Avid Pro Tools and FL Studio are two great examples of “digital audio workstations” (DAWs).
DAWs have become a hot topic of debate in the sound producing world because there really is no “supreme” platform on the market. When DAWs first came into existence, Pro Tools was one of the only platforms that provided functionality close to that of a traditional mixing board. Now, there are dozens of alternatives that rival Pro Tools and provide different workflows and functionalities to suit different kinds of audio production.
DAWs are no longer being split into “professional” and “hobbyist.” Instead, which DAW you find the “best” will likely depend on a variety of factors such as what kind of projects you work on, how comfortable you are with professional audio editing software, and which workflow you find the easiest.
In this head-to-head comparison, we’re taking on two popular DAWs, breaking down their features, and finding out which one comes out ahead in a variety of key functionalities and features.
So, get ready for the 2022 showdown of Avid Pro Tools vs. FL Studio.
What Do Avid Pro Tools and FL Studio Do?
Avid Pro Tools and FL Studio are both DAWs that are used for recording, producing, and mixing audio projects. You can use both platforms to master an album, record a podcast, or design brand new sounds for a film or animation project.
While they may have slightly different features, at their core, they are both designed to allow you nearly unlimited ways to manipulate audio.
The Main Differences Between Avid Pro Tools and FL Studio
While Avid Pro Tools and FL Studio share a lot of similarities, they also have some key differences. For example:
- Avid Pro Tools is geared at being a “one-stop shop” for producers who want to record live sound, edit it, and publish it through one platform. FL Studio is more focused on sound mixing and mastering than recording.
- Avid Pro Tools operates on a subscription model, with different pricing tiers and discounts for students and teachers. FL Studio still operates on the one-time purchase model and guarantees free updates for life after you purchase the program.
These are just the most basic differences between the programs, but we’re not here for a surface overview. Let’s dig in deeper and see how these programs stack up when you put them head-to-head.
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Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to put these programs up against each other and see which ones excel in each of our key categories:
Ease of Use
Winner: FL Studio
Why: “Ease of use” is a somewhat subjective category, but when users were polled on G2, FL Studio was given the edge in this category. Part of the reason for this is that Pro Tools is a huge platform with tons of functionality, which means it has a lot of uses, but also a bit of a learning curve. FL Studio is a slightly more slimmed-down program, which makes it a little bit easier for beginners to get the hang of the workflow slightly faster than with Pro Tools.
Sound Editing Functionality
Winner: FL Studio
Why: This category is also subjective, but when it comes to sound editing, FL Studio also has a bit of an edge over Pro Tools. The platform was originally designed for DJs and electronic music producers, so it weights most of its features towards editing and mixing and tries to make these as easy and functional as possible. The biggest standout in sound editing is its ability to efficiently write and edit MIDI files, something that Pro Tools is capable of, but many users found to be much less efficient than FL Studio.
Winner: Avid Pro Tools
Why: Here’s a category where Pro Tools has the clear advantage. FL Studio is aimed towards electronic music producers, most of which don’t sample much live audio. Pro Tools, on the other hand, excels at capturing live performances and live recordings of all kinds. This is why you’ll see Pro Tools most commonly used in professional recording studios. Pro Tools has all the features one would expect to record live sound.
Winner: FL Studio
Why: Now we’re back into the arena where FL Studio reigns supreme. FL Studio includes what is widely considered to be the best Piano roll in the business, and can send note and automation data to a vast assortment of plugin instruments. This makes it exceptional for music production. It also includes features like effects chains, audio sends, sidechain control, advanced automation, plugin delay compensation and tons of other features that are essential for a complex sound mix.
Quality of Support
Winner: FL Studio
Why: Both Pro Tools and FL Studio have extensive support infrastructure, but overall users found the quality of support offered to be slightly higher for FL Studio than Pro Tools. FL Studio has a learning center, support community, and professional software support to cover nearly any challenge you may be having while using the software.
Winner: FL Studio
Why: G2, one of the most trusted sources for software reviews, rated FL Studio as a solid 4.5/5 stars, while Avid Pro Tools only scored 4.3/5. Both ratings put these programs at the top of the market, but in this case, G2 reviewers found FL Studio to have a slight edge over Avid Pro Tools in areas such as ease of use, ease of setup, ease of admin, and ease of doing business.
Why: Capterra users rated both FL Studio and Avid Pro Tools a 4.8/5 stars, giving them a dead tie as two of the best DAWs available on the market.
Winner: It Depends
Why: It’s hard to determine a winner for price between these two programs because they use very different pricing models.
Avid Pro Tools uses a subscription-based model which starts at $299 for a 1-year subscription paid up-front. However, for students and teachers, this price plummets to just $99 per year with a qualifying academic eligibility. Pro Tools also offers a "Pro Tools Ultimate" version with additional tools
FL Studio has a different pricing model, where they still offer a software ownership structure. The FL Studio “Fruity Edition” starts at just $99 and is designed as their entry-level option. This tier does not include audio recording capabilities or any plugins, but allows users to get familiar with the program layout and features. The “Producer Edition” includes audio recording capability and additional features and plugins and is just $199.
Additional premium packages are also available. The biggest pricing deal that FL Studio offers is their “lifetime free updates,” which means once you purchase FL Studio, you’ll never have to pay for the latest edition.
Who is Pro Tools Best Suited For?
Audio Producers Who Do a Lot of Recording: Pro Tools is considered the industry standard for professionals, so for anyone looking to make a long-term career as an audio producer, you’re more than likely going to end up on the Pro Tools platform at one point or another. It’s also one of the best platforms for live recording, so if you’re looking to work with live sound, Pro Tools is likely your best bet.
Who is FL Studio Suited For?
EDM Producers: FL Studio was specifically designed for electronic music producers, so it’s going to feel like a natural fit for most people in this genre. Its tools and features are designed to make electronic music production simple and efficient, but allow for tons of complexity if you want to push the envelope.
Sound Mixers: Thanks to its efficient MIDI tools and tons of plugins, FL Studio makes an excellent platform for sound mixers who like to design their own sounds and manipulate tracks.
So, Which One Should You Choose?
With both programs sharing a heavy amount of overlap with each other, choosing which one you’d like to work with will likely come down to what kind of projects you like to work on and whether or not you want to do lots of live audio sampling and recording.
Ultimately, the final decision should come down to which platform makes it easiest for you to work on your audio projects with little resistance, and to decide that, we always recommend taking advantage of the free trial that each offers so you can get your hands dirty and figure out which platform you find easiest to work on.
Hopefully this head-to-head comparison will make choosing the right software for your next project a breeze, allowing you to unleash your creative energy and focus on creating crystal-clear audio mixes that surprise and delight your audience.
If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio editing team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your edit sessions, whether you’re on Logic Pro X or Pro Tools, in full-HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind unlocking your best work.
Additional Comparison Guides for Pro Tools: