All posts by sheldoncaesar

The Cost of Building Your Studio

Getting started producing music comes with a lot of expenses. You’ll need to invest in a computer or laptop if you don’t already have one, you’ll need a DAW (digital audio workstation), an audio interface, a midi keyboard would be good to have, studio monitors and some type of sound proofing. You may also think of investing in a pair of headphones and a condenser microphone if you’ll be recording vocals.

To start making beats and producing music right away the only things you need are a computer, your choice of DAW, an audio interface and any good speakers. If you are not trying to spend so much right away I would recommend buying the Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface for only $99 which comes with two free DAW’s, Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First. These are great DAW’s to start out on. You can start making beats with any good speakers, but eventually you may want to upgrade to using studio monitors.

There’s a wide selection of DAW’s to choose from for Windows and Mac OS. Most DAW’s range from $100 to $800. A lot of mainstream production comes from Pro Tools which you can get for $599. There is also FL Studio for $199, Logic Pro for $299, Studio One for $99 or $299 for a professional version, Ableton for $449, Cubase for $99 and Reason for $399 just to name a few. Luckily there are free trial versions for most DAW’s as well as free downloadable DAW’s with limited functions. Picking your DAW should be based on your personal workflow and budget, so checking out some free trials before making a decision would help pick the right one for you. To read more about DAW’s and getting started producing music, click here.

The next piece of equipment to consider is an audio interface. An audio interface is used to connect studio equipment to your laptop or computer for professional sounding recordings. You can plug your microphones, headphones, midi keyboard, studio monitors and preamps into an audio interface. This allows you to deal with multiple inputs quicker and more efficiently. A great interface to invest in is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo for only $100 which also comes with Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools DAW’s free. More audio interfaces to consider would be the Presonus AudioBox for $99 and the M-Audio M-Track C-Series for $99. After hearing the quality of the sound that is processed through the interface you won’t be disappointed in this investment.  

I would strongly suggest buying a midi keyboard also. These keyboards are used for sending midi signals and controls through a usb cable to connected devices. Using a midi keyboard will allow you to play out melodies using different instruments in your DAW and edit the data. Using these keyboards can also help you improve your workflow and get ideas from your head to your computer quickly. There are many midi controllers to choose from but some let you control more within your DAW than others. If you are looking for an inexpensive, easy to carry, yet powerful keyboard some good ones to consider are the Akai MPK Mini Mk2 for $99 or the Novation LaunchKey Mini Mk2 for $99.

Studio monitors are loudspeakers made for professional audio production. For production out of a home studio you won’t need the biggest, loudest studio monitors. Monitors like the KRK Rokit Powered Generation 3 Monitors for $149, the JBL LSR305-WH for $149 or the Alesis Elevate 3 for $99 would work just fine. Though you may want to get some type of sound proofing as well which is just making your room quieter by blocking out unnecessary noises. Some forms of soundproofing are using bass traps or acoustic panels that you can hang around your room. Isolation pads that you place under your monitors are also great because they let you get pinpoint accuracy from your monitors.

When it comes to recording vocals you’ll want to be using a condenser microphone for your recorded audio to result in stronger signals and have better, more accurate quality than using a dynamic microphone. Some good condenser microphones to consider are the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shock mount for $99, the Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid for $149 and the AKG P120 Project Studio Condenser Microphone for $99. You might also want to buy a pop filter to go with your microphone. Pop filters are used for noise protection to reduce the popping sounds when recording vocals. There are many good pop filters for less than $30. You should also buy some good headphones, you’ll need them when recording and they’ll help a lot with getting the right mix. A great pair of headphones to consider are the AKG K240 for $69 and the Sony MDR-7506 for $99.

You don’t have to be spending a lot on studio equipment to start producing music. Whether or not you have the best equipment doesn’t determine if what you create will actually sound good. And you shouldn’t go over your personal budget when your just starting, there are always cheaper options that will still let you accomplish great things and allow you to gain more knowledge before spending more than you have to.


Music Production for Beginners

A passion like mine for music drives you to get up everyday to create music and can only be expressed through creating music. My passion has lead me to pursue a career in music production, starting out as just a hobby. I scoured the net and watched YouTube tutorials since there was no cheat sheet to follow. Consider this my cheat sheet for those of you interested in making beats and producing music. Before just jumping straight into producing and composing music, you may want to know a few things in advance.

There are endless possibilities of what you can create with music using different methods. All the possibilities and methods used by producers and musicians are known as music theory. Knowing some music theory, which is the study of all possibilities of music and how people compose or make music, something about scales and chords, and how to properly mix your tracks will always be useful when making beats and producing music. You can teach yourself some notes on a piano too. Knowing how to play an instrument, especially the piano will come in handy for composing music, however knowing music theory and knowing an instrument is not a necessity to start producing. Many of the music industries producers know how to play at least one instrument.  All you need is a computer or laptop, a DAW (digital audio workstation), and a creative mind.

A DAW is a computer software that allows you to record, edit and produce music. Finding the right DAW software out of all the options for you is an essential part in starting producing music even if you use a free DAW like Garageband, Audacity or Studio One 3 Prime. Luckily finding the right software for you isn’t the hardest part with most companies offering free trial versions of these DAW’s. There are many DAW programs available for Windows and Mac OS. Some popular programs are FL Studio, Logic, Pro Tools, Reason, Ableton, MPC, and Cubase. You should choose your program wisely based on your personal preferences and your workflow. You may find that the stock plugins and virtual instruments or audio units (VST/AU’s) may not be enough for you. That’s when you should look into purchasing new virtual instruments and effect plugins or downloading free plugins and VST’s for different sounds and instruments. VST stands for virtual studio technology and is a software interface for synthesizer sounds and instruments and effect plugin. Some very common VST’s are Nexus, Omnisphere, Kontakt, Purity, Exhale, and ElectraX, all of which have very different and unique instruments. Many of these VST’s are on the more expensive side though. You can also get plugins that manipulate sounds in your own image such as Gross Beat, MRhythmizer and Glitch. These are effect plugins used for time manipulation, repetition, scratching and gating effects. But you should also know how to manipulate sounds within the VST’s without external manipulation plugins. You’ll need to remember to not to get carried away with the technical things. Use the technology to enhance what you hear in your head.

If this article got you interested in music production or you were already interested, be on the lookout for more articles going further in depth with details about costs to get started and the importance of versatility and how to build your skill set.