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I've worked in Fl Studio up until now. As a result of a lack of learning material I want to switch, but to Ableton, Cubase or Protools and why?

This arguments never seems to be firmly settled. People tend to say it's down to your preference. But there's the massive trouble I had with Fl Studio. No support, no courses, no nothing; so you can only get so good learning off Youtube...

Ableton's the buzz. Cubase and Protools are the old faithfuls. Which should I go with and why?

For what it's worth, I record drums and piano through midi and use loop and sample based stuff along with VST's.

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Is there any "audio" recording? –  JoshP Oct 4 '12 at 20:50
    
Yes, for vocals through a condenser. –  Warren van Rooyen Oct 4 '12 at 20:53
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This is a loaded question. Could you please give us more insight as to what you'll be producing with said DAW? I have about 4 that I use, but each for different purposes. Again, it just depends on what you're producing with it. –  kurzweilguy Mar 10 '13 at 6:07
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6 Answers

I'm not a FL Studio user, but I'd be surprised to find that there are no active forums full of FL Studio users.

That said, the other DAWs you suggest break down as follows:

  • ProTools is said to be great at audio and weak at MIDI. It seems to be the go-to choice for full-serivce professional studios. As far as I know, you can't run VSTs natively in ProTools, you have to run them inside a RTAS wrapper. I wouldn't dive into ProTools unless you plan to work professionally in audio, and even then it isn't clear that PT is the best choice.
  • Cubase is the multi-platform traditional DAW. Its closest competition seem to be Logic and Reaper. Cubase is the native home of VST plugins. It handles MIDI and audio well.
  • Ableton Live has a lot of DAW-like features, but it is really a performance tool for loop-based music. Live does a great job of hosting VSTs, and it can also handle Audio Units on the mac.

Some you didn't mention:

  • Logic only runs on the Mac platform, and only supports Audio Unit plugin. Most commercial plugins are available in both AU and VST, many free plugins are only available in one format or another. There is some concern that the next version of Logic will be lobotomized like Final Cut Pro X.
  • Reaper is an inexpensive traditional DAW. It seems to be a great place to start for people who are interested in DAWs like Logic or Cubase.
  • Renoise is also inexpensive, but has a sample-oriented tracker interface.
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I see your point. I attempted installing Vst's into Ableton and immediately had 64/32bit compatibility issues. Would your recommendation then be Cubase? –  Warren van Rooyen Oct 5 '12 at 7:07
    
You are going to have 32/64 bit compatibility issues regardless of which DAW you pick. You can start up Ableton in 32bit or 64bit mode, depending on which plugins you intend to use. See the manual for details. –  ObscureRobot Oct 5 '12 at 7:47
    
Ok thanks. There's also an app called Jbridge I intend on downloading which apparently makes 32bit/64bit simultaneously compatible. jstuff.wordpress.com/jbridge Small question. How do I do a line break in these forums by the way? –  Warren van Rooyen Oct 5 '12 at 7:58
    
You can't have line breaks in comments. Try to keep things as simple as possible. Check with your plugin vendors to see if you can get them all in 32-bit format or all in 64-bit format. Avoid bridges and wrappers if at all possible. –  ObscureRobot Oct 5 '12 at 8:09
    
Also mention StudioOne by presonus. It's a newbie but created by the same people who worked on Cubase. It's very intuitive and easy to use (without all the bloat). Highly recommended, I switched from cubase a few years ago and haven't looked back. –  Magrangs Oct 5 '12 at 20:24
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Regarding what you will be using your program for, FL Studio seems to be best suited.

FL Studio has tons of resources via their online forum -- http://forum.image-line.com/

Scott, Nucleon, and others are actually surprisingly very helpful and answer quickly.

Also to mention, you may be intersted in checking out my site http://www.Beatstruggles.com -- Geared towards FL Studio.

It really is understanding your DAW. This will be your most powerful tool. You may be an amazing musician, but if you don't know how to record yourself, edit it via MIDI notes, or put on cool effects, your musician skills are worthless until you know what you're doing inside your DAW (Music program).

Also to mention, FL Studio 11 will be releasing very soon!

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Flstudio 11 is out! :D –  le_garry May 30 '13 at 20:28
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FL-Studio has become one of the BEST DAWS available now. It had humble beginnings, but has flourished in advancements over the years. On version 10 now, Image Line Software has created a powerful DAW for those that want to utilize both loops, synthesizers (VSTs), AND Live Recording. (and No, I do not work for Image Line or affiliated in any way.. - Though I would def. entertain an offer, hint hint :-)... )

I used FL-Studio extensively years ago and made a lot of progress, though at the time it had some limitations (As in, the beginning versions seemed to be a lot about the pre-recorded samples you had access too, which were not great), but I really enjoyed using it for producing music. I have recently gone back to FL-Studio and cannot believe the power it has now (and, like I said supports LIVE RECORDING very well, and track placement..).

You would also not believe how many chart toppers there are today that FL-Studio played a major part in.

As far as the learning curve, and finding help on how to use the software... The learning curve is Pretty Steep, but falls off pretty fast... I just learned it on my own, playing around with it. Once you get into the software and start constructing your music, the best you can, before long you will be amazed at how far you have gotten with the program. As you mentioned, there are not really any official learning materials out there. This program is all about just jumping in and 'messing with stuff' till you figure it out... And in reality, the hard part is the art/creativity.. the rest is just technical things you will learn over time with trial and error..(as with anything).. And, YouTube (as well as resources like Stack) is a Great place to find all you need to know to use it... The rest is up to you.

Give Fruity Loops a try. And, as I mentioned, just Jump in there, Mess around with things, and Do The Best You Can... Leave the rest up to your creativity...

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If you're interested in only minimal audio recording, I can recommend you try out the latest version of Reason.

It only recently obtained the ability to natively record audio, but it has been around for quite a while doing MIDI, looping, sampling, etc. It's kind of a studio-in-a-box solution, with virtual studio rack gear. By virtual, I mean it's virtually real...

Reason Rack Gear

image source

It's also super fun to play with :)

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Thank you! I begin to think that I may as well develop a holistic knowledge of all of them. Some do better with certain things than others... –  Warren van Rooyen Oct 5 '12 at 13:24
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@WarrenvanRooyen, that is most certainly true. Many, if not all, have trials and/or demos. Your best bet will probably be to give a few of them a shot. Try to record something simple with each of them. Maybe try to record the same thing with each of them. Should give you a better idea what you like/need in a DAW. –  JoshP Oct 5 '12 at 13:46
    
Agreed - I use Logic, Live, and Renoise. They are all good for different things. It can also be helpful to learn a new system just to change the way you think about composing and working with sound. –  ObscureRobot Oct 6 '12 at 2:12
    
@Josh the only reason I wouldn't recommend Reason is because of the reason that Reason doesn't allow external plugins, like VST's which I and lot of others use a lot. ;) –  Travis Dtfsu Crum Oct 8 '12 at 16:29
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I'm going to second Reason. It's awesome but they do not support VSTs and they never will support VSTs. So if you need those then I'd avoid it. It does have a very simple recording interface so unless you're looking to do some serious editing it should work fine. I definitely like that you can treat the recorded audio as any other rack it's very cool. The program is also super light weight and runs very well. And the lack of VST support is more than made up for with their proprietary options although their recent addition is a bit of a money grab and I'm a bit discouraged by it. Although everything I've seen so far is nice.

Also I'd like to point out something, I have limited experience with Cubase and Ableton but I can tell you that FLStudios is about as easy as it gets. There are very limited free resources on learning Protools and Reason. I've been using Reason since sometime during version 3 and I would not consider myself an expert by any means; it's a large and difficult program and I doubt many people could truly consider themselves masters.

With that being said, if the only reason you are switching is due to lack of learning materials I'd suggest just sticking with FL for now as the other options are much more expensive. You'll likely find the same amount of limited learning options for these programs as for FL Studios, especially if you're not willing to pay.

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The only thing I would add is that I have not personally run into a lack of free Reason learning resources. There are many many tutorials for how to accomplish this or that. I already have some background with the engineering stuff though, so maybe that's the difference with me. The tutorials I look for are not so much how to navigate the basics, but rather how to accomplish a particular sound. –  JoshP Oct 8 '12 at 13:08
    
@Josh I will not argue that; there are a lot of resources to further your knowledge of how Reason works. Finding quality, basic information, however, is not always easy. And if you're having difficulty with a much easier program I would not recommend spending 300 for a much more difficult, albeit, more powerful one. –  Tony Oct 9 '12 at 20:45
    
Agreed :) [adding more characters lol] –  JoshP Oct 9 '12 at 20:50
    
What I'll produce will involve piano and electronic drum inputs –  Warren van Rooyen Mar 10 '13 at 9:27
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If you use fruity loops, you would do well to try out Synapse Orion, I think you'll like it. Ultimately, FL is so good nowadays that you really only need to use something else if it lets you do things FL just won't. Therefore, I would suggest that you try Ableton rewired with FL or Orion. Ableton opens up SO MUCH with regards to getting things in time.

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