How to Record a Hardware Compressor into FL Studio
This tutorial shows you how to:
- Send audio out of FL Studio into Hardware
- Compress and EQ that audio with Analog Gear
- Send the Audio Back into FL Studio to Record (Or just so you can listen to the sound it can give you!)
Starting at the Audio Interface
The start of our signal flow begins with the output of the audio interface.
At my time of writing, I currently have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4. This means it has two inputs, and four outputs.
Having more than one set of outputs is crucial to being able to route your audio out of FL Studio, into your hardware, and then back into FL Studio so you can hear/record the audio being processed from your analog gear!
So since the Scarlett 2i4 has four outputs, that means it has two pairs of left and rights. (1-2 is one pair, 3-4 is another pair of left and right outputs.)
I use outputs 1-2 for my speakers, which is also the audio you guys usually hear in my tutorials. Outputs 3-4 are the channels I use to send the audio out of FL Studio into the hardware compressor’s INPUT.
Now, from the hardware compressor’s OUTPUT, we send this back into one of the Scarlett 2i4’s INPUTS.
In the video, you’ll see I used INPUT 1 as my microphone for recording/talking to you, and INPUT 2 was used to record our compressed audio!
Listening and Tweaking to Taste
Now here’s where your awesome audio engineering skills come into play.
Tweak those knobs until you get the sound you want. Once everything is perfect, you can then record it so you can actually keep, and use throughout your production.
Remember – When you record audio in analog, it’s now printed. This means you can’t go back and make changes unless you remember/wrote down the exact placement of the knobs. It isn’t like working with digital VST plugins which allow you to go back and open up the file and adjust something if you didn’t like it later on!
How to Record Audio into FL Studio
There’s no point to setting this all up if you’re never going to record the audio! So here’s how to save your recording.
Simply choose any mixer insert/channel you’d like. You’ll see each mixer insert allows you to have an INPUT source at the top, and an OUTPUT source at the bottom!
I’ll select the INPUT 2 to record, as in this video, that’s where my compressed drums are coming in!
If you click play, you should see the audio meter of the selected track showing you that signal is there!
Now to Actually Record:
Right click on the red circle of your mixer insert, and a window will pop up. Just choose where you want to save it!
After recording, it should appear inside FL Studio’s playlist. If it hasn’t then at least you’ll know where to find the file you recorded, cause you chose where to save it!
Another alternative is to just record the audio into Edison. (Just load Edison onto the channel that is receiving the processed hardware signal.)
Digital and Analog Hybrid!?
Get this – Just cause you’re sending audio out to a piece of hardware doesn’t mean you can’t still use VST’s !!
Sure, you can use VST’s AFTER you’ve recorded the audio back into FL Studio.. but what happens if you use a VST to effect the sound BEFORE it goes into the hardware compressor?
For example, inside FL Studio, if you use an EQ to boost the bass of the kick drum to an extreme, and send that into the hardware compressor, it can give you different sounds to work with inside your hardware unit. Because what if you’re hardware EQ only allows you to boost up the low-end only so much?
This way, you can boost up a bit of bass before going into the hardware compressor to get the sound you like.
Using a bit of hybrid digital-analog processing!
So, that concludes this tutorial on how to set up FL Studio so that you can record outboard gear into FL Studio.
Let me know if you have any questions if your hardware routing differs from this tutorial, and questions rise for yourself.