Making music on a computer has never been easier than it is today. With the advancement of technology, musicians can create professional-sounding tracks from the comfort of their own homes. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of how to get started making music on your computer.
In addition to software and plugins, selecting the right hardware is also important when setting up a computer-based music production setup. In case you already have all the hardware and you know what to consider and/or when you want to buy or subscribe to (independent) software tools, you can skip the hardware part of this article.
Please be aware that with some hardware comes the proprietary software that is fully compatible and you do not need any additional third party software.
Here are some key pieces of hardware to consider:
Near Field Monitor Speakers: These speakers are designed for accurate, detailed sound reproduction and are essential for mixing and mastering your tracks. You can choose between active speakers, which have built-in amplifiers, or passive speakers that require a separate amplifier. If you have a small room to work in, active speakers are the more sensible choice, since these do not need an extra (heavy) amplifier. With a bigger room you need bigger speakers. In this case, it is maybe a good option to go for a passive set of speakers. Maybe a setup with with active nearfields and passive main monitors with an amp. Of course, this also depends on your budget.
MIDI Interfaces: If you plan to use external MIDI controllers or instruments, a MIDI interface is a must-have. These devices allow you to connect your MIDI devices to your computer, allowing you to record and manipulate MIDI data in your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). There are many brands and species of midi interfaces. There are mixers, drum computers/interface, midi keyboard etc.
Please ask your local music equipment store for advice. They usually helped a lot of novice customers before you came along and they have a lot of experience with multiple setups and systems.
Do not forget USB hubs (almost all midi hardware is equipped with USB, so the more ports you have the better, in case you buy more midi equipment in the future)
Monitor Speaker Mixer: A monitor speaker mixer allows you to control the volume and EQ of your monitor speakers. This is especially useful when working with multiple sets of speakers, as you can easily switch between speaker sets and make adjustments on the fly.
Acoustic Paneling: Proper acoustic treatment is important for achieving an accurate and balanced sound in your studio. Acoustic paneling can help to reduce unwanted reflections and improve the overall sound quality of your recordings.
Monitor Screens: Choosing the right monitor screen is important for ensuring that your DAW and other music production software are easy to use and visually clear. High-resolution displays with good color accuracy are recommended.
A lot of studios have multiple screen setups that give more real-estate to spread or divide the DAW music arranger screen from plugin or mix screen. But again, this depends on your budget and if you have the space on your desk to place 2 or more monitors.
Recommended Specifications for Your Computer: To use your computer as a multitrack studio, you'll need a computer with enough processing power and memory to handle your software and plugins. Recommended specifications include a quad-core processor, at least 8 GB of RAM, and a solid-state drive for fast loading times. 16 GB of ram is more up to par with todays software.
In conclusion, selecting the right hardware is essential when setting up a computer-based music production setup. Near field monitor speakers, MIDI interfaces, monitor speaker mixers, acoustic paneling, monitor screens, and recommended computer specifications are all important factors to consider when building your studio. With the right hardware and software, you can create professional-sounding music from the comfort of your own home.
The first thing you will need is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). A DAW is essentially the software you use to create and edit music on your computer. There are many DAWs available on the market today, but some of the most popular ones are Presonus Studio One, Propellerhead Reason, Ableton Live, and Logic Pro.
Once you have selected your DAW, the next step is to familiarize yourself with its features. You should learn how to use virtual instruments, VST plugins, loops and samples to create your music. Virtual instruments are software-based synthesizers and samplers that allow you to create sounds and melodies using your computer keyboard. VST plugins are third-party software that can be integrated into your DAW to expand its functionality. Loops and samples are pre-recorded sounds that you can use to create beats and melodies in your tracks.
When starting out, it's important not to overwhelm yourself with too many plugins. It's easy to get carried away with all the available options, but using too many plugins can slow down your computer and make it difficult to manage your workflow. Start with a simple setup and gradually build up your collection of plugins as you become more comfortable with your DAW.
Subscriptions to software tools
One great option for subscription-based tools is Slate Digital. They offer a suite of plugins that are both affordable and easy to use. Another option is Izotope, which offers a range of audio software for editing, mixing, and mastering. Native Instruments is also a popular choice, particularly for virtual instruments and sample libraries.
Native instruments and Izotope help each other these days by offering discounts on the software of one another. You can benefit from these offers on a regular basis when you subscribe to their newsletter or to check the websites regularly. Native instruments also have their own loops and sample website called Sounds.
When you are properly prepared to get started making music on your computer, it is an exciting and rewarding experience. By selecting a DAW, learning how to use virtual instruments, VST plugins, using loops and samples, and taking advantage of subscription-based tools, you can create professional-sounding tracks from the comfort of your own home. Remember to start with a simple setup and gradually build up your collection of plugins as you become more comfortable with your DAW.