The big news from Image-Line the makers of FL Studio (or Fruity Loops as some of the older readers still call it) is that a brand-new version is dropping — and there are more than a few upgrades in there that will be sure to excite existing users and quite possibly attract more than a few converts.
New versions are perhaps more exciting for existing FL Studio users than most other DAW owners due to the free upgrades for life offered by Image-Line, meaning that a whole host of great new features are on their way to existing FL Studio owners for absolutely free.
One of the most interesting new features to be introduced into FL Studio 12 is a brand-new vectorial user interface, something Imagine-Line are calling the biggest change to the software in 10 years, so they are clearly excited, as will be FL Studio users.
Moving to a vectorial style display means that all of the user interface elements are created using vector graphics. The upshot is that they will scale perfectly to provide crisp and sharp graphics for monitors up to 8K resolution.
Multi-touch control has also been taken to a new level in FL Studio 12. The mixer and user interface of FL Studio 12 can be rescaled to fit human (and presumably other similar sized mammals) fingers, perfectly removing the frustration many of us suffer fiddling with tiny controls when such rescaling is not possible.
Given the amount of very good high resolution monitors available at reasonable prices these days it means that adding a touch-capable monitor to a studio for use as a controller is a great way to get hardware controller-style performance on the cheap — which will always stay current with new versions as they are released, unlike a hardware controller.
The mixer section has been completely redesigned and the developers at Image-Line have clearly put in a lot of hard work and hours into its design; thankfully this is time and effort that has been well-spent because the result is fantastic.
Taking full advantage of the new vector user interface the mixer section is completely customisable and can be expanded to any size. There are six layout views on offer, which cater for a range of workflow situations, including touch-screen usage, plus there are three user configurable dock panels for track management.
Other areas that have seen improvements include track grouping, which is now a very slick and user-friendly affair, multi-touch support has also been added and there are 10 FX slots available per track. Multi-track routing and automation options have also been improved and expanded as well as the grouping and submix functions.
Image-Line have made good use of their new scalable "vectorial" user interface, giving a large number of FL Studio's plug-ins the upgrade treatment with 3xOSC, Edison, Formula Controller and Keyboard Controller plug-ins taking full advantage of the new user interface.
The envelope controller tool now has eight parameters, mod X/Y envelopes as well as being adapted to use the new user interface. A new tube distortion effect and cabinet simulator called Hardcore has been included with FL Studio 12, which is bound to please guitarists and any producers who like grungy distortion effects.
Fruity Convolver has been given a brand-new impulse library from Soundiron, and ZGameEditor Visualizer will load all popular video formats rendering them in 4k quality.
The wrapper, which provides VST plug-in support, has also been redesigned to improve stability and compatibility for both 32-bit and 64-bit plug-ins. Another neat upgrade which has been included in this latest version of FL Studio is the plug-in scan tool which now allows unlimited VST plug-in search locations and an easy and quick way to mark plug-ins as favourites.
Piano roll has had time markers added for labelling and looping purposes, auto-zoom can now be switched off and the Stamp tool replaces the Chord tool, allowing users to drop in chords from a selector.
Another handy new feature to be found in FL Studio 12 is that stems and audio clips can now be dragged and dropped into the playlist from any Windows file browser. The browser has also been improved, with a better layout, complete with user configurable category tabs.
This latest version of FL Studio takes it well and truly to the next level and while the new vectorial layout is very nice graphically it also improves the entire user interface no end thanks to the new scalability on offer.
Existing FL Studio users will no doubt be downloading their free upgrade the moment they get word of this update, and more than a few Cubase, Logic and other DAW users will be looking over at the latest touch-screen friendly elements with more than a little envy in their eyes. FL Studio 12 is a fantastic piece of software that takes this DAW to the next level.
Build Quality 8
Ease of Use 8
Value For Money 8
Sound Quality 8
Brand new vectorial user interface that is scalable, brand-new mixer section complete with selectable layouts, great touch-screen support.
The top-end all plug-ins edition will hurt the bank balance.
Image-Line has given FL Studio a completely redesigned vectorial user interface with a generous helping of improvements, which takes this software to the next level.
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