SAVE/EXPORT FILE FORMATS
Export Project Dialog (*.wav; *.mp3, *.ogg, *.flac, *.mid)
Usually you will be exporting your project to .wav or .mp3 audio files to be played in a media player, car stereo or hi-fi. The final mix is exported from FL Studio using the export option in the file menu in a non-real time process called 'rendering'. The time taken will depend on export settings (see below) and project complexity. Rendered audio is better quality than the live sound from FL Studio. Export formats include:
- Audio - .wav, .mp3, .ogg & .flac formats save the complete audio mix of your project (see the note below on including sounds from external hardware).
- MIDI - .mid, that saves Step Sequencer / Piano roll note data to
standard MIDI files. MIDI is not an audio format.
NOTE: Exporting to audio is not necessary to save your project for later work, use the File menu project Save option to .flp or
Recording External Hardware
NOTE: To include sounds from external hardware such as a synthesizer, drum-machine or sampler in the final render -
- Make MIDI connections to the device from your computer AND audio connections from the device to your audio interface inputs.
- Record the sound as it is played by FL Studio (using a MIDI Out plugin to drive the hardware).
- Place the recorded audio as an Audio Clip in the Playlist.
- Render the project to audio as shown here.
We recommend watching the video
A Digital Show and Tell (by Monty @ Xiph.org) to learn about how digital audio works. It will help you to understand what is and is not important on the audio settings.
Shows information about the current project.
- Mode - Displays whether FL Studio will render the whole Song or currently selected Pattern.
- Total Time - Shows total time length of the song to be exported.
- Disk Space - Shows the disk space required to hold exported audio file/s. If more than one save format is selected in the Output panel the combined total is reported.
- Bar# - Reports the current bar being rendered and the total number of bars in the project (current/total).
Looping mode only applies to audio formats (.wav, .mp3 and .ogg) and determines how any decaying sound after the last bar of your project/loop is rendered. For example, the tail of a reverb of a sound
may be important for the impression of smooth continuity when looping, or to prevent the decaying reverb in a 'straight' render being chopped off. If, after rendering the last bar from the song there is still sound
decaying, this option sets how FL Studio should proceed. Leave remainder is the default. NOTE: If you are making loop files use .wav format, .mp3 in particular leaves a small silence at the start of the
sound that will interfere with looping.
- Leave remainder - Expands the song length to capture any decaying sounds. If 'Leave remainder' still chops of any trailing audio, the Playlist Repeat marker
can be used to define the rendering end-point. While Repeat marker positions are usually ignored, if they are placed after the last Pattern, Audio or Automation Clip in the Playlist, the project will be rendered up
to the position of the Repeat marker.
- Wrap remainder - Wraps any decaying sound at the end of the song onto the beginning (useful when rendering loops with effects). NOTE: This feature works by starting the render at
the last bar, then mixing any audio decaying after the last bar back into the start of the song. If the decaying sound comes from notes before the last bar it won't be wrapped.
- Cut remainder - Cuts the render at the end of the last bar.
Select the output format/s for the project render. To save in more than one format simply select multiple options on this panel.
NOTE: Sample rate - The output (Mixer) sample rate is set in the Audio Settings window.
Wave (Lossless Uncompressed Audio)
Wave is a lossless audio format and preferred for handling audio in a production environment (use it to save all your samples, sounds and archive material). The drop-down menu contains bit-depth options for the exported wave file:
What bit-depth should I use? - Bit-depth affects the noise-floor of the sample. This determines the quietest sound that can be captured or smallest changes in loudness that can be resolved. Generally 16 Bits is enough for music distribution. Use 24 or 32 Bit for archiving music production files.
- 16-Bit integer wave is the highest-quality audio file compatible with a wide range of playback devices. It's also the CD audio format so if you want to create audio files compatible with CD
format use 44.1 kHz, 16-Bit .wav files make sure to set 44.1 kHz in the Audio Settings window. NOTE: FL Studio does not burn to CD format, it creates audio files ready for burning. Use any VST CD burning program to create the audio CD.
- 24-Bit integer wave is a common bit-depth used by DAW hardware & some older software DAWs. Use this bit-depth if 32-Bit (see below) float is not supported by the device or application.
- 32-Bit floating point is the native format of FL Studio's mix engine. Render to 32-Bit float when you intend to continue mixing or editing the file in another application (wave editor or DAW) that supports the 32-Bit float format. 32-Bit float provides more precision for audio processing and so will ensure the highest quality is preserved during post-production activities.
What sample rate should I use?
- Sample rate affects the highest frequency that can be captured by the sample. Values between 22000 Hz (22 kHz) and 192000 Hz (192 kHz) are possible. As 44100 Hz (44.1 kHz)is the CD standard and is capable of capturing the entire frequency range humans can hear (20 Hz to 20 kHz), so you should have a specific reason for using sample rates above 44.1 kHz. Set the FL Studio sample rate in the Audio Settings.
FLAC (Lossless Compressed Audio)
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is similar to WAV format in retaining all audio information in the encoded waveform. FLAC has the additional useful property of significantly compressing (reducing) the file size. FLAC files are typically between 20 to 30% smaller than the equivalent WAV file, all while retaining a bit-perfect copy of the original data. NOTE: This is file-size compression, similar to .zip etc, not audio-level compression.
- Compression Level - This setting determines the effort put into reducing the size of the audio file. The difference in file size between level 0 (least effort) and 8 (most effort) is usually around 10%, a relatively small difference, prepare to be underwhelmed.
- 0 - Fastest compression, slightly larger files.
- 5 - Default setting.
- 8 - Slowest compression, slightly smaller files.
NOTE: All FLAC compression settings are bit-identical after decompression (lossless is lossless). Given the differences in file sizes between compression settings is minimal, it doesn't matter much which one you use, it only affects encoding time. The typical encoding time for a setting of 0 is around 4x faster than 8.
- FLAC bit depth - Choose 16 or 24 Bit. See the WAV format section for a discussion on bit-depth.
NOTE: FL Studio automatically imports FLAC files and converts them to WAV format, when loaded on the Playlist or in plugins such as Edison or Slicex.
MP3/OGG (Lossy Compressed Audio)
MP3 (Mpeg Layer 3) and
ogg(Ogg Vorbis) are both 'lossy' formats that compact the audio to save space. This means that at lower bit-rate settings you may hear unwanted artifacts often described as 'underwater sounds' or 'bubbling'. The slider sets
bit-rate of the mp3/ogg audio file, as bit-rate increases the audio quality improves, but at the expense of file size.
What bit-rate should I use?
- 64 kb/s (or less) is useful for low-quality internet 'demo' tracks. Compression artifacts will be noticeable.
- 128 kb/s is the point where 'acceptable' quality starts for the majority of people. It is useful for web streaming and e-mailing music files.
- 160 kb/s is the point where it becomes difficult for many people to distinguish CD from MP3 (not discerning FL Studio producers, of course). It is a good minimum bit-rate to use for music distribution and listening purposes.
Some material may still produce audible compression artifacts. Listen carefully to the entire track with headphones if quality is important and consider a higher bit-rate.
- 224 kb/s (or greater) and mp3/ogg become practically indistinguishable from CD under normal listening conditions. It is a good minimum Bit rate to use for archival of a quality compressed copy of
audio. bit-rates of 224, or greater, can be useful when collaborating over the Internet and you need to share audio files that may be impractical in CD .wav format (1400 kb/s).
NOTES: The maximum bit-rate for MP3 is 320 kbps and 450 kbps for ogg. The relationship between kbps setting and the audibility of artifacts will depend on the material being rendered and the listening environment. You should always check your rendered files with a good pair of headphones prior to release. Sample rates - the MP3 standard only supports 3 rates (32000, 44100 and 48000 Hz). Setting the FL Studio sample rate outside these values will result in MP3 rendering errors. The MP3 conversion introduces a small silence at the start of the file in addition to the original audio. For this reason it's not suitable for use where time-alignment of the audio is critical (loops, samples, vocal tracks etc). Where possible use at least 16-Bit .wav format when sharing or saving audio in a production environment.
MIDI is a standard note & automation data format and will save the contents of the Step Sequencer and Piano roll. As note data is saved along with FL Studio
project, only export to MIDI if you intend to import the note data into a 3rd party application. To export:
- Make sure to save your project in its current state, the next step will replace Channel instruments.
- Use the macro Prepare for MIDI export on the main Tools menu that replaces all Channels with auto-configured MIDI Out plugins.
This is necessary to export project-wide MIDI in the correct multi-channel format. To export individual Piano roll data as MIDI files use the Piano roll menu option
'Export as MIDI file'.
- Select MIDI on the Export Project Dialog and press Start.
- Don't save your project in this state you will lose the original Channel settings. Save to a new project if required.
NOTE: MIDI is not an audio format. If your media player can play MIDI files it is using the synthesizer/sampler built into your audio interface to create audio from the MIDI data.
- Sample Interpolation - Select the waveform interpolation method used for Sampler/Audio-Clip channels. Interpolation
is a curve fitting process that computes intermediate sample amplitude data between the known sample points (filling in the gaps). This is only required when samples are transposed from their original pitch or sample-rate and the
program calls for a sample value out of sync with the source data-points. Without interpolation quantizing (amplitude) errors can create unwanted high-frequency harmonic artifacts (aliasing &
FL Studio provides several methods of increasing computational complexity and therefore accuracy -
- Linear interpolation is the fastest method. It provides basic linear averaging between samples, however it can result in aliasing (high frequency noises) if samples are transposed far from their original pitch.
- 6-point Hermite has been optimized to be a quick curve interpolation method with superior quality to linear interpolation. It is ideal for exporting 'working drafts' of your audio files.
- 64, 128, 256, 512-point Sinc methods provide increasing quality interpolation, but they are also very slow. We recommended that you use at least 64-point Sinc on
your final render, or better still, the maximum Sinc value that you are prepared to wait to finish rendering.
This video covers Aliasing and Interpolation.
NOTE: There is an independent live audio interpolation set on the F10 > Audio Settings, Mixer section. If different Mixer and Render interpolation options are set,
this can cause the live and rendered audio to sound different, specifically in the high frequency regions. Aliasing can create a 'false' high frequency brightness. Setting the live interpolation method to
64-point sinc will minimize this problem, should it arise.
- Dithering - Applies 32 to 16-Bit dithering to 16-Bit .wav and .mp3 files. Dither should only be applied once to 16 Bit audio file during the final render (if at all). FL Studio uses a 'shaped' Dither algorithm that shifts most of the dithering 'hiss' above 10 kHz.
What is dithering? Simply, dithering randomizes the value of the least significant bit when making bit-depth conversions (32 to 16 for example). The least significant bit in the digital audio file represents the smallest possible change in output level. The purpose of dither is to break up the predictability of rounding errors that happen during the bit-depth conversion. Rounding errors affect only the value of the least significant bit so dithering randomizes this value (0 or 1), according to the dither formula used. If dithering is not used, these rounding errors correlate with the audio signal and so generate alias frequencies. When dithering is used these alias frequencies are replaced by an additional background hiss. Hiss is generally less distracting or noticeable than aliasing and so dithering has become a standard process to apply to the final 16 bit render ready for CD.
NOTE: Both the bit-reduction induced aliasing noise (without dither) or the hiss (with dither) is only audible in very, very quiet parts of a recording, where the music is approaching
the limits of the bit-depth AND you have the volume turned up very loud. If you are hearing noise artifacts and your track is playing at normal listening levels, then it is some other type of noise, probably resample based aliasing
(see the interpolation settings) or compression artifacts (mp3/ogg bit-depth). There is a lot of nonsense written on music forums about the benefits of dithering. Remember, it's randomization of the least significant bit. It does not add 'sparkle', 'punch' or 'bass'! It replaces one very low level noise (aliasing) with another (hiss). Various dither types you may see discussed, are just different tonal variations on the dither-induced hiss.
- HQ for all plugins - Sets high quality mode for any native FL Studio plugins (effects, instruments & sampler channels) used in the song. VST plugins may also render in HQ mode if the Wrapper setting Notify about rendering mode is selected.
- Disable Max Poly - Ignores the max poly setting in Miscellaneous Channel Settings but does NOT ignore Mono option if selected.
- Save ACIDized - Saves project tempo and slice/region markers in .wav/.mp3 files in Sony ACID™ meta-data format. Useful for programs that can read this data type. NOTE You can change the tempo using the Edison Sample Properties dialog and the slice/region markers in Edison's wave-edit window.
- Split Mixer Tracks - Each Mixer track is exported as a separate .wav file. NOTES: 1. This option does not export to flac/mp3/ogg formats. 2. If you are using plugins with multiple-outputs to Mixer tracks, make sure the Mixer tracks have been renamed from the default 'Insert N' format. FL Studio uses this to flag they are being used, and will render them.
- Save Slice Markers - If enabled, each note will create a slice marker in the exported file. This means that FL Studio exports sliced drum loops which are automatically ready for slice re-ordering and high quality time stretching.
Trim PDC delay - The default is ON and applies only to exported .wav files. As PDC can add a delay to Mixer Tracks, this option decides if the PDC delay is rendered, or not. When selected, any PDC that was added to the Master Mixer Track or Split mixer tracks (see above) is removed from the start of the rendered .wav file. When deselected the PDC remains as a short period of silence equal to the PDC setting of the source Mixer Track. NOTE: This does not turn PDC on or off, it just decides if any PDC is rendered at the start of the .wav file. See also: Latency compensation this removes delay caused by the ASIO Buffer length setting during recording. If you have already recorded the audio, it's too late, you will need to manually align it to the Playlist if it has a delay induced offset. Sometimes unwanted rendering delays can be caused by Plugins Behaving Badly.
- Background Rendering - Minimizes and renders in background mode, allowing you to work on other Windows applications.
- Start - Starts Rendering. The name will change to Abort once rendering is underway.
Command line export options
See here for some ways to launch a command prompt in Windows. This allows you to batch-process project and MIDI files.
- Rendering to an audio file (example: FL.exe /R /Emp3 /Fc:\MyProjects)
/R[filename] /E /F [project.flp]
/R: render project.flp to an audio file. The optional filename parameter (extension is ignored) specifies the output filename. If no filename is specified, it renders to project.wav.
/E: specify wich format you want to export to, separated by commas. Example: /Emp3,ogg,wav
/F: specify a source folder. All .flp files in this folder will be rendered. Example: /Fc:\MyProjects
- Rendering to a MIDI file (example: FL.exe /M /Fc:\MyProjects)
/M: render all flp files in the folder to MIDI files.