FL Studio 10.5 Beta with Performance Mode

You’ll have noticed from our videos that we’re a Mac based studio over at OD, but FL Studio is worth firing up BootCamp for.

We reviewed FL Studio 10 last year, and in the year since the guys at Imageline have been beavering away to make FL Studio 10.5′s highly touted Performance Mode the next killer feature. How does it look? In a word, awesome. We’ll wait to pass full judgement until the final release comes around so that we can review it proper, but there look to be some marked advantages to using it over Ableton Live; there’re visual indications of waveforms and automations laid onto the clips/pads, and the ability to have an indication of loop length with different sized clips is very cool.

Quite how fluidly switching a track between production and performance modes works is a little in the air at the moment, and FL Studio is making things easier by creating macros that change things around for you in a single button press. It’s still not totally ideal, though, so I’m just going to make this plea to the guys at Imageline now: Destroy and rebuild with this mixed linear/clip based production as the forefront of the design, go multiplatform, and use OS native GUI settings. Please. We’ll love you for it. 

Let us know what you guys think!


FL Studio ‘Performance Mode’ Unveiled

When it comes to live performance, there’s not a lot of DAW software that can hold a cande to Ableton Live. Logic has a separate app (MainStage), and there are plenty of standalone apps/programs that work well for live use (Kontakt/Halion and so on), but a seamless connection between studio and live use is pretty much Live’s domain. Image Line are looking to move in the live performance direction, though, and here’s a video of their alpha release. As you can see, the performance is recorded as it is performed – similar to recording from Live’s clip view to the session view – and whilst there’s a lot of work to be done it looks to be a good direction for one of Windows’s premier recording solutions. In fact, with the native (well, dynamically ‘bottled’) Mac version on the way, maybe FL Studio is going to start to get a little more buzz in 2012. Let us know what you think!

FL Studio 10

Review: FL Studio 10

FL Studio has a long heritage on the PC; from humble beginnings as a drum sequencer it’s evolved into a fully featured DAW. It’s unique in many ways, though – is it for you?

Version Reviewed:

Platforms: Windows 7, Vista, XP & 2000 (32 & 64 Bit)

Minimum Specs: 2Ghz AMD or Intel Pentium 3 compatible CPU with full SSE1 support, 1GB RAM. (much) More highly recommended

Price: €212 for Signature Edition (reviewed), €141 for Producer Edition. Feature cut versions: €70 for Fruity, €34 for Express

The line between straight up DAWs and All In The Box softwares has gotten blurred over the years, what with the big DAWs including all manner of instruments and effects – in many cases simultaneously reducing the asking price, too.

The line between straight up DAWs and All In The Box softwares has gotten blurred over the years

Thus, whereas Fruity Loops was once a rite of passage for home musicians and producers FL Studio is now very much an alternative solution to the ‘big guys’.

Looks wise, FL Studio is perhaps the least homogenous of all the modern DAWs and soft studios. The software’s origins as a drum machine are apparent in the way that sounds, be they samples or instruments, are still loaded into a bank and afforded a step sequencer. There is of course a piano roll available, and the step sequencer is replaced by a standard MIDI note track when used.

Some aspects of FL Studio feel a little gimmicky, such as the visual flourishes when dragging that sometimes gets in the way of precision or the visualisation plugins (although the dancing mascot is undeniably cute). At the same time, one of our favourite things about any production equipment is its ability to creatively engage a user and eschew the idea that it should be simply utilitarian in design.

Some aspects of FL Studio feel a little gimmicky

There have been some important system level updates to version 10 of FL Studio, including a true 64 bit mode, which enables efficient memory management and utilisation of all the RAM in >4GB systems, automatic plugin delay compensation – a must for any serious DAW, ensuring true accurate timing of multiple channels with and without a variety of different plugins, new more direct audio engine options which may help to reduce your latency, and a project restore menu which tracks revisions to project files, including autosaves.

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Imageline - FL Studio iPad

FL Studio for iPad Coming Soon

Imageline’s FL Studio software goes from strength to strength – and you can expect our full review of the brand new FL Studio 10 next week – but the long standing Windows only hold on the studio in a box software came to an end recently with FL Studio for iPhone and this new video of FL Studio for iPad is very promising.

It’s not a port of the Windows version, more a re-imagining of the brand

It’s not a port of the Windows version, more a re-imagining of the brand, with quite a lot of similarities with Apple’s GarageBand iPad but enough differences and unique features to make it keeping an eye out for.

Also… anyone else spot the slip up in this otherwise good mockup?! It made us laugh, at least.


FL Studio 10

Imageline release FL Studio 10

FL Studio is one of the most enduring softwares in the music production market – from humble beginnings as Fruity Loops, a simple step editor, its continual updates over the years have seen it become one of the most powerful studio box solutions on the market.

FL Studio is one of the most enduring softwares in the music production market

FL Studio 10 has just been released along with workflow improvements, full 64 bit support, and two new modules: Newtone and Pitcher. Both pitch and time correction tools, their addition is presumably to bring FL Studio’s feature set back into punch for punch contention with Propellerhead’s Reason and Record duo. 64 bit support brings large sample libraries, automatic Plugin Delay Compensation is written into the audio engine, and vertical zoom in the piano roll uncovers properties in a way not dissimilar to Cubase 6′s new VST3 views, all working toward making FL Studio 10 a genuine all in one competitive alternative to large ‘traditional’ DAWs – as long as you’re on PC, of course… Watch out for a review soon.

iPad 2

Apple Announce iPad 2 – What Does it Mean for Music Production?

When the iPad was released in April last year, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it took the world somewhat by storm. Despite not being the first to do a lot of the things it was lauded for doing (companies like Jazz Mutant were releasing multi touch screens for musicians much earlier, for instance) it was certainly the most conspicuous; perhaps the iPad’s greatest feature was the way it opened peoples’ eyes and imaginations to the realities of the progress of consumer level technology. Whilst the traditional keyboard and mouse paradigm of computing is some way from being shaken out of its position as the power user’s choice, light, touch friendly apps on the iPad are capturing peoples’ imaginations.

light, touch friendly apps on the iPad are capturing peoples’ imaginations

The way I see it, there are two main barriers to the adoption of the iPad (or of course any other multi touch tablet – right now the focus is on Apple because I genuinely think they’re the only ones doing it right at the moment): power and connectivity. There’s a possible third, too, and I’ll get onto that later.

When it comes to power, even computer nerds are starting to find it difficult to keep up with the colossal speed at which progress is being made. We’re a long way from the simpler times when a bigger number meant a faster processor, and what with multiple chips, cores, faster buses and all the other wizardry that’s being squeezed out of silicon, the number of mHz written on something isn’t really relevant anymore – especially where custom chips built for bespoke computers with matching software are concerned. No, the reality is that technology is moving forward at such a frightening rate that in less than a year, processing power of the iPad 2 is reportedly double that of its predecessor. iPad was already fast enough to run software like Korg’s iElectribe, a very convincing virtual remake of one of its most successful groove boxes, and Akai’s SynthStation, a full studio in a box tool that really proved that iPad meant business when it comes to audio.

When iPad 2 is launched, GarageBand for iPad will follow shortly.

When iPad 2 is launched, GarageBand for iPad will follow shortly. New hardware, from Apogee’s JAM to Alesis’s StudioDock and the Akai SynthStation 49 are all pieces in the puzzle that provide solutions to connectivity issues of such a standalone piece of equipment, with more, I’m sure, to follow.

Predictions? A future update of iOS will improve app to app interoperability, increasing the practicality of investing in the burgeoning iOS synth market and paving the way for Apple to release an iPad version of Logic with a plugin system. Propellerhead, one of the kings of the studio in a box world, will bring out their own studio in a box iPad app and Imageline, the other king, will up their game after testing the water with their recently released ‘in name only’ FL Studio. I’d also be surprised if Akai weren’t to bring out an MPC like sampling workstation and pad controller with audio input for sampling.

But what does that mean right here and now? The truth is, iPad 2 still doesn’t have the power to compete seriously with a desktop operating system when it comes to the kind of quality and quantity we’ve come expect from home studio software. However, it’s more portable, more tactile, and has a much shallower learning curve – if you already own both a computer and an iPad and want to simply enjoy yourself with music, then the iPad 2 is beginning to look like it might be an even better choice than traipsing through the minefield of computer software decisions. And, one day soon, we won’t even have to choose…

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