To open the Audio Settings choose ‘Options > Audio settings’ from the main menu or press the F10 function key on your keyboard. The Audio Settings page contains options and settings for your audio interface. The settings chosen here can have a big impact on CPU load, so it is worth taking the time to learn what options are available. Note that some options change depending on whether an ASIO or Direct Sound driver is selected in the Output selector. If this is your first time to adjust the Audio Settings you may like to view the audio setup pages from the ‘Getting Started’ section.
Above left shows the Audio Options with the ASIO4ALL ‘ASIO’ driver selected (your card may have native ASIO drivers, if so use them), above right the less efficient ‘Primary Sound Driver‘, standard Windows driver.
Soundcard: The term ‘soundcard’ is used rather loosely, you may have a soundcard in your PC, a chip on your motherboard or it may be an external device connected by USB/FireWire/Bluetooth. The term Audio Interface is better used. An audio interface is any device that makes the sound you hear from your PC speakers. Audio Interface Driver: The driver is the software interface between the Windows operating system and the audio interface hardware. The driver tells Windows, and so FL Studio, what inputs/outputs the interface has and what sample rates it can support. Primary Sound Driver drivers place a layer of ‘middle-man’ software handling communications between the audio application (FL Studio for example) and the audio interface hardware while ASIO drivers allow direct communication between the audio application and the audio interface. This is why ASIO drivers are faster and more efficient than Primary Sound Driver drivers.
NOTE: The default FL Studio installation selects the Windows Primary Sound Driver (DirectSound) to ensure maximum compatibility. , so switch to your audio interfaces native ASIO driver, ASIO4ALL or FL Studio ASIO.
Audio Input / Output
The options selected here will determine what audio INPUTS and OUTPUTS are available to be used by FL Studio. Select the audio inputs and outputs from the Mixer IN/OUT menus.
Visible only when using ASIO driver.
If your audio interface does not natively support ASIO, the FL Studio install includes FL Studio ASIO (see below) and 3rd party driver ASIO4ALL. NOTE: that ASIO4ALL is a generic ASIO driver that works with most audio interfaces, your experience may be different. ASIO4ALL allows you to select inputs and outputs from different audio interfaces/audio-devices. The help section on ASIO4ALL advanced settings covers the options.
FL Studio ASIO
FL Studio ASIO has the advantage of being fully multi-client on most machines. This will allow you to hear the audio from FL Studio and other applications (such as YouTube, SoundCloud etc) at the same time.
- Input / Output – Select a single input and output from the audio devices installed on your computer. If you need to aggregate multiple inputs or outputs from multiple audio interfaces use ASIO4ALL.
- Hard-clip output at 0dB (otherwise limiting will be applied) – When selected the audio will distort when it goes over 0 dB. When deselected a limiter will be applied to prevent distortion. NOTE: With limiting applied you can no longer hear clipping distortion from FL Studio’s main output. This means you will need to pay attention to your peak meters (make sure the Master does not go over 0 dB), otherwise your rendered tracks will sound distorted even tho your live audio doesn’t. Traps for young players! All this happens external to FL Studio, so the switch has no effect on the internal processing, it’s all post-FL Studio audio handling.
NOTE: While your experience may vary, in situations where low latency performance is critical, we recommend you preference drivers in this order – Native ASIO driver > ASIO4ALLv2 > FL Studio ASIO. A Native ASIO driver is one that comes from the manufacturer of your audio interface.
Visible only when using Standard drivers (Primary Sound, WDM, Primary, etc).
- Buffer Length – This slider controls the audio buffer length. The buffer stores audio data before it’s sent to your audio interface. This allows FL Studio to even out momentary spikes in CPU load when processing that can be slower than ‘real-time’. Longer buffers lower CPU load and reduce audio glitches. However with longer buffers the delay between playing a MIDI keyboard or tweaking a control in FL Studio and hearing it is at least equal to this setting (in ms). The ideal buffer is the smallest your computer can manage without causing the buffer underrun count to increase (techniques for optimizing the buffer are described here). A good target with Primary sound drivers is 20-50 ms (880 to 2205 ms).
- Offset – This option can improve driver performance under Windows Vista. The default 0% option is off.
- Use Polling – Polling is a technique for managing Primary Sound Driver’s audio buffer, which usually allows much smaller buffer without underruns. On some PC-s, however, it can have the opposite effect.
- Use Hardware Buffer – Uses the hardware audio buffer of ‘Primary Sound Driver’ enabled sound cards.
- Use 32-Bit Buffer – Uses a 32-Bit floating-point buffer. Only works with Windows XP or above.
Audio Mixing Thread
- Priority – Sets the priority of the audio mixing thread. Higher = more CPU devoted to the audio mixing thread, but increases the risk of lockups/freezing when CPU demands become high. Lower = greater risk of buffer underruns. Adjust this (in combination with the buffer settings) if you have problems with lockups and/or buffer underruns.
- Safe overloads – Off: The audio mixing thread is given a very high priority, so that the user interface doesn’t cause hiccups in the audio engine. When the audio mixing thread is using all the CPU, it may leave nothing to the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which will then appear frozen. On (default): ‘Safe overloads’ adapts the mixer priority when CPU overloads occur, leaving a little CPU to run the GUI, so that you can sill interact with FL and minimize the CPU usage.
Underruns – This counter shows the total number of underruns detected. An underrun is counted when the buffer that feeds audio to your audio interface runs out of audio data. When this happens you will usually hear clicking, popping or crackling sounds. It means your computer’s CPU couldn’t keep up with the real-time playback demands of the project (song). There is a section on reducing underruns described here.
NOTES: 1. Underruns are a live-playback problem, they don’t happen in rendered audio as your CPU can take as long as required to generate the sound. 2. Some options bypass the underrun counter so if you hear clicks and pops without the count increasing AND your CPU usage is high (80% or more) it’s still likely to be an underrun. Sometimes however, clicks and pops are caused by plugins behaving badly.
Visible only when using FL Studio with the VST connection plugin or as a ReWire client.
Can solve jittery/incorrect playback position indicators OR solve Audio recording alignment problems with the Playlist. NOTE: Low Buffer Length settings can also improve positional accuracy.
These options are intended to reduce CPU load and maximize FL Studio performance on your PC.