If you’ve been using FL Studio for a minute, you’ll have seen this beast of a list pop up when you go to load up something.
This is the FL Studio plugins list, and it shows you all the devices you have in your library.
If you’re new to FL Studio, you won’t have any clue what plugins are.
And that’s not even including third-party VSTs that you can download.
Whatever your case may be, this article aims to answer your questions. So make sure to read the whole thing to really understand plugins and be able to use them to their fullest potential.
We’ve broken this article into three main sections:
So, let’s jump into it. 👇
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What is a Plugin?
Depending on your music production journey, you might know what plugins are already. But if you don’t, they are extra pieces of software you can use with FL Studio (or any other DAW).
Hence the word: plug-in.
But what do plugins actually do that FL Studio can’t do?
While a majority of DAWs (like FL Studio) have great feature sets that can help you create high-quality music, sometimes the basic options just don’t cut it.
Perhaps you want to synthesize more complex bass sounds, or want to a
This is where third-party plugins come in – to fill the gap.
What are Generators, Instruments, and Effects?
Plugins come in two varieties: instruments and effect.
Instruments (FL Studio prefers the term generator), are used to synthesize, sample, and produce sounds.
The sounds are produced when you input notes into them through a MIDI device or on the piano roll.
These are loaded up either by dragging from the browser, or by clicking the + icon on the Channel Rack.
Effects help you to process & change the incoming sound.
These plugins are added in the FL Studio mixer inserts on the right of the mixer window.
Note that the order matters when it comes to loading up effect plugins in the mixer. If you add reverb after the delay, the reverb will be applied after the delay is applied to whatever is being inputted before that.
FL Studio includes its own plugins in some of its bundles because they know that certain plugins can add expanded functionality and creative sonic possibilities.
But the majority of plugins you’ll find in producers’ arsenals aren’t included with FL Studio.
Ever heard of Serum by Xfer Records? That’s a third-party synthesizer plugin.
Plugins made by third parties are something you can purchase or download separately to FL Studio, usually made by a variety of different manufacturers.
What’s a VST?
At this point, the terms can get confusing. Plugin? VSTs? What are all these words?!
Another word used interchangeably with ‘plugin’ is ‘VST’.
But many producers get confused here – they aren’t necessarily the same thing.
VST is a type of plugin format, but there are a variety of others too. Here’s a full list of the most popular ones:
- VST (Virtual Studio Technology) – compatible with most DAWs
- VST3 – a newer VST version compatible with some DAWs
- AU (Audio Units) – compatible with most DAWs on macOS only
- AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) – compatible with newer Pro Tools versions
- RTAS – compatible with older Pro Tools versions
- Native – not really a format, just when a plugin is hard-wired to only work with the DAW it came with
Many instrument plugins also have standalone versions that you can use outside of FL Studio or a DAW environment – this is usually an option when you install a plugin on your computer.
What should you use? It doesn’t really matter, they all work the same and don’t sound any different. Just make sure your computer supports it.
VST is the most popular and supported, but Audio Units are great on macOS because they are native to the platform.
FL Studio Plugins
As previously mentioned, FL Studio comes with a great set of plugins. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people pick FL Studio over other DAWs. These are a ‘Native’ format unique to FL Studio, not VST or anything.
You can find a LOT of information on each of them online, but it requires hours of research and understanding just to know how to use them.
When I first used FL, I just wanted to get in a start getting my hands dirty, without feeling like I’m drowning.
So let’s delve in and demystify the main ones for you. We won’t cover all of them, but we’ll get to the important ones.
This is a basic rundown of each plugins’ features and interface. We’ll include links to other resources for more in-depth explanations.
I can’t think of a more basic synthesizer plugin that’s included with FL Studio, but as they say, limitations can be powerful. Load this thing up and you can make some killer sounds.
So many people swear by this instrument, that there’s even a challenge dedicated to it.
It’s fairly self-explanatory, so much so that I can give you the basic rundown in a paragraph – you get 3 oscillators on which you can choose between 6 waves (saw, sine, triangle, square, noise, and rounded square) with each having the ability to also be a sampler (drag in audio).
In addition, you also get the standard level control, pan control, fine and coarse pitch tuning, detune and phase offset. Oscillators 2 and 3 come with mix controls that blend their signal in with Oscillator 1’s signal.
And that’s it – but don’t let the simplicity repel you. Play around with it and find out for yourself.
AKA FL Studio’s premier FM synth. What’s an FM synth you ask? It stands for Frequency Modulation, and it’s an advanced type of synthesis that’s able to produce some unique sounds that you can’t get
Once again, the interface isn’t anything too spectacular, and in actuality, it’s pretty daunting. In my early days of production, it was the kind of thing that made me scared to click on the fruity icon on my desktop.
Since then, they’ve revamped it with a less fear-inducing design, but the overwhelming feeling you get when gazing into the interface hasn’t gone away.
Consisting of 6 operators, some filters, and FX, you can make an insane variety of sounds – from rip-roaring growly basses to beautiful tonal pads.
Most of the sound comes from the Matrix on the right, where you can see a wall of knobs.
Essentially, you modulate the different operators against each other to produce different tones and textures.
If you’re after a full course on Sytrus, check out this course from Sonic Academy.
Harmless is an incredible subtractive-additive synthesis plugin, with an array of unique features. If you’ve heard of Massive or Sylenth1, Harmless is the closest native synth to those.
According to the FL Studio website, the synth was designed to have 5 main sections:
- Timbre – The oscillator or sound generation controls.
- Unison – Voice thickening &
- Phaser – Creates totally unique phasing and
partialbased effects, only possible with Harmless.
- LFO – Modulation source for adding motion and evolution to sounds.
- Effects – Chorus, Delay, Reverb & Compression.
Harmless has quite a learning curve, so if you’re new to sound design, you’ll probably want to follow a guide to learning a synth like this.
Note: Harmless only comes with the Signature Bundle and up
The staple of many bass producers’ studios, Harmor is an extended version of Harmless including a resynthesis engine.
What’s that you ask? Well if you make a sound, you can take it, treat it as the new basis, and apply the synthesis and FX process all over again.
If you’re interested in making crazy bass sounds with this plugin, check out some of SeamlessR’s tutorials on YouTube. The stuff he makes is unbelievable.
Other features include:
- Image Synthesis – drag in images to hear what they sound like
- FX – Click on the FX section in the bottom right to uncover a wide variety of distortions, choruses, delays and reverbs
- Layering – See the A/B section in down in the left-of-center? That means you can have two sounds going at the same time.
- Visuals – Harmor is great for visualising what’s happening to your sounds. Click the arrow on the right to show the spectrogram.
You can use Harmor in other DAWS on Windows, but on macOS your stuck inside FL Studio with this one.
Note: Harmor is only in the All Plugins Bundle
Being the bigger brother of the less-featured Fruity Slicer, Slicex is quite a capable sample slicing instrument. In a sentence: it chops up drum loops.
If the interface doesn’t make it apparent, Slicex isn’t feature-shy. With a variety of modulation options to alter the volume, filter, speed, velocity, and way more, you can chop loops both intuitively and creatively.
Like most looping instruments, it chops them automatically and assigns them across the keyboard.
Of course, you can change the chops by adjusting the markers down the bottom, while naming them for the sake of definition.
Once again, there are Edison-like audio editing features, including fade in/out, chopping, normalising, and heaps more. It’s one of those things that I recommend just getting in and exploring for yourself.
If you want a comprehensive guide to Slicex, check out this tutorial from Internet Money.
Honourable (Brief) Mentions
- Fruity Granulizer – takes samples, splits them into small segments, rearranges them and makes sick sounds
- Fruity Slicer – As mentioned before, this is a simpler slicing plugin that you can load up and just use
- BassDrum – quite a nice drum synthesizer for kicks
- Transistor Bass – great 303 emulation with some extra bells and whistles
- FL Keys – the infamous keyboard sounds of FL Studio, including a grand piano, Rhodes, blah and blah
- SimSynth – A nice analogue synth emulation
- Ogun/Autogun – Make some pretty wacky textures using physical modelling and some other technical magic
- Morphine – Really cool synth, got a bit of a learning curve.
- Toxic Biohazard – Confusing but powerful
Fruity Parametric EQ 2
A powerful yet simple EQ plugin that helps balance the different frequencies in a sound.
You’ve got 7 different bands you can manipulate the frequency and bandwidth on, but also 7 different curve possibilities:
- Low-Pass – cuts all frequencies above a certain point
- High-Pass – cuts all frequencies below a certain point
- Band-Pass – cuts all frequencies above and below a certain point, allowing a narrow range of frequencies through
- Notch – cuts a specific range of frequencies completely out of the spectrum
- Low Shelf – attenuates a group of frequencies below a certain point
- Peak – attenuates a range of frequencies at a specific point
- High Shelf – attenuates a group of frequencies above a certain point
If you’re new to EQ, check out this.
Ahh yes, that plugin that gets loaded on your master every time you open FL Studio. But what does it do?
Well first and foremost, it’s a Limiter – a device that allows no audio to pass over 0dB by applying heavy compression. Yet most people don’t realise it also have a standard Compressor function, and is the ideal way to side-chain something.
Have no idea about compression/limiting? Give this a look.
Fruity Delay 3
You may be surprised to hear that this plugin is a more recent addition to the FL Studio library. Or not, because it has the number 3 next to it.
Regardless, it’s definitely an improvement on iterations one and two. You can get so many awesome delays out of this thing, with features like feedback distortion, modulation and tone control, in addition to standard features like delay time, feedback, filter, delay model and dry/wet control.
If you’re new to the land of delays, Image-Line themselves have a comprehensive tutorial on their YouTube channel.
Fruity Reeverb 2
With a reputation for it’s cheesy sound, you might wonder why I’ve included Reeverb 2 amongst the ‘main’ plugins. But don’t listen to internet purists – Reeverb 2 sounds as good as the person plonked in front of the DAW can make it.
You’ve got quite a number of controls here, but the important ones are: delay, size, decay, dry/wet, high/low cut and ER level.
These control the bulk of the length, density, loudness, colour and shape of the reverb tail – the thing that makes your sound feel like it’s in another space.
This isn’t a full reverb tutorial, so if you’re after that then check this out.
I’m quite surprised when FL Studio users say they haven’t delved into the sonic capacity of the Convolver. Maybe because the interface causes people to freak out and shut FL Studio down.
So what is it? A convolution reverb plugin – different to the standard algorithmic reverbs you’ll find (like Reeverb 2).
Instead of relying on the aforementioned maths to calculate a precise space, it uses a pre-existing sound called an Impulse Response (IR) and superimposes that over the input signal, taking your bedroom saws to the Taj Mahal and back.
FL Studio includes a great library of IR’s, but you can find a ton for free with a swift Google search.
Among the standard knobs and features of a reverb plugin, you’ll find Edison-like audio editing tools to customize your IR exactly the way you desire, including a useful EQ section to alter pesky frequencies in the original sample.
Pro-tip: for some crazy sound design, try dragging in a sound that isn’t designed to be a IR, into the sampler at the bottom. Because breaking tools is the funnest, right?
If you’ve picked up FL Studio from another DAW like Ableton, this is where all sorts of audio processing and recording
With a myriad of tools including fade-ins and outs, normalization, looping, delay, blur (a reverb-type effect) and so much more than I can write here, you’ll be playing with it for hours.
As mentioned before, FL Studio has tried to unify
One thing to note about Edison is that because of it’s native integration, it ‘overtakes’ the transport keyboard shortcuts (like play, pause and record) when being used, as this allows for a seamless recording experience.
The holy grail of FL Studio to be honest. Honestly, when I first used this plugin I didn’t get it. I mean, I thought it was alright, but nothing fantastic.
But after getting more into production and increasing my knowledge, you can see how practical and creative it can be.
Sidechaining, pitch shifting, stuttering, volume fading, turntable emulation – you name it.
Yet this is all achieved by drawing an envelope for both the pitch and volume over a defined period of time (e.g. 1 bar).
Note: Gross Beat only comes with the Signature Bundle and up.
While it’s no replacement for a dedicated effect type, Effector is a fun way to get creative with your processing.
Combining phasers, reverbs, distortions and pretty much every effect type into one plugin, it allows intuitive modulation of parameters on an X-Y pad, with a customisable mod rate.
Think of it like a discount Turnado, Effectrix or Glitch 2. Good for some applications, not so much for others, mostly because there’s not too much to the plugin.
Yoy-bass lovers and vowel-sound fanatics – this is your plugin.
Vocodex is an advanced Vocoder plugin. I’m not going to take the time to explain in depth what a vocoder is, but essentially it uses a voice (modulator) to modulate a carrier, which can be a synth or any sound.
It’s how you get those robot-esque sounds in many of Daft Punk’s tracks.
Except Vocodex is like that on steroids. You can change vowel sounds, make it sound like multiple people, and way more.
Here is a simple guide on Vocodex if you want to dive into it.
Multiband compression and limiting to the next level. Maximus is (mostly) a mastering plugin that makes things sound super loud.
It has 3 bands, for low, mid and high, and then a master processing that comes after all three.
Each band has its own visualizer and set of controls, like gain, attack and release, and the graph on the left, which represents the ratio and threshold.
Maximus requires a decent set of prior knowledge before using it, like understanding an EQ, compressor and limiter, so if you want to dive into it, check out another video from Seamless.
- Soundgoodizer – Look, as much of a meme as it may be, it packages some Maximus presets quite nicely into an easy interface. It can actually, in fact, sound good.
- Hardcore – Guitar pedals inside a DAW? You got it.
- Fruity Chorus – it’s a basic chorus plugin.
- Fruity Flanger – it’s a basic flanger.
- Fruity Phaser – basic phaser.
- Fruity Waveshaper – a basic waveshaper for custom distortion.
- Fruity Soft Clipper – adds some nice soft distortion in a simple interface.
Beyond the many included plugins, there are an infinite number of free and paid options made by a variety of manufacturers. Honestly, there are way too many – a good problem to have.
Most of these work in any DAW, of course, but hey, if you’ve read this far then I’m assuming you use FL Studio.
If you don’t know how to add them to your library, check out our beginner’s guide to FL.
One recommendation here is to be careful – it’s easy to go overboard with plugins that you’ll never use, and you could waste a lot of money and kill creativity. Think about each plugin before you add it to your studio.
Paradoxically, at the right moment, adding a new plugin to your toolbox can be a great way to spark inspiration. So let’s take a look at some options.
So you want your sounds to be super-squashed? Like over-the-top squashed? Then this is the compressor for you.
Modelled off the ‘OTT’ Multiband Dynamics preset in Ableton Live, this plugin brings the unique texture to any DAW, including FL.
Includes gain control, 3-band threshold control, time and depth controls.
It’s hard to come across a decent spectrum analyzer. Especially one that’s free.
Span is incredible for the price (free) and has all sorts of functionality, including FFT time customisation, pitch and frequency analysis, and multiple spectrums from different audio sources.
Unlike other analyzers, it balances the frequency spectrum to how we as humans hear sound. Super cool.
I had to include a free instrument, and Tyrell is insanely great value as a free plugin, because it’s synthesis engine is premium-level quality.
Yes, it’s simple and compact, but that’s all you might need. Check out some of the presets on this thing, they’re really solid.
The filter module on this thing is also adapted from Diva, u-he’s top-of-the-line analog emulation synth. So don’t sleep on this one.
While there are numerous free plugins that are sufficient for both making good music and sparking creativity, sometimes you need something that’s had the time and effort worked into it.
The problem with free plugins is that they’re hit and miss, whereas if you buy something, you’re a lot more likely to get utility out of it.
Not just because there is a financial incentive for the company, but also because there is also an investment on your part, giving you the kick up your producer ass you probably need.
Here’s some popular and high-quality options on the market:
It’s both number 1 on Splice and the go-to synth plugin in many electronic music producers’ studios for a reason. It’s damn sick, that’s why.
Serum is the brainchild of Steve Duda, a producer and software engineer who runs Xfer Records.
Basically, it’s an advanced wavetable synthesizer with subtractive, additive and FM capabilities all built in, and that’s only scratching the surface.
What’s a wavetable synthesizer? Imagine you could tell your oven to make any food you wanted ever. That’s the culinary equivalent of Serum.
You can import any sound and turn it into a wavetable, by splitting the sound into series of audio cycles that get repeated and scanned through. Kind of like making a stop motion film and putting all the pictures together at the end.
You can either buy or rent to own Serum, which is a pretty sick deal. So click the link above to grab it. We also recommend it for EDM Foundations course.
AKA mastering made easy all in one plugin. Ozone is a suite plugin, meaning it rolls a lot of the features from a group of standard plugins into one simple interface.
It comes in a few different versions, but at the heart of it, the result is the same – quality mastered audio.
Ozone has some crazy futuristic features that I should mention, like Tonal Balance Control (which is basically automatic EQ), Spectral Shaping (removes frequencies surgically per band) and Track Referencing per section. Makes some tedious mastering tasks too easy.
To sum it up, Ozone includes the following modules (they are standalone too in the Advanced version):
- Spectral Shaper
- Dynamic EQ
- Post EQ
- Vintage Limiter
- Vintage Tape
- Vintage EQ
- Vintage Compressor
Once again, Splice offers the option to either buy or rent to own Ozone, so click on the link to get to their site.
Although it’s a bit older (and it’s about to get a revamp), Massive was the centre of many music producers’ studios for years and years, responsible for many synth sounds. And it still is for many people, remaining at #11 on Splice.
It’s a wavetable synth, like Serum, but without the crazy visuals and custom import options. It’s got some great, unique filters and other processing options though, making it great if you like a bit of restriction.
Recommended: Massive X vs Serum
One of my personal favourite reverbs, Valhalla VintageVerb is insanely good for thick, retro-style reverb.
It can emulate a 1970’s colour, a 1980’s colour or a NOW colour, which texturizes the reverb in different ways.
It also has a bunch of different modes for different sounding spaces, and a myriad of presets for different creative needs.
While you’re at it, you should just check out all of Valhalla’s reverbs. They’re all $50 each.
If you didn’t know, there are literally thousands, if not millions of free and paid plugins out there for FL Studio, made by hobbyists and companies alike. Here are a few resources that curate them well. Be warned though, you’ll find both gems and garbage in these sorts of places.
- Music Production Software Guide – Our own list of curated software, including plugins. We cut out the junk in this one, but not all are free.
- VST4Free – So many free plugins here, so if you need something specific, give this a look.
- KVR Audio – More of a full-featured plugin forum, that features a variety of plugins with download options.
- LANDR Blog –A bit more on the curated side again, LANDR lists 200 free plugin options on their blog.
- Splice – Splice curates a lot of plugins, and also ranks them depending on who uses them. Pretty cool.
Ok, there are quite a few options, so go check out some of these plugins, load them up into FL Studio and be on your way. Also to check out our music production software guide if you need more.
Remember, plugins won’t solve all your issues either, and they won’t make you a better producer. The thing that makes you a better producer is getting down the fundamentals.
That’s why you should grab our EDM Starter Kit – full of samples, presets and resources to guide you on your music joruney.
Get the headstart you need in music production with our EDM Starter Kit
Get our collection of high-quality presets, samples and PDF guides – suitable for all genres of electronic music.
If we missed something important, then let me know at [email protected].