FL Studio – A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Audio Workstations

Image-Line’s FL Studio digital audio workstation (DAW) provides pattern-based music sequencing with support for MIDI, automation and plugins.

FL Studio features an arrangement window which consists of multipurpose “Clip Tracks,” or tracks, that can host patterns, audio clips and automation clips. In order to record audio in FL Studio you must link one or more playlist tracks directly with a mixer channel and arm them in order to begin recording audio tracks.


Image-Line’s FL Studio is an open-ended digital audio workstation (music production software). Image-Line designed it for musicians working across genres – from electronic music producers to film composers – using all kinds of genre-bending instruments like electronica producers or film composers. The unique Channel Rack contains powerful sample manipulation tools while its Playlist enables fully open song structures and variations; finally, its Patcher gives access to advanced plugin routing features.

FL Studio features an expansive library of music creation plugins, supporting numerous sample and effect formats via its inbuilt search engine. Furthermore, the software supports MIDI hardware with unlimited controller mappings available and features an event handling system to store and retrieve information regarding events occurring during playback or editing.

FILE > Options provides access to an assortment of additional features that can be enabled, including the ability to render and replace Patterns and Audio Automation Clips easily from Playlist with one-click, reset manual plugin latency settings, as well as viewing Plugin Performance Monitor which displays CPU usage of active plugins in FL Studio.

FL Studio goes beyond its core feature set by offering a vast array of third-party plugins as free or commercial downloads, most notably VST3 plugins but there is also an ever-expanding array of freeware instruments, effects, utilities and plugins available from freeware developers – including VST/VST3 plugins as well as audio effects sequencers waveform editors synthesizers mixers video editors to allow users to easily create music videos from scratch!


If you want to take your music production skills to the next level, unleashing the potential of Step Sequencer will do just that. This feature offers various functions that enable you to easily compose melodies and harmonies that add depth and complexity to your compositions, automate note length and velocity for more precise control, as well as automate individual steps for precise musical control.

FL Studio’s sequencing functions offer seamless collaboration thanks to their ability to import and export pattern data, making collaboration seamless. FL Studio features various marker types that enable complex arrangements – beginning and ending markers as well as specific time stamps such as Loop or Skip markers can all help make complex arrangements possible.

Longer recordings can be broken into constituent parts known as Stems for easier extraction. While this process takes some time on older computers, you can limit CPU usage so other applications do not become affected while the extraction is taking place. Once all your Stems have been created, you can add custom effects to each one to create more personalized sounds.

Right-click any parameter in the Step Sequencer and choose “Create Automation Clip” from its context menu to open up the Automation Editor where you can draw automation curves that modify a parameter over time, ideal for controlling various settings such as volume, panning or plugin parameters like cutoff frequency and resonance. Furthermore, this method also makes complex effects such as filters or reverbs much simpler to automate without creating and editing multiple automation tracks in either your mixer or channel settings window.


Mixing is the final stage in production and involves balancing all musical elements and frequencies to achieve a polished, professional sound. This can include adjusting volumes, panning separate parts, and adding any further effects or modifications.

FL Studio’s mixer boasts many useful features that make it perfect for this stage, such as routing multiple mixer tracks to one effect (e.g. reverb or delay) at once – this feature comes in handy when working with instruments or samples that require similar processing. You should also take advantage of Send Channels to manage levels properly; finally, your Master Channel is where all paths converge – this means it should be managed carefully as this mix will be heard by everyone who listens!

All audio in FL Studio is digitally represented using 32 bit numbers that represent values over 65,000 times larger than a 16-Bit CD or MP3. These numbers have a maximum value of 0dB; to avoid digital distortion it’s recommended that tracks peak no higher than -9dB.

FL Studio comes equipped with high-quality native effects for shaping your tracks, such as Fruity Parametric EQ 2. Playing around with these and other plugins will give you a range of choices when building your mix; third-party VST plugins may even increase this palette further allowing collaborations with artists who don’t own FL Studio or use another DAW.


FL Studio’s Plugin Database makes it easy to access its own and third party plugins for use in your projects, as well as those from third parties. Plug ins come in VST, AU and AXX formats – VST works with both Windows and Mac computers while AXX works only with Pro Tools.

FL Studio includes an excellent collection of plugins ranging from audio effects, video filters and generators – a good starting point to help create your desired sound for music composition or production. Furthermore, these can also be enhanced and modified with other third party plugins.

FL Studio software provides advanced producers with access to an assortment of plugin instruments and synthesizers, piano roll based sequencing capabilities, powerful mixers and advanced audio synthesis techniques such as FM modelling granular wavefolding additive.

Image Line offers an affordable range of DAW bundles featuring FL Studio and third party plugins to provide even greater depth in their feature set. These bundles represent great value and even offer discounted access to more powerful versions of FL Studio for a limited period.

Grammy(r)-nominated and multiplatinum producer Scott Storch has joined forces with Image-Line to produce an essential effect plugin for FL Studio: Storch Filter. Boasting five built-in effects and Autofilter features plus presets crafted by him, Storch Filter makes adding excitement to music easy at the press of a button.


Making dynamic changes and adding movement to your tracks are crucial components of creating more engaging sounds, and FL Studio makes this easy thanks to automation clips which let you control almost any parameter of a mixer track or plugin – helping create subtle volume fades, complex filter sweeps and much more!

To create an automation clip, first select the control you would like to automate (either with right-clicking or Ctrl+A). Next click on the Create automation clip icon in the Control panel. Here, you can name and set start/end points as well as edit any curve between these points to determine the value of parameter at any given moment in time.

Once you understand how automation works, it becomes simple and fun to build dynamic effects in your music. A great way to gain more knowledge in this regard is watching some of the FL Studio PowerTuber videos available online.

Some video producers specialize in particular genres or techniques of music production while others cover more diverse subjects. Alex Moukala specializes in orchestral and scoring music while Dylan Tallchief covers an array of beat making techniques.

Press ESC to close