There are many audio editors and digital audio workstations (DAWs) available that you can use to create music or podcasts from scratch. Audacity and FL Studio are two very popular pieces of software that beginners often choose to start producing audio content with.
To figure out whether Audacity or FL Studio suits your needs more, it’s helpful to break it down and compare the two. Let’s jump right in.
Creating music or podcasts can get very expensive with the costs of sound equipment, instruments, plugins, sample clearing, and so on, so you likely want to save money wherever you can.
Audacity is free software published under the General Public License (GPL), as Audacity states in its About section.
Conversely, there are multiple editions of FL Studio all coming in at different price tags. The cheapest edition is $99 with the most expensive being $499. All editions are one-time purchases. You can compare the prices on FL Studio’s compare editions page.
When it comes to pricing, Audacity is clearly the winner. If you’re on a budget, you’ll probably want to pick Audacity over FL Studio.
Ease of Use
Editing audio can be more complex than you expect. When working on a difficult project, or any project for that matter, understanding how to navigate your audio editor is a must.
When you open Audacity, you’ll see that the interface is really simple. There are only a handful of icons on the top bar, and a lot of features such as Project Rate and Track Selection are clearly named. When hovering over any of the icons, the name of it is instantly shown at the bottom of the screen so that you’re not left guessing what the feature does.
On the other hand, FL Studio is quite complicated due to its interface being filled to the brim with features and the dreaded nested menus that those features bring with them.
FL Studio opens with multiple windows, such as Playlist, Channel Rack, and Mixer-Master, then you’ve also got the Browser at the left that you can use to search for plugins and sounds, whether they’re stock or third-party, and a ton of icons on the top bar.
While FL Studio’s interface does name all the icons and tries to give a bit of information to the user, you might feel overwhelmed with just how much space all the different features take up.
When it comes to ease of use, Audacity is the clear winner. FL Studio is more complicated because of the number of advanced features it offers; this is good if you’re looking for an audio editor that is near-limitless in what you can do with it, but not so great if you just want to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the audio editor you work in.
Both pieces of software are great for recording and processing audio, but the one that’s better for you will often depend on the type of equipment you have and the type of audio you want to work with. A lot of microphones will cause feedback or static sounds when used in FL Studio, especially if your sound card isn’t up to scratch and you don’t use an audio interface.
Often, it can be easier to record audio in Audacity and then save it as a WAV file to open and apply effects to in FL Studio. However, you may find that Audacity, while often being more simple to use, isn’t able to give you the most professional-sounding audio. Despite this, there are many other creative uses for Audacity such as podcasting and more.
Plugin and VST Support
Downloading plugins and VSTs will likely be something you need to do a fair bit in your audio editing journey, particularly if you are into music production or mixing and mastering. While both FL Studio and Audacity support downloadable plugins and VSTs, there are many more options for the former.
The lack of many plugins and VSTs for Audacity, and the fact that the downloading process is not as streamlined, can be a problem given that the software has limited features to begin with.
On the other hand, FL Studio is very easy to download plugins and VSTs to and begin using instantly. The community surrounding FL Studio is very friendly and can often save you time in finding the best websites for downloading VSTs and instruments.
While it’s true that you can produce music in both Audacity and FL Studio, there is really only one piece of software you’d want to do it on. Producing beats on Audacity is tedious and time-consuming, due to the software not really being built with that intention in mind.
On the other hand, FL Studio was made for music production. FL Studio’s user interface, while a little overwhelming at first, is much more accommodating for that purpose.
While you would benefit from still using Audacity for things like recording audio and converting it into different file formats, you would absolutely need FL Studio or another DAW if you want to produce music.
Both pieces of software are great at being what they are set out to be. With Audacity being a free, lightweight audio editor with a no-holds-barred approach to adding third-party features, while FL Studio is a more streamlined, professional software that focuses on music production and processing.
However, when it comes to overall functionality, you’d be hard-pressed to find an audio editor that offers more than FL Studio. Throughout its history, it has continued to refine itself and improve, with community support also improving and making music production more accessible on the whole.
Audacity or FL Studio: Which Audio Editor Is Best for You?
Ultimately, when it comes to using an audio editor, you can benefit from both Audacity and FL Studio. While the latter has a much more comprehensive array of features for you to use, Audacity in its simplicity can often be much easier to record audio into then save it as a multitude of file formats.
Since Audacity is free, you won’t have to worry about being out of pocket, and FL Studio is affordable enough if you’re just looking to dip your toe into the world of audio editing.
While FL Studio is more complicated to learn initially, there are plenty of communities and YouTube channels around the web that make it easier to learn.
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