So you want to set up a home studio and start your journey into the music industry, but you have questions . For example you don't know where to start, you are not sure if the computer you already have is powerful enough, you are not sure what your budget should be , you are not sure if you need physical equipment (for example effects racks) and if so what do you necessarily need. There are many blogs, videos and posts on this topic these days, but I'm sure if you a true beginner , it still can be confusing after countless hours of research, so we will try to break things down and give you your options that will hopefully allow you to make a informed decision. *For the sake of this blog we will consider a complete home studio as a place where you have the ability to create tracks (instrumentals) record artists and the mix complete song into.
Deciding The Main Purpose Of My Home Studio (129)
Before just going out and buying equipment, maybe you should really think about the purpose of your home studio. What does that mean? Well do you want your home studio to focus on beat-making right now, are your trying to record artists, are you trying to potentially record a band, or live instruments, and will you try to mix your own tracks at home, etc. These are questions to think about that will help you decide what you NEED to get going, as you grow you can always add other elements in the studio of course. Once this is decided you can go from there and start buying what you need and be on your way to becoming a music creator.
Making Beats In The Home Studio
Have you decided initially what's the purpose of your studio? Ahh so you want to make "beats" or instrumentals to upload online for listening only, or for purchase on a beat-store , or website where there is a beat marketplace. Ok sounds good, do you have what you need? So if you don't want to totally get into buying physical equipment such as synths, electronic keyboards, mixing boards, etc because of the cost, ok that's understandable , so lets see what you need to go the more digital route which is the most popular and cost effective right now. If you want to be a beat maker for now ONLY , meaning you are not trying to record artists, bands, vocalists ,rappers etc. Here is what can get you going. First and foremost you will need a computer. Can any computer work? Well yes and no. Most computers these days are probably capable of running a daw (Digital Audio Workstation), but will it run smoothly is the question. With that being said, you have the option to build a computer, or have one built, or of course purchase a computer. You also have a choice of deciding to go PC or Apple/Mac. Without going down a rabbit hole of computer talk, to say which one is better is preference. I personally use PC based computers, which have been no problem for me , but I always think about getting a Mac lap top at the least. If you go MAC, and have the budget, I would say to try to find a Mac Book Pro . The Mac Book Pro's tend to be more powerful, have more ports (usb's) and are used more in the music production world than their counterparts, the Mac Book Air. Also if you go that route, you will have access to the program Logic, which is a Apple based product (It used to be on PC as well some time ago) . Logic is a good program, even though as a pure beginner, its learning curve will be tougher than some of the other programs that are out, but if you learn it , you will have the ability to produce high quality beats/instrumentals because of their great sounds and the overall DAW's ability right about the box. Some producers start on Logic and it becomes their main DAW for good, its that great of a Daw. Besides that you will get the warranties and guarantees you obtain when you buy Mac products.
If you go the PC route, you have several options. To have a PC built or to build one on your own is a great option, which is what I did. This allows you to custom make your computer how you want it, from the power of it, to the design of the case. If dont know a lot about computers, just to give you a basic metric, as far a processing power, you will want something such as a recent model intel -i5 processor, or i7, both of those will work as far as processing power. You will want at the least 8 gb of RAM (DDR-4) in the computer to start, and if the motherboard is capable of holding more gigs of ram, you can always add more later. These two basic metrics I advise as a starting point no matter if you choose the MAC , have a computer built or buy a PC. When it comes to the motherboard , graphics card, power supply etc. You can generally get by on whats already loaded in the system, if you are buying them as part of a build , the processor you choose, will help determine what you need as far as those items, so be sure to see what your options are after you determine what processor you want. The onboard sound card (on the motherboard)will be fine , as we will be using a audio interface for sound. Again, these metrics are the same no matter if you are using a laptop, or desktop, so these are your computer starting points in general. Also if you are not using a laptop, you will need a monitor, so just choose the size you want that your budget allows and go from there. Once you have the computer choice done, now we need a daw. To get going with a focus on beat making only, I suggest Fl Studio or Reason. Why do I suggest those? Those two daw's will give you the best chance right out the box to make quality beats . They both come with sounds already, FL Studio in particular has a easier learning curve than other daw's. *(Reason has a higher learning curve, but it can be done by a beginner )*. They both come with decent effects that can get you into the world of mixing right away. They have demo tracks so you hear the potential of what you can produce on those programs, and again they will get you going right away, you just have to learn. What else will you need? You will need what is called a audio interface . This will act as a "soundcard" and allow you to hook up studio monitors in your beatmaking studio. There are many interfaces out there that allows you to do different things, but to start, a interface such as the Focusrite Scarlett Solo will work. It's small cheap, but effective for what it will be needed for . Next you will need a set of monitors. This can be subjective , because some in the beginning use speakers, but for the sake of this blog, I will suggest monitors. Again you have many choices to choose, from. I suggest from the beginning a set of 5 inch JBL'S, or 5 inch Presonus Eris will do the trick. Remember we are just trying to get going, we can upgrade as we need or as our skill level allows. Next we will need a midi keyboard. Don't worry you don't have to play piano , but I suggest to get one to play your notes in the daw as you produce. You can also draw them in with the pencil tool , if your budget doesn't allow for a midi keyboard, but for me the keyboard is easier. You can by a 25 key, 49 or even 88 key, I personally suggest a 49 key, but a 25 key is good too, and you can travel with it. Good brands are Akai, M-AUDIO and Nektar. Next you will more than likely need a set of headphones. Unless you can play your music as loud as you want anytime of day, headphones will be necessary for times you can't blast the monitors. Yamaha has some great entry level headphones for good prices, as well as AKG. I didn't mention a computer desk earlier , as that will be needed to, especially if you are using a PC. If your monitors can fit on your desk , you will needs monitor stands as well. From there you are ready to make beats!
Yep that's all you need to make beats/instrumentals, besides experience and knowledge. Now of course if you want to record , you would need a microphone, a mic stand, , a more powerful audio interface, possibly more RAM depending on the DAW you use ,etc. As you grow, there are many other options out here to make beats. You have Komplete, which is a suite of beautiful sounds, string articulations, piano, and whatever sound you need. The same can be said of East West , Spitfire products and more. Are the sounds I mentioned good enough in Fl Studio and Reason. Yes they are, but as you learn you will have to do some "tweaking" to make their sounds reach full potential, and you might feel limited, but that will be over time. These other programs I mentioned have great , big lush sounds right out the box, and their is one of the differences. You also have to learn how to use VST'S, effects and more, so what I suggested will get a true beginner going before they are ready for those tasks. The same can be said with jumping into other daw's such as Protools, or Cubase. Their learning curves are higher , especially to jump right into them, and in time you will be able to handle them all. Now you have what you need to start at least making beats. To upload you will need social sites such as soundcloud, audio mack, or youtube and a internet connection, so go get your studio together can create some magic !
Kevin (KmcCreates) Mckinney
@KmcCreates on all social media