Since there are alot of Ableton/Reaktor/Reason/Logic/Cubase tips and tricks threads on alot of forums, I thought I'd (attempt to) start an FL Studio tricks thread here.
TIP 1: Split By Channel
Once you have created a pattern in the step sequencer with a few different instrument channels (ie: kick, snare, hats, etc), goto the PLAYLIST, right-click the pattern, select SPLIT BY CHANNEL, and hey presto! Each instrument is placed into its own pattern and renamed accordingly.
TIP 2: Live Mode
Create a few different patterns (drum tracks, basslines, melodies, etc), go to the PLAYLIST, click the little drop-arrow in the top left (called Playlist Options), select LIVE MODE.
Now, the fun part: hit the RECORD button then PLAY and use the little arrows at the left of each pattern to turn the patterns on and off. When you have made your basic song arrangement, hit STOP and the arrangement will appear in the playlist for you to tweak and edit.
TIP 3: Cut Groups
Create an instrument in the step sequencer, this can be a VSTi or you could just drag a sample over from the Browser. FL should automatically open up a little window called 'Channel Settings'. At the top there are a couple of tabs labeled Plugin, Misc and Func (or Smp, Ins, Misc and Func for a sample). In the Misc tab on the right is a section labelled Cut and Cut By. Lets put this to use:
Drag in an open and a closed hihat sample. We're going to use the closed hat to cut the tail of the open hat. Put in a simple house pattern:
ie: closed = xx--xx--xx--xx--, open = --x---x---x---x-, you get the idea.
Go to the Misc tab of the Channel Settings window of the Closed Hihat and click the CUT ITSELF button. It should say Cut 1, Cut By 1. Now go to the Open Hihat window and click the same button, it should say Cut 2, Cut By 2. Change the Cut By number to the same number as the Closed Hihat (ie: 1).
Using this technique any instrument can cut out the sound of any other instrument.
TIP 4: Easy Arpeggiator
Load up a VSTi in the step sequencer (or drag in a sample), a short, plucky sound works best. Right-click the instruments name in the step sequencer and choose 'Piano Roll' at the top of the list. Draw in a few notes (you can use chords if you want) in a simple 4-bar progression, each note one bar long.
Go to the Channel Settings window for your VSTi/sample, select the Func tab. Halfway down there is a section labelled Arpeggiator. The row of black buttons chooses the direction, the rest are pretty self-explanatory (especially if you look at FL's help-text window in the top left of the screen). The time knob works as a multiplier (ie: 1.00 = 16th steps, 2.00 = 1/8th steps), gate shortens the sound, range is the range of octaves the arp will cover, repeat repeats each note, chord selects a chord to play (as if if you held down a chord on your keyboard).
TIP 5: Remote Control
Open a new project and look in the Browser panel, near the top of the list is the Current Project folder. Inside are the History, Automation and Remote Control folders.
If we create a Generator or Effect their relevant folders will appear in this Current Project folder. Lets open up a VSTi synth, like Synth1. If you open up the newly created Generators folder and select Synth1 you should now see a list of all its parameters. The same can be done for any Effect plugins as well.
To assign a control on our MIDI controller to a parameter of our synth, just right-click the control on the list (the Remote Control Settings window will open), and tweak/press the control. If you want to remove or alter any assigned controls they are located in the Remote Control folder. Just left-click to open the Remote Control settings window. Click the Reset button down the bottom to un-assign the control. Also, clicking the drop-arrow in the Mapping Formula box lets you change how that control affects that parameter.
TIP 6: Sidechaining and the Peak Controller
The Peak Controller uses the level of one signal to generate an internal controller message. By routing this message to remote control a parameter on a plugin you can emulate a sidechain system.
The best example is sidechaining the kick drum to the EQ of a bass so that the two sounds don't share the same frequencies at the same time.
Firstly, set up a simple house-style kick and bass pattern. Route each generator to a separate mixer channel. On the kick drum's channel insert the Peak Controller effect, on the bass insert a parametric EQ. Unmute the Peak Controllers output and adjust the Base to 50% and the Volume to -200%.
Now right-click any gain control on the bassline's Paramteric EQ and select the 'Link to controller' option. Up springs the Remote Control Settings window. In the middle is the Internal Controller box, select the 'Peak ctrl (*mixer channel name*) - Peak' option. The EQ band should now be dropping down with every kick drum hit and then rising back up.
Adjust the EQ settings (ie: bell curve with a low Q and set around 10Hz), and also the Decay and Tension settings on the Peak Controller to taste. Of course, you could link more than one band to the Peak Controller.
TIP 7: The Fruity Sampler
When you're laying down your next 'Phat Beat' (TM), you'll probably start by dragging some samples from the browser into the step sequencer, doing this automatically creates the Fruity Sampler plugin. Let's have a closer look.
Under the title bar are the Pan and Volume controls, these knobs are also shown next to the Generator channel on the step sequencer and mirror their settings. Next is the pitch bend knob and the bend range LCD, which responds to you pitch bend controller, and can go upto 48 semitones either way and applies to all the sampler instances. Finally, we have the mixer channel selector LCD (labelled FX).
Under these are the selection tabs, labelled with SMP, INS, MISC and FUNC for Sample, Instrument, Miscellaneous and Special Functions. We are just going to look at the first two:
The Sample Tab:
here we have the Load Sample button and the sample name box, click on the box to see a list of recently loaded samples (handy when auditioning samples in context).
Next is the Wave section, this has some important funtions: Keep On Disk plays the sample from your hard disk rather than from memory, I usually turn this off. Resample resamples the sample (*phew) into 44.1kHz, 16bit (this should be turned off to save CPU, especially if you use a higher sample rate). The next two, Load Regions and Load ACID Markers are only useful if you want to load REX or ACID drum loops, turn these off if you want (FL has two slicers, so its a legacy feature).
The Loop section applies to samples with loop regions, keep Use Loop Points on if you are using a pre-looped sample (like the string sounds that came with FL Studio). The Ping Pong Loop button toggles between forward looping (off) and ping-pong looping (on).
Next up, the Time Stretching section, this is where all the fun shit happens
. The Pitch knob adjusts the samples pitch without affecting its length (like it would if you just played the sample at a note), this isn't linked to pitch bend like the previous pitch knob. The Multiplier knob adjust the sample length based on sample size, and the Time knob adjusts length based on the projects tempo (right-click for some presets). The box selects the algorithm used, when pitching vocals for special effects just try the different types to hear how they affect the sound.
The Precomputed Effects section also adjusts the sample in RAM, so neither this section nor the Time Stretching section can be automated (*aww). All the button-operated effects are self-explanatory (except fade stereo, which pans the sample from the left speaker to the right speaker). The In and Out knobs fade the sample in and out. Pogo is a pitch bend applied to the sample. CRF loops the sample by crossfading the start and end together. Trim is like a low-level noise-gate, this knob controls the threshold (higher settings = less 'silence').
The last section displays the waveform of the sample as it is stored in you computers RAM, so altering the Time Stretching or Precomputed Effects sections will change how it looks. The little boxed number is the bit depth and the other icon represents mono or stereo (one box or two). Clicking the waveform previews the sample and you can drag-and-drop to/from the waveform as well.
The Instrument Tab:
here we have five sub-tabs: Pan, Volume, Cutoff, Resonance and Pitch. All except Pan feature an Envelope and LFO.
The Envelope is turned on by altering a control, turn it off by clicking the button next the Time button. The knobs control Delay, Attack, Hold, Decay, Sustain and Release. The Cutoff, Resonance and Pitch sections also have an Amount knob. The Time and TNS (tension) buttons select between editing the envelope or editing the tension of the curve of each envelope section. Time has red lines, tension has purple lines. The lines of the other sub-tab envelopes are shown in grey. The breakpoints can also be grabbed with the mouse pointer. The TB button engages tempo-based time for the envelope.
The LFO features controls for the Delay, Attack and Speed of the LFO. Turning the Amount knob right increases the amount of LFO going to that parameter (ie: pan, cut, pitch, etc). Turn it to the left to invert the LFO. The TB button engages tempo-based time and turning the Global button on makes the LFO run globally (ie: instead of being retriggered with each note-on).
Also, there is a single seven-mode, multi-mode filter whose parameters are available from every sub-tab.
...more to come.