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Have you been toying with the idea of becoming a music producer? Do you understand what it takes to make a record-breaking hit? It’s a highly creative process that yields some of the most outstanding musical results.
Music production is one of the most exciting industries you could ever be involved in. It is the force behind award-winning albums and hit singles. But, make no mistake about it – it is highly demanding.
You would have to oversee every aspect of the creation process. Whether it’s generating the beats, choosing the song, picking the musician, or deciding whether or not to include background vocalists, you need to be involved every step of the way.
If this is something you want to get into, the first step involves getting the right tools of the trade, which in this case is the music production equipment. Here are the top 9 must-haves for any budget.
1. Music Production Equipment 101 – You Must Have a Computer
Music production is a digital process. So, you’re going to need a computer. The rule of thumb when deciding which one to go with is – the higher the processing power is, the better it will be for handling complex projects.
Your best bet is to get an Apple iMac or MacBook. They are more expensive than conventional desktop PCs and laptops, but they deliver the best results. Besides, some of the top-rated music programs like Logic Pro X and GarageBand only run on Mac OS devices.
2. Digital Audio Workstation
Once you have your computer picked out, the next step involves installing a digital audio workstation (DAW) in it. This is essentially the software that you’ll be using for editing, mixing, and mastering your music recording.
There are a ton of free and premium DAWs available online. The choice of one over the other ultimately boils down to the complexity of your projects, and whether or not a specific program is capable of delivering the results you want.
A top choice for many music producers is Image Line FL. Regardless of the one you pick, check that it is compatible with your computer before you buy it.
3. Audio Interface
An audio interface is a small device that allows you to connect your instruments, vocal recording devices like microphones, and studio monitors, to your computer. It picks up the analog input sound signals from audio devices and converts them into a digital format that your computer can interpret.
It also works in reverse to convert the digital signals from your computer to analog outputs through your studio monitors and headphones.
4. MIDI Keyboard Controller
At the risk of stating the obvious, a major part of music production is, well – producing the actual music. You need to compose beats and tunes using your computer just like you would on a real guitar, piano, or drum set.
Since you won’t be using real instruments to do this, you’ll need a MIDI keyboard controller. MIDI is short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
It allows you to play virtual instruments and sequence music on your computer. All you have to do is adjust the settings to toggle between different instruments, without having the real kind scattered all around your studio space.
No recording studio would be complete without a couple of mics in its midst. Microphones pick up the sound of vocals and instruments to a much higher level of clarity, compared to any other recording devices.
Specific mics are suited to recording vocals, while others are excellent for instruments. The most popular vocal mic among several recording artists across the globe is no doubt the Shure SM7B. This is partly why you’ll find it in nearly every recording studio there is.
So, if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for you too. Condenser mics like the Audio-Technica AT2020, on the other hand, are great for recording both vocals and instruments.
6. Microphone Stand
A microphone should always be mounted on a stand. Even vocalists shouldn’t hold their mics when recording in a studio booth. That way, you can focus on getting your best take. Ensure that you get a high-quality, sturdy microphone stand for your mic.
It’s impossible to go through a recording session without a pair of headphones. These not only block out any unwanted external sounds that may get in the way of recording great music but also isolate different layers of sound. This comes in handy during editing. The Audio-Technica over-ear headphones are a great choice for many producers.
8. Studio Workstation / Desk and Chair
The editing part of music production is a long, painstaking process that often lasts for hours on end. So, be prepared to spend several hours of your day seated at your workstation/desk looking at a computer screen.
9. Acoustic Treatment
No recording setting would be complete without some sort of acoustic treatment to filter out unwanted noise that the mic may potentially pick up. Acoustic foam panels are highly effective in filtering out and absorbing excess lower-mid to high-frequency sound. Consider getting bass traps as well to absorb lower frequencies.
Work With What You Have
The nine pieces of music production equipment detailed in this guide are the bare minimum you need to create exceptional digital sound recordings. If you can afford it, get everything you need at a go.
On the flip side, if you’re working with a limited budget, just save up and buy one item at a time until you get all nine. Think of it as an investment towards your dreams. So, start from where you are and work your way up. You’ll be glad you did.
Have you thought about getting focal studio monitors for your music production process? Check out our blog to find out how they benefit your studio.
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