FL Studio VST or AU Plugin

FL Studio VST (Windows / macOS) or AU (macOS)

FL Studio can be loaded and used as a VST instrument in Windows and macOS compatible hosts or in macOS hosts as an AU plugin. In this mode, the output is sent to the host and the play/stop events and tempo are synchronized. Controlling FL Studio channels and parameters using MIDI messages is also supported. Additionally, you can send each mixer track to a separate output, if the host supports VST plugins with multiple outputs.

Installing FL Studio VST

FL Studio asks to install the VST plugin of itself during the installation. However, if you didn't install the plugin version at that time, or you want to install it on more than one host, from the Windows Start Menu, select Programs > FL Studio > Advanced > Install Plugin Version. You will see a dialog where you can set the plugin folder of the host where you want the connection installed.

Using the FL Studio VST plugin

Add an instance of the FL Studio VST plugin or the Multi FL Studio VST plugin (see 'Using multiple outputs' below). To open the FL Studio VST see the manual that comes with your host DAW. Click the FL Studio icon button (as shown above) to access the FL Studio interface. Then use FL Studio as normal - load projects, edit instruments and melodies etc.

  • Audio output - The audio output from FL Studio will be sent to the host DAW. See the section 'Using multiple outputs' below for more information.
  • Transport control - When you press play in the host application, FL Studio playback will be synchronized. You can select whether FL Studio should follow its own tempo or the host tempo using the Slave tempo option in the Audio Settings. The Time Offset setting in the plugin editor (shown above) sets how many bars FL Studio should start playing before the host plays. Select a negative value to have FL Studio start later than the host. Due to issues with VST plugins (which are not FL Studio-related), it is always preferable to leave one bar time empty at the start of the song, either using the Time Offset option, or by leaving an empty bar in both the FL Studio Playlist and the host sequence.

NOTE: To hide the FL Studio interface and work in the host, don't use the minimize button as it will also hide the host window. Use the close button so that FL Studio remains active.

Using multiple outputs

You can send to the Host DAW from any Mixer track. Here the Master Mixer channel is being sent out the FL 1 stereo output from the Mixer channel OUT control:

Audio connections - There are two FL Studio VST plugins.

  • Single output - This version sends the audio from FL Studio as single stereo pair (left and right channels).
  • Multiple output - This version allows you to link mixer tracks in FL Studio to one of 16 stereo outputs. You can mix each stereo output separately in the host as needed. To select the output for a specific track, in FL Studio, open the Mixer window and use the OUTPUT routing menu from the Mixer Channel properties. You can route from the Master Mixer track to access all Mixer Channels or the individual Mixer tracks as needed.

NOTE: Not all hosts support VST plugins with multiple outputs. In these cases, use the single output version.

MIDI Control of FL Studio Channels & Patterns from the host

  • Controlling Instrument Channels -
    1. Create a MIDI channel in the host (see your DAWs manual).
    2. Select the FL Studio VST plugin as the output and check the instruments list. If the host supports custom instrument names, all FL Studio channels will be listed.
    3. Select the name of the Channel to control and assign the track a unique MIDI channel number (1 to 16).

    You can also control any automatable FL Studio parameter from the host. This feature works the same way you can control FL Studio with any external MIDI controller. Link the parameters as usual to the corresponding MIDI controller number and MIDI channel.

  • Controlling Patterns - To trigger patterns directly from your host, use the Playlist Live Preview MIDI channel (see MIDI Settings).

Issues with the VST connections

  • Note control - Slide notes, per note, shift, pan, cutoff and resonance are not supported by the MIDI standard. Sequence in FL Studio to access these features.
  • Cubase - When running the VST connection from Cubase™, drag and drop operations in the Browser will not work.