Making your own music is a skill that requires a lot of work. Music in general is a truly competitive industry and electronic music production follows the same path, demanding more experience and networking abilities from the new producers.
When someone decides to enter the world of electronic music production, there are some things he might want to take into serious consideration. These are competitiveness, hard work, dedication, time and money investment.
Although it may sound difficult to begin with, being able to produce your own music is a very satisfying feeling. The rewards of music creation are endless and with a lot of practice great results can be achieved in the long term.
Below we have combined a list of things every beginner should consider.
How to start with electronic music
First of all, music producer have to be able to identify the music genre they love and want to work on. Although there are no specific rules about which and how many genres a music producer should focus on, in the beginning he should decide to work on one or two main genres.
Those genres will be there for learning the basics of music production, and as the producer gains experience over time he can expand to other ones too, combine two or more genres or experiment in depth with his music and create something completely new.
Electronic music offers to the artists the freedom to create new sounds and styles that where never heard before, simply by experimenting with older methods of producing music and taking them to the next level.
As for the beatmakers and music producers that are just starting out, it is better to stick with their favorite music genres at least when they start, and take the next step when they feel ready.
What equipment do I need to make electronic music
To start practicing on your own music, you need to be ready to invest some money to buy your first equipment. The cost of the equipment depends solely on your available budget, so you have to plan your purchases carefully.
In the beginning, you do not need to buy the most expensive ones, as there are a lot of equipment available in affordable prices that will be just fine for you to start working on your projects.
Our suggestion is that when you start you should buy only the absolute essential equipment, so that you keep your expenses to the minimum. You can later upgrade your equipment and obtain machines and instruments that will help you take your music to the next level.
Here is a list of the most essential equipment for the beginner music producer:
- Personal computer / Laptop
- Studio monitors
- Audio interface
- Midi keyboard
- Drum pad controller
- Later on, more equipment can be added such as:
- Dj controller
Essential Equipment for Electronic Music
To create electronic music, you need some special equipment. A computer, laptop, or tablet is essential. Make sure the device you choose is stable and reliable. If you’re just getting started, use a PC/laptop you already have, but as you get better, invest in a more advanced system.
1 – Laptop
If you’re working on electronic music, a MacBook Pro is a great choice. It has ample power for handling complex routing and using a large number of synths. Its screen is a good size for creating music and it also has two additional screens. It also has a decent battery life, which is important when you’re producing a lot of music.
You can find a MacBook Pro with a terabyte of storage, which is a great deal for electronic music production. It also has four USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port. Its high-quality screen makes it great for making music and for gaming. You can also choose from a selection of premium Windows notebooks.
A good laptop for electronic music production must be lightweight and high-performance, but with plenty of battery life. The operating system of the laptop is also important. A Mac or Windows PC is best for music production, as they support faster processors, plenty of RAM, and plentiful storage. A high-speed CPU is essential when it comes to audio processing, because loading audio files can be a long process. Moreover, waiting to load plugins and music samples can inhibit your creative flow.
While the MacBook Pro offers plenty of storage space, its memory and processing power are insufficient for serious music production. An external SSD will be required if you want to add extra memory. Also, it cannot run major DAWs efficiently. However, it can run the popular GarageBand software, which offers virtual instruments, endless sample packs, and other tools for creating electronic music.
You should look for a laptop with HDMI and USB-C ports for connecting to external monitors. There is also a high-end version of the laptop that has a 15.6-inch screen. It also has an HDMI port. In addition, it has a Thunderbolt 3 external hub, so you can connect up to four displays.
2 – Studio monitors
Studio monitors are an essential piece of gear for electronic music producers. There are a variety of different options to choose from when selecting the right ones. You can choose a midfield or nearfield monitor to suit your studio space.
Most of these models have high-quality components and offer excellent sound quality. Some of these studio monitors also feature a low resonance enclosure, which prevents unwanted resonance. In addition, they come with mounting points and screws for wall mounting. However, they do not include cables.
Another option is a set of monitors with four or more drivers. These monitors are also capable of handling higher volumes than their lower-frequency counterparts. A good studio monitor can deliver a wide soundstage that can be used to help you hear details in your tracks. The frequency response of a good monitor is usually around 80Hz to 20kHz.
Another important factor to consider is the power output of each monitor. There are a variety of power amps in studio monitors, from bi-amped to tri-amped models. The amount of power delivered to each speaker affects the quality of the sound it reproduces. A low-powered speaker is unlikely to be able to accurately reproduce transients, so it is important to choose a speaker with a high power rating.
Studio monitors are another essential piece of audio equipment for electronic music production. They reproduce sounds from a DAW with great clarity. Additionally, they save producers a lot of time checking the levels. They also deliver a flat response that helps them with sound design, mastering and mixing.
3 – Audio interface
When it comes to setting up a home recording studio, audio interfaces are one of the most important components. The price of an interface will vary greatly depending on the features you need. However, you should be aware that the more outputs and inputs you have, the more expensive it will be.
The quality of an audio interface will vary a great deal depending on the components it uses. If you are a new user, you may not know what to look for, so you might want to make a shortlist of options. An interface can greatly enhance the quality of your recordings and enable you to incorporate virtually any element into your tracks.
The sampling rate of an audio interface is another important consideration. You should choose one with a higher sampling rate if you want to get the best quality. Standard sample rates for audio interfaces are typically 16 or 24-bit. However, you can find ones that can record at up to 96kHz. This will give you a greater range of sound quality, but will also put more strain on your processor.
A basic audio interface should have two or more microphone preamps. In addition, the device should have two or more outputs for headphones or studio monitors. Although the quality of audio output depends on the quality of the AD/DA converters, even a less expensive interface can provide sufficient audio quality for beatmakers.
Audio interfaces are essential for a home recording studio and can determine the quality of your recordings and your career in the music industry. The right audio interface can turn a homemade track into a worldwide hit. Although songwriting skills are essential, they won’t do much if you don’t have the right equipment.
4 – Midi keyboard
A MIDI keyboard can save you time and energy, and it’s very handy to be able to produce music on the go. It saves you from having to carry heavy equipment and opens a wide world of sound possibilities. With a MIDI keyboard, you can add virtual instruments to your live performances.
A MIDI keyboard can also mimic the pressure of a bow on strings, and is used by many film composers. MIDI keyboards are also relatively light, which makes them easy to move around. You can even make a mobile setup out of a MIDI keyboard, which is an important benefit.
MIDI keyboards are a must-have item for any modern home recording studio. They allow you to enter notes manually and are available in a wide range of prices. If you’re looking to play piano, bass, or leads, then a MIDI keyboard is a good investment.
Nektar is another company that makes MIDI controller keyboards for electronic music. Nektar is a company that was initially focused on creating MIDI controllers for DAWs, and they excel at producing quality MIDI keyboards. For example, the SE49 is a great example of how high-end Nektar keyboards can be. The M-Audio Keystation series is another option, but it lags in playability. However, it does feature 5-pin MIDI connectivity.
When choosing a MIDI controller or keyboard, there are many factors to take into consideration. The price, the quality, and the features all have an impact on your decision.
5 – Drum pad controller
A drum pad controller is a tabletop electronic percussion instrument that you can strike with a stick or tap with your fingers. These pads are used for a variety of applications, including firing off one-shot samples, synthesizing drum sounds, and playing looped phrases and backing tracks. These devices are commonly used in electronic music genres such as rock, neoclassical, and contemporary jazz.
If you’re a seasoned producer, you can choose between a drum pad controller and a MIDI controller. The Push 2 has a high-resolution screen that allows you to slice and manipulate samples. While it is not a budget-friendly option, it’s worth considering for producers looking for a powerful, compact MIDI drum pad.
The AD2 has an extensive library of drum sounds and features pre-made grooves. Its MIDI capabilities also allow you to tailor the sounds you play with it to your taste. You can change the sensitivity of the drums or the tuning of the snare. You can also change the muffling and “buzz” of the bass drum. It’s also equipped with various effects, such as EQ and reverb.
A drum pad controller is an essential piece of equipment for any electronic music producer. It can be used for all kinds of purposes, from sampling to beat making. These instruments are also pressure-sensitive, enabling them to create virtually any genre of electronic music. They can be programmable, which means that you can assign any sound or note to each pad.
6 – Microphone
An essential piece of equipment for recording electronic music is a microphone. Microphones capture sound waves by converting them from physical pressure waves into an electronic signal. This signal is then sent through a cable to its destination, usually an outboard pre-amp or mixing desk. This process is known as “linear mixing,” and can make the process very easy and straightforward.
The Shure SM7B is an incredibly popular vocal production microphone. It was used to record many of the songs by Michael Jackson, and has a mount specifically designed for recording vocals. It offers a crisp, clean sound that can be further enhanced with the help of an onboard mid-range boost.
This microphone is an exceptional choice for recording vocals and instruments. It emulates 18 legendary microphones and features an optimised polar pattern. It is compatible with iOS devices, and includes all the cables you need to record your music. Its high-quality A/D converter ensures excellent sound transfer and a low inherent self-noise.
Another good microphone for electronic music is the Shure SM57. It’s one of the world’s quietest studio microphones, making it ideal for recording vocals. It allows your voice to shine through all the other instruments.
7 – Headphones
Large 50 mm audio drivers produce clear, undistorted sound free from distortion and frequency bleed. Bass, mid-tones, and highlights are all delivered separately, so even the tiniest details of the audio track can be heard. For a comfortable listening experience, these headphones have adjustable headbands that adjust to any head size.
These headphones have a great wireless range and a long battery life. However, they don’t block much background noise, so they’re not the best choice for listening to music while on a bus. Bus engine rumbles and ambient chatter are difficult to filter out, so you’ll need to use them with care.
Another good option is a pair of Sennheiser HD 800 headphones. The headphones are made of durable, high-quality plastic and feature good padding for a comfortable fit. They’re also very sturdy, and are ideal for dance floors. In addition, these headphones feature excellent passive noise isolation and good sound quality.
Open design headphones offer better sound isolation than closed-back models, but sound leakage is a concern. They’re best suited for DJs and producers. However, they are expensive and don’t allow you to hear low frequencies very well. Some models have a sweat-free ear pad, which is a bonus for long sessions.
The sound quality of these headphones is good, but not as good as professional headphones. However, they have a great frequency response of 15 to 28 kHz. The contoured ear cups help isolate sound. They also come with two cables. The straight cable is particularly long.
8 – Synthesizer
A synthesizer is a musical instrument that creates sounds using electronic circuits. It can produce a wide variety of sounds and is used to create different genres of music. One of the most famous synthesizers was the Buchla synthesizer, developed by an American scientist. It is activated by touching a touch-sensitive metal plate that resembles a violin fingerboard. This instrument was used to create music for films including “Silver Apples of the Moon” (1967) and “The Wild Bull” (1968).
The Super 6 was another promising synthesizer for this year. This instrument boasts a futuristic architecture and features both analog and digital controls for great sound quality. It is based on FPGA technology, which allows it to produce high-quality sound while allowing the user to control its parameters. It features super-wavetable sound processing circuitry and stereo effects.
Modal Electronics instruments come with over 300 factory patches, created by accomplished sound designers. These patches can be accessed and controlled via the MODALapp, a free multi-platform music production application that bridges the gap between hardware control and screen-based editing. This app also includes product-specific resources to help users get the most out of their synthesizers.
Another synthesizer, Dreadbox, oozes gooey pads and fat unison basslines. Its polyphonic analog architecture is based on the classic polyphonic synthesizer architecture, with a single oscillator that has variable waveshapes and feeds into a low-pass and high-pass filter controlled by ADSR envelopes. It also features LFOs with audio rate modulation and delay functions.
9 – Sampler
Sampler is a popular electronic music software that enables producers to create music from anything. It includes a wide range of features, including a comprehensive preset library and customizable sample zones. It can also import multisamples from external sources. The sampler supports both SoundFont and Kontakt formats. It also uses SmartPriming technology to ensure the sound quality of inserted samples.
The Sampler provides users with unique processing and modulation capabilities. Each voice is processed through a multimode filter. This allows producers to create unique voicings and add extra notes. It also has a polyphonic saturation stage. The polyphonic feature enables the user to make music without knowing much music theory.
Among the most popular samplers is the Ableton Sampler. This sampler is the default sampler in all versions of Live. It has powerful sound manipulation features and a built-in wave editor. You can also try out the discoDSP Bliss, a simple sampler that has some innovative features. It also offers the ability to automatically create sampled instruments from patches on any VST instrument.
The sampler was used by several artists, from Gary Numan to Moby. The FZ series was not as well known, but is an important part of sampling history. Its sounds still resonate in contemporary music. The history of modern music is closely tied with the history of capital, and the emergence of the sampler was shaped by the economic forces that pushed two major music hardware manufacturers against each other. As a result, E-Mu Systems and Akai made some of the most recognizable drum machines in history.
10 – Turntable
While the price tag on the Audio-Technica MT-LP120-USB Direct Drive Turntable is four-figures, it’s well worth the cost and the excellent sound it produces. This German-designed turntable features a moving magnet cartridge that minimizes distortion. It also has a magnetic bearing in the tonearm and is powered by an external DC motor. Setup is easy and there is no need for complicated cables or adapters.
The Fluance RT82 comes with all the features you need for a good turntable, except for an onboard preamp. It’s best paired with an amplifier or receiver that has a dedicated phono input. It comes with an auto-start on/off switch, adjustable feet, and bubble-level, and its sound is among the best of all turntables under $300. It also boasts some excellent bass, which many turntablists appreciate.
Materials for a turntable are important, as they can affect the sound quality and longevity of the device. Some cheaply made models use inferior materials, such as plastic, while higher-priced models use better-quality materials. You should also pay attention to the materials used for the tonearm and platter. The platter should be made of aluminum or steel, and the tonearm should be made of steel. You should also take into consideration the weight of the device.
If you’re looking for a turntable that works well with USB, you may want to look at the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB. It has USB output and is easy to use. It also comes with an integrated phono preamp. It has a DJ-focused look and is heavy on plastic.
11 – Dj controller
When it comes to DJ hardware, a DJ controller can make all the difference. Whether you are new to the game or an experienced DJ, there are many different options available. The best controller for you will depend on your budget and your needs.
If you are on a budget, an entry-level DJ controller is a great choice. While they are not professional grade, they are still sturdy and are great for beginners. They are also good choices for people who want to start out but aren’t yet ready to invest in a professional-quality controller.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers are a standard for connecting your musical instrument to a computer. These controllers have built-in controls, such as jog wheels, faders, and push buttons. Besides providing control over your tracks, a DJ controller can also be used to scratch tracks with its job wheels. Some controllers can also reference digital records and work with time-coded albums.
Whether you’re a budding music maestro or an experienced pro, a DJ controller can help you experiment with sounds and new experiences. But before you buy a controller, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are some tips to help you find the best DJ controller for your needs:
When to consider using musical instruments
After many hours of practice and as the music producer gains experience and feels that his music becomes more satisfying over time, he should consider studying a musical instrument.
Being able to play an instrument is an extremely useful tool for every artist, and this way every music producer can make his project sound more professional and natural.
Some of the most common musical instrument someone should consider to learn are:
- Electric guitar
- Acoustic guitar
Starting with the basic and most essential equipment is the right way to go if you are on a tight budget, and you can then purchase one at a time until you have all the equipment you need to produce your own music the way you prefer.
It has to be noted, that learning how to play a musical instrument of your preference along the way will be a valuable skill, which will become a true asset to making your music project sound great.
DAWs and VSTs
One of the main steps you have to take when starting to produce music is to acquire the right DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). DAW is the software that will help you create, structure and mix your projects.
Fortunately, there are many great DAWs available in affordable prices such as:
- Ableton Live
- FL Studio
These are all extremely powerful and become very easy to use after some practice. There is really no right or wrong DAW for a music producer to use. The best way to find out which one suits you best is to download a demo version of each one and test them.
In addition to the DAW you choose, you need to search and add some VST plugins to your plugin libraries. VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) are software interfaces that integrate software synthesizers and effect plugins with your DAW.
VSTs are extremely important as they provide you with essential tools such as compressors, equalizers, dynamics processors, limiters etc.
Some of the most useful bundle VSTs are:
- Izotope Ozone
In addition to VSTs, VST instruments are used to generate audio. There are tons of VST instruments available in the market, providing you with sound libraries containing thousands of sound and instruments.
You can search and find a VSTi for every instrument you want to use:
- Synthesizer VSTi
- Bass VSTi
- Piano VSTi
- Guitar VSTi
- Horn VSTi
- Orchestral VSTi
- Ambient VSTi
- Drum VSTi
- Sound effects VSTi
Music producers apply the VST instruments to their projects usually using midi keyboards or drum pads.
Sampling is one of the main features of modern electronic productions. Every producer has his own unique technique when it comes to sampling. For example, some beatmakers chop their samples into littles pieces and rearrange them, whereas others like to use large parts of the sample as a whole.
No matter which method you choose the principles of sampling are the same:
You search and find a song of your preference, most times something old, and listen to it carefully to spot the parts you want to use. Then you cut those parts and rearrange them in your own project. This way, you take something old and you bring it back to life using your own techniques and aesthetics.
Sampling an old song and creating a loop with the chopped parts is often the way music producers start to build their beats. It is usually the basis that will help you experiment, add your own synthesis and build the rest of the beat.
The best way to keep improving your music productions and gain experience as a beatmaker is to keep practicing, ideally in a daily basis.
Most producers sacrifice countless hours of making new music, testing their creativity limits and trying to experiment with new techniques and styles. Music production is an occupation that requires dedication and patience in order to become experienced.
It is a good idea for a music producer to keep studying and learning new things, such as new methods of making music, tutorials about audio mixing and mastering or study other successful and established artists with a great reputation and portfolio in the music production field.
We strongly advice every producer to learn how to play at least one musical instrument such as the piano or the guitar that are two of the most functional instruments in the world of electronic music production.
To sup, being a producer is a long-term process and a game of constant learning and experimenting. Aesthetics and personal perspective go a long way as far as creativity and uniqueness are concerned, along with network and maintaining good relationships with other artists.
The quality of music production depends heavily on consistency and observation. The beatmaker has to be able to apply and test what he learns on his own creations, being also able to understand his imperfections and improve them.
The best day to start making your own music is today.
Create, learn, correct and repeat!