From its humble beginnings as a 1990s Windows only loop-sequencer called Fruity Loops, Image-Line’s FL Studio software has grown into one of the world’s most popular DAWs, used by some of the world’s top DJs and producers as well as an army of bedroom producers and hobbyists.
Gone are the days when anyone could fire up a cracked copy of FruityLoops and start making killer beats in seconds and epic 4 bar loops in minutes without even bothering to look at the manual (hello my misspent youth!) – FL Studio has been in development for over 20 years now and it shows; it’s now a powerful, fully featured DAW, running on both PC and Mac, which new users might find somewhat confusing and intimidating at first glance.
Fear not however – it only take an hour or so of playing around to learn the basics of how to use and enjoy the key tools in FL Studio but once you have a few basics – navigating the interface, loading samples, using the step sequencer & piano roll and adding plugins – under your belt you’ll need to be willing to dive a fair bit deeper if you really want to start making professional sounding tracks. In short, you’ll need to learn how to mix your songs properly in FL Studio.
Below you’ll find a complete guide to mixing in FL Studio. This comprehensive and easy to follow six part series of video tutorials will guide you through some of the key aspects of everything you need to know if you want to produce mixes in FL Studio that stand up to the best mixes of professional producers.
Not an FL Studio user? There’s plenty of valuable information in these videos that can be applied to any DAW so they are still well worth watching.
1. Mixing in FL Studio: Understanding levels
This free FL Studio mixing tutorial series begins with a deep dive into levels. Starting with a basic introduction to mixing, this video will help you understand levels – AKA volume – in a digital audio world.
If you’re clueless about clipping, have no idea about gain staging and don’t know one end of a LUFS meter from another then it’s time to sit down and learn all about levels.
00:37 What exactly is Mixing?
01:25 Static Mix / Mixing by ear
01:44 How to make a Bus Track
02:23 Static Mix Result
02:36 The decibel scale explained
02:59 Understanding Levels in the digital audio world
03:20 How to calculate dB
04:10 The FL Studio manual dB lookup table (Cancel Red alert, maths over)
04:21 Understanding Clipping
05:38 LUFS meters and how they work
06:59 Loudness Analogy
07:10 Understanding Dynamic Range
07:34 Overview of the Level Controls in FL Studio
07:50 Channel Volume
08:19 Different Channel Volume Mappings
08:56 Volume Multiplier
09:14 Using the Mixer Fader
09:24 Send Volume
09:45 Gain Plugins
10:05 Fruity Balance explained
10:37 Fruity Send explained
11:03 Sounding good!
11:17 Analyzing Pop Music
11:44 Equal Loudness Contours
12:12 The -4.5 dB Slope
12:32 Mixing with Noise
Trying to mix your drums? Going round in circles? Check out this free drum mixing tutorial covering all you need to know about how loud drums should be mixed.
2. Mixing in FL Studio: EQ basics.
EQing is the art of removing and boosting specific frequencies in a piece of audio for a desired effect (Such as removing unwanted rumble from an audio track or sample, for example.)
Learning how and why to use EQs is essential if you’re hoping to produce even half decent sounding tracks. In this video you’ll be introduced to core EQ concepts, common EQ techniques as well as some EQ pitfalls to avoid.
00:35 What is Equalization?
01:17 Sound Design VS Mixing EQ
01:35 Recommended Practice
01:52 Practical Uses of EQ
02:25 Equalization: Recognizing Problems
02:51 Equalization: Working with a group of instruments
03:14 High Pass Everything
03:39 The reasoning behind most EQ choices
04:27 Masking: Recognizing the Problem
04:50 Making decisions based on the mix
05:45 Additive & Subtractive EQ
06:00 Additive EQ Example
06:31 Subtractive EQ Example
07:00 A/B listening – If it sounds good, it is good!
3. Mixing in FL Studio: Understanding Compression.
There are hundreds of compressor plugins out there all promising to take your mix to the next level but the truth is many newbie producers have no idea when, why and how to use compressors properly. Before you shell out for a fancy compressor plugin, make sure you understand exactly what a compressor is for.
What exactly does a music compressor do? Compressors have a reputation for being difficult to understand (and it can even be hard to hear exactly what a compressor is doing to your mix) but you can think of a compressor as, basically, an automated volume control tool.
Think of compressor as being like handy machines or gadgets that sit inside your DAW and move one or more faders for you, freeing your hands up for more important tasks such as clicking your fingers in time to the beat or scratching your head while you try and work out where your kick drum samples folder has vanished to!
00:34 What exactly is Compression?
01:05 Slow vs Fast Compression
01:26 Why compress at all?
01:43 Fruity Limiter: Common Misconceptions
02:18 Basic Compressor Terminology
02:58 Fruity Limiter: Transfer Curve
03:16 Compression (Demo)
03:27 Fruity Limiter: Ratio
03:44 Expansion (Demo)
04:06 Compression vs Limiting
04:43 Fruity Limiter: Knee
04:57 Knee Settings (Demo)
05:09 Fruity Limiter: Attack
05:20 Attack Settings (Demo)
05:31 Fruity Limiter: Release
05:45 Release Settings (Demo)
05:56 Fruity Limiter: Sustain
06:06 Sustain Settings (Demo)
06:17 Fruity Limiter: Curves
06:27 Curve Settings (Demo)
06:38 Gain Staging
07:09 Compression vs. Distortion
07:58 How to gain stage correctly
08:11 In Practice | Compressing Drums
09:48 In Practice | Compressing Instruments
11:26 Maximus: Transfer Curve
12:10 Lookahead Delay
12:32 Maximus: LMH Delay
12:46 LMH Delay (Demo)
12:57 Maximus: Crossover Filters
13:07 Crossover Filters (Demo)
13:17 Maximus: Release 2
13:48 In Practice | Compressing Bus Tracks
14:15 Concepts | Sidechain Compression
14:36 Sidechain Example
4. Mixing in FL Studio: Understanding the Stereo Field.
When mixing your tracks you’ll typically want to make full use of the stereo field to help place individual instruments in the mix and to help give your track a sense of scale/space. Nothing screams “amateur mix” mix or “unfinished mix” more than a mix in which every sound in a track fights for space in the center.
Listen to professional mixes with a critical ear and you’ll quickly notice how producers play with width but before you reach for those crazy stereo widening plugins it’s essential to have a good understanding of what you should – and shouldn’t be doing.
This tutorial video gives you an overview of what tools you have in FL Studio to achieve a great Stereo Image. You’ll learn about Mono Compatibility and why it matters, panning laws, Mid/Side Signals, using Vectorscope plugins and much, much more – it’s an essential crash course in understanding the stereo field.
00:57 What Is The Stereo Field?
01:50 Stereo Separation: Audio Demo
02:27 How A Vectorscope Works
03:06 In vs. Out Of Phase
03:34 Mono Compatibility: Why does it matter?
04:14 Understanding Mid/Side Signals
04:42 How A Stereo Spreader Works
05:08 Stereo Localization : Level
06:00 Stereo Localization : Delay
07:00 Stereo Separation Threshold
07:18 Phase differences
07:33 Phase Correlation
08:13 Mid/Side EQ
08:59 Mid/Side EQ Demo
09:43 Panning Law: Triangular
10:12 Panning Law: Circular
10:47 In Practice: Panning
11:38 Panning Demo
11:54 In Practice: Modulation FX
12:24 Modulation Demo
12:43 Synthesizer Unison
13:05 In Practice: Left/Right EQ
13:58 Left/Right EQ Demo
14:23 In Practice: Mid/Side Spreading
14:52 Mid/Side Spreading Demo
15:10 In Practice: Haas Effect
15:34 Haas Effect Demo
5. Mixing in FL Studio: How to use delays.
Delays are used to give your mix a sense of space and dimensionality without the density reverb can create. This tutorial shows you how and where delays can be deployed in a mix, examples of staple delay effects and some of the delay effects which are available in FL Studio.
00:35 What Is Delay?
00:50 How a Delay works
01:35 Introduction to Fruity Delay 3
05:00 Slapback Delay
05:53 Vibrato Effect
06:32 BPM Synced Echoes
07:03 Dub Delay
07:58 Using Delay Sends in FL Studio
08:43 TBC / Outro
6. Mixing in FL Studio: How to use reverbs.
What is reverb? Reverb is the non-direct or reflected sound in a room or space. After the initial sound, reflections build up as they bounce around the walls and off objects in the space. Every sound that isn’t going directly from the sound source to the listener’s ears is reverberation.
Reverb is one of the most commonly used tools in a producer’s arsenal – think of any song or album you love and you can guarantee reverbs – most likely more than one – have been used on it.
Reverbs are used create a sense of space and dimensionality in a track such as pushing sounds back further into the mix and can also be used creatively to help create mood and vibe and add a touch of spice or “color” certain sounds in the mix.
00:35 What Is Reverberation?
01:26 How our brains interpret Reverb
02:37 Concepts: Algorithmic Reverb / Fruity Reeverb 2 Introduction
06:54 Concepts: Convolution Reverb / Fruity Convolver Introduction
08:36 Reverb Sends
09:29 Speaker Simulation
10:04 Blurring Audio
10:42 Capturing Reverb: Convolver Sandwich
11:27 Modulated Convolution
12:08 Reverb Automation / Reverb Throws
13:59 Montage / Outro
Make no mistake about it – learning to mix like a pro isn’t something that you can learn to do in an afternoon but the videos above will certainly get you up to speed with the core concepts you’ll really need to grasp if you want to mix your tracks to a high standard, namely: Levels, EQ, compression, delays, reverbs and the stereo field.
Take your time to work through each video methodically. I recommend focusing on just one video per day at most so that you can devote some time to really absorbing the information, techniques and concepts explored in these videos.
It’s important to understand that mixing is an art as much as it is a science – no two producers will mix a track in exactly the same way just as no two artists will paint a picture in exactly the same way. Your goal is to understand the core concepts of what makes a good mix and then use these well established techniques as a solid foundation on which to build your own sound.
Enjoyed this article? Ready to learn more? Take a deep dive into making beats with FL Studio.