Once your sound is recorded, FL Studio lets you manipulate it in any way you can think of. Hollin Jones gets editing in part five of our become a power user of FL Studio series…
In the last workshop we looked at the different ways you could capture audio into FL Studio. Once it’s there, you will almost certainly need to edit it in some way, either to correct any problems with performance or timing or to make it more flexible than a regular audio clip, say for example so that it can have a groove extracted or be replicated as a MIDI part. FL Studio has a range of tools available to help you with this. The more basic ones deal with things like normalization of a clip, reversing or fading clips. The Channel Settings window also lets you control time and pitch stretching, which are both essential for making audio parts conform to your project even if they start off in the wrong key or at the wrong speed.
For detailed editing you can move to the Edison module, FL Studio’s dedicated audio manipulation tool. Here you will find a much more advanced selection of functions that can be used to take control of audio parts before they are played back using the sequencer. The spectrographic view in particular is handy for understanding what’s going on inside an audio clip and how to fix any potential problems. In the Playlist editor it’s also possible to edit audio clips insofar as they are sequenced as blocks of data on a timeline. So between these various tools and techniques you will find it quite possible to manipulate every aspect of your audio tracks whether it’s simply normalizing a clip that’s been recorded too quietly, removing hiss or rumble using effects and EQ, or slicing loops to the sequencer to make them playable as instruments in their own right. Read on to find out how it all works!
1: To begin with you will need to have an audio clip either recorded or imported so it’s inside a project. Then click on it to open the Channel Settings window and you will see a number of options. Start by going to the very base of the window, and experimenting with using the In and Out knobs to create a fade at the start or end of the clip.
2: Another interesting option is the third knob, titled “Pogo”. If you turn this to the left or right you will hear that your audio clip speeds up or slows down as it goes. It’s sort of like a rubber band effect, and can sound really cool. To reset any of these knobs back to their default position, hold the alt key while clicking on them.
3: Moving up the window you will see more processing tools. Try clicking the Reverse, Normalize or fade / swap stereo buttons to make FL Studio pre-compute these effects on the clip. Normalization is useful for when a clip is too quiet, to raise the volume without having to push the channel’s fader all the way up.
4: Above this is the Timestretching section which actually contains both time and pitch stretching controls. The two can work independently of one another. Move the Pitch knob to change pitch but not time, and the time knob to alter duration but not pitch : or of course you can alter both. In the Stretch Type menu you can choose the algorithm best suited to the material you’re stretching.
5: If you right click on the waveform icon in the Channel Settings window you can choose to save the file out to a new location. You can also drag the wave display into a project to place the track into the sequencer. To make more detailed edits, right click and choose Edit, which will open the Edison module.
6: Edison provides many more tools for editing audio, most of which are accessed via the right click menu and then going to Tools. These work on the selected part of the waveform so you can select some or all of it then select a tool. Some are similar to those found in the Channel Settings window, but most are not. You can do more with channels, declicking and normalization.
7: The gating functions are particularly useful. Using these you can acquire a noise threshold to identify parts of a clip where you want to gate out unwanted background noise, then either gate it in realtime or have it trimmed out of the clip. This is great for sounds like vocals, where background bleed can be removed when no singing is taking place.
8: The Regions menu is useful too and allows you to place markers in regions inside audio clips and also slice them up. Go to the Detection section and you can choose to slice a clip up using different sensitivity settings. From here you can also detect beats and pitch regions, making it easier to slice a clip up.
9: Another handy function in the Region menu is called Set First Downbeat. Choose this and you can place a marker inside any audio clip where the first beat of the bar occurs. This is great for correctly slicing and aligning rhythmic clips which may not at first be correctly cut, and may have an irregular length.
10: Some of the audio tools are also available from Edison’s toolbar. Try for example applying an effect directly to a clip using the EQ, Blur or Reverb buttons. This renders an effect onto a clip so that it is always played back as part of it rather than working as an insert on an audio channel. It’s useful for reducing CPU overhead.
11: Click on the tiny icons at the bottom left of Edison’s window and you can set envelope parameters for an audio clip. These include pan, volume and stereo separation and there’s a general purpose, assignable envelope too. Right click to add a point and right click on a point to choose a curve or shape for that point. Use envelopes to modulate parameters in realtime.
12: Using the Tools or contextual menu you can go to the Sequencing section and choose to send the clip to the Playlist as an audio clip or send it to the selected channel. So once you have made your edits you can make the clip a part of your track. You can always re-open it in Edison at any point to make changes.