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FL Studio 12 vs 20 Compared: Is It Worth The Upgrade?

FL Studio is known to be one of the most powerful and easy-to-use digital audio workstations today. Not only does it give you all the features, functionality, plugins, effects, synths, and other stuff you need to compose and create great music with ease.

This DAW has been constantly improving and in 20 years, it’s given us exciting new features with every major or minor update, as well as patches and revisions. The latest two major versions are FL Studio 12 and FL Studio 20.

There are not that many differences between FL Studio 12 and FL Studio 20. The reason for this is because FL Studio 20 is an upgrade to version 12. Image-Line, the company behind FL Studio skipped versions 13 to 19 to commemorate the program’s 20th anniversary.

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Main Differences between FL Studio 12 vs FL Studio 20

The Main Differences between FL Studio 12 vs FL Studio 2 are:

  • FL Studio 12 might require you to use Boot Camp on your Mac machine to install it for Windows, whereas FL STudio 20 has native macOS support available
  • FL Studio 12 didn’t give you the option to program time signature changes, whereas FLS Studio 20 works with multiple time signatures.
  • FL Studio 12 plugin delay compensation was problematic, with noticeable delays of up to 15 microseconds and severely out of time, whereas in FL Studio 20, problems with the PDC has been fixed.
  • FL Studio 12 doesn’t include the Graph Editor feature which was removed by Image-Line from the program, whereas FL Studio 20 brought back the Graph Editor which allows you to adjust the parameters of a note directly within the step sequencer without having to call up the piano roll.
  • FL Studio 20 allows you to easily do in-situ rendering or “freezing”, which helps you free up CPU load by reducing real-time effects processing and synthesis, whereas FL Studio 12 doesn’t have this feature.

FL Studio 12 vs 20 Compared

Twenty years is a long time for any company, but it’s especially when it comes to software companies. But this is not surprising for FL Studio. They celebrated their 20th year in 2017 and to commemorate that milestone, they named their latest release FL Studio 20, marking the end of FL Studio 12.

Are there any significant differences between these two releases?

FL Studio 12.0.0

FL Studio 12.0.0 was released in April 2015 and it touted several features such as:

Scalable Vector Interface

The new vector interface on FL Studio 12 can be resized according to your preferences letting you see everything in the windows you are working on and have as many windows that you need. But what makes this improvement more exciting is that it makes FL Studio 12 look very sharp while also ensuring that it runs smoothly.

Plus, the UI is scalable up to 8K, so if you have those new and more expensive monitors, it won’t be wasted on FL Studio 12.

Improved Mixer

Mixer improvements include advanced mixer routing, resizable mixing board, and six different mixer layouts that are optimized for different mixer sizes

FL Studio 12.0.0

Multitouch Mixer and Fader Groups

FL Studio 12 introduced more multitouch support for the mixer and fader groups, which now allows you to interact with both using your fingers. It’s almost like the real thing, and you can finally use your mouse less.

Magnetic Windows

You can place your windows anywhere you want.

Other Features That Are New to FL Studio 12

For FL Studio 12, there is now a new Mac OS X flavor that those with Mac Lion 10.7 or above can use. Plus, it can also support Novation Launchpad Pro controllers, as well as 64-bit plugins.

What’s more, you have a better way to install and discover VST plugins.

To see all of these features in action, watch the FL Studio 12 launch video here.

Versions of FL Studio 12

There are four different versions of FL Studio. Beginners get their feet wet with the $99 Fruity edition that cuts out most features. The entry-level version, however, is great for beginners who might want to try editing music.

The Fruity edition does not allow you to record audio, which is why you might want to skip it and get the Producer edition for $199. With the ability to record and edit audio, this version also has more virtual effects and synths, as well as sounds and loops that you can use.

Then there’s the Signature edition, which costs $299, which gives you a set of new plugins, including those that are new to FL Studio 12: New Tone, Pitcher, and Gross Beat.

Then there’s the All Plugins edition that costs $899, which gives you everything the FL Studio 12 offers, including all the effects and all the plugins.

What You Would Like About FL Studio 12

FL Studio’s greatest strength is the fact that it’s been designed with you in mind. Users have a fun time working with FL Studio 12 because it’s easy to use and has an excellently eye-catching user interface. Plus, it’s been regularly updated and all upgrades are free with your license.

FL Studio is very confident in its product that the free trial allows you to use all features, and only takes away the ability to save your files. Anybody from beginners to professional musicians will have a grand time using FL Studio 12.

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Updates to FL Studio 12

Over 32 months, FL Studio released 14 updates to FL Studio 12, before they launched FL Studio 20.

Everything You Need to Know About FL Studio 20

Image-Line launched FL Studio 20.0 in May 2018, and a little more than two years after, it has received 17 updates with the latest released in August 2020. To celebrate FL Studio’s 20th year, the company skipped 13 to 19 and used 20 for its next version upgrade.

But more than just being an anniversary edition, Image-Line also packed a lot of new features into FL Studio 20. Here are the highlights:

FL Studio 20 now allows you to view audio signals as they are recorded. This has been a staple in most other DAWs and now you have the capability in FL Studio. This allows you to know if there’s something wrong, like when you have a bad connection or wrong gain levels.

When you’re recording in looped mode, the takes are grouped, and automatically creates multiple passes so you can comp tracks that were recorded in multiple takes.

What’s more, the Edison audio editor now supports 24-bit WAV files, meaning you can now choose from 16-, 24- and 32-bit export options. And because FL Studio now works with Mac computers, you can now use Apple’s Audio Units plugins within FL Studio.

FL Studio 20 Features

Other features that have been improved include Slicex and Fruity Reeverb 2. There’s also the Fruity Convolver, which now has a plugin delay compensation control that can correct errors caused by latency issues.

You can also easily preview your playlist’s many components with the Mini-Preview scroll, as well as a customizable toolbar that you can adjust so that everything you need is easily accessible. There are also a variety of arrangements that you can easily collate within the same projects, so if you’re working with remixes or alternate versions, you don’t have to look far.

For FL Studio 20, Image-Line brought back the Graph Editor, which users have been clamoring for. For most people, upgrading to FL Studio 20 will find nicer and faster ways to do some things such as freezing MIDI tracks and pattern two or more actions together such as Render and Replace.

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More Additions to FL Studio 20

Until August 2020, there have been seven minor upgrades to FL Studio 20.

New in 20.1

  • Improvements in the playlist and audio recording, including faster workflows and easy organization in playlist track mode, better audio recording, and easy access to pre- and post-effect recording.
  • Improvements in step sequencer and channel rack

New in 20.5

Image-Line skipped 20.2, 20.3, and 20.4, going straight to 20.5, which means that this minor upgrade added a lot of improvements, such as the new Flex plugin, plus you can now use FL Studio as an AU or VST plugin on macOS hosts that support them.

  • There were also some additions and improvements to the piano roll, file settings, browser, plugin manager, performance monitor, patcher, channels and effects, MIDI, MIDI options, plugin management, templates, and underrun counter.
  • Several plugins were updated, including Fruity Blood Overdrive and Edison Denoise Tool, both of which are now usable on the macOS version.

New in 20.6

In 20.6, Image-Line added new features such as time warping, distortion simulation, control voltage support, and internal MIDI capture. These new features come in a version that also has several improved features.

You can also export all tracks in a playlist to an audio file and be able to export to SoundCloud directly from Audio export.

New in 20.7

  • Using the VFX Envelope for Patcher, you can now modify velocity, pan, pitch, and other note properties.
  • Create music videos with the ZGameEdior Visualizer.
  • You can now take full control of the program from any MIDI controller. With MIDI scripting, you can also remap your existing controller to fit your needs.
  • You can now automate with plugin delay compensation.
  • New channel type that allows you to use MIDI files that are using FLEX
  • Automatic loop to fill in remaining spaces in the current pattern
  • The default template is now Basic 808 with limited
  • Unlocked color management features in the piano roll
  • New color selector for easy customization


Question: Should you upgrade from FL Studio 12 to 20?

Answer: With free upgrades, there is no reason why you shouldn’t upgrade from FL Studio 12 to the latest version. You get access to new features as well as an improved set of functionalities.

Both versions work pretty well on either Windows or Mac computers, and upgrading will not invalidate your license since FL Studio 20 is a “continuation,” if you will, of version 12 despite the skip in version numbers.

Question: Is there a trial version of FL Studio?

Answer: If you have been meaning to try out FL Studio, then you’re in luck: Image-Line gives you the chance to try a fully-functional FL Studio that you can use for as long as you like. This means that you can play with the DAW for as long as you’d like until you get comfortable and confident enough to pay.

When you do pay, you will be able to access the projects you have created while testing out the software. There are very few limitations to the trial version, such as audio output being momentarily cut and not being able to save instrument presets among others.

Question: What are the main features of every release of FL Studio?

Answer: Over the years, FL Studio has become one of the best DAWs in the market and they did it through constant improvements. It shows in the improvements that they have released over the years.
Version 9: Multi-core effects processing and better multi-core instrument processing.
Version 10: Project browser, several bug fixes, and Patcher, which bring together unlimited effects and instruments
Version 11: Better tempo automation, multi-touch support, and the introduction of new features of the piano roll, and other new plugins such as Effector, BassDrum, and GMS.
Version 12: Vectorial user interface, improved plugins, redesigned mixer, better support for 32 & 64-bit plugins, easier file management.

Comparing FL Studio 12 and FL Studio 20

FL Studio, with its extensive range of features, capabilities, and ease of use is currently one of the best DAWs available today. What’s more, when you pay for FL Studio, you get free updates forever, and that’s a lot.

You also have technical support from their forums and access to diagnostic tools, as well as a plethora of free content for plugins and even first dibs on new and early releases.

There is not much difference between the two as far as the looks and the workflows are concerned. You shouldn’t worry about getting disrupted when switching over from FL Studio 12 to 20.

Under the hood, though, there are some additions and improvements that make it worth your while to upgrade to FL Studio 20:

  • Native macOS support
  • Multiple time-signatures
  • MIDI conversion to audio
  • Unlimited playlist arrangements
  • Better Plugin Delay Compensation
  • The Step Sequencer Graph Editor is back
  • In-situ rendering or “freezing”

What Are the Things You Need to Know Before You Switch to FL Studio 20?

So with all the features and improvements that you gain from upgrading to the latest version of FL Studio, there are some things that you need to know.

First off, it’s a pretty seamless experience when you do an update. You are pretty much using the same software so you only need to install the upgrades and run FL Studio like you normally do. More importantly, the workflow is pretty much similar to FL Studio 12 and 20.

However, with the new features, some are deprecated as well. For one, older synths are no longer supported, especially those on the 64-bit version of the software. If you need to work on an old track, particularly those done with FL Studio versions more than five years ago, you may find that some of them no longer work.

If you have songs using synths such as Wasp, SimSynth, WaspXT, or TS404, you may be able to get some of them to work if you go into the 32-bit version and then render the songs as audio. But this workaround may not last forever.

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FL Studio 12 vs 20 Compared: The Final Word

When it comes to DAWs, FL Studio can hold its own even with the rest of them. It’s one of the most widely used and popular software for creating music. It’s been receiving regular updates with new features, plugins, effects, and functionalities.

With the introduction of FL Studio 20, some things have changed. Features and plugins work much better, faster, and easier. What used to require more steps have been streamlined to help you save time and still get the best output as possible.

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Saturday 16th of January 2021

Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was once a enjoyment account it. Bridie Kele Agathe


Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

Hola. En el 20 la barra de desplazamiento horizontal, tanto en el piano roll como en los traks, encima de la numeración de los compases, resulta muy incomoda al poner de fondo el grafico de las notas. Hay forma de quitar ese grafico. Gracias