The legendary looper makes it to the Mac. FROM US$99 | IMAGE-LINE.COM
This app, formerly known as Fruity Loops, has been on PCs for 20 years. That explains the version number: technically, it’s version 13, but this is the first time it’s been made available as a full product for the Mac.
Previous attempts used the CrossOver compatibility layer, but FL Studio 20 is a native 64-bit app. It’s fast, looks great on a Retina display, and isn’t too taxing on your system. However, there are incompatibilities with VST plugins. If you’re planning to duplicate your PC environment on a Mac, that’s something you’ll need to check; if this is a concern, it’s worth checking out the compatibility list, which you’ll find at bit.ly/flwinvsmac.
The main difference between FL Studio and apps such as Apple’s own Logic is philosophy. FL Studio began as an app for quickly making loop-based music, and while it’s gained lots of powerful features over the years, it’s still based on that philosophy: the basic edition still assumes you won’t be recording vocals or live instruments.
Logic is much more focused on recording and production and, while it does of course work happily with loops, it’s harder to learn and more cumbersome than FL Studio. Where Logic can have newcomers utterly baffled, FL Studio will have you making beats within minutes. It’s telling to compare FL Studio’s celebrity users: FL Studio is dominated by musicians, whereas with Logic producers and composers dominate.
That doesn’t mean FL Studio isn’t for production — far from it. It offers up to 500 tracks of multi-track recording and arrangement, time-stretching and pitch-shifting, one of the best piano roll editors around, and a mixer that can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. There’s also a companion app for iOS — FL Studio Mobile ($21.99) — that you can use to create productions on the move.
FL Studio is an excellent audio app, but it’s late to the Mac: chances are, when you see a Mac musician making loop-based music, they’ll have already embraced Ableton Live. But if you haven’t already chosen your preferred music app, you should seriously consider FL Studio.