How to Create an Android MIDI Controller in FL Studio

Using an Android MIDI controller is a fun way to be creative with technology! MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s a communications protocol that allows a digital instrument like a keyboard or synthesizer to communicate with your computer and DAW. A MIDI instrument controls the parameters assigned to it in your DAW. The keys on a MIDI keyboard are each mapped to their corresponding key in the DAW so when you strike the B key, it sends a signal to your DAW to play that note.

With the advent of smartphones and the widespread use of 3rd party apps, we are now able to use an app to allow our phone to communicate via MIDI protocol to our DAW. This essentially turns our smartphone or Android device into a MIDI controller. In this article, you’ll learn how to turn your Android device into a FL Studio MIDI controller using TouchDAW and Image-Line Remote. Grab a coffee, this one’s a marathon.

Android MIDI Controller Using TouchDAW

TouchDAW is an Android MIDI app that can be used to control things in FL Studio wirelessly through WiFi. The free version of TouchDAW has some pretty cool features, such as x-y pad controllers, mixer track controls, knobs and faders, a keyboard, and launchpads with buttons ranging from 3×3 to 8×8. You can also program your phone’s sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, light sensor, etc.) to control things with this app.

The installation is a little involved. If you don’t have access to caffeine, want the quick and easy solution, or all of the above, skip to the Image-Line Remote section further down. If you’re an overachieving sociopath, read on.

Step 1: Connect Your Device to WiFi

The communication between your computer and your smartphone will happen through WiFi. Make sure they’re both on the same network.

Step 2: Download, Install, and Open rtpMIDI Driver on PC

rtpMIDI is a virtual MIDI driver that allows for communication between FL Studio and your Android device.

Step 3: Open rtpMIDI and Create Two Sessions

You can name them whatever you want, just make sure the “Enabled” box is checked for both, and don’t forget which one you created first. We’ll need to know that later.

Step 4: Open or Restart FL Studio

Step 5: Install the Free TouchDAW Android App

The TouchDAW app can be found in Google Play. The free version contains a mixer, keyboard, X-Y pad controller, launchpad buttons, and can also serve as a remote control surface that controls a block of 8 mixer tracks.

Step 6: TouchDAW Android App Settings

We need to tell the app what DAW we’re using:

  1. Open Android TouchDAW app on your device
  2. Tap the four bars in the top left corner of the home screen
  3. Tap “Setup”
  4. Under Controller Setup, tap “DAW Controller”
  5. Tap “Sequencer”
  6. Select FL Studio from the list

You should now see two new items appear automatically in the rtpMIDI window:

Step 7: Configure FL Studio MIDI Options

In FL Studio, click on “Options” in the top left toolbar in FL Studio. Make sure “Enable MIDI output” and “Enable MIDI remote control” are both checked.

Next, in the same menu, navigate to “MIDI settings” and then the “Output” sub-window. You should see the two sessions we created from the rptMIDI driver window in Step 3 listed there.

Link Remote Control Surface

  1. Under Output, select the FIRST SESSION you created
  2. change the Port to 102
  3. Under Input, select the corresponding FIRST SESSION you created
  4. Click “Enable”
  5. Change Controller type to “Mackie Control Universal”
  6. Change Port to 102

Link VSTi Control (Keyboard, Mixer, X-Y Pad, Etc.)

  1. Under Output, select the SECOND SESSION you created
  2. change the Port to 102
  3. Under Input, select the corresponding SECOND SESSION you created
  4. Click “Enable”
  5. Leave Controller type at (generic controller)
  6. Change Port to 102

Step 8: Link Sessions With Directories

Navigate back to the rtpMIDI window. Select the FIRST SESSION you created and  the directory with RPT1 in it’s name, and click “Connect”. Then select the SECOND SESSION you created and the directory with RTP 2 in it’s name, and click “Connect”.

rtp midi android midi controller

It may take a while for the connection to be made. Once you see a value appear for “Latency” you can go to FL Studio and play around with it.

TouchDAW Control Surface Functionality

The DAW controller (home screen) is used to control a block of 8 Mixer tracks in FL Studio’s Mixer. The block can be assigned to any group of 8 adjacent tracks. The selected block is represented by the image resembling 8 piano keys, and highlights the selected track within the block. 1 is the first assigned Mixer track of the block, 2 is the second assigned Mixer track of the block, and so on.

To select which 8 adjacent Mixer tracks you want to control, use the left and right arrows on the control pad. Scrolling past 1 or 8 will shift the block over. Tapping shift ⇑ and cycling through the up and down arrows will allow you to assign an FL Studio Mixer track to a block track (1-8). Swiping across the block with your finger will move block selection over by 8.

Once the 8 tracks for the block are chosen, you can lock it into place by holding down on the block. Tap it again to unlock. You can cycle through the 8 assigned Mixer tracks with the arrows, and change the volume and panning of each. You also have the option to mute, solo, record, etc. each individually selected track.

It may take some experimentation to get the hang of. I could see this being useful for people who do live recording. For more info on the control surface functionality, check out the User’s Manual.

TouchDAW Keys, Launchpad, and X-Y Pad Functionality

OK, here comes the good stuff. If you tap the top left menu button in TouchDAW, you can access the Keyboard and X-Y Pad/Launchpad controllers. To change how they work, go to Setup in the same menu, and tap MIDI Utilites.

To link any button, slider, fader, or knob in TouchDAW to a parameter in FL Studio:

  1. right-click on whatever you want to control in FL
  2. Select “Link to controller”
  3. Make sure “Auto detect” is checked
  4. Move the button, slider, fader, or knob you want link to in TouchDAW

X-Y Pads Meet Accelerometers

In my opinion, the x-y pad functions and sensor control make the whole installation and setup process worth it. You can link x-y pads to your devices accelerometer and control parameters in FL Studio simply by moving your device. Pretty badass, and loads of fun to mess around with. It works really well with certain Sytrus presets, especially those using frequency modulation. The SeamlessR Sytrus presets are a good start.

To link parameters to the x and y positions in TouchDAW’s x-y pads:

  1. assign them each a different Continuous Controller (CC) number in TouchDAW
    1. Top left menu button
    2. Setup
    3. MIDI Utilities
    4. XY-Controllers/Launchpads
    5. MIDI Assignments
    6. Assign CC1 – X and CC2 – Y each a number if your x-y pad is in left/top position
    7. Assign CC3 – X and CC4 – Y each a number if your x-y pad is in right/bottom position
  1. Link X knob in FL Studio x-y pad
    1. Right-click x knob
    2. Click “Link to controller”
    3. Set MIDI controller port to 102 and Ctrl to CC1 or CC3 assignment
    4. Click Accept
  2. Link Y knob in FL Studio x-y pad
    1. Right-click y knob
    2. Click “Link to controller”
    3. Set MIDI controller port to 102 and Ctrl to CC2 or CC4 assignment
    4. Click Accept
sytrus android midi controller

Dope.

Go to your X-Y pad in TouchDAW and you should now be able to control the pad through your device. To use your devices accelerometer to control the pad, you’ll need to use the right/bottom x-y pad position and CC3/CC4 assignements when you link to FL. Then just set the setting to accelerometer control in MIDI Utilities.

Play around with it, there’s a load of capabilities. The only bad thing is after a while the multi-touch and sensors will be unavailable. You have to pay a whopping $5 for the paid version. Well worth it in my opinion. OK, on to other things.

Android MIDI Controller Using Image-Line Remote

If your caffeinated beverage is wearing off and you’ve made it this far, I’ll tell you now that setting Image-Line Remote up is nowhere near as complex as TouchDAW. It’s got much of the same functionality as TouchDAW, and is tailored specifically for FL Studio. That being said, it does lack the device sensor control capabilities that TouchDAW has.

Step 1: Connect Your Android MIDI Controller Device to WiFi

Image-Line Remote works wirelessly through WiFi as well. Make sure your Android device and your computer are on the same WiFi network.

Step 2: Download and Open Image-Line Remote

It’s free in the Google Play store. Once you have it downloaded, open the app and tap the FL Studio button (tap to connect).

Step 3: Enable Image-Line Remote in FL Studio

Open FL Studio and navigate to your Settings. Under the MIDI tab, just check the “Enable Image-Line Remote” button.

Next, you may need to click “Refresh device list”. Then you should see a new item appear in the MIDI Input list. Make sure the “Enable” button is checked when it’s selected, and notice which MIDI port it’s been mapped to. Mine was mapped to port 250.

link image-line remote android midi controller

Step 4: Allow FL Studio Through Your Firewall

If nothing happened after Step 3 and the new Input didn’t appear in the list, it’s likely that your PC’s firewall is blocking the connection. If you’re all good and dandy, just skip this step.

In Windows, go to Control Panel\System and Security\Windows Defender Firewall, and click “Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall” In the next Window, click change settings and then find FL Studio in the list and make sure it’s checked.

You may have to repeat Step 3 and reopen FL Studio and/or the app for the connection to come through.

And that’s it for setup. You now have an Android MIDI controller. Easy peasy. Let’s see what she can do.

Image-Line Remote Functionality

Image-Line Remote has a default layout with 7 control screens that can be accessed by tapping their corresponding tabs at the top of the screen in the app. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S7 for this, and my understanding is that these may be somewhat different depending on what device you’re using:

  1. Main – contains buttons for many of the toolbar functions in FL Studio. You can change tempo, play, pause, record, toggle the metronome on/off, and open or close the Playlist, Step Sequencer/Channel rack, Piano roll, Browser/Plugin picker, Mixer, and Settings from here.
  2. Piano – contains a keyboard with two octaves. It also has 3 faders, and x-y pad, and a knob that cycles through channels in the Channel rack.
  3. FPC – contains a 4×4 launchpad alongside 3 faders. The pads are linked to keys intially but labeled to be used with FPC to play with percussion samples.
  4. Harmo – contains a key matrix with a scale selection. Picking a scale links each key to form a chord in that scale. This is similar to the VFX Key Mapper. This is very useful if you don’t have much knowledge in music theory and would like to create melodies. It also has buttons to move up and down octaves.
  5. Slicex – looks like 4 knobs and 2 rows of 8 launchpad buttons. Works with the Slicex plugin.
  6. Perform – works with Performance Mode in FL Studio. You can load clips to be triggered in the grid when you open a Performance Mode project.
  7. Mix – 8 volume faders linked to tracks 1 through 8 in the FL Studio Mixer. Each fader also comes with 3 knobs.

Custom Layouts

This feature really sets this app apart from the Android TouchDAW app. Somewhere on your screen, there should be a button resembling a pencil and paper. By tapping and dragging it, you should be able to access the layout customization tab.

image-line remote android midi controller

From there you can create a custom layout with any combination of launchpads, x-y pads, faders, knobs, clip launchers, keys, harmonic grids, jogwheels, etc. on several custom tabs.

Linking Parameters

I covered this earlier, but for those of you that skipped the TouchDAW portion, here ya go:

  1. right-click on whatever you want to control in FL
  2. Select “Link to controller”
  3. Make sure “Auto detect” is checked
  4. Move the button, slider, fader, or knob you want link to in Image-Line Remote

To link x-y pads, you just need to take note of the axis ID in your x-y pad settings. You can also change the ID in the app.

image-line remote android midi controller

Once you know that, it’s just a matter of plugging it in to the MIDI controller options of the parameter you want to control in FL Studio.

  1. Right-click knob you want to link in FL Studio
  2. Click “Link to controller”
  3. Change the MIDI port to whatever the input is for Image-Line Remote in your MIDI Settings. Mine was 250.
  4. Change the Ctrl (CC Number) to the right ID from Image-Line Remote

Like TouchDAW, Image-Line Remote has a load of capabilities and can be a lot of fun to play around and experiment with.

Conclusion

Both Image-Line Remote and TouchDAW are pretty cool apps that can turn your Android device into a MIDI controller. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.

TouchDAW

  • Strengths
    • Device sensor functionality
    • Use with many different DAWs
    • Good user interface
  • Weaknesses
    • Relatively complicated setup
    • Full capabilities are not free

Image-Line Remote

  • Strengths
    • Easy setup
    • Highly customizable
    • 100% free
    • Compatible with iOS
  • Weaknesses
    • Only works with FL Studio
    • User interface can be glitchy

That about wraps it up. If you liked this 100% free Android Midi controller FL Studio tutorial, let me know what else you’d like me to cover in the comments, on the Synaptic Sound Facebook page, or YouTube channel!

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