Fruity Loops, more commonly known as FL Studio, is a music production program that is efficient and affordable for most home studios. It's popular because of its user-friendly interface and its ability to be expanded with downloaded samples and virtual instruments. The program, with practice and the right combination of talent and live instruments, can be used to create studio quality music of any musical genre.
If you're just starting out with Fruity Loops, you may want to use the templates to get an idea of how the program works. There are various templates for many different styles of music. There is even an acoustic template which features a "real" drum kit, though Fruity Loops is best used for electronic music.
Once you've figured the program out, you can create your own templates, so you don't have to waste as much time getting a drum pattern in line. Fruity Loops is different from recording a real instrument because an idea can be lost by the time you start up the program, find the right instrument samples, and arrange them. With a template, you can get started faster and the chances are more likely that you'll be able to put your ideas down with less trouble.
Use the Equalizer to Kill Fuzz
Some of the samples used in Fruity Loops are distorted a bit by background noise and static. You can work with either of the equalizers in Fruity Loops (EQUO, Fruity 7 Band EQ, Fruity Parametric EQ, or Fruity Parametric EQ 2) to minimize the noise and distortion. Most people will immediately turn to the filters to get the noise out of their samples, however, filtering can cause the sample to become dull and useless. With the equalizers, you can maintain the bounce in your beats.
Making Beats Heavy
Double up on your drums for a more heavy sound. Don't use just a single kick--double the kick by cloning it. This also goes for the rest of the drums, except you may be able to get away with a single hi-hat, if it has good quality. Doubling up on the percussion works especially well if you're making hip hop and house beats, which rely on a heavy sound.
Download Samples and Virtual Instruments
Fruity Loops has an extensive library of sounds, however, the sounds aren't the best quality. You can scour the Web for sample libraries and virtual instruments (VSTis) to use on the program. Some sample libraries and VSTis have sounds that are of great quality, while other samples are barely audible. Many sample libraries can be found for free, while you'll have to purchase others. Obviously, the ones you buy will be the best, but you can amount an arsenal of a few thousand samples for absolutely nothing and they'll be adequate enough to make a lifetime of studio quality beats.
Master the Piano Roll
The Piano Roll function allows you to use your computer keyboard as a music keyboard. You can record the notes you play directly into Fruity Loops or you can play the notes and enter them manually in the places where you want them. If you fail to learn to use the Piano Roll, your music will sound like it was made on a computer. Mastering the Piano Roll will allow you to give your beats an organic feel, as if the music was being played live rather than clicked into place with a mouse.
Filling in the Spaces
If you find that your beats are sounding as if they're missing something, they probably are. Add an instrument or some other sound to fill in those spaces. Some people use reverb to fill in the spaces, and it works sometimes, however, too much reverb will kill the beat. Finding another instrument is harder than adding reverb, but the beat will have more texture and a fuller sound if you do it that way.
You shouldn't worry much about compression until you have a decent recording, but when the time comes to add compression, start with the drums. Many music producers will only compress the drums and they'll use equalizers on the other instruments, but it all depends on your preference. Too much compression will kill a beat, and not enough compression will kill a beat. You have to experiment with the levels and get the right amount of compression for the music you're trying to make. For instance, in hip hop, house, trance, and techno music, you can use the Fruity Compressor for the kick drum with the following levels and get a great result:
"Threshold" at about 20 dB
"Ratio" at 4.0: 1
"Gain" at 6 dB or a little higher
"Attack" at 3 milliseconds
"Release" at 4 milliseconds (depends on if the kick drags or has reverb)
You can set the Type anywhere you like. What sounds good usually is good.
You can save these settings as a compression template and adjust it for all the kick drums you'll ever use for hip hop or house music (any music that relies on heavy bass). These settings will keep your kicks from getting too loud and overpowering the rest of the beat.
With snares and hi-hats, you'll normally lower the ratio, and for hi-hats, you'll increase the release time, so that the hi-hats can echo a little bit. This allows your reverb to last a little longer so your beat is fuller.