FL Studio 11 had it’s official release back in April of 2013 and I cannot stress it enough why FL Studio version 11 still reigns supreme over all other recent versions. Including the latest FL Studio version 20 released on May 22, 2018. It’s already been roughly half a year since the official release of FL Studio 20 and I would like to make one thing clear before going any further. Yes, Fl Studio 20 has been a miraculous release thus far. Especially considering the core of updates pumped out by ImageLine that provided a nifty appeasement to the many concerns and complaints of earlier versions. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it has already once again reached the #1 spot for the 20 best DAW software apps in the world today on musicrader.com (surprise right?). But one thing is for certain. Not all Fruity loops users have made a smooth transition to the newest version as you might assume. Many are still using earlier versions religiously. I’m one of them. Why you may ask? Allow me to fully elucidate:
As you can see in the photo above, FL Studio 20 has had quite a makeover with the new user interface. The old interface ended after the release of FL Studio 11 and the new interface started from version 12 before blasting off to version 20 in a short timeframe. The sudden news release for version 20 was like waking up in the future confused as hell and wondering, “DAMN WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!?!” That leaves a total of 8 versions existing somewhere in a parallel universe. Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t say this was an ‘extreme’ makeover as much as I also wouldn’t say it was a ‘subtle’ one either. The new UI is pretty clean and sleek, but not ‘pretty’ enough to convert a small faction of FL Studio veterans. As soon as ImageLine released the news for FL Studio 20, I was absolutely ecstatic. Primarily because I’m a regular in the FL forums, and have been so for nearly 8 years now. As a result, I’ve witnessed the zenith and pitfalls throughout the years with this software.
So whenever there’s a new version set to release, I cross my fingers in hopes that the FL Gods (the dev team that is…) have finally answered our prayers. Having a fast, smooth and intuitive DAW at your fingertips as an artist is very important and means a lot in the improvement of the production process. I’ve been an FL user since version 8 (2008) so I can’t say I’ve been around since the beginning but I do have a pretty affluent knowledge of it. But as we all know, with great plights comes new challenges and changes that will obviously not appeal to everyone. Fl Studio 20 is a very polished DAW, to say the least. With all the bells and whistles, and an influx of amazing new features and massive improvements to the performance and capabilities. But the #1 feature that keeps me from sticking with it is the new graphical user interface.
A Flashback to Fl Studio 11 Producer Edition
The photo you see above is a screenshot of the entire FL Studio 11 interface upon opening the .exe. One thing that really stands out to me about the FL Studio 11 UI is the navigation bar at the top which keeps me rooted to this version. And no, it’s not because I’ve used that same nav bar for over a decade. But it’s simply the graphics on the icons themselves that I prefer over the FL Studio 20 style graphic icons. Everything else in the UI has seemed to remain static in terms of the layout in comparison to version 20. But there’s another important feature about FL Studio 11 that reigns supreme and keeps me from fully converting to the newest version 20. Note: All versions prior to Fl Studio version 11 had roughly the same UI.
The FL Studio 11 Plugin Manager Was Seamless…
The most solid and appreciable feature for me about FL Studio 11 is most definitely the plugin selector and plugin database manager. When managing plugins, it was as easy as downloading any VST file (usually with a .dll extension) and dragging that file to the proper folder. Once FL Studio 11 was opened, you could then scan and load the VST into the DAW. It was such an easy process! A process that allowed users to dive straight into their music projects rather than spending more time on plugin management. This feature in it of itself is why I’m still glued to FL Studio version 11.
FL Studio 20 Plugin Manager A Nightmare
Upon using Fl Studio 20, as soon as I opened the VST plugin manager I immediately had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be too fond of it. It looked quite intimidating and unnecessary for such a simple process.
The FL Studio 20 Plugin Manager. More features? Yay. Seamless experience? Nay.
As you can see in the photo above, the FL Studio 20 plugin manager looks a bit bloated. Compared to the Fl Studio 11 plugin manager, you can see that there are more additional features. Such features include:
-Plugin Search Paths
-Additional Scan Options
-New Scan and Verify Version
Although these new features appeared to be more intuitive in the beginning, I actually found it to be buggy, and it caused the DAW to crash upon multiple instances. I even cleared my Vstplugins folder, thinking it maybe had something to do with a corrupt .dll file but to no avail did it fix the issue. For me, the newer version seems to have more compatibility issues with many different VST plugins, especially VST effects and plugin suites. I would often get errors, freezes, and would be forced to end the task in my task manager as exiting within the program itself was not a viable option. As of today, 10/10/2018 and the latest version 20.0.5 update I am still having these issues. Hopefully, it gets resolved by the dev team in future updates to come.
Synth 1 Compatibility Issue on MAC
As many of you already know, I released a post here on the blog and on my Youtube channel where I shared 25,000+ FREE Synth1 presets for all music producers. This post grew pretty massive overtime and amassed a total of over 80,000+ views on Youtube. I also released a tutorial on how to install the Synth 1 preset packs for MAC users. However, unfortunately, with the new release of FL Studio 20, many people left comments on the video in regards to compatibility issues with Synth1 not loading properly in FL Studio. Sad to say that I was able to confirm this issue. Luckily, this issue persists only on MAC but NOT on Windows. I think this has something to do with the fact that on the official Synth1 website, there was only one version of Synth available for MAC (Ver 1.13beta8) which was released back in 2015. With it being 3 years old (and a beta release at that) one could immediately rule out that it’s an old version that hasn’t been updated to ensure compatibility with later Fl Studio builds. Of course, the workaround for this would be to install an earlier version of FL Studio MAC as I did!
In case I didn’t already make it clear, FL Studio 11 reigns supreme over all other previous versions, including the latest FL Studio 20. FL Studio 11 was the pinnacle release with all the added features and goodies up until that point, prior to the unnecessary makeover of the overall UI in version 20. I feel like Imageline’s main reason for doing so was to keep up with other competitor DAW’s in the lineup who have made more frequent enhancements to the UI. Understandable. Before version 20, it had the same UI for almost 2 decades so I understand the need to enhance the visual aesthetics of the software for users for a more ‘modern’ look. Not to mention the age-old question as to why FL Studio was always referred to as “Fruity Loops” as a puerile play on words. Rest assured, it’s still the top #1 DAW and will probably be so for years to come unless another competitor DAW knocks it down from its throne. Or perhaps a brand new DAW comes along and blows them all out of the water. Although it’s not my primary DAW of use in these times, it’s still a fun, go-to software tool for mapping out ideas and melodies in the quickest way possible. All thanks to that precious, sweet ass piano roll that no other DAW could even come close to.
For those interested in FL Studio 11, the older versions can be downloaded here on this link. (If you already own a license). However, it still requires a FULL license which can be used to unlock versions 9-20 upon buying a physical boxed or digital copy.