FL Studio (formerly known as FruityLoops) is a digital audio workstation developed by the Belgian company Image-Line. It features a graphical user interface based on a pattern-based music sequencer. The program is available in different editions for Microsoft Windows, including Fruity Edition, Producer Edition, and the Signature Bundle. After buying the software, Image-Line offers free lifetime software updates to its customers. Image-Line also develops FL Studio Mobile for iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. FL Studio can be used as a VST instrument in other audio workstation programs and also functions as a ReWire client. It is used by electronic musicians and DJs such as Afrojack and 9th Wonder.
FL Studio has a wide variety of useful features for professional as well as hobbyist users. It comes with a variety of plugins and generators written in the program’s own native plugin architecture. It also has support for third-party VST and DirectX plugins. The API has a built in wrapper for full VST, VST2, VST3, DX, and ReWire compatibility. Many of the plugins also function independently as standalone programs. FL Studio is also bundled with a variety of sound processing effects, including common audio effects such as chorus, compression, delay, flanger, phaser, reverb, equalization, vocoding, maximization, and limiting.
Although FL Studio Fruity Edition has a quite decent price tag of 99$, but the inclusion of plugins and audio tools can make the deal well over 900$. So, we explore here several free and open source alternatives to FL Studio.
Ardour is a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application. Its primary author is Paul Davis, who is also responsible for the JACK Audio Connection Kit. Ardour’s intention is to provide digital audio workstation software suitable for professional use. It attempts to adhere to industry standards, such as SMPTE/MTC, Broadcast WAVE, MIDI Machine Control and XML. Released GNU GPL, Ardour is a free and open source software.
Users who download from ardour.org are asked to pay at least $1 for downloading prebuilt binaries of Ardour; those users then have the right to obtain minor updates until the next major release. Another option is to subscribe, paying $1, $4 or $10 per month. Subscribers can download prebuilt binaries of all updates during the subscription period. This makes Ardour an example of commercial free-libre software. Without paying, users can download the full source code for all platforms, or a prebuilt OS X binary which lacks the ability to load or save AU plugin settings.
The latest version of Ardour is 4.7.
2) Linux MultiMedia Studio
Linux MultiMedia Studio (LMMS) is a free and open source software digital audio workstation. Music can be produced by synthesizing sounds, arranging samples, and playing on a MIDI keyboard by combining the features of trackers, sequencers and synthesizers. It supports LADSPA and VST plugins.
LMMS has several features: Song Editor, Beat+Bassline Editor, FX mixer, Piano Roll, Automation Editor, MIDI keyboard support, Multiple instruments and effects out of the box. It is available for the GNU/Linux, OpenBSD, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.
The latest version of LMMS is 1.1.3.
3) Traverso DAW
Traverso DAW is a cross-platform multitrack audio recording and audio editing suite with support for CD mastering and non-linear processing. It is very well suited to record a single voice, a band, an ensemble, a whole orchestra. Released under the GNU General Public License, it is a free and open source software.
Traverso is useful for both professional and home users. It offers a unique user interface using both the mouse and the keyboard together for precision and speed. Designed for scalability, Traverso DAW can be used by live musicians using a netbook.
The latest version of Traverso DAW is 0.49.3.
Hydrogen is an open source advanced drum machine created by Alessandro Cominu. Its main goal is to provide professional yet simple and intuitive pattern-based drum programming. It has a very user-friendly, modular, fast and intuitive graphical interface based on QT 4. Hydrogen was originally developed for Linux, but later ported to Mac OS X. Support for Microsoft Windows is still in alpha stage.
Hydrogen include features such as pattern-based sequencer, multi-layer support for instruments, ability to import/export song files, support for LADSPA effects, real-time slide control for swing, multiple patterns playing at once and several others.
The latest version of Hydrogen is 0.9.7-beta2.
Audacity is a free and open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux operating systems. Audacity was started by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University.
In addition to recording audio from multiple sources, Audacity can be used for post-processing of all types of audio, including podcasts by adding effects such as normalization, trimming, and fading in and out. Audacity has also been used to record and mix entire albums, such as by Tune-Yards. Audacity supports only 32-bit VST audio effect plug-ins. Audacity does not directly support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary file formats. To import or export these formats it requires the optional FFmpeg library.
The latest version of Audacity is 2.1.2.
Rosegarden is a free and open digital audio workstation program developed for Linux with ALSA and QT4. It acts as an audio and MIDI sequencer, scorewriter and musical composition and editing tool. It is intended to be a free alternative to such applications as Cubase.
Software synthesizer is available as a plugin, and it is possible to use external MIDI synthesizer, hardware or software (such as FluidSynth or TiMidity++) in order to make any sound from MIDI compositions. Recent versions of Rosegarden support the DSSI software synthesizer plugin interface, and can use some Windows VST plugins through an adapter.
The latest version of Rosegarden is 16.02.
Qtractor is a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application for Linux. It is written in C++ and is based around the Qt4 library. Qtractor’s intention is to provide digital audio workstation software simple enough for the average home user, and yet powerful enough for the professional user. Released under GNU GPL, Qtractor is a free and open source software application.
Qtractor provides non-destructive digital audio editing and MIDI multi-track composition and arranging. It does not affect, alter or modify the audio and/or MIDI files that are displayed as Clip Objects. It is natively hardwired and exclusive to the JACK Audio Connection Kit infrastructure, and the ALSA sequencer for MIDI which makes it a Linux-only application. Qtractor relies on plugins to enable many features from audio effects processing to dynamic control. It supports the LADSPA plugin architecture, as well as DSSI, native Linux VST and LV2.
The latest version of Qtractor is 0.7.7.
OpenMPT is an audio module tracker software for Windows. OpenMPT (Open ModPlug Tracker) allows you to create and play back some great music on your computer. Based on the original ModPlug Tracker written by Olivier Lapicque, OpenMPT is free software and supports a wide variety of module formats and offers an intuitive, native GUI as well as advanced features such as VST plugins and ASIO output.
OpenMPT’s main distinguishing feature is its native Windows user interface. It makes use of features common to Microsoft Windows programs, such as context menus for effect selection, “tree” views , drag and drop functionality throughout, and the native Look and Feel of the Windows platform. OpenMPT was also one the first Trackers to support opening and editing of multiple tracker modules in parallel. It supports up to 127 tracks/channels, VST Plugins, VST instruments and has ASIO support.
The latest version of OpenMPT is 1.25.04.