Music Production: FL Studio 12 Beta Review
Image-Line is the creator of the FL Studio software and has a pretty good track record of pleasing FL Studio users and fans with many new features and fixes during each major update as well as offering anyone that purchases FL Studio the option to update to the latest version for free for life. The FL Studio 12 beta is no different. With a major graphic overhaul and a decent sized list of additional features added in, the FL Studio 12 beta version gives the user an experience that almost feels like they are using a completely new DAW.
FL 11 - FL 12 Changes: The Good
A more complete list of the changes made from FL Studio 11 to the FL Studio 12 beta (with videos) can be found here but some of my personal favorites, and what I would consider the most important updates, are as follows.
- The new FL Studio display is completely vectoral. Vector based images run off of mathematical equations rather than pixels so they can be scaled to any size and remain the same quality. This means that FL Studio will now appear the same visual quality no matter how big or small your monitor is.
- In the "OPTIONS" menu under the "General" tab you will find a bunch of different options including the new "Detach all plugins" option. This is a great time saver for people that use multiple monitors as it will allow them to move plugins around to different screens without having to click on each plugin individually and set its properties to detached.
- The step sequencer in the FL 12 beta now has a "Detached" option as well, something that was lacking in previous version of FL Studio that prevented users from easily moving the step sequencer to a different monitor.
- The top menu bar can now be hidden using the shortcut CTRL+F11, or by right clicking on the menu and selecting "Hide". It can be brought back by using the same shortcut.
- Multi-touch Control toggles have been added to allow users to move various sliders and switches at the same time using multiple fingers on touch screen devices.
- The mixer looks completely different than previous versions of FL Studio and this is where the most changes are noticeable. With the update you are now able to scale the mixer vertically, and doing so reveals more channel options such as mute, pan, volume, phase, swap stereo channels, stereo separation, effects master switch, plugin delay compensation control, record switch, and routing out. When routing channels to other channels in the mixer it will now display the routing cables/patch chords showing which channels are connected to which channels, a nice feature for users that are used to an analogue setup or that are switching over from Reason. Some other features added to the mixer include dividers to divide groups of channels and 10 effect slots per channel instead of 8.
FL 11 - FL 12 Changes: The Bad
This section was actually a bit hard for me to come up with content for because in all honesty there aren't any major problems with the beta version that I've found, but there are a few things that are slightly annoying.
- When using the mixer the "Current" volume meter, the bigger meter that shows a zoomed in view of the meter on the channel you currently have selected, is now on the left side of the mixer next to the master channel instead of previous versions where it was on the right side next to the effect slots. This isn't anything that will interrupt your workflow too much but it did take me a second to find it when first using the mixer because it wasn't in the same location it had been in previous versions.
- Some of the controls on the mixer are hard to see. If you have troubles with vision or troubles distinguishing things that aren't full of contrast then you might have difficulties seeing some of the controls on the mixer channels as they are very close to the same color as the background and have very little distinguishing marks.
- There are no longer two buttons to switch between song and pattern mode. Instead, the two buttons have been merged into a single button. When the button is light up you are in pattern mode, when it's not light up you are in song mode and you can click on the button to toggle between these two modes. Now the user will have to memorize which mode they are in according to the state of the button instead of being able to read which mode they are in next to the option they had chosen. This will definitely take a lot of getting used to for people that are used to having two separate options in previous versions instead of one option with an "on/off" style function.
Overall I really love the update from FL Studio 11 to the FL Studio 12 beta and I can't wait for a full finished version to be released. It's nice to change the graphics up every now and then and gain a new way of looking at things, it really helps to liven up the experience of using the program, and a lot of the new features are aimed at speeding up workflow. There are some small issues but this is a beta version after all. I am currently writing this review on the version FL Studio 12.0.1 beta so keep in mind that things may change in the future as new versions are released and testing continues.
If you've purchased FL Studio then you can log into the Image-Line website and try out the FL Studio 12 beta for yourself using this link.