Recording External and Internal Audio
This section covers everything you need to know about recording external audio sources connected to your audio interface input/s and internal audio generated by instruments. Sections include:
Pre-requisites for recording external audio
Before you can record external audio sources the following settings & conditons are required:
- You must be using FL Studio Producer Edition or higher.
- An ASIO audio interface driver must be selected for your audio interface (press F10 to open the options settings, select Audio and select an ASIO driver).
- The recording filter must be set to record audio (Right-click the Transport Panel record button), if you are recording to disk (Playlist recording).
- An audio source must be connected to the soundcard/interface audio input/s (DOH!).
- The active audio interface input/s (from 4. above) must be selected on the Mixer track input menu.
- Edison must be set to record audio on the input Mixer track (see Edison recording) OR the Mixer track must be armed to record audio (see Playlist recording).
- Where does external audio enter FL Studio? - At Mixer track input menus (shown above). Each Mixer track can receive one external stereo audio input. The input menu displays a drop-down list from your selected audio interface (mic, line, etc). The screenshot above shows the audio interface microphone (Mic 1) selected on Mixer Track 4. If you have more than one audio input to record, use multiple mixer tracks to receive each input. NOTE: Input options will only be available if an ASIO audio interface driver is being used.
- How do I record audio? - There are two ways that can be used individually or together:
- Playlist - Arm a Mixer track by selecting an input or clicking on the disk recording icon (see screenshot above). Playlist recording is ideal when multi-track recording as managing large numbers of Edison plugins can be unwieldy.
- Edison - Place an instance of Edison in the Mixer track receiving audio and record into memory (see screenshot above). Edison is best when you are experimenting and plan to make multiple takes such as when 'Loop Recording'. In this case region markers are automatically placed in the recording each time FL Studio loops back to the beginning of the project. Regions (loops) can then be dragged into the Playlist.
The audio recorded by either of these methods can come from external sources, internal sources or a combination of both. For details, see below.
- Why do I hear music/percussion along with my recording - - You are recording on a Mixer Track that has music/percussion routed to it. Probably, the Master Mixer track. Don't do that! All audio arriving on a Mixer track is recorded together. If you are recording an external audio source make sure no Channel Rack instruments are routed there.
- Why do my recordings come from one speaker? - FL Studio expects a stereo input signal since all Mixer tracks are stereo. You are probably feeding your audio-interface a signal that only appears on the left or right channel of a stereo input.
Solution: The Mixer INPUT menu has an upper stereo list and lower mono list. You have selected from the upper stereo INPUT. Select your input from the lower,
mono INPUT list. This will copy the active channel into the silent stereo channel so audio comes from both speakers.
- How do I record multiple independent inputs (multi-track record)? - All Mixer tracks can be armed to record external and/or internal audio sources to disk (see Playlist Recording below). So it's possible to simultaneously record the full number of audio inputs on your audio interface.
NOTE: Right-click the Mixer Input menu to initiate an 'Auto-map'. This will automatically map each input on your audio interface to a unique Mixer Track Input, starting on the Mixer track where the Auto-map was initiated and working to the right. To prevent feedback, the Master Tack send (click here for an oversized and obsessive diagram) will be disabled on each Mixer Track, so you will see input activity on the Peak Meters, but won't hear anything.
- How do I record using multiple audio devices at the same time? - The ASIO4ALL driver allows you to select multiple inputs and outputs from separate audio devices. This is not possible with most ASIO drivers. For example, you can use a USB microphone input and your regular audio interface input at the same time.
- How do I record my hardware synthesizer/drum-machine/sampler? - To use sounds from an external synthesizer, while it is played by FL Studio, you will need to make
MIDI connections AND audio connections to your audio interface inputs. FL Studio can record the sound/s (discussed below) as it plays the external MIDI hardware
using a MIDI Out plugin.
- Can I record using a USB microphone or headset? - Yes, USB microphones require special setup discussed here.
- How do I set the recording bit-depth - FL Studio receives audio from the audio interface as a pre-digitized stream, the '32 bit float recording' option set in the Mixer menu >
Disk recording save option has no effect on the incoming recorded bit-depth (only the save format). Recording bit-depth is set in the audio interface's own options and is shown in the hint bar when selecting items from the mixer input menu. To set, right-click your volume control icon on the Windows task-bar, select 'Recording devices'. Select your input device and 'Set as default' then select 'Properties', then 'Advanced' and choose 24 bit 44100 Hz option if available OR 16 bit 44100 Hz if not.
- Why aren't my audio recordings correctly aligned with the Playlist grid? - In cases where audio drivers are not accurately reporting their position to FL Studio, you may need to adjust the Playback Tracking options.
- Are there video tutorials for recording audio? - Yes, click here to jump to the video tutorials.
Using a USB microphone or headset
USB microphone & headsets use their own audio driver separate from your main audio interface (i.e they appear to Windows as another audio interface). To use two audio interfaces with FL Studio follow the steps in the section on recording USB audio-inputs. The solution is to select independent input (USB mic) and output (audio interface) devices using the FL Studio ASIO or ASIO4ALL audio drivers.
How to record external audio (microphones, guitars, etc)
Three main methods for recording external audio are explained below, the first two record into an Edison plugin loaded into the Mixer track of your choice. The third
method records audio into an Audio Clip displayed in the Playlist - please note that the clip will not be visible until the recording has been completed.
1. Quick audio recording procedure (using Edison)
Edison is an audio editor and recorder. It will record audio from any FX slot in the Mixer. You can load as many instances of Edison as you like.
If the pre-requisites for external recording have been satisfied (as described above), the 'One click recording' wizard can be used to record into Edison as follows:
- Select an unused Mixer track. This will be the track used by the shortcut process (see the note below).
- Click the microphone icon (One-click audio recording) on the 'Shortcut Panel'.
- Select 'Into Edison audio editor/recorder' from the drop-down menu.
- Follow the prompts.
- After recording, see section 2.5 below for options on saving/exporting the audio.
NOTE: One-click recording uses the input on the selected Mixer track. If you are recording an external audio source then record on a Mixer track that only has the external audio on it. If you have internal audio playing through the same track it will be blended with the external audio. Once blended, it can't be undone.
2. Edison recording procedure
If the pre-requisites for external recording have been satisfied (as described above):
- Load Edison - Load Edison in an FX slot in the Mixer track that you want to record. Don't use the Master track (all audio from all tracks is routed here). TIP: Select the Mixer track and press
(Shift+E) to auto-load Edison in the first empty FX slot on the track ready to record.
- Input selection - Select an external input (see below). Loading Edison before selecting an input will disable the auto-arming of the disk-record function. It is possible to turn this back on (if you wish) by clicking on the Mixer track record icon associated with the track you are using.
- Effects - Place Edison before any effects loaded in the same Mixer track for a 'dry' recording. It is recommended to record all external audio dry as this gives you the opportunity to add and change them later on.
- Record using Edison - Click here to see the Edison help and normal recording setup options. You will be able to record into Edison, where it is stored in memory, and then export the audio to a sample or Audio Clip.
- Exporting recorded audio - There are three main ways to export audio from Edison into FL Studio:
- Send to Playlist button, Left or Right-click to:
- Left-click: Send to Playlist as Audio Clip (Shift+C) - Dumps the selection to the Playlist as an Audio Clip.
- Right-click: Send to selected Channel - Dumps the selection to the selected Channel.
- Drag / copy sample / move selection - Left-click on the button and drag to the desired location (e.g. Playlist Clip-track). The selected region in the Sample Edit Window (or whole sample if no selection is made) will be copied and moved to any compatible location in FL Studio. Apart from the Playlist other locations may include Sampler channels, Fruity Slicer, DirectWave, etc. Right-click to copy the selection to the clipboard.
- Save and load - Save the audio/selection to a file and re-import it through the Browser.
NOTES: 1. Take the time to read the next section on Mono inputs (3.4) and Monitoring (3.7) as they are also relevant to Edison recording. 2. Memory considerations: Edison records into RAM and so is not suited to recording hours of continuous audio. Edison uses approximately 20 Meg of RAM per minute of recording. If you need to record for more than 15 minutes then the Playlist (disk recording)
method is recommended (see below).
3. Playlist audio recording procedure
Playlist lanes are not bound to audio inputs as they are in many other sequencers. Audio is recorded through the Mixer, to disk, and then the recording is automatically loaded onto the first Playlist track that has space to host the recording. That is, the first track where it won't overlap with existing clips. The recording is loaded as an Audio Clip.
We know this section of the help looks complex with many steps, but it provides a full description of the external-audio to Playlist recording options and full step-by-step procedure covering many of the issues people face when recording external sources. Once you understand the process it only takes 3 mouse-clicks to set up a Mixer channel to record.
Audio inputs are recorded through the Mixer tracks, the audio from these sessions is placed in the Playlist as an Audio Clip. Remember that Playlist lanes are not tied to any Mixer track, so it doesn't matter what Playlist lane the Audio Clip is on. You can move clips around as needed after recording.
- Pre-requisites - The pre-requisites for external recording must first be satisfied (as described above).
- Don't record on the Master Mixer track - When recording external audio on a Mixer track, internal audio routed to that track will
be mixed in with the external source so it is best to use a Mixer track with no internal instruments routed to it. Remember that the Master Mixer
track has all the other tracks routed to it, so this is definitely not the place to record external audio sources.
- Input selection & Mixer track arming - Select an external input (see below). The options that appear in this drop-down menu will depend on your
audio interface, most audio interfaces have at least one mic and one line input, however you may need to experiment to find the input that carries your external audio. Selecting an input will auto-arm the track for recording, as indicated by the red track recording icon. If you want to use a USB mic or headset to record audio,
follow the steps outlined here first.
- Mono inputs - If you have a mono sound source that appears in only the L or R stereo channel, you will notice that the input options are divided into 'Stereo' in the upper section and 'Mono' in the lower section. By selecting the Mono version of your input, FL Studio will record the signal into both the L and R Mixer channels.
- Naming & save location (optional) - If you want to select the name and location of the saved .wav file as something other than the default then Right-click the Mixer track recording icon to open the file-name/location dialog. Select a location in the browser dialog and name the .wav file to be recorded.
If you use Left-click, an automatic file name will be assigned to the track. Do the same for all Mixer tracks you want to record. NOTE: Setting a custom record location
folder from the F10 > Project > General Data folder setting, will mean the default location is set by you.
- Recording Options - Open the Mixer pop-up menu. In the Disk Recording sub-menu select -
- Auto-create audio clip - Turn ON. Loads the recording as an Audio Clip and automatically places it in the Playlist, after you press stop. NOTE: Automatic Audio Clip placement only works in song mode.
- Latency compensation - Turn ON. This removes an amount of time equal to the audio interface latency (buffer length) from the start of the recording, ensuring the audio is aligned with the internal Playlist events. If the recorded audio still does not seem to be in sync, you may need to adjust the Playback Tracking options. Start with the 'Playback tracking source' options, but if these don't work you can manually set the 'Offset'. NOTE: This setting does not affect the live (monitored) sound, only the recording and doesn't have anything to do with the PDC delay panel (C) options. See the point below on 'Monitoring' for ways to improve latency delay on the live audio passing through FL Studio.
- Bit-depth - This is the saved bit-depth and is the resolution of the waveforms amplitude quantization. '32-Bit floating point recording' is only necessary if your audio interface
is set to record at a bit-depth higher than 16-Bit so use the 32-Bit setting to save files recorded at 24-Bit. NOTE: FL Studio receives audio from the audio interface as a pre-digitized
stream, the bit-depth set in the Mixer has no effect on the recorded bit-depth (that is set in the audio interface's own options and is shown in the hint bar when selecting items from the mixer
INPUT menu). Saving a 16-Bit sample at 32-Bit will make the file significantly larger with no gain in quality. To set the recorded bit-depth under Windows:
- Either right-click the speaker volume control on the Windows system tray and select and select Recording devices > Recording tab OR Click Windows Start > Control Panel > Sound >
- Right-click the input recording device you intend to use and select 'Set as default' and then after that select 'Properties'.
- On the 'Advanced tab', under the 'Default Format' section we recommend using '2 channel, 24 bit, 44100 Hz (Studio Quality)' or '2 channel, 16 bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality)' if that is not available.
- Hearing the sound being recorded (monitoring) - Let's assume you are monitoring FL Studio through headphones and not getting an echo caused by feedback from your speakers into your microphone. By default,
live inputs to the Mixer are routed to the Master mixer track and back to the audio interface outputs. As the audio path through FL Studio is delayed by an amount equal to the audio interface buffer length setting,
the monitored sound may echo against the live source. Latency echo can cause problems for performers (e.g. vocalists) who need to hear their live performance mixed with the song.
Latency echo can be eliminated in three ways:
- Routing - Stop the incoming audio passing back to the audio interface by de-selecting the 'Send to master switch/knob' from the Mixer track you are recording into. Remember the send knob is located on the Master track, not the selected track. The downside is that you can no longer 'monitor' the recorded sound, although you can move one headphone cup an ear (DJ style) and listen live.
- Latency - If you need to monitor your input signal, try lowering the buffer settings and see if the echo can be eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels. Of course there are
limits to how low the ASIO buffer can be set.
- Direct Monitoring - Use 'direct monitoring' if supported by your audio interface. Direct monitoring is achieved completely in hardware, routing a copy of the input signal directly to the audio interface outputs, and so eliminating latency caused by the software buffer.
NOTE: If you use direct monitoring it will be necessary to apply the routing solution 7.1 (in this paragraph), to prevent input to the FL Studio Mixer being heard. Finally note that direct monitoring isn't common on basic (consumer level) audio interfaces, so consult the audio interface manual to see if it's available on your card. No manual? The direct monitoring options are usually found in the factory Mixer associated with the audio interface driver. Many external USB/FireWire audio interfaces have a hardware knob or button labeled 'Direct monitoring' or 'Monitor'.
- Recording with effects - Don't! We recommend that you record all incoming audio without effects, add them later, as this provides maximum flexibility during post-production. If you want to monitor the incoming signal with effects while recording without effects -
- Deselect the 'Send to master' knob on the recording input Mixer track.
- Re-route the recording input Mixer track to a second empty Mixer track.
- Load the effects you wish to use on this second track and allow that track to pass to the Master.
The above setup ensures that the audio is recorded dry, on the input Mixer track, then passes to a second track where effects are added for monitoring. NOTE: Edison recording makes this process simpler, put Edison in FX slot 1 of the input Mixer track
(so it has no Effects before it), then put any effects you want to hear below it (slots 2 to 8).
- The Record Button: Prepare for recording. There are two functions associated with the Record button on the Transport Panel.
- Recording filter - There is a recording filter pop-up menu, Right-click
the Record button and make sure 'Audio' has a tick (all data-types with a tick will be recorded, click to select/deselect items).
- Arming - Left-click the record button to arm for recording. The button
will light to indicate that record mode is activated (orange).
- Start recording - Finally! Press the Play button to start recording.
- Stop recording - When you are finished, press the Stop button. If you want all armed tracks to unarm enable the 'Disk Recording > Auto-unarm' option in the
Mixer popup menu. If tracks remain armed and you press record again new Audio Clips will be created leaving
previously recorded Audio Clips intact.
- Where's my audio? - If you are in pattern mode, the recording will appear as an Audio Clip channel. If you are in song mode AND the Mixer menu setting, Auto-create Audio Clips is on, your recording will appear as an Audio Clip wave display in the Playlist window.
Audio Clip placement - Audio Clips will be placed in the first track with enough room to fit the Audio Clip, without overlap with existing Clips, although you can move it anywhere you like afterward. If you want to ensure your clips are placed sensibly you can right-click track headers and select 'add one' to make room for further takes below existing ones.
The recorded audio data wil be saved to disk will be in one of three locations:
- 1. The folder set at Step 5 (above) OR
- 2. The FL Studio installation folder ...FL Studio\Data\Patches\Recorded. This folder is shown in the Browser OR
- 3. If you have set a custom record location from the F10 > Project > General Data folder setting, your audio files will be there.
Mixer track routing - All recorded Audio Clips are routed to the same Mixer track the recorded input track was routed to (usually the Master). So, if you record on Mixer track 10, and Mixer track 10 is routed to Mixer track 3, then the Audio Clip will also be routed to Mixer track 3.
Loop recording is the process of repeatedly laying down audio-takes while FL Studio loops a project. This technique is often preferred by instrumentalists or vocalists who want to repeat a phrase/section of a song
until they get the perfect take, there are two loop recording methods available:
- Playlist & Sound-on-sound method - You can record audio directly into the Playlist as Audio Clips. You can Loop record all or at any part of the Playlist by making a selection and monitor previously recorded loops for 'sound-on-sound' recording.
- Select Loop record mode - The switch is on the Transport panel.
- Select 'Blend Recording' from the Transport panel.
- Select Song mode - From the Transport Panel.
- Make a Playlist selection (optional) - If you want to Loop record over a section of the song, highlight the time-line section in the Playlist. Hold (Ctrl + Left-click)
and then drag along the bar-count at the top of the Playlist. If you don't make a selection then the whole song will Loop record.
- Monitoring options - To mute loop recorded Audio Clips switch Blend recorded notes Off. To hear loop recorded Audio Clips, turn it On.
- Arm record mode and press Play to start recording - When FL Studio reaches the end of the Playlist data or selection it will dump the recorded audio to the Playlist as an Audio Clip and loop back to the beginning of the selection to start recording a new
NOTE: Each time around the loop FL Studio must save .wav files, create channels and new .wav files. On some systems there may be audio glitches in the first few ms of each loop. Adding a bar lead in at the start of the loop
section where you are not performing input audio will avoid this problem, should you experience it.
- Setting a custom record location folder from the F10 > Project > General Data folder setting, will send any recorded audio files to this location.
- If your audio interface does not have factory ASIO drivers, use FL Studio ASIO or the ASIO4ALL driver. ASIO4ALL allows you to aggregate multiple input devices and record from several sources simultaneously (for example; a USB microphone and your Audio Interface).
Recording Internal Mixer Audio (Freezing Mixer Tracks)
FL Studio allows you to record the output of one or more Mixer tracks to .wav files and to auto-insert them as Audio Clips in the Clip Track area (optional). Mixer track recording, or freezing, enables you to quickly replace real-time effects and instruments with pre-rendered audio, thereby reducing CPU load. This type of recording also allows easier rendering of separate Mixer tracks (track stems, as they are called) for additional processing in 3rd party applications.
There are two ways to record a track - non-realtime recording, which results in the highest audio quality and realtime recording (interactive) that allows recording of ASIO inputs.
Non-realtime recording Playlist (Mixer track freezing)
To perform non-realtime export of Mixer track/s, also known as 'track freezing' and auto-create an Audio Clip. See the Freezing tutorial video
that follows the steps below:
- Mixer track arming - Click to arm the record icon on Mixer track/s you wish to record. In the browse dialog that opens, select a location and name for the .wav file to be recorded. An orange disk icon indicates that the track is ready to be recorded.
- Recording Options - Open the Mixer menu. In the Disk Recording sub-menu:
- Select 32-Bit floating point recording if you want to render to 32-Bit .wav files.
- Deselect Latency compensation as it will add an unwanted delay to the start of clips. This is used only for external audio input recording.
- Select Auto-create audio tracks to insert the resulting Audio Clip in the Playlist, once the recording process has completed.
- Rendering / Freezing(Alt+R) - From the Mixer menu go to the Disk Recording sub-menu and select Render to Wave File. A rendering settings
dialog will appear. Adjust the relevant settings and press OK to render the armed track/s. NOTE: Some of the options available for rendering a full song are not available
for track recording (e.g. rendering to mp3 or MIDI file, saving an NFO file with the Audio Clip, and saving ACIDized audio).
- Freezing? - If your intention was to freeze Mixer tracks you can disable all effects on each track rendered and disable plugins feeding those Mixer tracks.
- Where's my audio? - If you are in pattern mode, the recording will appear as an Audio Clip channel. If you are in song mode
AND the Mixer menu setting, Auto-create Audio Clips is on, your recording will appear as an Audio Clip
wave display in the Playlist window.
The Audio Files that were recorded to disk will be in one of three locations:
- The folder set at Step 1 (above) OR
- The FL Studio installation folder ...FL Studio\Data\Patches\Recorded. This folder is shown in the Browser OR
- If you have set a custom record location from the F10 > Project > General Data folder setting, your audio files will be there.
NOTE: ASIO inputs are disabled while recording in non-realtime.
Alternatively, there is a 'Split mixer tracks' option on the Export project dialog that will create a .wav file for each active
Mixer track in the project. Great for creating track stems when importing audio into a 3rd party application.
Realtime recording Edison & Playlist
As an alternative to off-line rendering, as described above, you can use Edison or the track recording icon to capture audio from any number of Mixer tracks, live:
- Select your recording location - Either load Edison into an FX slot of the Mixer track you wish to record OR for Disk/Playlist recording Arm Mixer tracks by pressing the disk icon.
- Disk recording - If you are recording to the Playlist then turn OFF the Mixer menu > Disk recording > Latency compensation option. There is no latency for internal audio sources.
- Effects - In the case of Edison, you have the option of placing multiple instances of Edison on the same Mixer track, with or without other effects
loaded before or after each instance. In this way you can record dry and wet (with effects) versions of your Mixer track audio (to record a dry version,
make sure Edison is in slot #1). In the case of disk recording any effects on the track will be recorded, if you don't want this, disable the effects now.
- Record - Click here to see the Edison help and normal recording setup
options. You will be able to record into Edison, where it is stored in memory, and then export the audio to a sample or Audio Clip. For disk recording the process is as described in the sections above,
however this time it is internal audio that is recorded.
Mixer reference diagram
Full descriptions are available on the main Mixer page.
NOTE: Most controls are automatable (Right-click and select 'Create automation clip').