There are three main Effects tabs - Track, Shared and Master. Each has 5 slots where you can select from a library of effects.
1. Signal Routing
Each track can have up to 5 independent 'Track effects', share 5 'Shared effects' (also known as 'Send effects') with all other tracks and finally receive an additional 6
Master effects that are also shared with all tracks, as shown below:
'Effects' is often abbreviated as 'FX'.
Signal routing details:
- Track effects are applied first, unless the No-FX button is enabled.
- The track Volume & Pan sliders are applied.
- The result is routed to the Master effects, unless the Shared-only button is enabled
- Additionally, the result is also multiplied by the track's send level and routed to the Shared effects.
- The Shared effects output mix is routed to the Master effects.
- No-FX tracks are routed directly to the master limiter, bypassing all Shared and Master effects.
In short, Track effects will apply to only the selected track. Shared effects can apply to any track and Master effects will apply to all tracks.
As effects can use CPU power, this arrangement allows you to use Shared effects to save CPU. Rather than using 8 'Track' reverbs, send the 8 tracks to a single 'Shared' reverb. Master effect slots
are best used for compression, limiting and or equalization to 'master' the final sound.
- The Send level control on the Shared effects tab determines how much signal is sent to the shared effects from the selected track. The Send level is independent for each track.
- Shared effects and Master effects are applied AFTER the Track effects and so incorporate the Track effect/s into their sound.
- Shared effects output a 100% wet signal, that is, they output only effected signal because there is always a direct signal path from the Track effects to the Master effects
(the 'dry' signal from the perspective of the Shared effects).
- Master effects are applied to all tracks. 'Mastering' is the process of 'mixing and processing' the overall sound of the completed song to get the best sound. Use the Master FX for
this purpose. Included 'Mastering' tools include: Amp, Compression, EQ, Limiting & Stereo Widener. Effects like Reverb, aren't advised for the Master as it tends to 'wash out' or 'muddy' the mix.
Reverb is best applied to specific Tracks as a 'creative' effect.
- The final Master effect slot always contains a Limiter and can't be changed, although you can disable it.
- Save CPU power by using 1 reverb as a 'Send' effect so that it's shared by all tracks. A disabled effect doesn't use any CPU power.
- Suggested track effects are Delay, Compressor, Filter, Phaser and BitCrusher are best used as Track effects, to change the sound of a specific track.
- The order of the effects has an influence of the resulting sound.
There are 11 effects that you can load into any of the FX slots on each of the Track, Shared and Master effects tabs. Processing order is as follows:
Reverb simulates a room of a certain type (Hall/Canyon/Room) and size. If stuttering occurs during playback, decrease the reverb quality or consolidate Track FX into Shared FX where possible.
- Size - Controls the size of the sound space. In larger spaces, the reverb is audible for a longer period of time. The size also depends on the selected reverb style, e.g.
the largest room reverb is smaller than the largest canyon reverb.
- Brightness - Low brightness gives the impression of a darker room (using a low pass filter), while maximum brightness leaves the reverb unfiltered.
- Stereo - Controls the perception of stereo wideness of the reverb space. In technical terms, this slider sets the delay between the reverb reaching the left and the right channel.
- Mix (wet/dry) - The mix slider controls the relation of the dry sound (the original, without the effect applied) and the wet sound (the effect's result).
- Reverb style- Selects the type of reverb (room, hall, canyon). Each style uses a different algorithm, thus the size slider has a different effect for each style.
NOTE: Rather than slapping reverb all over your tracks, experiment with subtle delay effects as this tends to leave the mix sounding clearer and punchier. The message here is to use
reverb sparingly, it is probably the most over-used and abused effect for beginners.
Delay is an echo style effect and is particularly effective when played in sync with the main tempo of the track.
- Feedback - Number of echoes.
- Mix - Echo volume.
- Delay Timing - Tempo synced delay time.
- Rhythm (switch) - Normal, Dotted & Triplet (common rhythmic variations).
NOTE: Delay works well on vocals in place of reverb wich tends to muddy the mix when overused.
The 3-band equalizer has fixed frequencies at 800Hz and 5kHz. Tap or move anywhere in the 3 areas to set the gain of bass, middle and treble tones. The range is -10dB to +10dB, the volume is automatically adapted to avoid clipping.
NOTE: It's often better to cut frequencies you don't want rather than boost those that you do. In other words, to accentuate the bass on a track, reduce the bass on tracks that don't need
it. In solo these tracks may sound thin, but in the complete mix this will prevent the low-end becoming boomy/muddy. The same principle applies to the other bands also.
The filter effect is a resonant low-, high-, or band-pass filter. The cutoff frequency and the resonance can be set by moving the cross hair, or by tilting the device if the accelerometer is enabled. The filter track in the Track Editor holds the recorded events (which can be deleted there).
For synth sounds and drum kits, this is a very useful effect. Enable the accelerometer control, switch to the keyboard tab and play or record something while gently tilting the device from one side to the center. A commonly used effect is, with the filter type set to low pass, changing the cutoff frequency from low to high, while keeping the resonance low.
- Resonance/Frequency display - The X/Y cross hair indicates the current values of the cutoff frequency (x axis) and the resonance (y axis). Move the cross hair to change the values. This
can also be performed while recording. Beware: high resonance values may lead to unpleasantly loud and shrill sounds.
- Filter type switch - The filter type defines how the cutoff frequency influences the sound.
- Lowpass: All frequencies above the selected cutoff frequency are dampened (attenuated). The sound remains unchanged if the cross hair is in the lower right corner.
- Highpass: The effect behaves inverse to the lowpass. All frequencies below the selected cutoff frequency are dampened. The sound remains unchanged if the cross hair is in the lower left corner.
- Bandpass: Frequencies above and below the selected cutoff frequency are dampened. The sound remains unchanged if the cross hair is at the bottom center.
- Filter accelerometer axis - If the accelerometer is enabled, tilting it in any direction changes the cutoff and the resonance. The sound remains unchanged if the device lies flat on a surface.
- X+Y: Tilting along the x axis changes the cutoff frequency, while the y axis changes the resonance. Starting from the centered position, all 4 quadrants are symmetrical, i.e. tilting the device to the far left has the same effect as the far right.
- X: Filter and cutoff frequency are both changed if the device is tilted in the x axis.
- Y: Filter and cutoff frequency are both changed if the device is tilted in the y axis.
- Accelerometer sensitivity - With the sensitivity set to low, the device needs to be tilted almost 90 degrees to achieve the maximum effect. At high sensitivity, small movements are
sufficient to set the filter values to maximum.
- Snap back checkbox - If snap back is enabled and the cross hair is moved, it snaps back to its original location after you release it.
- Record Button - This replicates the record button on the Keyboard & Drum Pad Tab. Click once to start recording and again to stop. The purpose is to avoid
the need to swap between tabs when recording Filter automation.
NOTE: Filter sweeps are a very common technique used to create tension, anticipation and emotional impact. For example, for a lead, arpeggio or similar sound, over 4 or 8 bars leading-up
to a new section (usually the chorus/climax/drop). Slowly raise the filter cutoff so that the filter is wide open and all frequencies finally make it through at the change. To do this, enter record
mode and manually raise a LOW PASS filter cutoff as you approach the chorus.
The amplifier simulates distortion type 'overdrive' typical of guitar amplifiers. It allows high-overdrive even if a track‘s volume is quiet.
- Overdrive - Controls the amount of distortion, i.e. the input gain for the amplifier.
- Style - Different distortion sounds.
NOTE: A little distortion goes a long way. It can be a great creative effect when used on lead sounds and even vocals. On the other hand, pushed hard it can make almost any simple synth sound like a
guitar. You can also stack several distortions if you want to get real nasty.
Phasing modulates the relative phase of the dual-voice oscillators. Oscillator voices are delayed by different amounts, causing a moving frequency cancellation effect that you will recognize even if you don't really understand how it works ;)
- Rate - Tempo synced LFO style modulation speed of the phase effect.
- Depth - Amount of phasing heard.
- Feedback - Some of the phaser output can be fed back into the effect to create resonances, similar to resonance (Q) on a filter.
- Frequency 1 & 2 - The lower and upper frequency limits around which the phase inversion occurs.
NOTE: Phasers are great when used on sustained and fairly bright chord-type sounds (pads). Since phasing is usually a slow-moving effect, then you need to give it a chance to develop. Sounds
particularly great through headphones. Stack it with the Stereo Enhancer for even more dramatic effects.
Distortion based on bit-depth reduction. Bit-depth is the parameter used to represent the waveform amplitude. Lowering bit-depth introduces 'aliasing' type distortion sounds that will be familiar
to you even if the technical terms are a mystery.
- Bits - Change the bit depth from 16 (CD quality) to 2 (80's cheap toy).
- Frequency - Low pass filter so you can take the high-frequency edge off the sound.
NOTE: Bit reduction can be really effective at giving an 'edge' to percussion sounds. Don't forget you can automate the Bits control to add the effect here and there, rather than on all the time.
Compression is a form of (very fast) automated gain control that reduces the dynamic range of sounds. That is, the difference in level between the peaks and troughs of the audio waveform. When
the input signal exceeds the threshold the gain, or rate at which the signal level is allowed to increase, is reduced. In other words, the waveform amplitude is 'compressed'.
- Threshold - Sets the dB level at which the compression starts. Lower settings (close to -30.0 dB) will have the strongest effect. The threshold should be adjusted according to the
relative input level and the type of audio material. Once the threshold level is reached, compression will start, reducing the gain of the input signal according to the current Ratio, Type,
Attack and Release settings so balancing these to get the sound you want will take some practice.
- Ratio - Controls the amount of compression (gain reduction) that will be applied to the input once the threshold level is crossed. Ratio denotes the difference in dB between input level
and output level, i.e. how much the signal above threshold level will be compressed. For example, a ratio of 4:1 means that when the input level increases by 4dB, the output level of the signal
above threshold will only increase by 1dB. If it were 2:1 the output would increase by 2 dB.
- Attack - Controls the time it takes to reach full compression once the threshold level has been exceeded. Range: 1 to 1000 ms. Fast attack means that compression will be more or less
instant. Slow attack results in some of the initial transient making it through uncompressed. Attack should be adjusted according to the type of audio material being used.
- Release - Sets the time the compressor takes to stop acting after the level has fallen below threshold. Range: 10 to 3000 ms. Short release times will make the compression more
flexible and able to adapt to the input signal, but can cause distortion. Long release times produce a signal with a more even level and less distortion, but make it harder to maximize the overall
compression because small variations in signal level will be ignored.
- Output - Controls the output level of the compressed signal. Range: 0 to +30.0 dB. The gain is usually adjusted to return the signal to it's original peak amplitude after compression.
NOTE: Compression is one of the most important effects used in enhancing modern music. It gives kick drums more 'thump', makes bass sound 'fat'. Importantly, compression makes a mix sound much louder.
The art of setting a compressor is fine-tuning the threshold, ratio, attack and release so that the compression process does not introduce artifacts. Basically, compressing
the peaks (Threshold, Ratio, Attack) of a signal, frees up headroom to raise the gain (Output) of the quieter, longer duration, portions of the sound, increasing the 'loudness'.
Limiting is a form of heavy compression (generally used to describe compression ratios greater than 10:1). The purpose is to 'limit' the output level to a set maximum level, usually 0
dB, to avoid clipping in a final mix down. The Limiter can be used to maximize the level of a track dramatically, without introducing noticeable distortion and so limiting is a favorite effect
used in mastering.
- Limiter input gain - Controls the input level to a preset (compression ratio, attack and release) limiter.
- Vu meters - These meters indicate the output level of each of the stereo channels. They are an 'average' volume level and not 'peak' meters which show instantaneous peaks.
NOTE: There is always a limiter on the final effects slot of the Master effects to prevent clipping. Clipping is where the output from FL Studio Mobile exceeds the maximum that can be
reproduced in the wave file format. Clipping causes a very unpleasant form of distortion that sounds like loud 'crackling' on the peaks in the music.
Increases or decreases the stereo separation of the left and right channels.
- Stereo separation - This control works by summing (adding together) the left and right channels at values below x1.0 (0 = Mono) and cancelling out the shared (mono) content at values
above x1.0 to enhance the 'stereo' effect.
NOTE: If there is no 'stereo' sound in the input signal, this effect doesn't work. It can only enhance stereo that exists, not create it. Don't forget you can also use the Stereo Widener to
make stereo sounds into mono, which many people like to do on Bass and Kicks as they tend to sit better in the mix.