One of the most significant features of FL Studio is its ability to use plugins. Simply put, plugins are additional components that can be integrated into FL Studio, which can help by providing additional functionality to the existing software.
While the steps on how to add a plugin to FL Studio might look complicated, on the contrary, they are very simple, if followed properly. In this section, we have added all the steps in detail. Make sure that you don’t miss out on any of them.
As obvious as it can get, the first step towards knowing how to add a plugin to FL Studio is to have a plugin with you in the first place.
Depending on your requirements, you can download a plugin for FL Studio for several websites on the internet. Some of the best websites to get these third-party plugins are Plugin Boutique, Waves, and VST4Free. You get paid as well as some free plugins on these websites.
Note- Because there are a lot of different plugin formats, check for compatibility before you download a plugin to use in FL Studio! Follow the simple guidelines mentioned here.
Like any other software, plugins come in two different bit versions, i.e., 32-bit and 64-bit. It is critical to use the correct bit version of the plugin otherwise they simply won’t work or at least won’t perform how they are supposed to for your version of FL Studio and your operating system.
If you’re a user who is running a 64-bit version of FL Studio, you will simply have to install 64-bit plugins. Again, 32-bit plugins might work, but why settle for less performance?
Also, putting out the fact that if you are running a 64-bit operating system (which is the most probable case), you'll generally want to use 64-bit plugins.
Plugin format is the second thing you need to ensure is the right version of the plugin. Four different plugin formats are popular, which include VST, AU, AAX, and RTAS. These formats are designed to work with different Digital Audio Workspaces.
Note that FL Studio uses only the VST and VST3 format plugins. From experience, VST3 plugins should be your go-to choice as they deliver optimum performance without draining your system resources.
Now that you have downloaded plugins onto your system. Knowing where to install them is as important so that FL Studio can properly execute them.
The plugin directory is where all the preinstalled and additional plugins will be stored once installed.
If you don’t already know the location of the plugin directory, you can always find out where your version of FL Studio looks for plugins. To do that, go to the “Options” menu, and from the drop-down menu, click on the “Manage Plugins” menu. This will tell you where you need to save the plugin files.
From the list of directories, you will have to select one of the directories for your plugins, and it will be added to the list.
Now, if you are like us, you would want to segregate your plugin directory depending on the genre or purpose, which helps keep a more organized and clean directory.
To add a different directory to the already existing list of plugin directories in FL Studio, all you have to do is click the folder “+” icon from the dialogue box.
Once you know your plugin directories, we can progress to the next step, where we will copy plugin files to the plugin folder. Ensure you copy the files to the correct location as FL Studio looks for plugins in specific folders by default. If a plugin isn’t present in that particular folder, FL Studio won’t be able to integrate it into the DAW.
If you open the plugin files you downloaded and find that it is a ZIP file, you must first uncompress it. Now if it has the. DLL file, you can simply go ahead to copy it. If it has an installer, you must install it instead of copying it.
After placing the plugin files in the right plugin directory, users must ensure that FL Studio can integrate the plugin successfully. This is the last step in knowing how to add plugin to FL Studio.
To start scanning for plugins in FL Studio, go to the Options menu on the toolbar, and from the drop-down menu, click on the “Manage Plugins” options.
A dialogue box will open as you click, from which you must click the 'Find Plugins' button.
This will initiate a search for any new additions in the FL Studio. If your plugin does not show here on the first attempt, do not worry, there are a few scan options you might have to enable/disable. Check the screenshot below to understand what we are talking about.
If your plugin is still not showing up after rescanning, make sure that you have installed the plugins to the correct folder and, more importantly, if you have installed the correct format of the plugin, which is compatible with your version of the FL Studio.
By now, you must have realized that being a music producer, with time, you will have to install tons of plugins to achieve certain things in the process, and hence it won’t take long for you to have a long list of plugins which will make it harder to find the right plugin at the right time.
This is why renaming a plugin can help you to be efficient. To do so, click on the plugin you want to change the name of in the Plugin Manager and click the ‘Plugin’ tab on the left.
Each of us has a plugin we use now and then. Therefore favoriting a plugin(s) is the perfect way to find that plugin without spending precious seconds. The best thing about favoriting a plugin is that whenever you try to add a plugin to a mixer channel, you will see your favorited plugin at the top of the list. Last time I added a drum kit, you might have noticed this.
To favorite, a plugin, return to the “Plugin Manager” and click on the “Star” right next to the plugin. And done!
Now that you have learned how to add plugins to FL Studio, we are sure you will have many plugins. This is why FL Studio has a visual tool that helps you access plugins visually instead of searching and selecting them from a long list.
To access the plugin picker in FL Studio, you only have to use the hotkey, F8 on your keyboard.
Looking at the screenshot, you might think it is even more complicated than selecting a plugin from the list, but believe us, once you get used to it, the plugin picker will only make you more efficient.
The best thing about the plugin picker in FL Studio is that it allows users to jump from one category to another by simply hovering their mouse.
Even though FL Studio itself comes with many great plugins, music producers worldwide often need specific functionality depending on the type of music they want to create. Hence the need to know how to add a plugin to FL Studio.
These third-party plugins in FL Studio will allow you to access new sounds, effects, and even virtual instruments!