio

MASTER YOUR MUSIC SOFTWARE... TODAY!


12 step-by-step
workshops
Produce a track
from scratch
Pro tips to
record, mix &
master
Speed up your
workflow
Get perfect
bass, beats and
lead sounds
BECOME AN
FL STUDIO PRO!
56
PAGES OF
EXPERT
TUTORIALS
3 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Getting started with FL Studio
The new M-Series headphones from Audio-Technica
feature the same sonic signature of the original and
critically acclaimed ATH-M50, across the whole range.
Continuing to offer exceptionally accurate audio and
outstanding comfort, now with detachable cables for
the new ATH-M50x and ATH-M40x models.
Recording, Mixing, DJing, Live or simply on the road,
the new M-Series continues to deliver, everywhere.
www.eu.audio-technica.com
New M-Series...
...same sonic signature
ATH-M20x ATH-M30x ATH-M40x ATH-M50x
Singer-Songwriter Ben Montague
Guide to FL Studio | 3
Welcome MT
Welcome...
FL Studio
Guide to
Guide to

to a special guide put together by the FL Studio experts at MusicTech magazine. FL Studio
is one of the most widely-used pieces of music production software in the world. The
MusicTech Guide To FL Studio features everything you need to put together a piece of
professional-sounding music, from scratch, with step-by-step workshops on every process.
Whether you are new to FL Studio or a seasoned user, we will show you just why the software
is so popular.
We start by setting up the perfect FL Studio project and then deal with MIDI and audio recording and
editing, before moving on to mixing and mastering. Along the way we also teach you how to make the
most of the softwares brilliant effects and how to produce perfect beats, bass and lead lines three
elements that are essential parts of most great tunes.
So boot up your software, turn the page and prepare to be blown away by one of the most fully-
edged digital audio workstations around. Enjoy the issue!

Andy Jones Senior Editor
Email andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
Send your tweets @AndyJonesMT
Read my blogs at www.musictech.net
MUSICTECH
www.musictech.net
Anthem Publishing Ltd
Suite 6, Piccadilly House
London Road, Bath BA1 6PL
Tel +44 (0) 1225 489984
Fax +44 (0) 1225 489980
Editorial Director Paul Pettengale
paul.pettengale@anthem-publishing.com
Senior Editor Andy Jones
andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
Art Editor Kai Wood
kai.wood@anthem-publishing.com
Digital Editor Andy Price
andy.price@anthem-publishing.com
Multimedia Editor Alex Holmes
alex.holmes@anthem-publishing.com
Business Dev Manager Di Marsh
di.marsh@anthem-publishing.com
Production Controller Craig Broadbridge
craig.broadbridge@anthem-publishing.
com
Contributors
Mark Cousins, Keith Gemmell, Alex Holmes,
Hollin Jones, John Pickford, Huw Price, Liam
OMullane, Rob Boffard, Mike Hillier
Art Director Jenny Cook
jenny.cook@anthem-publishing.com
Advertising Director Simon Lewis
simon.lewis@anthem-publishing.com
Managing Director Jon Bickley
jon.bickley@anthem-publishing.com
Licensing enquiries Jon Bickley
+44 (0) 1225 489984
www.anthem-publishing.com
Subscriptions to MusicTech Magazine
Tel +44 (0) 870 444 8468
Price (12 issues) 59.99
UK basic annual rate
All content copyright Anthem Publishing
Ltd 2013 and 2014, all rights reserved.
While we make every effort to ensure that
the factual content of MusicTech Guide To
is correct we cannot take any responsibility
nor be held accountable for any factual
errors printed.
Please make every effort to check quoted
prices and product specications with
manufacturers prior to purchase. No part of
this publication may be reproduced, stored
in a retrieval system or resold without the
prior consent of Anthem Publishing Ltd.
MusicTech Guide To recognises all
copyrights contained within this issue.
Where possible we acknowledge the
copyright holder.
FL Studio
MASTERYOURMUSICSOFTWARE... TODAY!
12step-by-step
workshops
Produceatrack
fromscratch
Protipsto
record, mix&
master
Speedupyour
workflow
Getperfect
bass, beatsand
leadsounds
BECOME AN
FL STUDIO PRO!
56
PAGESOF
EXPERT
TUTORIALS
4 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Contents
Contents

Part 1
Part 2 Part 3

Part 5 Part 4
Setting up the perfect
FL Studio project
Understanding the
basics of how FL
Studio works will help
you get up and running
quickly p6
MIDI matters in FL
Studio Master
MIDI in FL Studio to
unleash the
softwares true
potential p14
Audio editing in
FL Studio Once
your sound is
recorded, FL
Studio lets you
manipulate it in any way p36
Recording
Perfect
Audio
How to get
real-world sounds into
your software p30
Editing MIDI
Getting control
of your MIDI
parts is the rst
step to making great
music p22
The MusicTech Guide to FL Studio
Guide to FL Studio | 5
Contents MT



Part 6
Part 7 Part 8

Part 12
Part 9
Part 11
Part 10
Making beats in FL Studio
FL Studio is absolutely fantastic for
making beats, and theres more
than one way to go about it p40
Mastering and
exporting How do
you best master
and export your
music in FL Studio?
Go here p64
Automation
and MIDI
control Getting
hands-on control
over your mixes can
reap dividends p60
Working with
leads Getting a
good lead
sound into your mixes
can help your tracks
stand out p48
Mixing in FL
Studio How
to mix a
great-sounding track.
FL Studio has all you
need p56
Working with bass
sounds Now weve
done the beats in
FL Studio, its time
to turn to the
bass p44
Creative use of
effects Using
effects in FL Studio
can make a good
track a great
track p52
6 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Getting started with FL Studio
F
L Studio is one of the worlds
most downloaded DAWs and
Image Lines policy of lifetime
free updates of the version you
have bought is surely one of
the most generous around. Quite apart
from that, its a very fully-featured
music programming and production
environment with some nifty tools and
tricks to help you make the best music.
But while it has literally thousands of
different facets, you wont get very far
without understanding the basics. That
is, how to get audio and MIDI in and out
of the software, and how to work with
project templates. How, for example, do
you set up a controller device? These are
all things that need to be looked at
before you get started. Once you have
mastered them, of course, they become
second nature.
FL Studio is quite unique in giving you
a comprehensive breakdown of all the
material available to you, from effect
presets right through to complete
project templates, in the Browser that
appears by default down the left hand
edge of the main window. Its also
cleverly integrated with Windows as an
operating system, so its possible to
access Explorer-style commands from
inside the Browser to locate and work
with les without having to go back to
the desktop. You can dene custom
search folders, control the way the audio
buffers behave and enable all kinds of
keyboard shortcuts to improve your
workow and make everything run more
smoothly. You can manage Window Sets
and even arrange the layout to suit a
tablet view, if the device you are working
on doubles as a Windows tablet.
There are remote control presets,
smart searching of the browser and
many more features that will help you
out if you know about them before you
dive head rst into music-making. You
can save projects and audio les out, of
course, and even zip a whole project on
export for transfer or sharing. FL Studio
is a fun and capable DAW and by
following a few simple guidelines you
should be up and running in no time. MT
While FL Studio has
thousands of different
facets, you need to
understand the basics
Getting started
with FL Studio
Understanding the basics of how FL Studio works will help you get up and
running quickly, as Hollin Jones explains
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 1
Guide to FL Studio | 7
Getting started with FL Studio Tutorial MT
MT Step-by-Step

01

Once installed the rst thing you will need to
do is look at your audio and MIDI in and out
settings. To do this, go to the Options menu and
select MIDI settings or press F10. This opens the
preferences dialogue where you can manage all
kinds of I/O and settings. Select the MIDI section.
02

With your MIDI device connected, go to the
MIDI Input section and click the Enable
button. Click on the Controller Type menu to reveal
a dropdown list of natively supported controllers. If
yours appears in the list, select it. Otherwise,
select Generic Controller. If in doubt, select the
generic controller option.
FOCUS ON MIDI
FL Studio works with MIDI by using a system it
calls the Piano Roll. Each MIDI-
triggered track has a MIDI
sequencer available to it
actually often more than one type
of MIDI sequencer and the Piano
Roll window has various MIDI tools
in it. This means that you can
quickly work with clips, loops and
sequences exibly and intuitively
rather than having to go into the
main Project view. Each channel
also has a Channel Settings
window which can be opened
separately and provides control
over things like plugin parameters,
polyphony and the arpeggiator
available to each track, in addition
to many other things. You will
become familiar with these tools
as you learn to use FL Studio effectively.
Starting out
8 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Getting started with FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

03

Select MIDI port 1 in the port selection box, or
a different port if you need to use one. Here
you can also specify individual MIDI channels to be
used for other operations like the Omni preview or
Song Marker Jump and for working with
Performance Mode. These are handy for setting up
your own controller maps.
04

Move down to the Audio tab and from the
device dropdown menu, look for your
interface. If it does not appear, select the ASIO4ALL
device and then click on the Show ASIO Panel
button to reveal the list of devices contained
within this option. Your connected device should
appear. Make sure your drivers are all up to date.
05

This view may differ depending on your
hardware, but here you can see the option to
select the Xiosynth interface, and to set the buffer
size. In the Advanced menu you get extra options
like adjusting latency compensation and using the
hardware buffer. Leave these unless you denitely
need them.
06

Under the CPU section of the audio driver
control panel make sure that multithreading
is turned on (where available) for the generator
and mixer processing sections. This will ensure
maximum audio performance. You can tell the
mixer to work at higher resolutions up to 512 point
resampling, though this may be overkill.
Starting out (cont.)
Guide to FL Studio | 9
Getting started with FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

07

Moving down to the General section, you can
control how the application behaves and
responds. Among the interesting stuff here is the
option to change the levels of undo available, and
to add the choice to undo knob tweaks as well as
other actions. You can change the skin of the app
here too, which will alter its appearance.
08

In the File section you can assign dedicated
folders to be searchable by the Browser so
they can be quickly accessed from inside a project.
Theres also the option to add a secondary VST
plug-ins folder search path and control how often
an autosave is performed. Its a good idea to leave
this on, though it can be switched off.
09

Return to the main screen. On the left is the
Browser and if you mouse over the top of this
area you will see several Snap options. Each one is
a preset view of the same Browser and you can ip
between them by choosing from this menu. So one
view might show all your plug-in presets and
another, might show audio loops.
10

Go to Options and select Project General
Settings. This lets you set the project data
folder, where recorded and rendered audio les
will be stored. Click on the Info tab and you can
enter metadata about a project such as title,
genre, and author as well as seeing how much time
has been spent working on any given project.
Starting out (cont.)
10 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Getting started with FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

11

Returning to the Browser, you can set it up to
behave as you wish. Click on the tiny icon at
the top left of its column to reveal the Browser
Options menu. You can alter its size, make it
auto-hide and choose to sort its view in any way
you like. This is great if you use lots of some types
of content but not others.
12

Templates are a great way to get started
quickly. In the Browser, zoom down to the
Projects section and click on it. Inside this is the
Templates folder, and within that a series of
subfolders grouping templates by type and genre.
Double click on any one to open a new project
based on that template.
13

If you right click on any le in the Browser
and choose Windows Shell Menu and then
Properties, you can reveal the properties for any
le including its location on the hard drive. This
makes it easy to locate, duplicate or even delete
that le, as well as to see if there are any previous
versions of it contained in a backup.
14

Rather than digging into the templates in the
Browser you can go to the File menu and
choose New > From Template and then choose
from the lists found inside. The Minimal options
are quite basic, and the Performance templates
are designed to get you up and running with a
variety of controller devices.
Starting out (cont.)
12 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Getting started with FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

15

If you go to the View > Arrange Windows menu
you are able to quickly snap FL Studio to any
window layout. If you have created one that you
like, choose Save Current Arrangement from this
menu and the Window Set will then be available as
a preset for you to use in future.
16

You can access a live news feed from Image
Line directly inside Fl Studio by clicking on
the News Menu and then selecting from the list of
stories it presents to you. Of course your PC needs
to be online for this to work but its a good way to
get the latest news at a glance.
17

Under the Options menu you can enable MIDI
Remote Control, useful for controlling aspects
of a project other than simply inputting MIDI notes,
such as automation, patch selection and so on. If
you connect more than one MIDI device, MIDI
Remote Control gets even more powerful. Set up
these devices using the MIDI preferences section.
PRO TIP CHANNELS
To quickly add a channel using any of the
available instruments, go
to the
Channels
menu and the
Add One
submenu,
then you can
choose from
the extensive
list of channel
types
available. You
can also clone
the currently
selected
channel or
group, move,
delete or label
them as you
prefer.
Starting out (cont.)
loops from
behind the
iron cur-
tain
umek & loopmasters
present: artist series
sample pack. available at
www.umek.si and
www.loopmasters.com.
use promo code umk20 to
get 20% of.
www.umek.si
14 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI matters in FL Studio
F
L Studios a great MIDI recorder
and sequencing application.
Even though it also records
audio, for much of its life it has
concentrated on MIDI and this
is still one aspect of the software that
many people love. This is partly down to
the fact that it comes with such an
amazing selection of MIDI-triggered
instruments, and has a range of tools
for programming and inputting data. It
helps to be a great player, of course, but
its far from essential with FL Studios
Step Input mode and arpeggiator among
many other clever ways to input notes.
The great thing about basing a lot of
your composition on MIDI tracks is that
they are so exible, with none of the
limitations of digital audio les. MIDI
can be copied, pasted, manipulated and
re-routed easily. Its weightless too,
meaning that MIDI data uses virtually no
space and no CPU power. In fact the only
thing that uses resources is whatever
you send the MIDI to in order to make a
sound, typically a software instrument.
You can use MIDI tracks to trigger
external hardware too, of course, and
route the audio signal from synths, drum
machines and other MIDI hardware back
into FL Studio for recording. This lets you
incorporate older, more traditional
hardware that might be ddly to
program into the much more user-
friendly world of FL Studio where
putting together parts is much easier
than it ever was using outboard kit.
For getting MIDI in you can use your
computers keyboard, a regular MIDI
keyboard or a more specialised control
surface. FL Studio supports the
connection of multiple devices, though
to avoid conicts it can be a good idea to
assign each one a unique MIDI channel
to work on. In fact there are a number of
controller templates in the FL Studio
installation directory (Program Files\
Image-Line\FL Studio\System\
Hardware specic). These templates are
loaded into the editor that came with
your controller and will map it to FL
Studio. So hook up your MIDI device and
get recording parts right now! MT
For much of its life FL
Studio concentrated on
MIDI, an aspect of the
software people love
MIDI matters
in FL Studio
If you get to master MIDI in FL Studio you will unleash the softwares
true potential, as Hollin Jones reveals
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 2
Guide to FL Studio | 15
MIDI matters in FL Studio Tutorial MT
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI matters
01

With your MIDI interface or device connected,
go into FL Studios MIDI Settings section and
make sure it is visible and selected. If you click on
the Controller Type menu you will be able to assign
it directly if its a device that has a template
supplied. Otherwise, just choose Generic
Controller from this menu.
02

Set the MIDI channel of the device in the Port
box by clicking, holding and dragging the
mouse up or down. Its also possible to set
dedicated MIDI channels to control things like
Omni Preview, Song Marker Jump and Generator
Mute in this window, if you have additional
controllers connected for these purposes.
FOCUS ON RIFF MACHINE
Theres a handy tool in FL Studio for
generating MIDI parts called Riff
Machine. Choose Tools > Riff
Machine and a new window opens.
With it, you can create randomized
patterns for whatever generator or
instrument you currently have
selected. There are multiple
options including chords,
progressions, arpeggios, ips,
humanization and interpretation.
Each one has a set of tweakable
controls and can be previewed. If
youre happy with the results,
accept them, or start over to do
something entirely new. This is a
great way to create complex and
involving MIDI parts from only the
most basic of input. It helps you to
create music from nowhere, or to take the music you
have already made and easily alter it.
16 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI matters in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI matters (cont.)
03

In the main window, go to the Transport panel
and right click on the Record button to
access the recording lter. Make sure that Score is
selected so that notes will be captured. By default,
recordings will go into the Piano Roll editor for a
track. Here you can change this to send notes to
the Step Sequencer if you like.
04

The simplest way of inputting MIDI doesnt
actually involve an input device at all, just the
mouse. Go to the Step Sequencer and set the
length of the pattern using the box at the top left,
check the master tempo of the project and edit if
necessary. Then click the buttons in each channel
to trigger a note at a specic point.
05

Thats ne for beats but for anything melodic
youll need to be creative. Try creating a bass
instrument it will appear in the Step Sequencer
window. Select it and then click on the Keyboard
Editor button at the top right hand corner of the
Pattern window. This allows you to use the mouse
to easily enter multiple chromatic notes.
06

This editor has a few more tricks up its
sleeve, such as tiny portamento switches at
the top of each note lane, denoted by triangles. You
can also apply swing to the whole pattern using
the tiny variable slider at the top of the window,
and activate looping for the pattern with the loop
button by the length box.
Guide to FL Studio | 17
MIDI matters in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

MIDI matters (cont.)
07

Next to the Keyboard Editor button is a Graph
Editor button. Press this to reveal a window
that lets you control the CCs for any of the notes in
your pattern. Use the mouse to drag up or down to
make individual notes louder or quieter using the
pencil tool. Drag the Pattern window to make it
longer if necessary.
08

The slider at the base of the Graph window
can be moved to reveal other CC parameters
including Pan, Release, Mod and Shift. Use the
pencil tool to draw in controller data for any of
these and make your part more dynamic and
interesting rather than just a straightforward set of
notes. Draw in a zero value to delete data.
09

As an alternative you might well want to use a
MIDI keyboard to input MIDI note data. With
your device set up, right click on the Record button
and make sure that you are set to send data to the
Piano Roll, by ensuring Record To Step Sequencer
is off. Then play some notes and record them,
perhaps with a countdown.
10

Theres more you can do with recording and
programming in the Piano Roll editor. For
example, if you go to the Options menu and then
the Chord section, you can draw in any of a number
of complex chords just by clicking with the mouse
great for sounding like a pro player.
18 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI matters in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI matters (cont.)
11

Another way to create music is to play or
draw in some simple notes and then apply
MIDI processing to them. Try this by inputting
some notes into the Piano Roll editor and then
from the Options menu choosing Tools >
Arpeggiate or pressing Alt & A. You will see an
arpeggiator window plus some controls.
12

Use the arpeggiator control window to load a
preset and then tweak it. You can dial in
different kinds of settings to make simple parts
more complex while keeping them in time. You
might not think of this as recording MIDI, but it is in
the sense that you are creating notes out of
nowhere and using them in a pattern.
13

You can try the same trick with other tools
from the Tools menu. Try, for example,
selecting some notes by dragging around them
and then choosing the Flam, Strum or Claw tools.
Each one introduces some tweakable new
patterns to the proceedings and helps you to
generate new parts with minimum effort.
14

Another option is to quickly enter MIDI notes
using your computers keyboard. This can be
done by going to the Options menu and checking
that Typing Keyboard To Piano is switched on, or
pressing Alt & T. Now you will nd that your keys
trigger notes in a chromatic fashion, which is
handy for monophonic parts and beats.
20 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI matters in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI matters (cont.)
15

If you return to the Step Sequencer window
you can right click on any sound source and
choose to ll the sequence with every 2, 4 or 8
steps. This is a quick way of creating beats, and
data can be shifted around or randomized once its
inside the sequencer to quickly alter your beats,
melodies or riffs.
PRO TIP PARAMETER LINKS
You can link almost any parameter on any virtual
instrument to a connected external MIDI
controller. Simply right click on the desired
command and select to link it, and a window will
open allowing you to do this. This is great for
recording automation as well as other
parameter changes.
PRO TIP THE BUFFER
A three minute buffer records all note activity
from external controllers and keyboard to Piano.
This can be dumped to the Piano roll at any time
with the Dump Score Log To Selected Pattern
command in the Tools Menu. So you need never
lose a performance again, even if you
were just noodling!
PRO TIP CLICKS
When recording youll want to use a click track. If
you right click on the Tempo eld you can access
a range of shortcuts to tempos, a tap tempo
option and even an option to link the projects
tempo to a controller so it can be sped up or
slowed down dynamically on the y.
22 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI editing in FL Studio
F
L Studio is one of the most
powerful DAWs around when it
comes to working with MIDI. In
the previous workshop, we
looked at how to get MIDI data
into the application using various
techniques, and now we will explore the
many ways in which you can work with
that data once it is inside the Piano Roll
editor. The great thing about MIDI is that
it is virtually weightless and almost
innitely malleable. It can be copied,
pasted, shifted, tweaked and
reassigned with a few clicks, all the
while taking up virtually no le space at
all. And with the wealth of virtual
instruments that FL Studio provides,
you wont be short of new ways to
generate sound.
Once MIDI is inside the Piano Roll
editor, you can work with it in many
different ways. The Tools menu,
accessible by clicking at the top left
corner of the editor window, contains
lots of handy features including
articulations, quantizing and chopping,
and shortcuts to create am, strum and
other effects as well as scaling levels
and introducing randomization to a part.
New notes can be drawn in, of course,
and along the base of this window you
will nd a controller lane. Right click on
this and you reveal the different
parameters that can be set here,
including note pan, velocity and pitch,
and channel volume, pitch and pan.
The Piano Roll editor has other talents
too, letting you draw in slide and
portamento data as well as slicing up
notes in the grid. Its also possible, by
clicking on a generators name in the
step sequencer list, to reassign any MIDI
pattern to play any instrument, or
indeed to clone it and duplicate the
pattern using a second generator,
perhaps tweaking the pattern to create
some variation as you go. Further tricks
include using the LFO Tool to draw LFO
shapes into the Event Editor of the
Piano Roll window and using the Claw
Machine to modify existing MIDI parts to
create new variations. So, working with
MIDI in FL Studio is very rewarding. MT
MIDI is weightless
and almost infinitely
malleable, and takes no
file space at all
MIDI editing in
FL Studio
Getting control of your MIDI parts is the rst step to making great music in
FL Studio, as Hollin Jones reports
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 3
Guide to FL Studio | 23
MIDI editing in FL Studio Tutorial MT
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI editing
01

When you have programmed or recorded your
MIDI part, open it in the Piano Roll editor by
right clicking on the generators name and
choosing Piano Roll. Use the Zoom tool to select a
range and zoom in on it, or double click to zoom
out to see the whole part. Now youre ready to do
some MIDI editing.
02

The majority of MIDI commands in FL Studio
work on the selected notes, whether thats
one single MIDI note or the whole clip, and you can
use the Select tool to choose which notes you
work with. Select one or more notes and then go to
the Options dropdown menu and the Edit section.
FOCUS ON MIDI TOOLS
Many of the tools that you use to work
with MIDI in the Piano Roll editor can also
be found in the toolbar that appears at
the top of the Playlist window. Here, they
have similar functions such as the ability
to draw or paint entire patterns into the
playlist, delete, mute or move patterns
and indeed slice patterns up for easier
arrangement across the timeline. MIDI
les can be output from FL Studio using
the File > Export menu and then choosing
MIDI File. These can be imported into any
other DAW, so you might for example use
FL Studios great generators and MIDI
processing tools to create backing parts,
then export them to send to someone
else to use to trigger the plug-ins they are
using in their own setup. If they too are
using FL Studio you can, of course, send
them raw project data.
24 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI editing in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

MIDI editing (cont.)
03

From this menu you can perform some useful
tasks, including transposing selected notes
up or down, muting or unmuting them and shifting
them left or right. You can also duplicate, delete,
cut and copy selected notes. If you have selected
the controller area you will also see the option to
insert controller values in this menu.
04

Mouse over any note and you get a four
directional arrow tool that can be used to
place the note on any other note lane. Mouse to
the right hand edge of any note and you can drag it
to the right to make it longer. If you grab multiple
notes and perform any of these actions, all the
notes are affected by the same amount.
05

The Draw tool can be used to input individual
new notes and the Paint tool can be used to
paint in a range of notes using a sweeping motion
with the mouse. This is useful for quickly creating
rapid successions of notes say, for example, for
making a repeated kick drum part. Its also handy
for monophonic bass parts.
06

When drawing in new notes or moving
existing ones, snap settings are important
because they affect the way the timing of the
notes is controlled. Click the magnet icon at the
top left corner of the Piano Roll editor to set how
notes will snap, from a ne resolution to snapping
to bar markers.
Guide to FL Studio | 25
MIDI editing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

07

At the base of the Piano Roll editor window is
the Controller editor, where you can enter
parameters to vary the way notes are generated.
Right click on the bottom left hand corner of this
window, or left click on the Target Control menu
from the windows title bar to reveal a list of
available controller parameters.
08

Here, for example, we have drawn in lter
cutoff modulation by selecting it from the
target menu then simply used the mouse to
change the values at certain points in the pattern.
The parameters available to you will depend on the
generator you are working on, though things like
channel controls are common to all generators.
09

The Piano Roll window contains a Tools menu
revealed by clicking on the spanner icon at
the top left corner. Here there are various options
for manipulating your MIDI parts. The rst options
are Quick Legato and Articulate, which allow you to
apply staccato and legato to all selected notes in
order to change their playing style.
10

In the Articulator window you can precisely
control the way the selected notes will be
changed. You can choose a Length Alteration Style
from the Options menu and then specify a
multiplication factor, gap and variation amount. Hit
Accept and the notes will be changed accordingly.
Its a quick way to tweak performances.
MIDI editing (cont.)
26 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial MIDI editing in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

11

Further down the Tools list you will nd the
Quantize tool, vital for any kind of MIDI-based
music-making. Select it to reveal the Quantizer
window. You can load a groove template, by
clicking on the menu of that name. This is a great
way to bring a specic type of swing like the
Amen break to your beats and other MIDI parts.
12

Make further settings for quantization by
tweaking the other controls in the window.
You can change the start time, sensitivity, duration
and even quantize the different parameter levels
including pan, volume and pitch controllers. Hit
Accept to hear the changes you can always undo
this and try again with a different value if you like.
13

Moving down the list of MIDI tools you will
nd a range of specialised processors. The
rst is an arpeggiator which has many presets
available. Load one up or start from scratch and
use the window controls to tweak the results. You
can take simple MIDI parts and make them sound
complex and interesting by adding arpeggiaton.
14

The other MIDI tools can be more useful for
certain types of instrument than others. For
example the Strum command, which processes
MIDI to make it appear to have been strummed, is
obviously better suited to a guitar. Similarly Flam is
better on drums. But you are free to try any effect
and you may get some unexpectedly great results.
MIDI editing (cont.)
Guide to FL Studio | 27
MIDI editing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

15

The Limit option is an interesting one. This
allows you to restrict the MIDI notes within
any given pattern to a specic scale or range of
notes. Its useful if, for example, you have recorded
or generated a complex part but want to quickly
get rid of any notes or accidentals that may not t
with the scale of the piece as a whole.
16

Double click on any MIDI note to reveal its
properties. Here you can change pan, velocity,
release, mod x y and pitch of a note as well as
activating slide and portamento. You can also
manually enter a note duration. These are good for
accurately setting up a note more precisely than
playing from a keyboard would allow.
17

In the Piano Roll editor, go to the title bar and
click Target Track selector. This shows a list of
all the channels that can accept Piano Roll input.
From here you can quickly select another Piano
Roll to view and work on without having to open a
new window. If you want to open multiple windows
for more exibility, this is possible as well.
18

As we have noted before, MIDI can be edited
directly from the Step Sequencer view as
well, by using the Graph and Keyboard editor
windows that can be revealed from the top right
corner of the window. These can be used to quickly
change notes or draw in controller data such as
pan, velocity or mod x and y.
MIDI editing (cont.)
Download the FREE
app today
TAP TO
DOWNLOAD
MT Subscriptions
Subscribe to the
App from
just 2.49
TAP TO
DOWNLOAD
Subscriptions MT
30 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Audio recording in FL Studio
F
L Studio comes in a number of
editions, with the Producer
Edition being the one that has
full audio-recording features.
As good as the MIDI sequencer
on FL Studio is, most users will nd it
incredibly useful to be able to capture
audio parts into their projects, whether
its a simple guitar line, a full vocal track
or even multitracking a live band. Its
often in blending real and synthesized
sounds that the most interesting results
are achieved, and you can then process
any audio using the many supplied
audio effects.
FL Studio Producer Edition has two
main methods for recording audio, plus
a third technique for printing audio
internally. If you are working with one or
just a couple of audio parts, or working
with a loop, its recommended to use the
Edison recorder module. This acts as a
sort of mini wave recorder and editor
and has a range of sample editing tools.
It can then be triggered inside the
Playlist, a bit like a very advanced
version of a MIDI hardware sampler
setup. You can use as many instances of
Edison as you like.
If you are recording longer parts or
multitracking audio through a multi-
input audio interface, perhaps a drum
kit or several musicians at once, it can
be a better idea to record arm mixer
tracks in the Playlist and record directly
into these. This is a more conventional,
linear approach to recording and is
preferred by some. Although it doesnt
have all the bells and whistles of Edison,
its better for some kinds of audio
recording tasks.
Last but not least, using the softwares
internal routing features you can freeze
audio tracks internally to new, simple
audio parts. This is really useful for
conserving CPU power on tracks where
you might have lots of effects going, so
that you can lower your buffer size for
more latency-free recording of new
parts. However you approach audio
recording in FL Studio Producer Edition,
theres sure to be something for you to
learn, so read on! MT
Most users will find it
incredibly useful to
capture audio parts into
their projects
Audio recording
in FL Studio
Getting audio, or real sounds, into FL Studio is a must. Luckily we have the
complete guide right here
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 4
Guide to FL Studio | 31
Audio recording in FL Studio Tutorial MT
MT Step-by-Step

Audio recording
01

FL Studio should record from your built-in
soundcard, but you should use a dedicated
interface for recording and playback, even if this is
just a simple 2x2 USB device. To record multiple
tracks at once you will need the corresponding
number of physical inputs. Go to the Audio
Preferences and check your device is set up.
02

Set your buffer size so that you get as little
latency as possible when playing a sound in
from a mic or a guitar. Generally this means a
smaller buffer. To avoid feedback you will need to
switch off any speakers and use headphones to
monitor on (unless you DI an instrument, say by
plugging a guitar straight into the interface).
FOCUS ON PRINTING
Its possible to print audio parts
internally inside Fl Studio. This can be
done in realtime or non-realtime
modes, with the latter providing a
slower but higher quality render.
Essentially what you do is record arm
the mixer tracks you wish to record,
then in the Mixer menus Disk
Recording submenu, select Auto
Create Audio Tracks as this will place
a copy of the track into the playlist
after recording has completed. From
the Disk Recording submenu, choose
Render To Wave File, set the required
options and press Go. There is also an
option in the Export Project menu
called Split Mixer Tracks which will
create a separate WAV le for each
track in a project : great for creating
stems for moving a project to another app,
or for backup.
32 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Audio recording in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

Audio recording (cont.)
03

Unless you have customised your setup you
should nd Edison inside the Misc folder of
your Plugin Database in the Browser. First we will
look at recording into Edison, so create an instance
by dragging it into your project. Or, click on the
Record button on the Transport panel to be shown
recording options.
04

Click to choose to record into the Edison
module and one will be created, if you havent
already created one. FL Studio will show you audio
input levels at the top left and also in the mixer if
you happen to have that open. Check your levels
you should be aiming for a decent signal, into the
yellow but not hitting the red at the top.
05

There are various options for how to record:
On Input, On Playback or Now being the main
ones. To record along with a click, activate the
metronome or have a beat playing in a track, then
press the record button in Edison and perform. The
sounds you make will be captured and you will see
the waveform display update.
06

The other options can be useful to know
about. On Input allows you to set a threshold
trigger level by left clicking on the peak meter and
dragging up and down. You will see the level
displayed in the Info area at the top left of the app.
On Play will start recording when play is pressed
useful for recording multiple takes.
Guide to FL Studio | 33
Audio recording in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Audio recording (cont.)
07

In the Max box in Edison you can set the
maximum recording time. Since it operates in
RAM, its better suited to working with shorter
sections of audio than long takes. For that, use the
Mixer recording mode. Activate the loop button on
Edisons transport if you want to loop playback
within the module.
08

There are lots of tools in Edison to work with
your audio. If you click on the button with the
spanner icon you can access a range of functions
including time and pitch stretching, normalization,
noise gating and more. Interestingly, at the bottom
of this list is the option to analyse the clip and
send it to the Piano Roll as score data.
09

Under the Sequencing section at the base of
this menu is an option to send the audio clip
to the playlist or to send it to the selected channel.
These are both ways to take captured and edited
audio clips and make them part of a project. Use
Edison to work on audio clips prior to sending
them elsewhere in a project.
10

At the bottom left corner of Edison is a tiny
button that, when clicked, provides access to
a File menu. As well as getting to the audio
processing functions from the previous step, this
allows you to import a sample from your hard drive
into Edison and also export the current sample as
a le out to your desktop.
34 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Audio recording in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

Audio recording (cont.)
11

To edit other parameters of an audio part
such as envelopes, use the tiny buttons
running underneath the main waveform display.
Here you can set things like panning, volume and
stereo envelopes plus an all-purpose envelope
which can be assigned to parameters like setting
volume fades or pans within a clip.
12

Use Region Tools to analyse audio clips so
that they can be made more exible. In
Edisons toolbar, click the Regions button for
options. These include audio slicing, loop selection
and the ability to manually identify a downbeat.
These will help FL Studio accurately incorporate
rhythmic and other loops into a project.
13

The second main way to record audio is to
place it into a mixer track by using the
shortcut of clicking on the Record icon in the
Transport and choosing it, or opening the mixer. For
a track, select it and then go to the Input menu at
the top right and choose the input. To multitrack,
assign each input to its own mixer track.
14

Click on the tiny disk icon at the base of an
audio track and you will be prompted to set a
record destination location for the audio that is
captured in that track. This can be handy for
sending different takes to different locations. All
drums to one folder for example, all vocals to
another and so on.
Guide to FL Studio | 35
Audio recording in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Audio recording (cont.)
15

Its possible to send the signal from one
channel to another using the Send button in
the mixer. You could, for example, record several
versions of the same take, but process each one
differently using effects. It would also be possible
to set a separate record location for each one,
giving you more control over your recordings.
16

Now when you press Record in the transport
your audio is captured directly as a clip into
the Playlist. This is perfect for longer recordings
since it records directly to disk. The tools that you
use to edit MIDI clips in the playlist can also be
used to manipulate the audio takes.
17

To record in a loop in the Playlist, do as
follows. Go to the Recording Panel and select
the button for Blend Recording / Overdub. Select
Song Mode and then create a loop area using the
markers in the Playlist. To toggle audibility of
recorded parts as you loop, go to Options and turn
Blend Recorded Notes on or off.
18

To edit a recorded audio clip in the Playlist,
simply double click it and you will open its
control panel from where you can change almost
anything about it. From the waveform display at
the base of this window you can drag and drop the
clip anywhere into the Playlist area to duplicate it.
36 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Audio editing in FL Studio
I
n the last of these MusicTech Guide
To workshops we looked at the
different ways you could capture
audio into FL Studio. Once its there,
you will almost certainly need to edit
it in some way, either to correct any
problems with performance or timing, or
to make it more exible than a regular
audio clip. This might be, for example, so
that it can have a groove extracted or be
replicated as a MIDI part. FL Studio has
a range of tools available to help you
with this. The more basic ones deal with
things like normalization of a clip,
reversing or fading clips. The Channel
Settings window also lets you control
time and pitch stretching, which are
both essential for making audio parts
conform to your project even if they
start off being recorded in the wrong
key or at the wrong speed.
For detailed editing you can move to
the Edison module, FL Studios
dedicated audio manipulation tool. Here
you will nd a much more advanced
selection of functions that can be used
to take control of audio parts before
they are played back using the
sequencer. The spectrographic view in
particular is handy for understanding
whats going on inside an audio clip and
how to x any potential problems. In the
Playlist editor its also possible to edit
audio clips insofar as they are
sequenced as blocks of data on a
timeline. So between these various tools
and techniques you will nd it quite
possible to manipulate every aspect of
your audio track whether its
simply normalizing a clip
thats been recorded too
quietly, removing hiss or
rumble using effects and EQ,
or slicing loops to the
sequencer to make them
playable as instruments in
their own right. Read on to
nd out how it all works. MT
Audio editing in
FL Studio
Once your sound is recorded, FL Studio lets you manipulate it in any way
you can think of. Time to get editing
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 5
FOCUS ON WAVES
Edison is able to show you waveforms in a regular fashion
or as a spectral display, which gives you much greater
information about the intensity of specic frequencies in a
clip, rather than just the amplitude of the sound over time.
Its also useful for specic tools like acquiring the noise
prole of an audio clip and subsequently
removing specic sounds from it or
gating it to get rid of unwanted
background noise. Other tools like
Izotopes RX or Sonys Spectralayers
have spectral capabilities, (Izotopes Iris
synth actualy uses spectral technology
to generate sound) but there are some
built right into FL Studio as well.
Guide to FL Studio | 37
Audio editing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Audio editing
01

You will need to have an audio clip either
recorded or imported so its inside a project.
Then click on it to open the Channel Settings
window and you will see a number of options. Start
by going to the very base of the window, and
experimenting with using the In and Out knobs to
create a fade at the start or end of the clip.
02

Another interesting option is the third knob,
titled Pogo. If you turn this to the left or right
you will hear that your audio clip speeds up or
slows down as it goes. Its sort of like a rubber
band effect, and can sound really cool. To reset any
of these knobs back to their default position, hold
the alt key while clicking on them.
03

Moving up the window you will see more
processing tools. Try clicking the Reverse,
Normalize or Fade/Swap stereo buttons to make
FL Studio pre-compute these effects on the clip.
Normalization is useful for when a clip is too quiet,
to raise the volume without having to push the
channels fader all the way up.
04

Above this is the Time-stretching section
which contains both time and pitch controls.
The two can work independently. Move the Pitch
knob to change pitch but not time, and the time
knob to alter duration but not pitch (you can alter
both). In the Stretch Type menu choose the
algorithm suited to the material youre stretching.
38 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Audio editing in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

Audio editing (cont.)
05

If you right click on the waveform icon in the
Channel Settings window you can choose to
save the le out to a new location. You can also
drag the wave display into a project to place the
track into the sequencer. To make more detailed
edits, right click and choose Edit, which will open
the Edison module.
06

Edison provides more tools for editing, most
of which are accessed via the right-click
menu and then going to Tools. These work on the
selected part of the waveform so you can select
some or all of it. Some are similar to those found in
the Channel Settings window. You can do more
with channels, declicking and normalization.
07

The gating functions are particularly useful.
Using these you can acquire a noise
threshold to identify parts of a clip where you want
to gate out unwanted background noise, then
either gate it in real time or have it trimmed out of
the clip great for vocals, where background bleed
can be removed when no singing is taking place.
08

The Regions menu is useful too and allows
you to place markers in regions inside audio
clips and also slice them up. Go to the Detection
section and you can choose to slice a clip up using
different sensitivity settings. From here you can
also detect beats and pitch regions, making it
easier to slice a clip up.
Guide to FL Studio | 39
Audio editing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Audio editing (cont.)
09

Another handy function in the Region menu is
called Set First Downbeat. Choose this and
you can place a marker inside any audio clip where
the rst beat of the bar occurs. This is great for
correctly-slicing and aligning rhythmic clips which
may not at rst be correctly cut, and may have an
irregular length.
10

Some of the audio tools are also available
from Edisons toolbar. Try, for example,
applying an effect directly to a clip using the EQ,
Blur or Reverb buttons. This renders an effect onto
a clip so that it is always played back as part of it
rather than working as an insert on an audio
channel useful for reducing CPU overhead.
11

Click on the icons at the bottom left of
Edisons window to set envelope parameters
for an audio clip. These include pan, volume and
stereo separation and an assignable envelope.
Right click to add a point and right click on a point
to choose a curve or shape for that point. Use
envelopes to modulate parameters in realtime.
12

Using the Tools or contextual menu you can
go to the Sequencing section and choose to
send the clip to the Playlist as an audio clip or
send it to the selected channel. So once you have
made your edits you can make the clip a part of
your track. You can always re-open it in Edison at
any point to make changes.
40 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Making beats in FL Studio
B
eats are at the heart of most
music, be they sparse
acoustic sounds or full-on
electronic assaults. FL Studio
provides you with a number of
great tools to shape your beats. Theres
Drumaxx, DrumSynth Live and Groove
Machine as well as support for any third
party plug-ins you might add. And the
multiple programming options mean
that whether you prefer to play your
beats in using the mouse, a step
sequencer or an auto generator, theres
sure to be something that works for you.
In addition to the various virtual
instruments provided for making beats,
you can also import your own loops and
slice them up or time stretch them to
make new variations and patterns.
When you have your beats in the Playlist,
you can quantize them. Straight
quantization will give you a more
mechanical feel, which you might want
for certain types of electronic music like
house or techno. For a more human feel,
say perhaps for hip hop, dubstep or even
rock you can add groove quantization
and swing so that the music doesnt
sound like its been made by a machine.
FL Studio also makes it easy to layer
up patterns, create variations and add
percussion and other, non-drum sounds
to your beats to keep things interesting.
The bundled plug-ins allow for drum
synthesis as well as sample-based beat
creation. When you have a kit built from
synth modules you can really get to the
heart of the sound, detuning and
morphing each element of
the kit in ways that arent
possible with samples, in
order to get a really unique
sound. So, however you
approach beat making in
FL Studio, theres sure to be
something on offer that
will get you the best
results possible. MT
Making beats in
FL Studio
FL Studio is absolutely fantastic for making beats, and theres more than
one way to go about it
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 6
FOCUS ON PLAYING
By connecting a MIDI controller to FL Studio you can get
more hands-on with your beat creation. This might be as
simple as a USB keyboard with drum pads, a dedicated
drum pad controller or a full MIDI drum kit that you can play
in the same way as a real kit. Go into the MIDI setup and see
if your controller is natively supported. If not
you can add it and make MIDI
assignments manually, or you may nd
that the manufacturer has created an FL
Studio-specic template that you can
download and adapt to suit. Programming
beats using a more drum-centric
hardware unit is a great way to get better
sounding beats.
Guide to FL Studio | 41
Making beats in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Beat production
01

Start by setting your project tempo and
calling up an instance of one of FL Studios
bundled drum plug-ins. We have chosen Fruity
DrumSynth Live, which is a simple drum synth for
making electronic beats. Open the Piano Roll
editor and use the Pen tool to draw in some beats.
They will default to one measure in length.
02

Drag the boundary of any note to change its
duration, or drag the note from its centre to
change its position in time or move it to another
drum channel. If you double click on any note you
can open the note properties window where you
can set various parameters including velocity and
release on a note-by-note basis.
03

The Piano Roll and step sequencer tend to
give you very rigid results which is good for
some types of music. To get a more human feel, go
to the Piano Rolls Tools menu and choose
Quantize. In the lower part of the window you can
adjust quantize strength, which may be enough
for some purposes.
04

For a better groove, click on the Groove
Template File Load icon and you will see a
number of preset groove templates. These will
affect not only the timing of the beats but also the
velocity, and alter what kind of emphasis is placed
on the different beats. Try a hip hop groove for a
nice swing, for example.
42 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Making beats in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

Beat production (cont.)
05

Next try loading an instance of the Drumaxx
drum synth. Go to the Kit Selection menu and
choose from the bundled kits. Here we have
chosen a drum and bass kit. Program a pattern in
using whatever your preferred method is and then
you can start working with the modules that are
generating the sound to customise the kit.
06

To swap out a drum for a different sound,
click on the arrows by the name of the drum
module to reveal a le browser. This should point
you at the Drumaxx patches folder and you can try
some different sounds. Repeat for any drums you
want to swap until you have a kit thats working
for you.
07

As well as programming beats using FL
Studios regular techniques you can use the
built-in sequencer in Drumaxx, which is a more old
school way of putting a pattern together. Select a
drum module and then in the 16-step sequencer
bar, click to add notes for every hit you want to add.
Repeat for each drum module you want to include.
08

You can make patterns up to 64 steps in
length and also add equalization using the
multiple dials along the bottom, and limiting using
the section next to EQ to beef up the sound of the
beats. Also use the multiple controls in the centre
of the instrument to tweak the sound of each
individual drum hit.
Guide to FL Studio | 43
Making beats in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Beat production (cont.)
09

Try adding some special fx or percussion to
your drum parts. Add an instance of GMS
Groove machine and go to the Special FX folder
where youll nd some synth hits and other sounds
good to incorporate into rhythm patterns. Add
some hits to the beats you already have running
and repeat the process to start layering things up.
10

You can use audio le drum loops too. Go to
the File menu and choose Import > Beat to
Slice and navigate to a drum loop stored on your
hard drive. Choose how to import the beat. We
have chosen Slicer channels as it gives more
freedom to play. This opens the le in Fruity Slicer
and chops it up for us.
11

With the sliced up beat now automatically
mapped across your MIDI keyboard you can
play it in any sequence you like. This effectively
lets you turn any sampled beat or other loop into
an instrument. You can use the Pitch Shift and
Slice Fade tools inside the Fruity Slicer to alter the
behaviour of the slices.
12

Double click to open the pattern in the Piano
Roll editor and all the usual tools like
Quantization are available to you here too, so you
can re-quantize the new loop with a fresh groove.
You can also re-order the MIDI notes inside the
pattern to change the slice playback order, which
makes it easy to quickly create new grooves.
44 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Working with bass sounds
T
he power and energy of almost
all music comes from the beats
and the bass especially true
of electronic music. Last time
we looked at beats so now were
going to explore working with bass in FL
Studio. Many of the synths that come
with the software are great for making
bass sounds and it also supports
specialised third-party models. Synths
tend to be good at bass as they can
generate low frequencies and, as the
sound remains virtual, there are no
distortion issues. Even more generic
synths have bass patches to use to
build your own basses from scratch.
If youre after a more realistic bass
sound you could look at a specialised
plug-in like Spectrasonics Trilian or one
of the many Kontakt-based electric
basses from Native Instruments, either
of which would do a better job than the
simple BooBass that comes with FL
Studio. If youre looking to record your
own bass parts you can do that live as
well. Whichever route you take, there are
plenty of tools to help you get a bigger
bass sound. These include EQ and
compression and things like amp
simulation which helps add realism.
The key thing when mixing bass is to
retain as much energy as possible
without letting it overpower the rest of
the track or suck the life out of it. You
might use the side-chain compression
feature of a plug-in to selectively
compress only certain
parts of a bass signal, or
indeed a multiband
compressor to rein in
certain elements of it while
leaving others intact.
However you approach
bass in FL Studio, read on
to unlock its secrets MT
Working with
bass sounds
Now weve done the beats in FL Studio, its time to turn our attention to the
bass. How low can we go?
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 7
FOCUS ON SPECTRAL ANALYSIS
One of the most important ways to understand whats going
on in your mix, especially where bass is concerned, is to use
some kind of spectral or visual analysis of the signal before
it leaves the DAW and goes to your speakers. By applying a
plug-in like FLs own Wave Candy across any channel or
ideally across the master channel, you can see how each
part of the frequency spectrum of the track is behaving and
whether you need to make any
adjustments. Using your ears as a guide is
also important, but the way you hear
music will depend on your surroundings
as well as the speakers you are listening
on. Analysing the signal digitally in this
way helps you understand it more fully
and thus ensures it plays back more
accurately on a range of different systems.
Guide to FL Studio | 45
Working with bass sounds Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Bass tips
01

First off youll want to nd a bass sound that
works for you. Many of FL Studios bundled
synths have bass patches or the ability to generate
bass sounds. Here we have loaded in an instance
of the classic TS404 bass synthesizer, chosen a
patch and then programmed in some notes so it
plays back.
02

If you like your bass parts a little old school
you can always open the Channel Settings
window for this or any instrument and go to the
Function tab. There you will nd an Arpeggiator
section where you can activate and congure
arpeggiation and repeats for the part, giving it a
more classic effect.
03

If youre after something more complex, try
loading up an instance of the Toxic Biohazard
synth and choosing a bass patch. This is more
meaty and offers the ability to add multiple effects
onboard and use up to six oscillators to create a
truly enormous bass sound. Theres also a mod
matrix for extra exibility.
04

For a more realistic bass sound, investigate
the Sakura bass plug-in. This has some
excellent onboard controls for shaping your bass
including a string damping section, resonator
control and some built-in effects. Its a good
alternative to using a real bass guitar and you can
program it using the MIDI tools supplied.
46 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Working with bass sounds
MT Step-by-Step

Bass tips (cont.)
05

You can also record your bass tracks as live
audio, or use a third party plug-in. Once you
have your part recorded you will want to start to
shape the bass sound. Start by going to the effect
preset chooser and open the mixer. Locate a
compressor we have the Fruity Compressor
and drop it onto the instruments channel.
06

Your settings will depend entirely on the kind
of bass sound you are working with but for
this short, electronic house style bass we want to
use some relatively gentle compression, say a ratio
of around 2.5:1, and a fairly fast attack and release
since the sound is short and sharp. For more
acoustic sounds, use a slower release.
07

Your aim should be to rein the bass in a little
but without sucking the life out of it. If a
simple compressor isnt working, try a multiband
compressor like FLs own Fruity model. This allows
you to apply different levels of compression to the
low, mid and high bands, taming frequencies while
letting others breathe more naturally.
08

There is a range of presets supplied, some of
which are bass-specic. For synth basses
you might nd yourself compressing the bottom
end of the signal more heavily while leaving the
mid and upper ranges more free to cut through.
The nature of sub basses means they can be tricky
to tame, so special treatment is required.
Guide to FL Studio | 47
Working with bass sounds Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Bass tips (cont.)
09

As well as compression you will need to use
EQ to process your bass parts in order to
make them play nicely with the rest of the track.
Its advisable to use a proper EQ for this, so maybe
try the Fruity Parametric EQ, or a third party model.
Using one with at least ve bands should ensure
better control over the different frequencies.
10

To liven things up a bit, adding some crunch
or warmth to a bass track is often a good
idea. Use one of the bundled distortion or overdrive
plug-ins, or a specialised model. You dont have to
go mad just adding a little crunch can really
sound great and remove the articiality of
computer-generated instrument parts.
11

A multi effect can be good for dirtying up your
bass parts. Here we have added an instance
of Image Lines Hardcore multi-stage guitar effect
pedal plug-in and created a chain that adds a
range of effects to really spice things up. Native
Instruments Guitar Rig is another good effect for
achieving this.
12

Remember that you can also manage all the
plug-ins associated with any track in the
mixer by selecting the channel and then using the
Inspector section to the right, which also lets you
draw in a handy master EQ curve for the whole
channel. Be aware of how many EQs you are using
and try to limit them.
48 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Working with lead sounds
W
e often talk about lead
sounds without ever
stopping to think what the
term means. With
instrumental music it is
taking the place of a vocal in carrying
the melody and adding catchy hooks to
the song. Even when vocals are present,
lead sounds still play a part, whether
lling in breakdowns or middle eights or
providing hook lines to underscore the
vocal melody. As such, lead sounds tend
to have certain characteristics. They
occupy a similar frequency range to
vocals, which is anywhere between the
mid and high range, and tend to be
either percussive, attacking or both.
As you might imagine, FL Studio has
tons of lead sounds supplied as part of
its arsenal of synths and other
instruments and, of course, you can
record in any sounds in that you like.
Tweaking existing presets to make them
suit your song is pretty straightforward
and you can even create your own
sounds from scratch in many of the
synths. When it comes to mixing lead
sounds they often benet from being
treated the same as vocals, which is to
say that they need to be prominent and
noticeable, while still working in the
context of the track as a whole, and not
overpowering any other elements. They
usually benet from some careful
compression and EQ in addition to any
other effects like reverb, delay or
distortion you may be using.
When you write lead lines you might
start with a sequence or melody and
then add other things like beats and
basslines later, or you may do it the
other way round, starting with a beat
then adding a complementary lead part
afterwards. Whichever way you do it, FL
Studio has some excellent tools for
helping you program and shape your
lead parts and since its so exible, its
easy to quickly substitute one synth or
patch for another. MT
Working with
lead sounds
Getting a good lead sound into your FL Studio mixes can really help your
tracks stand out from the crowd
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 8
FOCUS ON MULTIBAND
When mixing or mastering in FL
Studio, consider using a multiband
compressor across the output bus
of your project in addition to a
limiter and EQ. Strapped across the
master channel, it can help you to tame difcult
or unruly mixes, specically targeting one or more
frequencies that may be jumping out of a mix. You can also
use this type of effect on any channel you like say, for
example, where a synth sound runs the gamut from very
low to very high frequencies, and needs carefully
compressing as a result.
Guide to FL Studio | 49
Working with lead sounds Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Taking the lead
01

You can load up a lead preset in any synth, of
course, but to really get a unique sound for
your tracks it can be good to design your own, by
starting from scratch or by modifying an existing
preset. Try loading an instance of Wasp XT which is
one of FL Studios simpler synths, and loading a
preset. Here we have chosen Follow The Lead.
02

The building blocks of any synthesized sound
begins with oscillators, and here there are
three. Experiment with changing the waveforms
used to generate the noise. You will see that the
rst two oscillators have four waveforms to choose
from, and the third one has two. Use the Osc Mix
slider to vary the amount of each signal present.
03

In the lter section to the left you can change
the lter type. A low pass lter will give a
more nasal, resonant effect which can be good for
lead sounds that need to pierce through the rest of
the track to be noticed. Raising the cutoff and
resolution knobs will also have the effect of
sharpening up the character of the sound.
04

To make the sound fade in more gradually
when a note is pressed, go to the Amp and
Filter Envelope sections and increase the amount
of Attack knob on each one. To make the sound
more immediate, lower these controls. Similarly,
use the decay and sustain dials to control the way
the sound behaves after a note is released.
50 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Working with lead sounds
MT Step-by-Step

Taking the lead (cont.)
05

To add a little oomph to this particular sound,
go to the output section and add some drive,
working with the tone and amount controls to
determine how much bite is added to the signal.
The Dual, Analog and White Noise buttons can also
be activated to further fatten up the signal. In the
next step well add some effects.
06

Go to the Browser and locate the Plug-in
Presets > Effects section. Here we have
dropped an instance of Fruity Delay 2 onto our
synth. This is a simple delay unit but works well on
lead synth sounds, especially electronic types. Its
tempo synced and we can use the dry/wet control
to determine how much delay is applied.
07

Next go to the Plug-in Database and choose
to add something a little more extreme. Here
we have chosen an instance of Hardcore, FL
Studios guitar pedal and cabinet modelling suite.
By ipping through its presets we can quickly dial
in some crunch and compression that make our
lead sound much meatier.
08

Swapping out pedals or adding new ones is
easy by clicking on the chooser at the base of
each pedal slot. Though you can, of course, use any
effect you like, guitar effects can work really well
on lead synth sounds. Try distortion, compression,
delay and reverb and sync your delay tempo to the
host tempo to keep everything in check.
Guide to FL Studio | 51
Working with lead sounds Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

09

For something even cooler, try adding an
instance of the Effector module from the
Plug-in Database. Select an effect type from the
choices at the bottom and then use the X/Y grid to
paint in a setting. This allows you to make some
great-sounding effects and it works particularly
well on lead sounds.
10

Subtractive synths often make for good lead
sounds as they tend to have a direct-
sounding character and are able to cut through a
mix, as well as responding well to arpeggiation.
Poizone is a good example of a synth with some
excellent lead presets so load it up and have a dig
around to see what you can nd.
11

Another good synth for learning about the
mechanics of patch-building is a simple one
in the Plug-in Database called 3x Osc. As you might
imagine this is a basic synth consists of three
oscillators and not much else. Select a waveform
for each oscillator and add some effects using the
mixer, to create your own lead sound.
12

Even synths that arent specically designed
for leads can be adapted to make lead
sounds. Here we have loaded an instance of Sawer
which is mainly for basses but by transposing its
oscillators up a few octaves and playing with lter
cutoff and resonance its possible to make some
really cool sounding leads as well as basses.
Taking the lead (cont.)
52 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial The creative use of effects
F
L Studio comes with a great
selection of plug-ins for
mangling and mashing up your
audio. These range from more
conventional tracking and
mixing tools like compression, EQ and
reverb to more outlandish stuff like the
excellent Effector, Gross Beat and Fruity
Scratcher. And the software can see any
third party VST effects loaded on your
system as well, so you can add anything
you like to your setup.. .
Understanding the audio processing
effects available to you is at least as
important as knowing which dial to turn
on a synth to make it go from bleep to
sweep. Standard, run of the mill
samples or patches can be juiced up no
end with the careful use of some choice
plug-ins, and sometimes getting a really
cool sound for a loop or a beat can
dene the sound of a track and inspire
you to go off in other directions with it.
Although its always good to get as much
of the character of a sound as you can in
place at the source, theres nothing
wrong with turning to effects post-
recording to really spice things up and
get a completely different avour for
your productions.
Effector is one of the most interesting
effects that comes with FL Studio. Its a
multi effect, meaning you can choose
between 12 different effects per
instance, though only one at once can be
active, and use the X/Y grid to morph the
character of the effect. To use more than
one instance of Effector, simply load
them up into slots on the channel. Like
many of the effects in FL Studio it can
be synced to the host tempo so things
like LFO and delay effects can be made
to stay in time even as you switch
between different resolutions to change
the character of the effect. Your system
will happily run lots of effects and you
can freeze or bounce channels down to
free up resources if you want even more.
Indeed, the sky is the limit! MT
The creative
use of effects
Getting a handle on using effects properly can make the difference
between a good track and a great one
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 9
FOCUS ON EXTRAS
If you go into the Settings > File
menu you will see the option to
customise the search path that FL
Studio uses to look for VST plug-ins.
By adding a secondary plug-in folder here you can
ensure that it correctly picks up all the additional models
installed on your system. Demo versions of some of the
plug-ins that come with your FL Studio install will generally
function fully for a limited period of time before inserting a
period of silence into the audio signal. Purchasing the
plug-in, depending on which version of FL Studio you have,
should unlock them and make them fully functional.
Guide to FL Studio | 53
The creative use of effects Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Using effects
01

Locate your track in the mixer and go to the
Inserts pane to the far right. Click on the
picker arrow to reveal a list of all the plug-in
effects installed and available on your system. In
this example we have a beat and we are going to
insert an instance of Effector, so simply choose
this from the list.
02

With the effect loaded on the snare channel,
we choose the delay effect and then select a
delay resolution using the numerical boxes along
the right-hand edge. By clicking in the grid you can
change the way the effect behaves. Using the
Bypass button you can make the effect stay on or
only come on when clicked.
03

Switch to an alternative effect from the
chooser at the base of the plug-in window.
Try Distortion, for example, and then use the dry/
wet control to vary the amount that is blended with
the dry signal. Flip between the other effects and
youll nd its easy to dial in something cool
sounding to liven up even dull sounds.
04

Now try loading up an instance of Hardcore
on a channel. This guitar multi effect is
capable of some really great crunch, warmth,
overdrive and tone and is good for using on guitars,
basses, synths, beats, vocals and much more. It
can even be good to record your guitars clean, then
add effects afterwards so they can be edited.
54 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial The creative use of effects
MT Step-by-Step

Using effects (cont.)
05

Click on the name of a pedal in an effect slot
to swap it out for a different kind of effect.
You can also click on the cabinet model to select a
different sort of amp to change the sound, and edit
EQ by using the eight band sliders located by the
top of the effect window.
06

To try out some extreme delays, look at the
Fruity Delay Bank effect. Dial this in and you
are able to create complex multi delays with
variable feedback and ltering to add depth,
movement and interest to your sounds. It works
well on almost anything and you can take
advantage of its host tempo-sync capabilities.
07

The Gross Beat plug-in which, like others,
comes as a demo version depending on
which FL Studio package you have bought, is great
for gating and other rhythmic effects. Use the grid
to draw in some variations and, from the area on
the left, choose patterns and gating types to
achieve something really cool sounding.
08

Effects dont have to look ashy to be useful.
Take the Pan-O-Matic, for example, which is
able to place your sound precisely in the stereo
eld. Combined with using automation this can be
useful for moving a sound around in relation to the
listener for some interesting results.
Guide to FL Studio | 55
The creative use of effects Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Using effects (cont.)
09

The Soundgoodizer is as good as it sounds
and very simply adds maximization and
enhancement with one of four presets and a large,
variable amount knob. Its subtle but effective and
good to stick on all kinds of sources from drums
and guitars to keyboards and vocals. Try using a
moderate amount for the best results.
10

The Fruity Love Philter is a highly
congurable lter plug-in that you can use to
morph your sounds. Using the different control
sections at the bottom left you can use envelopes
based on LFO, modulation and other parameters
to change the sound dynamically in real time. Try
this on drum loops and vocals.
11

Reverb is a key mixing tool and it can be used
as well as abused. Try the Fruity Reverb 2 and
drag the rotating display to change the size and
shape of the reverb effect. Try creating a really
huge reverb and maybe even automating the dry/
wet amount so that the amount of reverb applied
varies over time.
12

Last but not least, try the Fruity Blood
Overdrive effect to add some bite and crunch
to sounds like synths, guitars, drums and even
vocals. Whack up the preamp amount and the
colour control to create something really erce
sounding. This effect might look simple but it
sounds huge.
56 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Mixing in FL Studio
M
ixing is one of the most
crucial parts of the music
production process. As
strange as it might sound,
mixing is a combination
of intuition and science. Your ears and
your musical sense should tell you what
is working or not working, but you will
need the technical know how and an
understanding of the tools at hand in
order to x any problems and get the
best results you possibly can. In truth
you should be performing mixing of one
sort or another more or less the entire
time when youre composing and
arranging music. To listen back over and
over again and let a particular sound be
inaudible or much too loud is madness
and so you will be making constant
adjustments and getting a decent
working mix going as you progress.
The mixdown process is where you
stop worrying about adding or removing
new parts and focus on getting the
balance of the tracks right. This also
involves using the channel EQs available
on each channel and the many plug-in
effects available to you. The most
commonly used mix tools are
compression, EQ and a little reverb and
delay although you are free to use any
you like. As well as adding effects as
inserts to individual channels in FL
Studio you can add send effects which
process multiple tracks through the
same effect, and master effects that
process the stereo output of the whole
project at the same time. Be sparing
with master effects as they have a big
impact on the overall sound of the track.
FL Studio supports automation an
important weapon in your arsenal,
providing the ability to change levels,
effects, panning and more in real time.
You can even link mixer channels to the
controls on a physical control surface in
order to get better hands-on control
over your projects. Time to mix MT
Mixing in
FL Studio
Mixing is the key to getting a great-sounding track and FL Studio has all the
tools you need. Hollin Jones gives you the lowdown
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 10
FOCUS ON: THE MASTER
The Master channel in the mixer is a
good place to add specic kinds of
effects. In this example we have
added EQ and a multiband
compressor and, due to their
location in the master channels insert
slots, they are processing the output of the entire track.
This is a form of pre-mastering and some people like to
use it, others dont. It can be useful however, for just
sweetening or ne tuning a mix, and the compression stage
can be used to add audio glue to the mix. Be careful not to
overdo the processing here, as these kinds of effects can be
used in a more targeted way in the next and nal stage of
the production process, mastering.
Guide to FL Studio | 57
Mixing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Mixing in FL Studio
01

You should be happy with the instruments
and arrangement of your project before
approaching the mix stage and youll probably
have a decent working mix going already. FL Studio
provides you with lots of tools to take control over
the balance of your tracks. Start by soloing up the
drums or bass.
02

You can alter the layout and view of the mixer
by going to the Tools menu and then the View
submenu. Its nice to turn the Scrolling Waveforms
on as they show you when signal is present on a
track and using the Wide Tracks and Big Meter
options also makes things easier to manage.
Maximise the mixer by dragging its edges out.
03

For any mixer channel you will see an insert
effect and Control Area appear to the right
hand side and this is contextual depending on
which channel you select. Click on any of the effect
insert slots and you are able to add an effect. The
most common mix effects are EQ, compression
and reverb.
04

At the far right edge of each insert slot is a
mix level dial. You can alter to this to control
the dry/wet blend of any effect, handy because
you might not want to use an effects own level
meter to do this. It can sometimes be preferable to
have an effect running at full wetness but then
blended in using the mixer itself.
58 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Mixing in FL Studio
MT Step-by-Step

Mixing in FL Studio (cont.)
05

Each track has its own EQ section built in and
this can be accessed from the Inspector area
underneath the insert effect slots. Click and drag
with the mouse in the EQ box or use the small
sliders and the three shelf controls to tweak and
tailor the EQ settings to shape the frequency of
the track.
06

You may well want to use a more precise EQ
than the one found in the channel strip for
the purposes of mixing. Here, for example, we have
use an Insert slot to add an instance of the Fruity
Parametric EQ 2 which affords us a much greater
level of control over the precise behaviour of each
frequency band. This is invaluable for mixing.
07

If you right click on any track in the mixer
you are able to perform some useful actions.
For example you might want to multiple select
several tracks and then link them together using
the Link option. This is handy for altering the levels
of several tracks at the same time and by the
same amount.
08

Another similar trick is to select Multiple
Tracks and then right click and choose Create
Submix To > and then choose one of the available
insert channels in the mixer. This gives you control
over the output of a number of different channels
on a single fader and is also helpful for group
processing those tracks.
Guide to FL Studio | 59
Mixing in FL Studio Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Mixing in FL Studio (cont.)
09

It might seem trivial but the ability to assign
icons to tracks in the mixer can actually be
really useful. When youre dealing with large,
complex mixes and having to navigate the
relatively small graphics in FL Studio, being able to
see at a glance what any particular track is using
its icon can be a real timesaver.
10

Right click on a track in the mixer and choose
Create Automation Clip and you can create
an automation lane in the Playlist for the track. If
you right click on any Automation Keypoint you can
choose its behaviour type and also assign it to
control any mixer parameter, most obviously the
fader level.
11

Right click once more on a channels fader
and choose Link To Controller to open the
controller window. You can choose to assign a MIDI
controller device if you have one connected, or if
you select Internal Controller, you can assign any
of the automation envelopes to the channel. This is
how you would remote control faders.
12

In the Browser you will nd a section called
Mixer Presets and this contains some handy
effect and settings chains that you can drag and
drop directly onto a mixer channel to create an
instant effect like tape simulation or a processing
setup designed specically for an instrument type.
60 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Automation and MIDI control
I
ts easy to take the power of modern
music software for granted but the
truth is that producers now have
access to innitely more tools than
they would have had just a couple of
decades ago. Most people are familiar
with software synthesis, sampling and
the like, but automation is perhaps one
of the less obvious features.
Nonetheless its an extremely useful
thing to know about as it can add depth,
interest and dynamism to your projects.
Most parameters are automatable in
FL Studio, even if it deals with
automating its own plug-ins and third
party VSTs in slightly different ways. As
well as instrument and effect controls
you can automate mix parameters: from
faders and panners to effect levels and
more. Of course what you play and how
its arranged is crucial but when
listening critically to commercial tracks
youd be surprised how much
automation is going on, whether its
levels changing, sounds panning from
left to right, varying the amount of an
effect or the rate at which it repeats
and so on.
Back in the old days you would have
had to do much of this physically during
mixdown, which as you might imagine is
a very delicate and risky process. Push
the reverb dial slightly too far and you
have to start the mixdown again. In
software however there are no such
risks. Everything can be precisely
controlled to the nest level before you
get to the stage of actually exporting a
track. As well as moving controls around
or painting data in you can also use a
connected hardware MIDI controller to
tweak any settings you like, and record
the results as automation data. This is
perhaps most useful when it comes to
faders, so getting hands-on control of
your mix by setting up a control
surface is always desirable if you
have the option. MT
Automation and
MIDI control
Getting hands-on control and automating your mixes can add those all-
important extras to your projects in FL Studio
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 11
FOCUS ON PARAMETERS
You can quickly zap your way to any
automatable parameter from the
Browser. Lets say you have gone to the
View menu and chosen to view either
the generators or effects in use inside
the project. Click on the one you want to
view from the resulting graphical list
that appears down the left hand side of the
screen and you should see a list of its parameters appear.
Right click on any of these and you can choose to quickly
insert an automation clip linked to that control. This
provides a more clinical way of assigning automation to
instrument and effect parameters than digging around in
their graphical user interfaces.
Guide to FL Studio | 61
Automation and MIDI control Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Automation and MIDI control
01

When automating plug-ins you have a
couple of choices. If the plug is native to FL
Studio you can right click on any of its
automatable parameters this should include
most of them and from the contextual menu
choose Create Automation Clip. This will create a
clip in the Playlist.
02

In the automation clip, drag the at line up or
down to set the constant level of the
parameter. Right click to Add An Automation Point
and then drag this in any direction in order to set
its value at any given point. Its easy to create
ramps and parameter changes in FL Studio using
this technique.
03

If you left click to Select An Automation Point
and then hold the alt key while dragging up or
down you will nd that you are able to create a
curve rather than a regular, uniform line between
two points. These are useful for performing more
organic transitions between values, say for effect
levels, lter sweeps and so on.
04

Double click on any automation clip and you
will open the Channel Settings window. Here
you can affect the way the data behaves. By
changing the Speed and Tension dials, for example,
you can create a waveform style effect in the
shape of the automation curves perfect for
creating regular modulation effects.
62 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Automation and MIDI control
MT Step-by-Step

Automation and MIDI control (cont.)
05

The Shape, Pulse Width and Level dials will
also affect the behaviour of the curves. Any
automation clips that you clone will still be
affected by changes you make to the original so
you can create changes for one channel, copy
them and have changes you make in the original
automatically updated.
06

For non-native plug-ins theres another
method for creating automation clips. Move
the parameter you want to work with then go to
Tools > Last Tweaked > Create Automation Clip.
This will link the parameter you moved with the
newly-created clip and you can work with it as
described in the previous steps.
07

FL Studio can display automation clips on the
same channel as other Playlist data, so it can
occasionally be difcult to see whats going on. At
the top left of the Playlist you will nd a Focus
Switcher. Clicking on the three options here lets
you focus on audio, automation or pattern clips,
bringing the selected data type to the front.
08

Its also possible to lter and just view
specic types of data in the pattern window.
Use the dropdown menu at the bottom left hand
corner to choose between the three types. This
makes it easier to keep track of all the automation
data in this case thats in a project.
On sale now 8.99 with free DVD. Digital version 5.99.
Available at WHSmith (UK), Barnes & Noble (USA) and all good
bookstores in Australia, Canada, and throughout Europe.
Or order online at www.musictech.net/tag/focus
64 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Automation and MIDI control

MT Step-by-Step

Automation and MIDI control (cont.)
09

Its also possible to pick up a parameter with
recording running and move it in order to
quickly create automation. Here, for example, we
have put Record on and been prompted to choose
a Record Type, then selected Automation. After this
we move the mixer faders and the automation
clips are recorded automatically.
10

The Last tweaked menu also allows you to
assign any parameter to a connected MIDI
control device. Go into this menu and then click on
the Link To Controller option. It also works for the
parameter previous to the last one clicked, which
is in a separate menu.
11

In the resulting controller window you can set
any parameter up to respond to a specic
hardware MIDI control, or to an internal
modulation or controller source by using the
Internal option from the relevant section of the
control window. You could assign any automation
clip, for example, to control any other parameter.
12

There is support built-in for a range of MIDI
control surfaces and you can set these up by
going into the main Options menu, MIDI section
and choosing from the list. Its even possible to
choose specic MIDI channels for previewing,
performance mode and generator muting mode.
100% PURE
RECORDING
& MIXING
On sale June 5th 8.99 with free DVD. Digital version 5.99.
Available at WHSmith (UK), Barnes & Noble (USA) and all good
bookstores in Australia, Canada, and throughout Europe.
Or order online at www.musictech.net/tag/focus
66 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Mastering and exporting
W
hen all the programming,
recording, arranging and
mixing is done on a track
theres still one process to
go through and thats
mastering your music and exporting it
ready for the world to hear. Its a good
idea to separate the mixing and
mastering stages as they are different
processes. Mixing is about balancing
the elements of a track as well as you
possibly can and the aim of mastering is
to add volume and also get a nice EQ
curve for the sound as a whole.
When dealing with mastering you
really want to be working on a single
stereo le and processing it alone,
though it is possible to perform
mastering on a whole project with
multiple tracks. Processing a single
track helps focus attention and means
that youre not tempted to start
tweaking arrangements or levels of
instruments that should all have been
done already. You might be using a
mastering suite like Izotopes Ozone or
some combination of other effects.
Mastering typically involves using single
or multiband compression, EQ and
limiting at the end of the signal chain.
The limiter is also known as a maximiser
as its purpose is to push a track as close
to 0dB without clipping. This is a
delicate process and you should aim for
a good solid overall level but without
crushing the track as this is fatiguing on
the ears of the listener.
When you are happy with the sound of
the master you will want to export the
track as a nal, nished stereo le and
this should be the one that you hold as
the denitive version of the track. Use
other software to compress it to MP3
and similar formats, but make sure you
have a master copy at full quality and
resolution. You can also export in
various different formats so read on to
nd out how. MT
Mastering and
exporting
Youve almost reached the end of the road, but how do you master and
export your tracks in FL Studio? Hollin Jones reveals all
FL Studio The MusicTech Guide: Part 12
FOCUS ON ANALYSIS
Its a very good idea to use some
kind of audio analysis plug-in both
during mixdown and mastering. The
reason is that although level meters
are ne they only give you limited
information about whats really going on
inside the signal you are working with. Tools like
oscilloscopes, stereo meters and spectral analysers can
help you understand issues like phasing or where part of
your signal might be too loud or quiet. Simply relying on the
room you are in and the speakers you are listening on isnt
really enough to get under the skin of a mix. Plug-ins like
these dont necessarily have to be expensive Blue Cat
Audio offers some for free on its website.
Guide to FL Studio | 67
Mastering and exporting Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Mastering and exporting
01

Import your mixed-down le into a new blank
project. Tempo and marker information are
not really important since all you will be doing is
processing the sound and not arranging anything.
Open the mixer and locate the insert slots of either
the track itself or the master track. It doesnt make
a big difference which you choose.
02

Start by strapping a compressor across the
rst insert slot of the channel. This will be
processing the entire track so you will probably
want to keep the compression gentle, as if using a
master bus compressor on a hardware desk. Dial
in some gentle compression with a low threshold
and ratio.
03

If you nd the track is losing some oomph as
a result of the compression or that some
frequencies are sticking out of the mix too much
you might want to try a multiband compressor
instead. FL Studio comes with one of these and it
has some great mastering presets which you can
use as a starting point.
04

The great thing about a multiband
compressor is that you can compress
different frequencies. So you may want to pull the
upper mids in more heavily but leave the high
frequencies less processed. You shouldnt be
compressing anything massively at this stage but
a little is ne.
68 | Guide to FL Studio
MT Tutorial Mastering and exporting
MT Step-by-Step

Mastering and exporting (cont.)
05

EQ is another vital part of the mastering
process so try adding a second insert, this
time an instance of the Fruity Parametric EQ which
gives you decent control over your frequency
bands. Use the EQ points to carefully boost or cut
the various frequencies and pull sounds slightly up
or down inside the overall soundstage.
06

Its possible to set the EQ point type by right
clicking on one and choosing from the
dropdown menu. This is useful to know about
because it lets you assign points as pass or shelf
curves which are handy for rolling off extreme top
or bottom end. You can also mute or disable EQ
points to simplify your EQ curve if necessary.
07

Working with the compression and EQ will
take a little while to get exactly right but
eventually you will want to add a limiter here we
are using the bundled Fruity Limiter to squeeze
some more volume out of the signal. Dial in some
moderate but not overly-heavy limiting and watch
the signal stay up near the zero mark.
08

The Fruity Limiter can also be switched into
compressor mode and used as a regular
compressor. You might want to add a third party
limiter to the signal chain as some of these have
more advanced features like Lookahead that can
make for more accurate masters. For many uses
though, FL Studios bundled plugs are ne.
Guide to FL Studio | 69
Mastering and exporting Tutorial MT

MT Step-by-Step

Mastering and exporting (cont.)
09

You might also want to add a little stereo
widening at the mastering stage, in which
case you can stick on a Fruity Stereo Enhancer
from the library of effects. Be very sparing with
stereo enhancement as using too much will spoil
the mix and the soundstage. But if a little
enhancement sounds good, go ahead and use it.
10

When your sound is perfect you will want to
export the processed le from the
application. To do this, go to File > Export and
choose WAVE le from the options. You can also
export as compressed les or export the MIDI
components of a project as a MIDI le, which can
be useful in some situations.
11

If you choose Export > Project Data Files you
can effectively back up the whole project to a
new folder or drive. This option copies the audio
les in use by the project as well as all the MIDI
and other project data contained within it. Its
useful for keeping a safety copy of a project.
12

One nal option is called Export > Zipped
Loop Package and this creates new versions
of all the audio les in a project, the MIDI content
and all the project data and exports them out to a
zip le. If you send this to someone, they will be
able to open your project and work on it in their
own copy of FL Studio.
www.musictech.net
Powered by

Magazine
FIRST WITH REVIEWS
FIRST WITH NEWS
HAVE YOU CLICKED?