Akai Fire: FL Studio Finally Gets A Dedicated Hardware Controller

Ableton Live has the Push, Maschine has the many Maschine models, but what does FL Studio have? Until now, producers using the prolific production DAW FL Studio (long ago called Fruity Loops) were resigned to using whatever MIDI controller best fit their workflow. But today Akai is announcing a new controller, the Akai Fire, designed with FL Studio users in mind and created in collaboration with Image-Line (the software developers behind the app). Keep reading for details.

Akai Fire

  • Gear: Akai Fire
  • Manufacturer: Akai Professional (owned by InMusic – thus the Denon gear in the video’s background)
  • Price: $199
  • Included: FL Studio Fruity Fire edition (a light version of FL Studio)

Only earlier this year did FL Studio finally become a cross-platform app, releasing a macOS port in late May. Now the company is breaking into another first – a bespoke controller for the software designed by Akai Professional.

The controller is centered around four rows of 16 velocity sensitive RGB pads, designed to be used primarily as step sequencers for instruments. Here’s the full feature set from the official press release:

  • Plug-and-play integration with FL Studio
  • Quickly input patterns along the timeline in the step sequencer
  • 4 x 16 Matrix of Velocity-Sensitive RGB Pads
  • Expandable up to four units, creating the potential for an 8 x 32 Matrix
  • Record notes in Performance mode
  • Graphical OLED display
  • 4 banks of assignable Touch-Capacitive Knobs
  • Instantly navigate the Channel Rack, Browser, Tool Bar and Playlist windows
  • Use dedicated controls to quickly browse audio and project files
  • Dedicated Transport controls
  • USB Bus Powered

Fire’s Modes

The Fire unit has a few different modes that it can jump through – the video above

  • Note Mode: the fire’s RGB pads turn into a MIDI keyboard, allowing four octaves of note data
  • Drum Mode: using a 16-pad layout (4×4) to quickly make beats in a MPC-style experience
  • Performance Mode: triggering MIDI and audio clips using the pad matrix

Being able to automatically sync four Fire units with one computer is a powerful feature – it allows expandability for larger studio setups. Being able to have a simple, portable hardware device that can go anywhere is highly desirable these days, and that’s exactly what the Fire offers.

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