What Equipment Do You Really Need to Make Beats?
Composers and producers have tons of options when it comes to making beats. You will be surprised how little you’ll need to get started.
What Do You Really Need?
1. Computer and/or Hardware Mixer
2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Yep, that’s it. Just your computer because most DAWs come with instruments and effects you need to get started. I get the question all of the time which free plugins are the best, and my answer is, the plugins which come in your DAW.
DAWs usually come with all the mixing plugins you’ll need to polish your song and recordings. Most also come with synthesizers and samplers you can use as virtual instruments.
If you want more options on computer specs, I show my setup here (It’s my old room setup but the computer specs are the same)
What If I Want to Upgrade?
If you plan to go beyond your laptop and a mouse, clicking in notes, you can use the list below to expand your studio. I will list them in my suggestive buying priority. You can watch the video here for more in-depth explanation
I recommend headphones first because you can use them anywhere: On the road, in your studio and even late at night without bothering others.
Two main types of headphones:
Open Back Headphones: These are great for mixing and general listening to music. I would recommend these for any producer and mixing engineer.
Closed Back Headphones: These are great for recording/tracking because the closed back prevents sound from escaping and bleeding into your microphone during recordings.
2. Midi Controller
The midi controller will help you play notes into your DAW just like playing a regular piano. The only difference is that these controllers are just CONTROLLERS, they do not come with sounds built into them like a keyboard workstation. It will help you express your music a bit more like a human.
3. Third Party Sounds
Once you have exhausted your DAW native sounds, you will most likely have the urge to stock up on sounds from other companies. Sounds like drums, synthesizers, samplers, and effects.
4. Audio Interface
The misconception is that audio interfaces reduce latency. In some cases, that is true but most DAWs come with ASIO Drivers you can use for faster sound processing. The ASIO Drivers from your audio interface will basically match the ASIO Drivers you can get virtually. So, I like to say get an audio interface when you plan to plug in hardware like microphones, synths, and instruments.
Some interfaces give you a higher quality sound but these are usually in the higher price range so the cheaper ones don’t have much different from your computer ASIO Driver sound quality.
5. Live Instruments, Microphones, Hardware Synths
You don’t necessarily “need” hardware instruments or microphones if you don’t plan to play and record them but this is for those who wish to get those pieces.
I have listed the microphone AFTER the audio interface because you want to make sure your interface allows XLR input.
To record stereo, you will need to make sure your audio interface allows 2 inputs for left and right. Most small interfaces may only allow one input for a mic/line input. If you plan to record a keyboard/synth with a stereo (Left and right) output, be sure your interface has at least 2 input slots for Line inputs (1/4 in) and/or XLR input for microphone if you plan to use your mics to record stereo.
6. Speaker Monitors/Subwoofers
Again, nothing beyond the computer is really essential but these speaker monitors will help you understand what your song sounds like in real environments. Headphones don’t create the same energy as speaker monitors because you can feel the sound and bass rather than just hear it.
Subwoofers will allow you to perceive the low frequencies of your music. They REALLY help you feel the music.
I recommend these later in the upgrades because you will need acoustic treatment for your room if you plan to use these for accurate sound.
There are more sub-categories but these are the main elements you will see in most home studios. Again, all you really need is just your computer to get started, you don’t need all this but they can help you do other things.
Please share this list with your music friends to help them in their studio building projects.