This post was created for people who don’t want to waste any money on things they don’t need, or spend loads of time researching and sifting through all the information, suggestions, and product reviews available on the internet to figure out what do you need to produce music.
Chances are, you came to this post because the person we’re talking about is YOU. So in this article, we’ll talk about the bare basics of what you need to produce your own track.
See more helpful articles:
- Music Production Courses Online
- How to Produce Music: Beginner’s Guide
- How to Produce Your Own Beats
- How to Record Your Own Music
- Songwriting Ideas for Beginners
Here’s What You Need To Produce Music
1 – Get A Laptop or A Computer
Any music that is recorded, created, or mixed these days involves the use of a computer. You have a choice of a desktop or a laptop. Most budget computers and laptops available on the market are capable of doing the task of music production, mixing, or DJing.
But needs to not just be any laptop or computer. Your music making machine has to fit certain basic requirements in order to be a suitable workhouse.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while assessing your laptop or computer, or thinking about buying a new one:
- You need to have a decent hard drive capacity. I suggest 500 GB to 1 TB. And if you can go solid state, please do, because that will cut down a lot of time when loading up your software (will talk about that soon)
- Get a system with at least 6 GB of RAM. Preferable 8 GB to more.
- The best processors, when it comes to a music production computer, are the Intel i5 or i7, with quad or dual cores. AMD also makes a decent range of processors, particularly the A10 series. But Intel is better in my, and many others’, opinion.
- Get a computer or laptop with at least 2 USB ports, one HDMI port and/or one VGA port. The USB ports will come handy for plugging in your USB MIDI controllers, audio Interface, and external storage, sometimes all at the same time! HDMI and VGA becomes necessary when you find that you need another monitor to display videos that you’re composing tracks to (like film scoring, or making video game music).
- CD/DVD drives are slowly becoming obsolete. I think they are still important, however, as, from my experience, clients and artists still want to have music on CDs as physical copies to share and to use. You want the ability to burn CDs. Of course, if you have, or are planning on getting, a MacBook or a Windows laptop which lacks a DVD drive, then you can get one of those external USB DVD drives.
Read: Best Laptops for Music Production, Best Computers for Music Production.
2 – Get A Digital Audio Workstation
As a tool, this is the single most important item you should have. The digital audio workstation is going to be the hub of your music making, recording, audio editing, and mixing.
This is where all your other gear is plugged in. But more importantly, it is the center for where you will be able to make your own musical arrangements. They start out as blank canvases, but eventually become works of musical art for your musical ideas. Some even use them as live computer instruments.
Read: Best Digital Audio Workstations
3 – Get An Audio Interface
This might be the most mysterious piece of gear to you. Out of everything on the list, it doesn’t seem to do anything other than, well, interface, between your computer and your gear.
The audio interface is essentially a piece of equipment that allows the music software on your computer (the DAW) to communicate directly with your microphone, instrument, and whatever outputs you’re using.
Normally what happens is that your computer’s native sound device and driver interferes with the audio making process, as audio would have to pass through several layers of processing before it is produced through your speakers. In a real-time music-making environment, this leads to severe latency – you play a note, and you hear a delay between what you play and what the speakers or headphones produce. The USB audio interface skips those layers entirely so that your latency is reduced to below the level of human detectability, allowing you to make music in real-time on your computer.
Read: Best Audio Interface for Music Production
4 – Get A Pair Of Studio Mixing Headphones
When it comes to making music, you have to admit that you need something by which you can hear what you are doing. And headphones are going to be most valuable for listening to audio playback as a producer or mixing engineer. A good pair of headphones can make the difference between whether or not your leads, drums, or vocals are too loud or quiet. You’re more up-close and personal with your music with headphones, so you’re not missing anything.
Read: Best Headphones for Music Production
5 – Get A Pair Of Studio Monitors
Not just headphones, but also a good pair of studio monitors (speakers) will become essential to your music making and editing. That being said, in terms of priority, you should get headphones before the monitors, however, if you are on a budget. Monitors are really most valuable in a room that is “treated”. That is, a room that has been purposed for music producing and mixing.
You don’t have to go out of your way to make a decently treated room, however. Headphones won’t lie to you when it comes to audio levels and frequencies, whereas the sound coming from a pair of monitors may be affected by the room they’re in.
Read: Best Studio Monitors for Music Production
6 – Get A Studio Microphone
Microphones are essential if you are going to be recording vocals or instruments. There are cases where you don’t actually need microphones, however. For instance, you may be a beat maker or a film scorer, or you make music for video games, or your produce instruments such as house music or certain EDM genres that are purely instrumental. In these cases, you may not really need to have a microphone because, you’re making all of your sounds from software within your computer called a VSTi – a Virtual Instrument Plugin.
Regardless, at some point, if not immediately, you should get a good studio microphone, as you will find that having a microphone, even if you don’t plan on recording yourself on an instrument or a vocalist, will open up options opportunities for you to what you can do as a producer. And, of course, if you do plan on doing some recordings, invest in at least one good microphone.
Read: Best Microphones for Home Studio
Now, Go Make Some Music!
There you have it, a basic music production set up if you’ve ever been wondering what do you need to produce music at your home, in your room, in the bathroom, in the park, wherever!
To recap, you need a:
- digital audio workstation
- audio interface
- pair of studio headphones
- studio monitors
Nowadays, music production is not entirely limited to large budget production studios. Some of the most popular music you hear was created in a producer’s home studio in their bedroom. All you need are some essential gear, and then to learn how to use that gear.
4 Comments on “What Do You Need To Produce Music? – The Basic Music Production Setup for Beginners”
Hello there! I’m planning to build my own music production setup but I don’t know where to start. I do a little bit of music producing at my friend’s house and I could ask him what are the things that I need but I don’t want to disturb him. Luckily I read your article that talks about what I need for music production setup. I found your article very helpful and informative. Thank you for sharing this information.
Hi John! I’m happy that you found it useful! If you have any other questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Great post. It really is amazing how little you now need to start making and recording music from home. I’m personally all for this digital age of music production.
I think I mentioned it in another post… but I do think you can get great audio recordings with just a USB mic and without an audio interface.
Hi, Joshua. Yes, the post you commented on includes the option of using a USB microphone. You can check it out here.
You can definitely use a USB microphone instead of an audio interface, so you’re correct. This is given that the home studio owner is simply recording an acoustic instrument or voice into their DAW, and not something like electric guitar or keyboard synthesizer, etc.
That being said, I’ve noticed it’s not the most popular option around, even though you can do it. Personally, I think it’s because you can do more gear customization if your tool chain is segmented (microphone separate from a USB audio interface). But I think it’s a good option in terms of gear minimalism.
Nice to hear about your new gear. That’s a good purchase. Seems your home studio is really coming along.