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#1July 28th, 2006 · 11:59 PM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
FL Studio Tutorial 3: Mixer & FX
should've been 'Using the Mixer and FX', stupid short names. Grr.

Alright, here we are, in the last leg!! For anyone that is reading this for the first time, this is the 3rd tutorial in my 'basics trilogy', a 3-part series designed to cover the basic concepts and uses of FL Studio. If you have not read the first two tutorials, I HIGHLY reccomend you go back and at least skim through them. From this point forward, I will assume you know everything previously covered.

Alright, first things first. Let's take a close look at this thing we call the mixer. This is one of the more complicated windows you will deal with in FL Studio, but it is important that you learn how to use it. A note to pre-FL 6 users: The Mixer in FL 6 was given a lot of new feautures, more than I can list off the top of my head. The things you do still need to pay attention to are how to assign an instrument to a mixer channel, and how to use the faders, pan knobs, mute switches, VU Meters, and how to use effects (FX).

OK, if you're keen, you'll know this is the cue for an overly detailed screenshot...

Ha, I didn't realize it until I started to label this screen, but there is a lot of stuff crammed into that mixer window!! I guess I'm just used to it all now, but hey, you will be too before long! For now we'll just focus on the channel strips. Also note that I'm not going to cover absolutely everything in the mixer window, as there are some more advanced features. I will likely be coming back to the mixer for an in-depth tutorial, focused specifically on this particular window.

Anyways, looking back at the screen, let's start from the bottom up. At the very bottom there is a button with a floppy disk icon on it. This is a more advanced feature, which is mostly for rendering and exporting tracks for portability. I'm not going to go into how to use this function for this tutorial, but if I come back for a more in-depth mixer tutorial, I'll cover it (but y'all have to request it!)

Continuing, you can see another button with "FX" written on it. Whenever a channel has effects added to it, this switch becomes active and lights up (we'll learn about this later). You can then use this to bypass all effects if you wish to listen to a raw track. It functions a simple toggle switch (click on, click off), and is active whenever it is lit up.

Next is a slightly more complicated feature, which is rather unique to FL Studio 6 from the previous versions. In the past to use sends it has been necessary to add an effect called "Fruity Send". With FL Studio 6, there are now switches on every channel for sends. To use this feature, first select the channel you wish to use by simply clicking anywhere in the channel strip. In this example, channel 1 is selected, for this reason the name has been highlighted. You can see the send icon for it changes to show that it is selected. This icon signifies the signal coming out of the fader and traveling in both directions. By default each channel sends to the master and all 4 send channels at the end of the mixer. You can see that the icon on the Master channel shows the signal coming in and going into the master. It is also lit up orange to signify that it is active. You can actually disable this send if you wish, but you aren't likely to ever need to do this. You'll also notice that after a send is activated a knob appears above the icon. This indicates the level of the send, ie how loud the instrument is when sent into the target channel. An alternate way of turning the channel up would be increasing the send level to the master (but that's not real practical). This new send system is very powerful (much more useful than the old way) and can allow virtually any network of sends and returns. You likely won't need to use this system for quite a while, but it's good to know how to use it, in case you ever happen to find a good use for it .

Anyways, moving on, Now we get into the useful section. The level faders are probably going to be what you are tweaking more than anything else. In tradition with 'real' mixers, the faders start at the 3/4 up position (this would be '0' on a real mixer). I don't think a lot of explanation is needed for this part, click and drag on the fader to move it. Drag up to increase volume, down to decrease volume. Above the fader is the pan knob. Remeber this? We saw this at the end of lesson two. Click and drag up to pan right, and down to pan left. You'll see the meter pop up as you begin dragging. Next is the mute switch, hey we've seen this before! This works exactly like the ones on the SS.

The next item up is the VU Meters. These are very important to monitor. You never want your channel to light up the red segments at the top of this meter. When this happens, iti s called clipping. If your channel clips, it will begin to disort and peak. The higher it goes past this point the worse it sounds, it can destroy your entire mix! Before doing a final render, make sure that at the very loudest part of the song this channel never goes past the yellow area. If you are having a lot of problems with this, and either can't get an extremely loud sample to not clip, or have too many dynamics in your song, causing the softer parts to be covered up when the fader is at a controllable level, you can use a special effect called a compressor. We'll talk about this more later.

Continuing to move up, next we see the track name and optionally the track icon. For the example I renamed track 1 to "roxorz!" In the same way we renamed our patterns in lesson 2. To give the channel and image or icon, right click on the track and pick "set icon". Simple enough. AT the top is a scroll bar, which allows you to scroll through the 64 available tracks in the mixer. I have no earthly idea why there are 64 tracks, you'd be lucky to get to 16 (even the demo song didn't come close) - but, nevertheless, there are 64 channels there for the taking.

OK, now I'm sure you are wondering just how the heck to use these tracks now that you know so much about them! Well it's rather simple really. you can assign as many instruments as you want to one channel in fact. Bring up the familiar main instrument window. Just in case you've forgotten how to do this, create yourself an instrument in the step sequencer or use one that's already there, and simply click on the instrument to bring up the main window (or retract it if it's already open). For this example, I'll just use the familiar "Kick" that's always sitting there on a new project.

Now take a look in the upper right hand corner. You'll notice a box with "--" in it, and labeled "FX". Eureka!! To assign the instrument to a track in the mixer, simply change the value of the "--" to whatever track you would like to use. This box works just like the knobs from before, click and drag up or down to increase or decrease the value. Watch the mixer as you do this, you'll notice the tracks become selected as you change this box as well. Generally, drums all go on track 1. This is simple with FPC as it's all compacted into 1 instrument, but in the days before FPC when we had tons of instruments with each sample in order to use drums, you would have to go through each piece of the kit and assign it to track 1. This way you could level the drums as a whole and apply effects and such uniformly as well.

So, speaking of effecs, why not finally learn how to use them?? Well it's rather simple really. Let's say you get yourself a sick guitar part, and you stick it on Track 2. You can select track 2 and rename it to "sick guitar!", give it neat guitar icon, and throw some distortion in there to make it even sicker!! You already know how to do the first two, but let's focus on that third. Now that you've got your guitar on track 2, select that track, again by clicking anywhere on the channel strip. Now look over to the right half of the mixer..

Oh dear, I know - another scary picture. This section of the mixer has a lot of more complicated stuff, so I used some different colors. For now don't worry about the stuff with blue names, just the red names.

First of all, you'll notice a big version of the VU meters we talked about earlier. This is an enlarged (amplified) version of whatever channel is selected. Just a nice little visual aid. Now in the upper section we have our 'rack' of sorts. We have 8 spots for any effects we chose. I put some fast distortion for our guitar in slot 1. To stick an effect in there, simply click the down arrow to the left of any slot - the FX selector, and go to Select. This will give you a drop down menu of many common effects built into FL. Hooray! Pick any of these and it will be loaded into the corresponding slot in the mixer, and the window for this effect will pop up, with all the settings and such for it. If you'll notice, our distortion pops up with a window like this one..

Pretty simple, just a few knobs and a little graph, but it gives us full control over the effect. To toggle this window on and off, click on the effect's name in it's little rack space over in the mixer. Before long your workspace may become highly cluttered with these windows, so close them after you finish tweaking unless you need to monitor them or have plenty of screen real estate to spare. Just like I said a while back with the knobs in the main 3x osc window, the best way to learn how to use the controls for an effect is to let the instrument go on a loop or something, and tweak away! Just make sure to save your file before you start tweaking!
#2July 28th, 2006 · 11:59 PM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
There are actually more effects than you get in the initial drop down menu after clicking the FX selector. Hit the first option 'More..." to get a full list of all effects. Notice that sometimes FL will pick up various plugins on your computer that are NOT effects. Be careful here, trying to open something clearly not meant to be used as an effect will bring up an error most of the time, but the results can be catastrophic to your file on rare occastions!! This is what my extended list looks like...

Pretty obvious what to use and what not to use! The first time you bring up this window it wouldn't hurt to hit the Refresh button down in the lower right corner. Just be careful, as this brings up a couple options. Most of the time I would pick Fast Scan. Scan & Verify can cause some ugly things to happen o_0.

And hey, guess what - go back to the SS and go to your insert or replace menu again. What's the first option? You can use the same method here for additionall or outside instruments. Most of the time these two occurences of the "More..." menu are to use outside vst's or plugins, but occasionally you'll find something built in to FL that you never noticed before!

Alright, well I think that about sums up our final lesson here!! I hope you've learned a lot from this series, I can't wait to hear some kick-in-the-rear music coming out of you guys!!

As with the other tutorials, if you have any problems, or any suggestions for me to change or revise something, please send me a pm!!

Now it's time for you guys to decide where I should go from here. There are several topics I could cover in depth for some later tutorials. I could easily go into the piano roll advanced functions, or even to the complex parts of the mixer I blazed over here for the sake of simplicity. If enough people want me to write a tutorial over one particular topic, I will do my best to explain it!

Anyways, thanks for sacrificing god knows how much time for these tutorials, I hope you have really benefited from them!!

Peace all,
#3July 29th, 2006 · 12:00 AM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
Alright 3rd tutorial is up, hooray!! I have now finished my 'basics trilogy'. Thanks for wasting large amounts of time listening to me rant ^_^

Previous - Patterns and the Playlist
#4July 30th, 2006 · 09:08 PM
5 posts
United Kingdom
nice...thanx very much
#5August 5th, 2006 · 01:35 PM
31 threads / 20 songs
96 posts
The point for sends, is to minimize unneccesarry memory usage. So if you have 5 instruments using reverb, might as well use a send instead of 5 reverbs.
#6August 6th, 2006 · 12:21 AM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
Hey thanks for the comment. Yes i guess you could do it this way, but in all likeliness, if the 5 instruments need different effect chains (otherwise you could assign them all to the same channel), then the reeverb is probably going to be unique for each instrument, different decay levels, room size, etc.

The one time a send came really in handy, was on Eyes Open, when I needed to automate when to send the vocals to the delay, but if I simply turned the delay effect in the vocal's fx chain off, it cut it off entirely, meaning the sound stopped. So I used a fruity send and put the delay in send 1. Then i automated the fruity send effect on and off, so that when I didn't want the vocals to have delay on them, I turned the send off, but the delay itself kept going with the remaining feedback. Kind of confusing I know but anyways this was just one time it came in handy to me.

But automation is overly complicated in FL (so is working with audio clips) I prefer cubase anyways.

Thanks again for the comment tho, maybe someone will find sends useful for that particular purpose.
#7August 8th, 2006 · 01:59 AM
1 posts
United States of America
I wanna know how to use the FPC a little better. What's the purpose of the pads if you can't use them to bang out the beat? Or maybe you can and I don't know how. Somebody help me out... pleeeze. I'm dying out here. lol.
#8August 8th, 2006 · 12:34 PM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
the pads can be used to control the fpc, by clicking them one at a time, but I think it was more for aesthetics than function. You can also control fpc using a midi remote controller, which might be a bit more practical.
#9September 12th, 2006 · 03:49 PM
160 threads / 33 songs
1,965 posts
United States of America
sending fl studio
One of the other band ampers sent me a copy of fl  in skype but windows says it can't open it.  Doesn't know what program created it.  Can someone please send me another copy or explain to me how to open and  exe.  this file.  send me a pm. and I'll give you my email address. to send it to.
#10September 13th, 2006 · 05:17 PM
26 threads
86 posts
United States of America
It's most likely a .rar file, which you need WinRar to open. WinRar is shareware, and even though it continually tells you it's going to expire and you need to buy it, it never actually does, so it's essentially free. Just google WinRar to find it.

Alternatively, if you have a really old version of windows it may be a zip file, which you need WinZip to open. Use the same method here.

Hope this solves your dilema.
#11September 13th, 2006 · 08:16 PM
160 threads / 33 songs
1,965 posts
United States of America
yup it was .ace file
had to download winace to unzip it. basketcase helped me out last night. I got it installed but it says my registration expired and I need to re register with my name and password. or I can run it in demo mode . So I sill can't use it and save anything. oh well.
#12September 28th, 2006 · 12:18 PM
thank you stranger.

I really, really think you should elaborate on the differeent features and filters, because it is a long list and it can be very daunting to a newcomer.

the first 3 weere very helpful though
#13October 5th, 2006 · 09:12 AM
3 posts
South Africa
re: yup it was .ace file
toastedgoat wrote…
had to download winace to unzip it. basketcase helped me out last night. I got it installed but it says my registration expired and I need to re register with my name and password. or I can run it in demo mode . So I sill can't use it and save anything. oh well.

Ok I specifically joined this forum now because I myself use FL Studio and noticed that toastedgoat is in need of help here for which I believe I have the answer. Your FL Studio is obviously registered but now moans about expired registration. What you have to do to make it work is close FL Studio, go to your PC's date and change it lets say about 2 or 3 months back (depending on when you last worked with it and it was actually working), then launch FL Studio again. If it now doesn't moan about expiration then you're good to go. It seems to me that the registration is only valid for a certain amount of time. As for me, my AUTOEXEC.BAT file I've added with the dos based DATE command and the neccesary date in order to have my date the same every day I start my PC up. Why not, since my PC's date is pretty useless to me, I don't need it for any particular reason. Hence, the same thing happened to me.

Hope it helps you just the same. 
#14October 15th, 2006 · 12:25 AM
1 threads
United States of America
I get the same message but setting my computer's date back didn't work.

Can anybody help me?
#15November 22nd, 2006 · 05:52 PM
1 threads
United States of America
fl recordin vocal
ok one question and the only one (or maybe more),   is there a way i could record from the microphone, you know like ACID,,, i mean i have some beat made but i also want to put vocal with, recordin at the same time. that will be alot of help 4 me

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