1. The Price Point
At three benchmarks, FL Studio offers something for everyone’s budget. The lowest in price and features is the Fruity Edition at $99. Next up, and a bit more expensive is the Producer Edition at $199, however, you do get what you pay for and what you get at this level is definitely enough for most music makers out there. The third route you can go with is Signature Bundle for $299. And the final and MOST expensive option, FL Studio+All Plugins, costing an, oh gee, not that much…right. It’s $899! There, are you happy?? Can we just move on now?? Honestly, if you’re going to buy all the upgrades and plugins FL Studio sells in its expansion packs anyway, then the All Plugins package is pretty reasonable.
An additional option has also been made available for the more frugal consumer, an ultra-stripped down model called ProTools First, and the best part, it’s absolutely FREE! I don’t know about you, but I love free stuff, especially when it comes to high end recording software. There are a few caveats, however, so don’t get too excited…Here’s what you can expect if you decide to go with this option:
- Limited to 16 tracks
- Only allows 4 inputs
- Comes with over 20 of the same FX plug-ins you would also find in the full version
- Can only save 3 projects
- Restricted to 1 gig storage in the cloud and your files must be stored there
If you’re ok with all of the limitations of ProTools First and you want to milk what you can despite its myriad of restrictions, well buddy, you’ve hit the jackpot!
2. Capabilities and Features
Because of its natural inclination toward being a beat-centered, MIDI composing machine, with tons of options for creating new sounds, it’s no wonder people like Soulja Boy, Porter Robinson, Madeon and countless others use it as their primary DAW.
The introductory version of FL Studio, Fruity Edition, a very bare-bones edition, provides limited capabilities for producing full songs. The main purpose of FL Studio at this level is geared toward melody making and loop creation. Fruity Edition’s major drawbacks are that it doesn’t come with audio clips, nor does it allow for recording directly into the program; this means no microphone recording whatsoever. So, if you’re just planning to make simple beats and don’t need to support additional hardware and interfaces or track vocals and instruments(with the exception of MIDI hardware), Fruity Edition will likely have you covered.
The second echelon, Producer Edition, delivers quite a few great options for those who are looking for a solid DAW with the intention of not only roughing-out their ideas, but bringing a song to, dare I say…fruition. At this level you get access to a host of plug-ins and mic recording is supported. Unlike the budget edition, you’ll be able to actually create a full song (tracked, edited, mixed and mastered) if you choose this one.
The Signature Bundle is where you can really get the ball rolling with beat-creation, recording, editing, mixing and mastering. With Signature, FL Studio introduces one of the most obviously useful upgrades, Edison, an audio editor that can be utilized as a standalone or plug-in. With it, you can easily splice drum loops, use it for time manipulation & stretching, high quality resampling, click free editing, etc. In addition, Signature Bundle comes with NewTone, software for professional pitch correction and manipulation. Also included are more effects plug-ins and mic recording capabilities.
Last, and definitely not least, on the list is All Plugins. As the name would imply, if you haven’t guessed, you get unlocked access to all the plugins FL Studio offers. That is a pretty amazing deal, especially when you tally up the entire cost of their whole collection; trust me, it’s gnarly. At this level, you can create and manipulate your songs and beats, unrestricted in options, to your heart’s content.
All four editions include these features:
- Automation Clips (spline based automation)
- Pattern Clips (MIDI notes & event automation)
- MIDI file importation and exportation, MIDI hardware support and MIDI SysEx & MMC functions
- 103 Insert/Send Tracks, 10 FX slots per track, patcher FX extension/rack, and full inter-track audio routing and sidechaining
- Piano roll and Sequencing
- 103 external audio I/O
- Render to .WAV, .MP3, .OGG
- Export mixer stems
- ReWire Support (client and host)
- FL Studio can be used as a VST client
- Reads different file formats: .AIFF, .DS, .DS, .DWP, .FLAC, .MID, .MP3, .OGG, .SF2, .Speech, .SYN, .XI, .WAV files
Much like Cubase, FL Studio takes it a step further with their adaptability to mobile production. FL Studio Mobile has been made specific for use on both iOS and Android, the only detriment being no free version like Cubasis LE, so if portability is important to your preferred work style and flow, you’d have to be willing to shell out another $14.95.
3. What Sets It Apart
I was going to talk about how revolutionary FL Studio has been for beatmaking, but we all know that already. The great thing about going with FL Studio are the FREE lifetime upgrades! Where most other manufacturers are ready to shake you down like the coffers of some fascist empire each time a new release is out, the good people at FL Studio keep the musicians and producers best interest at the forefront. On top of that, all FL Studio editions and plug-ins are free to test with no time limit, however, you will be able to save your projects, but won’t be able to reopen them until you purchase one of the editions.
If your primary concern is making beats, then FL Studio is a no-brainer.