Using The Channel Rack in FL Studio

FL Studio from Image Line is one of the most popular music production tools for home-studio producers. It is an incredibly powerful DAW that comes packed with an array of great plugins which includes a number of synths, reverbs, modulators, compressors, and much more. The channel rack however is one of the the components of FL Studio that sets it apart from all of the other popular DAWs out there. The channel rack is certainly the first thing you’ll notice when you first open the software for it has an interesting and alluring interface. This channel rack is your main tool for creating different drum kits, drum loops, and MIDI loops which will become the foundation of your next music project. Let’s take a look at some essential things you should know to get the most out of your channel rack.

Creating a drum loop in the channel rack is simple. If you’re opening up FL Studio for the first time, the channel rack window will automatically be available to you. If you do not see the channel rack, press F6 on your keyboard or press the channel rack icon located in the top menu. On the left side of the channel rack you’ll see several channels that will host and correspond to your different drum samples. On the right side, you’ll see a grid used to interpret a full bar and the individual notes within that bar. To begin creating a drum loop, you’ll want to import your desired drum samples by simply dragging and dropping your samples from your library and into a designated channel. Once you’ve imported your samples you can begin to sculpt your drum pattern.

This video tutorial below will give you some visual examples of how to get started in the Channel Rack:

To sculpt your beat, you’ll need to punch in on the step sequencer what notes you want your samples to be triggered on. Notes are easy to punch in and edit once you begin to play around and find what you think sounds good. There are a bunch of shortcuts you can use to edit notes like left-clicking and holding to draw notes in or you can right-click on your sample channel where a drop down menu will appear allowing you to chose a preset pattern. Once you think you’ve found a drum pattern you’re happy with, drag it into your playlist to save it and begin building the rest of your beat.

The channel rack contains even more features that are really great for keeping your workflow smooth. One of these features is the channel racks grouping capabilities. It’s easy to reposition your channels so you can organize your samples however you’d like. All you have to do is highlight your desired channel, click the drop down menu located in the top left corner of the channel rack window, and in the menu you’ll see options to move your selected channel up or down a row. This will allow you to move channels and create your groups of sounds. In that same menu, there are more options like mute and unmute which you can utilize when creating a drum pattern or editing the sound of your samples.

Another incredibly helpful feature you can find in the channel rack is the graph editor. The graph editor can be found in the top right corner of the channel rack. Once you’ve opened the graph editor and have selected a channel, you can edit things such as note velocity, panning, and pitch.

The graph editor also doubles as a piano roll for your MIDI notes as well. Along with samples, you can also import synthesizers and other plugins into your channel rack. Using the graph editor after selecting your synth channel, you can create chord progressions and melodies in the ‘pitch’ window of the graph editor. You can create these chords and melodies by drawing in notes and arranging them as you would in a traditional piano roll. This is great for quickly building melodic ideas which you can then transfer into you playlist.

Below is an awesome video tutorial that dives a little deeper into the features of the channel racks graph editor: 

Knowing and utilizing the channel rack is essential to creating music in FL Studio. The channel rack is a phenomenal tool for working out creative ideas and editing them quickly and efficiently. From drums to synths, the channel rack is going to be your best friend when creating in FL Studio.

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