Using a DJ Controller with FL Studio – A Quick Guide


fl studio dj controller
DJ software like Virtual DJ and Serato are built for using 2/4 decks and mixers, whereas FL Studio (a DAW built for producing, and in some instances live performing with ‘performance mode’) isn’t meant to be used with DJ Controllers.

But although FL Studio is not precisely for DJing, it is certainly possible to use a DJ controller with it.

It sure is fun when you’re a producer turned into a DJ or a DJ who wants to be a producer like I was. If you use a DAW like this for producing, they will have more beneficial effects that are more suitable than you have available on your controller.

To use a DJ controller with FL studio, you’ll need to connect it and map it first. You’ll be able to use the pads as drums pads or piano roll, and the various knobs for modulation and control mapping like tempo fader (tempo in FL), volume, mixer-master volume, etc. 

I sometimes DJ with FL Studio, make mashups, and even complete sets in FL only using automation clips. It’s probably not as comprehensive as other DAWs, but it is suitable for a dude like me coming over from DJing.

If you are just starting, please try and learn the software first before introducing the controller.

Now let’s dive right in!

Connecting & Mapping DJ Controller to FL Studio

If you’re a producer but starting to get into DJing, you can do a whole DJ set using a regular DJ controller and FL Studio. You can use FL for the mashups live while adding effects linked to the controller like Gross Beat and Love Philter.

Connecting a DJ controller to FL Studio enables you to:

  • Use that controller to control the DAW
  • Record utilizing the pads and buttons on your controller with virtual sounds of the FL Studio
  • Perform live
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Here’s how to do it:

  1. Connect your DJ controller to your laptop through a cable provided by the manufacturer.
  2. Head over to the Options menu at the top of FL Studio, and click MIDI Settings.
  3. Select the Rescan MIDI devices button at the deep bottom of the window that pops up.
  4. See the Input section towards the lower half of the window. You will see your DJ controller listed under that section. FL Studio will recognize most units and list them in this section once you connect them. It most probably won’t display the actual name of the controller here. USB Audio Device (Generic Controller) is most likely the name that will pop out. If nothing shows up in the list, try again or check the manual for that controller for instructions on connecting it with a laptop.
  5. Select your controller from this list. Then, toggle the Enable option below the list.
  6. Select a song in the Step Sequencer and try playing it with your controller. 

If you’re having problems connecting a DDJ-400, you can try using the “FL Studio ASIO” driver. Don’t forget to open the “buffer length” grey box in the audio options and click the controller as your output. Also, the volume is managed via your controller’s master-out knob and your computer’s volume.

If the unit’s not showing on the Buffer Length options but only in the drivers, reset the computer after connecting and try again. 

Try resetting the drivers if you cannot get it to play your tune from FL Studio through the speakers connected to the controller.

Mapping

Depending on what DJ controller you have, a lot of them are pre-mapped for dedicated DJ software. I couldn’t tell you about other DAWs, but I would imagine mapping them would be quite a chore if it is even possible at all. I have been using FL Studio as my first dive into production and have found it very intuitive.

  • Go to MIDI settings and enable the generic controller.
  • After you turn a knob, there needs to be a green or yellow notification on the top left of FL Studio. 
  • Use the parameter you’d like to automate – for example, use a volume slider on an instrument in FL Studio. 
  • Head over to Tools -> Last Tweaked -> Link to controller. 
  • After a small window pops, turn your knob/fader on the DJ controller. It should automatically assign parameters and hide this little window.
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Even though some other Pioneers lockdown to the DJ software they’re made for, DDJ-400 works with FL Studio if we use midi mapping to assign specific pads. Also, you can set the jog wheels and use them as turntables.

Numark does it great, but I prefer Pioneer’s feel.

With Pioneer DDJ-SB3, connecting a MIDI DJ Controller to FL Studio for things like scratching using the jog wheels is also possible. 

If you have the Gross Beat plugin, it has some scratching options with the time section, and if you map your controller to a particular parameter in there, you should be able to do it.

You can map the pads to FL Studio and configure the Jog wheels for scratching and EQs. You pretty much just plug it in, install the drivers, then re-scan midi devices in FL and enable all the inputs.

If you’re having problems, just scan it a few times. FL will eventually pick up the controller after a few scans. You can also try linking your jogger dial to the vinyl record control on Fruit Scratcher.

Is FL Studio Good for DJing?

For those who are interested in producing/writing their own music, FL is outstanding. It has lifetime free updates to all newer versions they put out. 

DJing is a different kind of beast than producing, but luckily FL has a performance mode. It is excellent for live DJing. If you already produce with FL, it will be easy peasy to do live stuff with it because you already know how this DAW works. FL’s performance mode works great if you’re playing stuff that you’ve either made in FL or have the stems for (because all you’re doing is basically triggering loops and samples).

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Most people record the scratches in something like Serato or Rekordbox and then bring the recorded scratches as an audio clip into the DAW. Still, if you want to scratch over beats on FL, there is a way to link the jog wheel to any plugins such as Edison or FL Scratch.

If you’re interested in DJing more than production, there might be better options than FL, as it’s more designed to create music from scratch, not necessarily mix tracks in a live format. It’s possible but would not be optimal.

While I have no attention to discourage you from the idea of using a DJ controller with FL Studio, I’d also like to suggest you look into dedicated DJing software, like Rekordbox or Traktor Pro. 

If you want to make your own song in the near future, you know you want to buy a DAW, FL studio being one of them, which fits the bill.

If you use any DAW for producing (FL, Ableton, Reason, etc.), they will have better effects that are more suitable for producing than you have available on the DJ controller. 

Pioneer should be fine with FL Studio, though it’s more about compatibility with your laptop than each other. 

 

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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