Recently ImageLine released FL Studio 11, and we have now added a new training course, FL Studio 11 – Know It All. In a nutshell, the update consists of one major new feature, Performance Mode, plus several new and interesting plugins. As usual, I’m going to review these new features in this blog.
Although ImageLine probably wouldn’t appreciate my characterizing it this way, Performance Mode is basically FL Studio’s answer to Ableton Live’s Session view. You can now create Scenes, which are basically vertical slices of your song, and trigger each Scene in whatever order you wish. You can also trigger individual clips while scenes are playing. The other essential options that you would expect have also been provided for. For example, Press is roughly equivalent to Live’s Launch Mode and determines what happens when a clip is pressed–trigger, stop, pause, etc. Trigger Sync is equivalent to Live’s Quantization, and determines how soon a clip will launch after it has been pressed. Although you can do all this with a mouse, Performance Mode is clearly oriented towards performing using a pad controller. Clips are automatically assigned to pads based on the layout of your song that you create in the new Performance Zone. We have added a new tutorial in our course to explain these features in detail.
So how does Performance Mode stack up against Live’s Session View? I must say that after spending quite a bit of time with Performance Mode, I still find it quirky and awkward. I don’t want to unfairly diss FL Studio here. However, let me put it this way. In both the FL Studio course and the Ableton Live course, we use the same song, Galaxy Bling, to create an example for live performance. In Ableton Live creating this example was intuitive and easy and took less than a couple of hours. After struggling with FL Studio’s Performance Mode on and off for several days, the example I came up with, while a reasonable demo of how to use the feature, wasn’t even close to the functionality I created in Live’s Session View.
I suspect that some of you FL Studio fans could create a Performance Mode design that better represents the features. Thus I’m inviting you to try your hand at turning Galaxy Bling into a Performance Mode design. This video presents a back-to-back comparison of the live performance demos that we created in Performance Mode and in Live’s Session View. Here is also a download link to the FL Studio version of,Galaxy BlingSo take a shot at it, and send us a video of your results. We’ll post it on our YouTube channel, and give you a free Digital Music Doctor course for your efforts.
FL Studio Performance Mode vs. Ableton Live Session View
As I mentioned the rest of the new features in FL Studio 11 are mainly new plugins. In Dance and Hip Hop music the Holy Gail always seems to be the perfect kick drum. Thus FLS has added a complete synth devoted to nothing but, you guessed it, bass drums. We present a demo of this drum synth in our What’s New tutorial. Personally, I think it sounds great. But I also realize the perfect kick is always in the ear of the beholder.
BassDrum–The Ultimate Kick?
Groove Machine Synth (GMS)
Groove Machine Synth, aka GMS, is another addition of the FLS lineup of synths. It is a hybrid synth which combines both FM synthesis and ring modulation. It is mainly oriented towards basses, pads, and leads. It also has an X-Y controller which can be used to apply Low Frequency Oscillators (LFO’s) to a number of different FX. The X-Y Controller and FX selection look very similar to another new plugin, the Effector. Grit seems to be in vogue in Dance and Hip Hop these days, and GMS definitely has a gritty sound.
GMS–Groovy & Gritty
Effector is another dance floor FX. It is in fact twelve different FX–distortion, lo-fi, flanging, phasing, etc. It has two LFO’s which are mixed with an X-Y controller. The LFO’s can also automatically be synced to the music. Effector is just the tool DJ’s need to create all of those squeaks, squawks, and other weird noises that sound so far out at a club. But don’t try this at home on Beethoven.
Effector — Your Ticket to the Electric Daisy Carnival
Patcher & VFX Key Mapper
Patcher was introduced in FLS 10, so it’s not really new. However, according to ImageLine it has been substantially reworked to accommodate two VFX modules, Key Mapper and Color Mapper. Voice FX are not restricted to vocals. Rather the term “Voice” refers to a song part which includes the MIDI note and other related control information that can be created by Generators. Key Mapper is a great way to create entire chords by playing a single note. The configuration shown below represents a voicing that I prefer for synth string parts. Thus when I play the root note, MIDI notes for a fifth above the root note, a third one octave higher, and a root two octaves higher are automatically generated.
Patcher & VFX Key Mapper — My Favorites
BTW Where’s 64-Bit?
Conspicuous by its absence in this release is any mention of a 64-bit version. That doesn’t mean it’s not in the works. ImageLine seems to be taking the same approach that Ableton is using towards 64-bit, namely–don’t make a big deal out of a release for 64-bit. Just do a separate but parallel effort. In fact there was a 64-bit beta released several months ago for FLS 10. FLS 10, you may recall, also included a 64-bit plug-in wrapper and disk streaming for large files to mitigate the more critical limitations of 32-bit processing.
DAW Shootout & Music Software Popularity
We have also updated the DAW Shootout to reflect the new release of FLS 11. However, none of the new features resulted in an increase in rating, simply because FLS was already receiving the maximum credit in the categories in which these features are classified. Performance Mode may be new. However, Performance Mode is simply another form of alternative (or non-linear) sequencing. FLS was already receiving maximum credit in alternative sequencing because of its step sequencing features, another form of alternative sequencing. Although FLS still ranks at the bottom of the functionality ratings because of its lack of some traditional DAW features such as score editing and video, it still has the highest value because of its low price. You can see the details of the new shootout here: http://www.digitalmusicdoctor.com/shootout/
The low price plus the offer of free upgrades for life is undoubtedly the reason that FLS continues to rank at the top of our Music Software Popularity Index. Also as shown in our latest software popularity survey, FLS, like Ableton Live, relies much more on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter & YouTube) than most music software products to engage potential customers. You can see the details of the new popularity index here: http://www.digitalmusicdoctor.com/popularity/
Evacuate the Dance Floor
The new features in FLS 11 are clearly oriented towards the musical preferences of its customer base–Dance and Hip Hop. As Ableton and Native Instruments have also shown, in these days of a lingering worldwide economic recovery, this focus is the best strategy to keep sales soaring.
I’ve been an FL studio user for many years now. When I saw a demo for performance mode on youtube I couldn’t wait for the release, and it gave me the perfect excuse to rush out and buy a novation launchpad.
I first tried it with Ableton live. Maybe its just because of my years of use with FLstudio, but I struggled to get my head around a lot of the softwares inner workings and it took me literally days to figure out how to set it up the way I want. Even now with a months usage I still struggle, to the point where I find myself jumping right back to FLstudio.
Admittedly FLstudios performance mode also had me scratching my head for a day or two. But I personally find it so much easier to set up than Live.
Maybe as I say thats purely down to being a case of knowledge of the software.
Still, each to their own and all that. Whatever gets the job done is whats important.
Anywho, i’ve downloaded your example zip and look forward to playing around with it.