Whenever I’m asked about the best digital audio workstation (DAW) for producers nowadays, I always start with a disclaimer: there is no perfect software that suits everyone.
As a producer, it’s all about workflow. Some producers prefer using hardware and treat software as a tape machine for editing. Others may not have a strong musical background and look for software that provides instant gratification.
Ultimately, it’s about reaching your desired destination. In my opinion, if you consider all the DAWs available today, you’ll find that the ideal DAW falls somewhere between FL Studio and Logic Pro.
Now, let’s take a closer look at these two exceptional production programs and examine them from the perspective of music production and composition. We’ll explore how their workflows can either assist or hinder you depending on your goals.
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I’ve tried every single DAW out there, and I have to say, FL Studio is hands down the fastest program I’ve ever used to create beats. The piano roll layout and the design of the loop blocks are super user-friendly for beatmakers.
I started my career making pop music and then got into remixing, so electronic music and EDM are definitely a part of my workflow.
One of the most famous users of FL Studio is probably Martin Garrix. He’s a massive DJ, selling out festivals like Coachella and EDC, and has over 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify. So obviously this is a program catering to modern music production.
The best way to describe how I use FL Studio is as a hub for creating ideas. I love that the stock plugins are easy on the CPU. I can quickly start using chains, and their Flex synthesizer is one of the best stock synthesizers I’ve ever used.
Flex combines all the synthesis types that really matter, like subtractive, wavetable, multi-sample, FM, and AM. In a way, it’s like having an Access Virus within a DAW. That makes a lot of sense since the Virus is a popular EDM synth and is highly respected in the dance community.
Now, let’s talk about the things I don’t like about FL Studio. Once you’ve moved past the stage of creating cool 4-bar or 8-bar loops and beats, it starts to become a bit less inspiring and less professional.
The layout of FL Studio is so window-based that it makes me think less long-term in terms of arranging. I see everything more as a short loop, and then I move on to the next loop and the next loop, instead of seeing the bigger picture as a complete song arrangement.
This is also one of the downsides that many people complain about in Ableton Live’s Session View. The Arrangement View in Ableton is the solution to that, but it also has its own issues.
So, I would say that FL Studio is more limited but focused on beat-making and loop-making for electronic-based styles like hip-hop, reggaeton, EDM, and deep house. It’s also incredibly simple to use, so beginners and non-musicians seem to get faster results.
If you look at the artists who mostly use FL Studio, you’ll see that my assessment isn’t far off, as many of them work in these genres.
If you want to get a taste of what Logic Pro can do without spending any money, you can try GarageBand. It’s a simpler and slightly less professional version of Logic Pro, but it still packs a punch.
At first, Logic was all the rage among cool groove-based European producers, probably because Emagic was a German company. Noteworthy artists like Portishead, Massive Attack, and Disclosure produced many records using Logic. I was especially drawn to Logic’s swing feature.
Back in the day, when there weren’t many good options on computers for triggering drum sounds, I used to use hardware drum machines like the Roland 808, Akai MPC, and the Elektron Machinedrum to make beats. Each of these machines had its own unique swing settings that became closely associated with the genres they helped shape.
However, when Logic was released and Native Instruments’ drum sampler Battery came onto the scene, the focus started to shift away from hardware. I felt like I could finally create loops within the software that felt and sounded just as good, if not better, than their hardware counterparts.
In my opinion, this is where Logic really shines compared to other programs. As a digital audio workstation (DAW), Logic has a very musical sound. Its layout really encourages you to think about composition and arrangement when working on a complete song.
When you open Logic, you’re greeted with a clean and well-organized window that shows you all the bar measures for the entire song. Plus, Logic has great recording capabilities, the ability to compile vocal takes, and a collection of professional-sounding effects.
FL Studio vs Logic Pro – How to Choose!
So, the million-dollar question is: what is most important to you when choosing a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to work with? Is it a loop-based creation or a full-song arrangement? This decision really depends on your specific workflow.
For some people, sonics, groove, and creating the most interesting beats are crucial, especially if they make money by selling beats. On the other hand, for songwriters, the actual production takes second place to writing and coming up with the absolute best melodies possible.
Both of these programs are capable of creating a complete song, but let’s examine what sets them apart in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.
Drums and Beat Making
Although Logic allows you to do this with the piano roll, it lacks the same intuitiveness and ease of use that FL Studio offers. This is particularly important for electronic and hip-hop producers who may not be musicians themselves.
The ability to draw in beats using step sequencing is crucial and may be important to you as well. That’s why the 808 and Machinedrum were so popular.
In terms of my personal workflow, I prefer Logic because I am more of a film composer and songwriter-producer. I often work with drum libraries that require realistic programming, such as rock drums and jazz drums.
These drums need to be dynamic and ever-changing, much like a real drummer. For this reason, the layout and functionality of Logic are more suited to my needs.
Comping Vocals and Instruments
I believe this is where these two programs differ significantly. When it comes to other DAWs, I feel like Logic is closer to Pro Tools, which, in my opinion, is still the best for audio editing and recording vocals. FL Studio reminds me more of Ableton Live.
As mentioned earlier, FL Studio’s biggest strengths lie in the early stages of idea creation, such as beats, basslines, and the use of loops and samples from Splice. One of the reasons why Logic is superior to FL Studio is because of its implementation of something called Quick Swipe Comp tool, which is similar to Pro Tools’ Smart tool.
When this setting is enabled in Logic’s general settings, when you hover your mouse on a vocal take, different tools are automatically enabled depending on where you place it in the waveform. This allows you to edit, drag, and crossfade different pieces from different takes without having to switch tools in the main menu, which is a significant advantage.
FL Studio has made progress, but it still needs improvement in terms of vocal comping. It follows a more traditional approach of creating a new vocal comp track and manually dragging each piece, then switching tools and crossfading.
While possible, it is more involved. If you work with vocals, and guitar takes, especially multiple microphone recordings like a grand piano, then I recommend getting Logic Pro.
Both FL Studio and Logic can run third-party VSTs, so they offer similar functionality in terms of plug-ins. However, they differ in the quantity and quality of stock plug-ins that come with them.
When it comes to plug-ins, I really like what FL Studio has to offer, especially if you get their bundle with FL Studio 21(all plugin edition), which includes all plug-ins. They have incredibly creative and cool instruments, as well as some unique plug-ins that can add a distinct sonic character to your music.
Logic also has a few high-quality plug-ins, such as tape delay and Chromaverb, but they often seem like slightly generic versions of what you can buy from third-party creators like Valhalla and Universal Audio.
FL Studio quickly responded to the competition when it came to matching the professional version of Logic that debuted on the iPad Pro. Since Apple owns Logic, they implemented its code to be almost identical when transitioning between the mobile version and the DAW.
FL Studio Mobile is more of a simplified version of FL Studio, lacking many features when it comes to the back-and-forth between the computer version and the tablet or phone version. However, it is CPU-friendly and can be used on various devices, not just high-end ones like Logic.
I have to admit, after trying FL Studio Mobile, it feels clunky and has issues with saving correctly. Third-party plugins cannot be used, and it is incredibly slow.
When it comes to hardware controllers specifically designed for FL Studio and Logic, FL Studio definitely takes the lead. It not only has one, but two dedicated feature-specific controllers: the AKAI Fire and the Novation FL Key Range.
It’s quite surprising to me that Logic, which has been around for so long and is owned by the most valuable company in the world, does not have a MIDI controller specifically dedicated to it. While I can use various third-party controllers, none of them are feature-specific, which is mind-blowing.
So, kudos to Image-Line for listening to their customers and delivering exactly what they need.