When you follow your producer idols on their social media accounts you often see them chilling and producing in million or multi-thousand euro studios around the world. Sometimes they include several sets of very expensive studio monitors, a big SSL Console and so on.
Do you really need all of this expensive gear to make music on a competitive level?
Of course, it helps and is very nice to sit and produce in such an environment but you can definitely work with way less. Always remember, it’s not about the gear, it is about the person behind it.
So what do you actually need as a new producer? There’s still several important items that should be on your shopping list and you need some kind of budget to invest.
The first thing you need is a decent laptop or computer. The most common and recommended operating systems are Mac or Windows. When deciding what route you should go for is up to you, however, each has several advantages and disadvantages.
Macs probably have the most stable and best closed system with other apple products and delivers its own DAW named Logic. However, Apple products aren’t easy on your wallet and are often underpowered compared to Windows machines at the same price. That said Logic only works with Mac products, so if you decide to use that DAW your decision is already made.
If you want to use your computer for other things like gaming, typically Windows is the better solution. Windows machines are more flexible and you can usually change or upgrade parts later on. However, this upgradability and lack of uniformity can cause instability depending on your hardware.
Another important decision that goes hand in hand with choosing an operating system is finding a digital audio workstation, AKA DAW. No one can give you the right answer to this question as it’s a very personal experience to find what works best for you. Furthermore, everyone will tell you something different.
Other DAWs you should have in mind next to Apple’s Logic are Studio One, Ableton Live, Fruity Loops, Cubase, Pro Tools, Reason, and Bitwig. Most of these have a free trial so don’t be afraid to try them all!
The next thing you should get is an external soundcard. There are a lot of good solutions in the 100-200€ price range that deliver everything you need as a bedroom or home producer, like the Focusrite Scarlett or the Steinberg UR series.
No matter what you end up getting, you should definitely make sure it has the features you need.
- Do you need MIDI?
- Will you be using multiple pairs of speakers?
- How many inputs and outputs do you need?
- Does it support your operating system?
I would recommend going to your favorite music store to find advice on this one.
Now it’s time to take care of your listening environment. You will need a pair of studio monitors and some headphones.
There are many good brands for studio monitors and it’s important to find out which ones you like the most. I would recommend visiting a music store and use their speaker test room. In my area there’s one with 40 different sets of speakers, where you can just click through them all and test the listening experience. Bring your 5 favorite tracks and test them on a as many pairs as you want, and pick the pair you like the most. Good brands you should definitely try are Adam, Yamaha, Dynaudio, KRK, and Genelec.
While you’re there do the same for headphones. I suggest Audio Technica, Beyerdynamic, AKG, Bose, and Sennheiser. There’s great solutions in the 100-200€ range for both headphones and monitors and many of the big producers still use them.
Another thing a lot of new producers underestimate is your room acoustics. You can have the best pair of speakers, but if your room sucks, your speakers will sound bad as well.
Before you invest into expensive speakers, you should definitely consider your room acoustics first. If you want to know more about this topic, make sure to check out my interview with Jeffrey from Da Goose Mastering linked below.
Lastly, if you know how to play piano a MIDI keyboard is a must have for you too. Your creative juices will flow easily if you can record what’s in your head directly into the computer. But even if you don’t really know how to play the keys a keyboard still helps to speed up your workflow and creativity.
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This guide is helpful to you when:
- You don’t know where to start
- You want tips and tricks to finish your tracks
- You don’t know how to get your music signed
- You want to know more about music marketing
- You want to know more about the music industry