Updated: Mar 30
Electronic music production can seem like an intimidating world to step into, especially if you have no prior experience. With so many tools, techniques, and styles to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. However, fear not! With a little guidance and some patience, anyone can learn to produce electronic music. In this article, we'll go over the basics to get you started.
Choosing the right laptop/desktop
When it comes to producing electronic music, you want a computer that can handle the demands of running a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software and other music production software. Here are some things to consider when choosing a laptop/desktop for music production:
Processor: Look for a laptop/desktop with a powerful processor, as this will affect how quickly your software runs. Ideally, you want a quad-core processor or better.
RAM: The amount of RAM you have will affect how many tracks and plugins you can run at once. At minimum, you want 8GB of RAM, but 16GB or more is better.
Storage: You want to look for a laptop/desktop with a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a traditional hard drive (HDD). This will make your software run faster and improve overall performance.
Graphics Card: A dedicated graphics card isn't necessarily essential for music production, but it can help with tasks like video rendering and visual effects.
Display: A high-resolution display is nice to have, as it can help you see more detail in your software. You might also want to consider a larger screen size.
Choose the right headphones and speakers
Choosing the right headphones and speakers is essential for producing electronic music. You want to be able to hear all the different elements of your tracks clearly, so you can make informed decisions about the mix. When it comes to headphones, you want to look for a pair that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time, has a flat frequency response, and has good isolation from outside noise. Some popular options for studio headphones include the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro.
When it comes to speakers, there are two main types: near-field and far-field. Near-field speakers are designed to be used in a small listening environment, like a home studio, and are usually placed on a desk or table. Far-field speakers, on the other hand, are designed to be used in larger listening environments, like professional recording studios, and are usually placed on stands. Some popular options for near-field studio monitors include the KRK Rokit and the Yamaha HS series.
It's important to remember that the room you are producing in can also affect the sound you hear. You want to try to create an acoustically treated environment, which means minimizing any reflections or echoes in the room. You can achieve this by using sound-absorbing materials like acoustic foam or diffusers.
Choosing the right audio interface:
An audio interface is a device that connects your computer to external audio equipment, such as microphones, guitars, and speakers.
When choosing an audio interface, consider the number of inputs and outputs you need. If you plan to record multiple instruments or vocals at the same time, you'll need an interface with multiple inputs.
Choosing a DAW
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software application that allows you to record, edit, and mix audio and MIDI data. It's the central hub for your music production process, and choosing the right DAW is crucial for your workflow and creativity. Here are some things to consider when choosing a DAW:
Price: DAWs can range from free to several hundred pounds. Consider your budget when choosing a DAW, and keep in mind that some DAWs offer more features and capabilities than others.
User interface: A DAW's user interface can affect your workflow and productivity. Look for a DAW with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that suits your preferences.
Features: DAWs offer a range of features, including recording, editing, mixing, and mastering tools. Look for a DAW that offers the features you need for your music production.
Some popular options for DAWs include Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, and Pro Tools. Each DAW has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to research and try out different options before making a decision.
You'll need a synthesiser to generate sound
A synthesiser is an essential tool for electronic music production. It's an electronic instrument that can create a wide range of sounds, from simple leads to complex pads and basslines. When choosing a synthesiser, there are two main options to consider: hardware and software.
Hardware synthesisers are physical instruments that you can play and manipulate with your hands. They usually have dedicated knobs, buttons, and sliders for controlling parameters like oscillators, filters, and envelopes. Hardware synthesisers can range in price from a few hundred pounds to thousands of pounds, and they can be a good choice if you prefer a hands-on approach to music production.
Software synthesisers, on the other hand, are virtual instruments that run on your computer. They can offer a wider range of sounds than hardware synthesisers, and they can be much more affordable. They also allow you to easily save presets, and to use automation to control parameters over time.
When choosing a synthesiser, here are few things to consider:
Type: There are many different types of synthesisers available, from subtractive and additive to FM and wavetable. Choose a synthesizer that can create the types of sounds you want to use in your music.
Features: Look for a synthesizer with the features you need, such as a built-in arpeggiator or sequencer. Some synthesisers also offer advanced features like MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression).
Price: Consider your budget when choosing a synthesiser. Software synthesisers are usually more affordable than hardware synthesisers, and there are many free options, but high-end synths can still be quite expensive.
Some popular options for hardware synthesisers include the Moog Subsequent 37, Korg Minilogue XD, and Novation Bass Station II. For software synthesisers, popular options include Serum, Vital, and Massive.
Using sample packs
Sample packs are collections of audio samples that you can use in your music production. They often include drum loops, one-shot samples, and other sound effects that you can use to create beats and add texture to your tracks. Here are some things to consider when using sample packs:
Quality: Look for sample packs with high-quality audio samples, as this will affect the overall sound of your music. Check the demo samples to get an idea of the quality of the samples.
Type: There are many different types of sample packs available, from general-purpose packs that cover a range of genres to specialized packs that focus on specific genres or instruments
Using sample packs can be a great way to speed up your workflow and add variety to your tracks. They can provide inspiration and help you create more professional-sounding beats and melodies.
Using MIDI controllers
MIDI controllers are devices that allow you to control your DAW and other software using physical knobs, buttons, faders and pads. They can help you speed up your workflow and provide an intuitive way to interact with your software. Here are some things to consider when choosing a MIDI controller:
Type: There are many different types of MIDI controllers available, from small portable ones to larger, more comprehensive options. Some popular types include keyboard controllers, drum pads, and control surfaces.
Features: Look for a MIDI controller that has the features you need to control your software. This could include things like faders, knobs, buttons, and pads.
Compatibility: Make sure the MIDI controller you choose is compatible with your DAW. Most MIDI controllers will work with any DAW, but it's still important to double-check compatibility before purchasing, as some MIDI controllers are DAW specific.
Size: Consider the size of the MIDI controller and how it will fit into your workspace. Some controllers can be quite large and take up a lot of desk space, while others are more portable and can be used on the go.
Electronic music production can be a daunting task for beginners, but with the right tools, knowledge, and practice, anyone can create their own unique sounds. To get started you'll need a computer with sufficient processing power and memory, as well as headphones or speakers to accurately hear your creations. Choosing a DAW is a critical step, as it will be the central hub for your production process. A synthesiser can provide unique and creative sounds, and sample packs can help you quickly add texture and variety to your tracks. Finally, a MIDI controller can give you a more expressive way to interact with your music. It's important to remember that not all of the above are necessary.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or don't know where to start, don't worry! I offer private lessons to help get you started in the best way possible. Whether you're a complete beginner or have some experience, I can help you develop your skills and create music you're proud of. Contact me via my website to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards creating your own unique sound.