Review: Image Line FL Studio XXL (Bonus Material)

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FL Studio 7 already contained lots of software synths, but with the new SynthMaker plug-in, you can create your own. The plug-in is actually a wrapper around Outsim''s application of the same name. Peter Hamlin reviewed Outsim''s version in the March 2008 issue (available at, so I won''t go into all the details here.

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FIG. A: Fruity Limiter provides compression, limiting, and noise-gate functionality. The plug-in sports a graphical display and offers all the requisite configuration parameters.

In FL Studio, SynthMaker appears in the list of generators and can be used in your compositions just like the others. There are two key differences between the retail program and the FL Studio plug-in: you can''t create your own VST instruments in the FL Studio version, and the External set of Modules has been replaced with an FL Studio set.

The FL Studio set of Modules replaces the hardware I/O found in the retail program with functionality that sends data streams to and from the FL Studio environment. In other words, you''re no longer accessing the hardware directly from SynthMaker. What''s more, there are additional Modules that give your SynthMaker creations an awareness of what''s happening in FL Studio. Among these are Modules that indicate whether the transport is running, and others that identify the current sampling rate, song position, time signature, and tempo. Slicex, Edison, and SynthMaker aren''t the only new plug-ins in FL Studio. Also new is Fruity Limiter, which provides a compressor, limiter, and noise gate for use in the tracks and buses (see Fig. A). The plug-in supports soft- or hard-knee compression rates, variable attack and release times, and configurable look-ahead.

Image Line recently released the Maximus plug-in effect, which performs peak limiting and volume maximization along with several other dynamics-processing capabilities. Maximus is provided only in demo form in FL Studio, but the company does include the Soundgoodizer effect, which is based on the same technology. With Soundgoodizer, your configuration options are much more limited: you can choose one of only four presets, and you have only one knob to adjust (which is presumably the amount of sound-good-izedness you get). In any case, the effect, um, sounded good.

Rounding out FL Studio 8 are a number of performance and usability improvements, as well as a Wave Candy plug-in that displays audio in real time as an oscilloscope trace, spectral display, or pair of peak meters. All in all, version 8 represents a solid upgrade to a very feature-laden product.