Production for dummies chapter 2: the tools you need to start producing.
This article is part of a special section called «Production for dummies». This is a collaboration between Be Tronic and The Second Wave. It’s a weekly section where the producer and DJ explain to us in an entertaining and fun way the things to consider dedicating themselves to this entertainment sector from a technical aspect. Perfect to capture your talent to the fullest, at the same time, understand the complex but incredible electronic music picture through the tools you need to produce.
First, thank you for reading the first chapter of this beautiful section. Where I put on paper (or keyboard) what I know about the vast world of production. Talking about essence is extremely complicated, we get into a concept that only good philosophers can mention well, but I hope my little explanation has given you a push to find what defines you as a person and producer.
Now yes, I am going to talk about something less dense, but equally difficult question to answer: What the fu** buy to start producing? I have seen that my favorite DJs have sophisticated and huge equipment, I guess that’s everyone’s dream, but our wallets do cry even seeing the price of those things on Amazon. The truth is that I don’t have a million pounds in my wallet (well, maybe If I sign with Drumcode I’ll have something like that).
That question, how do I start this whole journey with a few quid was always tormenting my head when I decided to be a DJ and producer, until one day a divine revelation came to me when I didn’t think about it. While I was eating pastries I got curious to surf the web to find information about studio configurations, I mean, everything that makes up that space of creativity and fun. Equipment, software, virtual instruments (VST), and other kinds of stuff; looking forward to seeing what people had to say about starting to produce.
What happens when you surf the internet to see what’s going on with production? Normally, you skip thousands and thousands of articles from anyone who writes on blogs of all kinds. Hispasonic mentions that this interface is the best for beginners, then We Rave You recommends Native Instruments to start making your mixes, then Be Tronic has a guy like Erick T or someone else explains what mixing is, etc. After scouting almost all that information (the internet is huge, I need another 21 years to read it all) I found one or another article about headphones, audio interfaces, and of course, software like Live, FL Studio, Logic, and others.
Production for dummies 2: How to get the best equipment?
And with all that, I bought to produce, now I am here, and bring you my beautiful article with the 10 best hardware & software until I realized something. I thought it would be very original of me *wink, wink* to talk about the options that exist in the market for production.
After finishing my lunch I realized that it would just be one more boring article on why FL Studio is duller than Live or vice versa and the copy-paste of the top 10 best audio monitors from somewhere on Google. After racking my brain a bit, I came to a serious philosophical question.
-Why haven’t I watched Star Wars today?
So no one can’t solve this dilemma, I need more food and I need to know what happens to Mando!, I can’t concentrate well, I will pass out…
-You know what? I give up. I don’t want to write anything anymore, I need to go watch Blade Runner for the 5000th time!
(the editor of this text hits him, so he doesn’t lose his head and gives him some crisps to keep him going).
Seriously speaking, the question that came to me in those moments where I didn’t want to be the typical boring guy who recommends software was:
– How did I start producing? What things did I buy to dedicate myself to making music? and now I will answer it, first because this beautiful team has already fed me and, second, because it is better for a producer to set an example so that you have the option of being a producer based on a real case.
Computer equipment needed to do magic
Let’s start with the computer equipment. As a gamer at heart and a self-confessed nerd, I got myself a beefy computer with an i7 4770k, 32 GB of memory, and 2 Terabytes of SSD. the programs worked flawlessly, but in reality that was a lot to start moving to FL Studio.
What is needed then? According to the official Ableton site, to use Live 11 we require a Windows 10 computer, an i5 processor or AMD equivalent, 8 GB of ram, and 10 to 80 GB of disk space.
Following these specifications, a laptop that meets the requirements should be around 400 pounds online. Not bad, a computer is set.
Here we got three options.
First is that you buy the licenses of what you need. The most popular D.A.W.s (Digital Audio Workstation) are Ableton (the one with the strange black bars), FL Studio (the mango), or free options like Tracktion.
Second is that ye apply the big ol’ Yarrr cap’n! with the software you use, an option that I do not recommend.
Apart from getting into legal trouble (obviously), you don’t have access to important things like updates to make your stuff work as it should, and you don’t get support either. What if suddenly your programs no longer open? You would have to figure it out on your own, young lad when you could make a call and get assistance from the company that develops the program.
And the third is free software. I know what you’re thinking when you read this
-Hey Second wave, what is that, mate?
For this I need an expert, I hereby summon Fidel Nath The Lord Of Machines.
(We called Fidel to explain it to us, but he had many machines to give therapy to, so we gave Alejandro the power to continue enlightening us).
According to Wikipedia: «Free software is software whose source code can be studied, modified, and used freely for any purpose and redistributed with changes or improvements on them.» That is, its source code is available and anyone can use it, copy it, and distribute it. So it says free there? Something like that… if you want to soak up the beautiful world of free software, go bother the lord of the machines. Back on topic: a popular option and my recommendation in this category are: LMMS.
Now, since you’re all happy because you have your little programs, let’s talk about audio.
What to choose ?
In audio, there are thousands of options, from a pair of headphones and monitors to mad Dolby Atmos systems. Here there is a lot of information and controversy about what is ideal for a producer who begins his beautiful path through the realm of the night.
Personally, I recommend a couple of monitors and an audio interface. What is an interface? It is the device that allows your monitors to communicate with your computer, they have very cool functions such as being able to connect external instruments or a microphone to record, for example. Popular monitor choices include KRK‘s Rokit series, Yamaha’s HS series, and Adam Audio’s T series.
Before I go… if you’re thinking this was a clickbait and I wouldn’t reveal the tools I started off with, here’s the list: Laptop with i5, 8 GB of ram and 1 TB of hard drive, a couple of KRK Rokit G3 6-inch monitors, a Focusrite Scarlett Solo interface, FL Studio 11, and an offering to Apollo to make it work.
What conclusion do we reach?
You do not need very expensive equipment to be able to make your tracks. Making good use of your optimization options and not filling your laptop with well… porn and single women near your area will do you good. In addition to having the necessary power to capture the ideas in your head. I would like to talk to you about acoustics and little things like panels or diffusers. I decided to go watch some more Mando, so we leave it for another day. You can go in peace. !