The Best Pad Controller for FL Studio

The Best Pad Controller for FL Studio

If you are using FL Studio, chances are that you want to be able to create music that matches your exact visions. Otherwise, what is the point of purchasing the software? Generating the best possible music requires a few things, and one of these is a pad controller in most situations.

What is the best pad controller for FL Studio? Many would say that the best pad controller for FL Studio is the Akai Professional Fire, although others might choose different options based on their own needs.

A pad controller is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who wants to achieve maximal success with all the features offered by FL Studio. Therefore it helps to learn a little bit more about all the available options, as well as what you should be looking for when you choose a pad controller.

What Is a Pad Controller?

In this context, a pad controller can also be referred to as a MIDI controller. This is a piece of hardware that is modeled after MIDI keyboards and synthesizers. For anyone who is familiar with the structure of a piano keyboard, this makes it easy for you to figure out the notes to compose any kind of music. Even relatively primitive computer setups involve some sort of keyboard and mouse system. 

Although many pad controllers do not include piano keys, they are much better equipped to process input for musical composition than is your computer keyboard.

In the context of FL Studio, a pad controller can be quite helpful. FL Studio is a digital audio workstation software that can provide you with everything you need to compose music.

You don’t necessarily need a pad controller to operate FL Studio. However, you will be able to get a lot more use out of this software if you have one. It will probably take you a lot more time to get your tasks done if you do not have a MIDI controller.

If you decide not to get one, you can still use FL Studio. However, you will have to figure out how to play your computer keyboard like you would use the pads on a pad controller. Additionally, a MIDI controller is much more capable of picking up nuances, such as velocities, than your computer keyboard.

Types of Pad Controllers for FL Studio

There are two broad categories when it comes to types of MIDI controllers. One includes instrument-based controllers (based on the model of a piano or keyboard), and the other is pad- or button-based. The button-based controllers are often called alternative MIDI controllers. The one that you choose will depend on your specific set of needs.

If you focus on bass work and general rhythms, it might be simpler to use a pad or button-based control. However, if your music includes a lot of instrumental work and you spend a lot of your time structuring melodies, you want an instrument-based controller that has a minimum of 32 keys.

If your work involves quite a bit of both, some options combine the two. Sometimes, you can find a pad controller that includes fewer piano keys that will give you a simplicity comparable to the typical button-based controller. Also, if you are just starting out in the field, you should keep in mind that a controller that is complex and intricate might be overwhelming for you.

What Should You Look for in a Pad Controller?

When you are making your decision regarding the best pad controller for FL Studio, there are a few different factors that you should consider.

Number of Piano Keys

The ideal number of piano keys for you will depend on your purposes with FL Studio, as well as how much space you have and how much money you can spend. If you are mostly doing bass work and simple chords, a pad controller with a smaller number of keys might be right for you.

However, if you are working with intricate melodies, you will probably want the instrument-based controller with a larger number of keys. If you have the physical space for it, you should aim to get a model that has at least 49 keys. This will allow you to do whatever you want in from basic to intermediate music composition.

Most controllers that are considered pad controllers are not going to have many keys. True pad controllers do not have piano keys, although the hybrid models can.

Velocity Sensitivity

This may or may not be important to you. If you only plan to sequence steps and launch clips, velocity sensitivity probably does not matter much.

Velocity sensitivity means that the controllers can sense how hard you are pushing down on them. This is important if you want more expression in your composition, such as nuances in your drum grooves or melodies.

Backlighting and Color Coding of Pads

This may not seem that important. After all, different colors can make your pad controller look cool, but it’s probably not worth spending extra money on, right?

The truth is that this is much more than a simple cosmetic feature. It can make the pad controller much easier to use. If you are using it during a performance, it can save you from making a mistake that could ruin everything. 

In some cases, you will be in a place with bad lighting, and being able to recognize the right buttons to press by the colors that you see can be crucial.

Range of Options

Ideally, you will have a pad controller that gives you a wide range of options. Even if you don’t end up using them, it is always good to know that they are there. Many MIDI controllers out there that have a range of knobs, sliders, and buttons on the top panel. These options are in addition to the piano-style keys that you will be using. This will allow you to add a variety of effects to your music, which can be useful and fun at times.

Also, there are some features that you really want your pad controller to have just for ease of use. First, you want to make sure that your controller can transmit MIDI data. This will make it much easier for you to work with the software, as it will increase the amount of control you have over data transmission and the plugins that are involved.

How Do You Use a Pad Controller with FL Studio?

When you are working with touch controllers within the software, you will need to go to “View Menu,” and then “Touch controller.” Alternatively, you can go to Toolbar Shortcuts 1 and hit the Touch Icon.

You will then have the option to choose between a pad or keyboard style controller. Obviously, if you are using a pad controller, you would make that selection. You can use that controller to play the selected Channel, and your music will be recorded on the software. You can either use your mouse or touch if you have a touch screen computer.

What Are Some of the Best Pad Controllers for FL Studio?

If you’re looking for a pad controller for FL Studio, there are many options available. We are going to look now at some of the best ones. Keep in mind that these are going to be pad controllers, not instrument-based controllers.  The following items are all pad controllers in the truest sense, meaning that they do not include piano keys.

Akai Professional Fire

This pad controller was created specifically for FL Studio. You can even buy it with a downloadable version of the Fruity Edition in some settings.

This MIDI controller contains several pads, and it is ideal for producers who are creating many samples and beats. The layout is organized and user-friendly, allowing it to coordinate very well with the FL Studio software.

With this pad controller, you can quickly program a total of 16 beats in real-time. Even if you do not have a strong music background, you will be able to develop chords without the traditional piano keys that would be offered with a more elaborate instrument-based controller. The mode selection and scale locking features will help those just beginning to use pad controllers.

Options allow you to make other adjustments to your music, such as modulations in resonance and volume. This is great for anyone who likes to improvise and playback. Also, even though this is a pad controller, you can switch to “note mode,” allowing you to play chords and melodies as well.

Many reviewers would say that this is the best pad controller for FL Studio. However, not everyone would agree, and for those people, there are other options.

Notation Launchpad MK2

This pad controller was not explicitly designed for FL Studio, but instead made to be compatible with Ableton Live. However, it is one of the official pre-configured controllers for FL Studio, meaning it works well with FL Studio as well.

This controller is very user-friendly, with brightly lit pads. The pads make it quite easy for you to differentiate between instruments and audio clips. It also has quick integration abilities, meaning that you won’t have to waste a lot of time inputting your clips.

This pad controller is portable, yet it is big enough that you can tap it without many problems. It is lightweight, at less than two pounds. The pads are high-quality, and the 8 by 8 square grid makes it easy for you to control every step of the process.

This controller does not contain any other knobs or sliders, although there are buttons that you can use to control the sending of data and perform other functions. You can even put together musical patterns using only the controller, without also consulting the computer screen in the process.

However, although this controller has a lot to offer, you might want to buy a keyboard controller to supplement its capabilities. It does not provide the ability to play notes, so you won’t be able to construct melodies using this machine. If you only want to launch clips and create sequences, though, this pad controller is one of your best options, especially considering the relatively low price.

Korg NanoKey2

This is a simple model. It does not have many control options, including knobs. However, it does have 25 buttons/pads, including buttons that can help you go up and down an octave, sustained buttons, and buttons that will help you modulate pitch.

It is one of the official pre-configured controllers of FL Studio, making it very compatible with this software. You do not need to go through any configuration processes; instead, it is possible to just plug it into the software and start working immediately.

Also, this pad controller is very portable. It’s less than a pound in weight, and it is smaller than most laptops. It’s very user-friendly and easy to control.

In addition, even though this is a remarkably simple apparatus, you can also buy a dedicated slider controller and another pad controller to supplement its functions. Korg sells the nanoKontrol and nanoPad, which can be combined with the nanoKey to give you a very versatile modular controller.

Arturia BeatStep Pro

This pad controller contains multiple MIDI controllers and three independent step sequencers. You can use these sequencers to develop a strong beat. Two of them are monophonic, meant for bass lines and riffs. The other one can be used to sequence up to 16 channels of drumbeats. All these sequencers have rotary knobs, step buttons, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads that you can use to refine your composition.

This is a great pad controller for people who will want to spontaneously create sequences. You will be able to record them into FL Studio and do further editing there.

Pioneer DJ Toraiz Squid Sequencer

The Squid, whose name comes from “SeQUencer Inspirational Device,” has many capabilities as well. It can give you all sorts of output, including DIN Sync, clock triggers, CV, and MIDI. This apparatus contains 16 pads that are lit from the back. You can use them to input sequencer steps or play the music as it comes to you.

The machine contains 16 tracks, each of which you can program with up to 64 patterns that have 64 steps. This allows for a great deal of customization on your part. You can set up each of the tracks individually to sequence the device and output channel that you choose.

It also allows you to explore new horizons when it comes to sound generation, with novel speed modulation features and other sequencing options.

Keith McMillen Instruments QuNeo

This device is small and portable, making it very convenient for people who want to use it on the go or take it to a performance. It offers multicolor LED feedback, with 251 different colors. This allows you to organize your compositions in a detailed fashion.

The pads are also extremely sensitive. The way you touch each pad with your finger will determine the output. The pads are sensitive to pressure, velocity, and even the position of your finger on the pad. The 27 touch-based controls, which include not only pads but also rotary knobs and sliders, make this a unique option that can make for versatile results.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many options in terms of the best pad controller for FL Studio. The option that you choose will depend on your specific set of needs. Keep in mind that your needs now may not be the same as your needs after having used FL Studio for an extended period. You may grow and change as an artist, and you might discover that you want to do new things that a simple pad controller does not allow you to do.

Of course, you do need to take your personal limits into account. Budget and the amount of space you have available are often big limiting factors for people who are trying to make this purchase. The good news is that any quality pad controller will be helpful when you are using FL Studio since technically, you don’t really need one to use the software.

You will also want to consider if you wish to invest in a pad controller that does not contain piano keys. This can be all that some musicians need, but if you plan on incorporating melodies into your compositions later, you might want to spring for the piano keys.

Choosing a pad controller for FL Studio is just like any other investment. You just need to do the appropriate research, and you will be able to find the one that is right for you. Once you make the right choice, you will be able to use FL Studio with much more ease. This could end up being great for your career as an artist because you’re no longer wasting time trying to make your computer keyboard clicks translate into the output of a piano keyboard. With all that free time, you might be able to make some great music.

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