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FL Studio vs Studio One: Two of the Most Popular DAWs Compared

FL Studio vs Studio One: Two of the Most Popular DAWs Compared

Are you searching for a digital audio workstation? I know how time and energy-consuming that can be. To make it easier, I have summarized the most important things you need to know about two of the most popular DAWs on the market: FL Studio vs Studio One.

Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur or you’re setting up a professional studio, a good DAW is undoubtedly a must have. But each musician or audio engineer can have a different opinion on how a good DAW should look and work.

That’s why I’d like to avoid calling any of the software in this article “better” or “worst.” Instead, I’ll try to give you an accurate account of the main differences between these products and help you understand which one is more suitable for you.

My Bottom Line Up Front: 

FL Studio is a complex DAW intended mainly for seasoned producers. It is packed with pro-grade features and tools, but it can discourage beginners with its complicated interface and high price.

Studio One may lack some of the FL’s finesse, but beginners will enjoy its intuitive workflow and affordability. It’s also more suitable for live performances.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the key differences between these two digital workstations.

Main Differences Between FL Studio vs Studio One

The main differences between FL Studio vs Studio One are:

  • FL Studio has a steeper learning curve, whereas Studio One is more suitable for beginners.
  • FL Studio is robust and technically demanding, whereas Studio One is a lightweight software.
  • FL Studio is better for those who use MIDI, whereas Studio One has fewer MIDI tools.
  • FL Studio is great for recording and mastering instruments, whereas Studio One is perfect for vocals and live performances.
  • FL Studio is more expensive, whereas Studio One is slightly more affordable.

Key Specifications of the FL Studio and Studio One

Program FL Studio Studio One
Producer Image-Line PreSonus
Free trial Yes Free simple version
Free updates Yes (lifetime) Yes
Free upgrades No Discounts only
Minimum installation requirements 16 GB RAM minimum 2 GB RAM (4 GB RAM or more recommended)
Plugin compatibility VST, VSTi (v2,v3) VST, VST2, VST3, VSTi
System compatibility Mac OS, Windows, iOS/Android (app) Mac OS, Windows, iOS/Android (app)
Price range Check the prices here Check the prices here

Exploring FL Studio vs Studio One features

Now let’s take a closer look at FL Studio and Studio One DAWs one by one:

FL Studio

fl studio

FL Studio was developed by Belgian Image-Line and first released in 1997. Before 2003, you might have known it as FruityLoops (yes, that’s why the software has a piece of fruit in its logo).

This traditionalistic DAW centers around its graphical user interface and a pattern-based music sequencer. It comes in several different versions for all types of users. All of them are available in both boxed and downloadable versions.

How well would it suit your needs? First, let’s check the software out in detail.

FL Studio versions

FL Studio

Workflow

FL Studio is usually referred to as a robust and ‘complicated’ DAW with a steep learning curve and not-so-user-friendly interface. In my opinion, though, this mainly depends on your viewpoint.

Experienced users who are not entirely new to digital audio production will most likely master this software in just a couple of sessions. The interface is very similar to the one you might know from Cubase, so FL Studio will feel very familiar.

But even intermediate users of other DAWs probably won’t struggle much here as most FL features are pretty intuitive and self-explanatory. There are also tons of hints and tutorials that can help you understand the parts you find harder to comprehend.

At the same time, however, it is fair to say that FL Studio probably isn’t the best starting point for a total beginner. Inexperienced users can feel like too much is going on here and struggle to enjoy the creative process while constantly getting lost in all the menus and windows.

However, if you don’t give up after your first struggles, you will soon discover many smart tools and shortcuts that will help you achieve a very efficient workflow with this DAW (for example, ‘copy to next pattern’ and many more).

Technical requirements

Before deciding on FL Studio, make sure that your technical setup is fully compatible with its requirements.

Compared with some of the more lightweight DAWs, FL Studio is relatively demanding on the computer’s random access memory, requiring at least 16 GB for its smooth operation. Your display should also have 3840 x 2160 resolution to properly run FL Studio’s graphic interface.

On the other hand, FL Studio does not have any major limits when it comes to system compatibility. It comes with a full Windows version and its exact equivalent for macOS. There’s also a dedicated FL Studio app for iOS/Android devices allowing you to work on your projects remotely.

Features

FL Studio Features

FL Studio is a relatively robust DAW (at least when compared to the lightweight Studio One), but this size is perfectly justified by the vast amount of features and functions it has to offer. To spare you from an exhaustive full list, I will pinpoint just a few FL features that I find particularly noteworthy.

Since sequencing is a huge part of the FL Studio’s workflow, its Piano Roll instrument step sequencer is a true centerpiece of the whole software. As a result, it is very flexible and intuitive, especially if you already have some experience with similar tools.

It allows you to create new patterns or mute, slice, shuffle, and stretch notes quickly and easily. Moreover, all the important functions are always just a click away (for example, a left mouse click inserts a note while a right click deletes it). You can even choose from a range of ready-to-use chords in the library.

FL Studio also boasts a unique sampler that can be used for many types of experiments with your sound. For example, a water drop, a siren, the progressive house kick, and so on – there are many options to try if you’re willing to play and explore.

The sampler lets you transfer a sample of your choice to a different key for more customization too. FL Studio also comes with many other audio editing tools, dozens of instruments and effects (depending on the version you choose), extended MIDI support, and many other useful features.

Updates

FL Studio provides all the registered owners of its legal copies with free lifetime updates. So once you invest in this program, you don’t have to worry about any extra costs in the future.

Who is it good for

why pick fl studio 

Although modern DAWs are usually highly versatile and suitable for all the different application types, each of them is slightly more oriented on something else.

FL Studio is most at home in instrument recording, mixing, and mastering. This software is a perfect match for audio engineers, producers, and composers. You should like its features and tools, mainly if you prefer working with sequencers and MIDI.

Price range

FL Studio is, in general, considered to be quite affordable. However, it is still a high-end professional DAW, so you cannot expect it to cost as little as some open-source alternatives.

Nevertheless, this DAW comes in several different editions with varying levels of functionality so that you can adjust the costs to your actual needs.

There’s also a free trial version that includes all of the FL Studio’s features, plugins, and rendering in several different formats. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering buying a full FL Studio license, as it can give you the most accurate idea of what this software has to offer.

Studio One

Studio One

Studio One by PreSonus is currently one of the most popular DAWs on the market. While it is relatively simple and affordable, it is among the industry-standard workstations, and many professionals openly admit to being using it.

Composers and producers usually prefer Studio One due to its user-friendliness, clarity, and relatively wide range of creative features. It is also a perfectly versatile software that can be conveniently used for pretty much any genre of music or style of work.

Is it going to suit you too? Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

Studio One versions

Studio One

  • Studio One Prime: Free version with a nice set of basic features, including some effects, loops, and instruments.
  • Studio One Artist: Intuitive single-window environment. It comes with 32 native effects, 7GB of royalty-free loops, and a 14GB sample library.

  • Studio One Professional: A full package of tools and features for professional use. It is great for both performing and recording professionals.

  • PreSonus Sphere: Sphere gives you access to the complete suite of PreSonus tools and hundreds of libraries. It is sold as an annual membership.

Workflow 

In comparison with FL Studio, which works on the old-school principles of beat sequencing, Studio One is more intuitive, innovative, and simpler. It spares its users from tons of windows, excessive pop-ups, and a constant need to click on the mouse.

The interface feels very neat, organized, and simple enough to be mastered even by a total beginner quickly. Nevertheless, it still possesses tons of advanced features to keep an experienced user entertained too.

Working with Studio One feels very convenient, thanks to numerous thoughtful tools. For example, if you hover over different areas of the events, you can activate various actions and tools. The Drag&Drop feature is another helpful tool that gives you flexibility and speeds up your workflow.

Where the newest Studio One truly excels (and, in my opinion, beats the competition) is the live production. The intuitively organized channel strips, virtual instrument patches, and mixdowns can now be efficiently exported to the show, which greatly simplifies and accelerates your live workflow.

Technical requirements

Studio One is a lightweight software that is not very demanding on the technical abilities and CPU of your computer. It needs just 2 GB of RAM (although 4 GB is recommended for intensive use).

If you want to run this DAW on a tablet, it must be x86-compatible (not ARM-based). Studio One Remote app is available for both iOS and Android devices. Again, technical requirements on your device are pretty low.

In general, Studio One is a stable, fast, and reliable DAW that works very well even with slightly older or slower desktops and laptops.

Features

studio one features

Studio One is full of functions and features that will assist you in improving your sound and compositions on many different levels. Most of them will suit you the best, especially if you prefer to work intuitively.

This DAW comes with a nice range of instruments, all the classic effects, and editing tools that will assist you with all creative and producing challenges. Again, to spare you from naming all the features one by one, I’ll focus on the ones I find truly special.

Studio One, for example, has directly integrated Melodyne, one of the best pitch correctors you can currently get. No other DAW can streamline this software right out of the box, so this is quite an exclusive feature.

This handy tool can help you improve, customize, or remake your vocals in an intuitive and fun manner. The newest version of Melodyne is even able to spot the difference between sung vowels and consonants, so it is quite an advanced tool.

The newest version of Studio One also has drum editors. In addition, there is a user-friendly step-sequencer and easily accessible piano-roll-type tracks for your instruments. One of the newest editions is Chord Track, which provides advanced tools to monitor, edit, and transfer your chords.

What Studio One, unfortunately, lacks completely is a notation editor. But, again, this signalizes to me that the software is mostly oriented at beginner-to-intermediate users, as I believe this feature will mostly be missed by seasoned professionals.

I have also missed some more advanced tools for MIDI editing with this software. Although you can work with MIDI in Studio One, it is not the main area of its focus.

Updates

When it comes to updates, Studio One always provides its registered users with free bug fixes and actualizations. Moreover, if you will buy a lower version of the DAW, you can later upgrade to some of the advanced versions at a discounted price.

Who is it good for 

Studio One has something for all the different types of users. But since this DAW lacks some advanced features for MIDI production and notation, I would say it might not be the best choice for seasoned recording musicians or studio producers.

On the other hand, it is very well prepared for use at live performances, and thanks to the integrated Melodyne, it’s also an excellent choice for vocalists.

Price range

Like FL Studio, Studio One comes in several different versions with different features and adequately varying prices. If you’re only after some basic functionality, you can even stick to the popular Prime version, which offers some essential functions entirely for free.

Those who crave a complete set of professional tools, on the other hand, should prepare to invest several hundreds of dollars in some of the advanced versions. In general, though, this DAW is still more affordable than FL Studio.

FL Studio vs Studio One – Pros and Cons

FL Studio

FL Studio

Pros

  • It comes with free lifetime updates
  • It boasts a straightforward installation
  • It offers pro-grade features, effects, and instruments
  • There’s an overwhelmingly wide array of tools and options
  • It is compatible with all major platforms
  • It comes with a handy smart app for remote work
  • It offers a free trial with complete functionality
  • This software has a wonderful step sequencer
  • It is great for mixing and mastering

Cons 

  • This software is too complicated for inexperienced beginners
  • It is quite expensive
  • FL Studio has high technical requirements

Studio One

Studio One

Pros

  • It offers free updates and discounted upgrades
  • Studio One has a user-friendly operation and simple workflow
  • It comes with a nice app for remote sound editing
  • There’s a nice variety of effects and sounds
  • Studio One has integrated Melodyne
  • It works well even with older or slower computers
  • It is compatible with all major platforms
  • It is cheaper than the competition
  • Studio One is great for live performances

Cons

  • It has a slightly more limited set of features than the competition
  • There is no notation editor
  • You’ll only get basic tools for MIDI editing

Are there any alternatives?

Audacity

audacity

Audacity is an extremely popular DAW with powerful tools for production and mixing. It is a free, open-source software compatible with multiple platforms, so it can be recommended to all users regardless of their technical setup or budget.

Of course, do not expect Audacity to look as sleek or offer as many pro-grade features as the high-end FL Studio. Nonetheless, this workstation is perfectly intuitive and easy to use, making it a great choice, particularly for beginners.

Logic PRO

logic pro

Logic PRO is one of the most praised and recommended digital audio workstations on the market. It is incredibly fast and capable of handling tons of simultaneous tracks. That makes your workflow perfectly efficient and effortlessly smooth.

The program also boasts a lovely interface, hundreds of mesmerizing sounds and effects, and user-friendliness to suit even total beginners. However, it has two downsides: it is only available to owners of macOS, and it’s pretty expensive (although entirely worth it).

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Cubase 

cubase

If you already have some experience with DAWs, you probably don’t need any introduction when it comes to Cubase. This software provides a brilliantly intuitive and wholesome environment for any amateur, advanced, or even professional producer and composer.

If you are used to working with FL Studio (or simply like the way it looks), you will enjoy Cubase, too, since this DAW has a strikingly similar interface and many identical features. This software is particularly recommendable to those recording live instruments – its sound is genuinely great.

Check out our complete Cubase vs Studio One comparison.

Frequently asked questions about FL Studio vs Studio One 

Question: Do professionals use FL Studio?

Answer: Yes, many professional music producers use FL Studio for their work. This high-end digital workstation is considered to be perfectly suitable for many types of mastering, mixing, or even recording sessions. This DAW is also widely used by EDM producers from all over the world.

Question: Is FL Studio free for a lifetime?

Answer: FL Studio offers a limited trial that allows you to try all of its features and functions for free. After it expires, you must buy a full version of this DAW. Nevertheless, once you make the initial investment, all your future updates will be provided free of charge.

Question: Can you use Studio One for a live performance?

Answer: Absolutely. Studio One 5, which is currently the newest version of this DAW, comes with numerous upgrades that will allow you to run a whole live performance from a single computer. The process is simplified and allows you to focus on what matters the most – your creativity.

Our Verdict: Should you get FL Studio or Studio One?

Although both FL Studio and Studio One have many similar features and capabilities, each of these digital workstations is suitable for a slightly different type of user. Understanding their differences is, therefore, a key to choosing the best one for you and your work.

In general, experienced users will probably benefit more from the high-end FL Studio. This advanced DAW is packed with state-of-art features and functions, and if you know your way around its interface, your creativity will have endless potential. If you ask me, I prefer FL Studio for sure.

On the other hand, Studio One is probably more intuitive and forthcoming to those who are completely new to DAWs. Although it might not have some of the finest features of FL, you’ll be able to master this software much faster. Studio One is also your cheaper alternative.

Not sure if either of these DAWs is your perfect match? Check out our 10 Best FL Studio Alternatives.

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