PROS / With FL Studio 11 you can work with many virtual instruments and a large loop library to create music.
CONS / The processes to record external instruments are complicated and counterintuitive.
VERDICT / The production tools and prowess alone make this software well worth owning.
Image-Line's FL Studio 11 has some of the most powerful production tools compared to the rest of the beat making software in our lineup. FL Studio boasts a massive loop library that covers a wide variety of genres and musical styles. The massive sound library is all contained within the browser window on the left side of the interface. You can easily search through the large library of sounds to find everything from full loops to single sound hits.
The step sequencer is the main tool for beat creation in FL Studio 11. You can drag and drop sounds into the step sequencer and click the buttons to arm and disarm the sounds within the sequence. Even the most novice user can begin making beats using the step sequencer.
One of the main drawbacks in this beat software is the relationship between the step sequencer and the arrangement window. To play back a sequence you created using the sequencer you must make sure that the PAT light is armed on the transport. To listen to your composition in the arrangement window, the song button must be armed. Even though you might have your sequencer highlighted, if the PAT button isn't armed, it will not play back. This isn't an intuitive design.
Along with its large library of sounds, FL Studio also boasts over 30 virtual instruments for you to use in your music creations. Within the 30 virtual instruments are a variety of drum machines and synthesizers. The wide variety of virtual instruments provides you with the tools to make your own beats.
This music creation software does not share the same type of recording prowess as it does with its production capabilities. Recording external instruments is not as easy or intuitive as most of the other software we reviewed. While it does have nearly unlimited recording capabilities, the processes therein are a hassle. There are two different ways to record audio. If you are recording one or two sources of audio, you have to load an effect called Edison into the channel strip. If you want to record multiple audio sources simultaneously, you have to enable the disk button on the mixer on the channels you are using to record. The fact that there are two separate processes to record is counterintuitive.
FL Studio provides all of the tools necessary for a beginner to create music. Recording live instruments using FL Studio can be a task, but the vast library of sounds make this software worth owning.