The Ultimate Guide To Beat Making Software And Equipment For Hip Hop Production

So you want to start making your own beats and you’re wondering what kind of music production equipment you should get as well as the best software to make beats?

No problem. Not only does a professional studio setup take a fraction of what it used to cost, but our equipment can do much more and is actually a lot more flexible these days.

When I first got into music, I had no means to pay thousands of dollars for a synthesizer and a sequencer. But now? You could produce songs with damn great quality for less than a thousand dollars, and if you only have a few hundred to spend you can have a bare bones setup that includes one of the best beat making programs out there, which comes bundled in with excellent sounds samples.

Because choosing the right equipment and software for making beats is the first important decision you have to make when you want to make your own beats, I figured it’d be appropriate to list down the things you need (and might want) to invest in when you’re serious about making music.

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Dubturbo Review: 4 Reasons Why I DON’T Recommend It For Aspiring Beatmakers

Important Info
The owner of Dubturbo has responded to this review (which you can read at the bottom of the comments by clicking here) — which in my opinion is a very fair and level-headed response, and worth reading before you form any rash opinions about the makers of the software.
Seriously now?

Seriously now? We don’t believe you, you need more people!

Occasionally, I review software and pieces of gear here at Make Beats 101 if I find them useful for producers and other musicians.

Because there’s already way too many things being advertised to us, I try to only review things that are beneficial to our goal of making great quality music.

Since I want to maintain my sense of integrity, I don’t bother writing about and recommending crappy equipment and software.

And that’s precisely the reason why I CAN’T give beatmaking programs like Dubturbo and Sonic Producer a good review.

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The Best 25-Key MIDI Controllers For Musicians On A Budget This 2017

So you want to start making some music.

Maybe you’re an aspiring beatmaker. You’ve already downloaded the programs you need, you’ve watched a few tutorials, and you’re ready to start producing some super hot fire. Or maybe you’re in a band, and you want to take advantage of some VST instruments to add more layers of music to your songs.

Whichever you are, you’ve probably quickly realized that trying to make music by clicking in melodies with your mouse is difficult, and simply speaking… Not a lot of fun. You want to be able to actually play your music with your fingers and be able to experiment with different notes to figure out the right melodies for your music.

Alas, what you need is a MIDI controller. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you want to make beats, this is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll invest in.

The problem? There’s a lot of them out today… Too many, as a matter of fact. So the question is: with all the models out there today, how do you know which MIDI keyboard is the right one for you?

To answer that, first we have to know which factors are important when it comes to judging MIDI keyboards. While no perfect controller for everybody exists, you can weigh each model on six main factors in order to figure out which one would fit you the best:

Number of Keys

The first thing you have to determine when choosing a MIDI keyboard is: how many keys do you actually need? A 25-key MIDI controller would be perfect for most electronic musicians and hip-hop beatmakers as they really only need to be able to play melodies and simple chord progressions. But because these keyboards only span two octaves, you won’t be doing any serious piano playing that requires both your left and right hands at the same time — for that, you’ll want the larger 49-key or even a 61-key MIDI controllers.

Keyboard Size

Next up, you’ll need to determine whether you want a full-sized keyboard or if a compact unit is more suitable for you. Since most people buying 25-key MIDI controllers aren’t using it for complex piano playing, it only makes sense that compact keyboards are becoming more and more popular — not only are they cheaper, but they’re a lot more portable and can fit on pretty much any desk. Obviously, the trade-off would be smaller keys — some people might find compact keyboards a little too cramped for their tastes and would prefer using a full-sized controller instead.

Key Action

What exactly is key action? Simply put, this is how the keys feel when you press on them. Keyboards can either be synth-action or semi-weighted. Semi-weighted keys have weights attached to each key to make them feel heavier. Each press has more resistance, and “bounce” back when you let the keys go — not different from how a “real piano” feels like. On the other hand, synth-action keys use springs instead of weights to return the key to its initial depressed position. As a result, they’re a lot quicker and feel a lot lighter than semi-weighted keyboards and won’t tire your hands out as much, but can feel a bit sponge-y or maybe even a little cheap. At the end of the day, neither one is better — it all depends on which style you prefer playing with.

DAW Integration

Another important thing you have to consider is exactly what do you want to do with your MIDI controller? At its very essence, your MIDI controller is there to allow you to play melodies and chords with your hands instead of drawing them in manually in your software’s piano roll. If you’re on a tight budget, then getting a bare bones unit could be a great option for you to save money. However, if you’re willing to pay a little extra, some models have additional features that allow you to control your DAW from the keyboard itself, saving you from having to go back and forth between the keys and the mouse. Some keyboards have transport controls that allow you to press play, stop, and record, while others have far more advanced integrations that allow you to switch between windows and tweak instrument parameters.

Drum Pads

When making beats, most people program their drums by clicking them in a step sequencer or in the piano roll. But maybe you prefer having the option to tap out your drum beats while composing, or maybe you perform live and finger drumming is one aspect of your performance. In this case, then you’ll want to look at MIDI keyboards with drum pads built in it. Not only do you have to look at the number of pads and how they feel when tapping, but you’ll also have to consider how easy it is to map out to whatever instrument software you’re using.

Knobs and Faders

Lastly, some people like having faders on their keyboards in order to be able to tweak effects either when composing or when performing live. People who build synth sounds from the ground up will find knobs to be a very useful feature, since sound design often involves tweaking a lot of virtual knobs in order to get the exact sound you want. Again, you’ll want to consider how easy it is to map to your instrument if this is an important consideration for you. You may also want to use knobs while mixing to dial in the exact values you want either in your mixer or your equalizer, in which case the more knobs and faders you have, the better.


Cool, now we have those factors out of the way. Luckily, I’ve been able to get my hands on quite a few MIDI controllers, carefully assess them, and weigh out its pros and cons. So what I did was list several scenarios, one or two of which you’d likely fall under and make my recommendation of what keyboard would best fit.

Here we go!

Best Portable MIDI Keyboard: Akai MPK Mini MK2

For producers who are short on desk space, you’re better off served with a compact MIDI keyboard instead. While the lack of full-sized keys may be a hindrance to some, it won’t make too much of a difference if you just need a MIDI keyboard to play out melodies and maybe some basic chords. For these purposes, I would highly recommend the Akai MPK Mini MK2 for you.

This keyboard is very light and is just a little over a foot long — the length spans 13 inches which makes it just slightly longer than a Macbook Air. The keys also have adjustable velocity curves, and the pads are great and feels very much like an MPC (Akai manufactures both instruments). And to save on space, Akai converted the pitch and modulation wheels into a single stick, which might takes a bit getting used to but is worth the additional space you get.

Read the detailed review on the Akai MPK Mini MK2 here.

  • Pros
    • Small and compact, the MPK Mini is close to being perfect for those who consider portability a must
    • Pitch and mod joystick is an ingenious, space-saving feature and is highly usable
    • 8 velocity-sensitive drums pads that almost feel like Akai’s signature MPC machine
    • 8 assignable rotary knobs that you can use for basic mixing or tweaking synth effects
    • Excellent value for money — one of the cheapest 25-key MIDI controllers with full-sized keys, assignable pads and knobs
  • Cons
    • As expected, keys are very small and may cause your fingers to feel cramped, especially when playing for long periods of time
    • Velocity settings on the keys cannot be adjusted, which may lead to your MIDI notes sounding all over the place
    • The MPK Mini has no transport controls, so controlling your DAW means having to reach over to your keyboard or mouse

Learn More About The Akai MPK Mini MK2

Best Value For Money: Nektar Impact LX25+

When it comes to 25-key MIDI controllers, Nektar’s budget offering is as good as it gets and will give you the most value for your money. Retailing for just $99, the Impact LX25+ offers you 25 keys and 8 drum pads with adjustable velocity curves to adapt to your playing style. Transport controls are also present, so you can press play, stop, and record without having to reach for your mouse.

The best feature, however, is how the Impact LX25+ offers seamless integration with most major DAW software today — so whether you’re using Reason, Logic, Studio One, or even Garageband, you’ll be able to control your software and compose beats from your keyboard alone. The 8 rotary knobs map automatically depending on what you have selected as well. In my personal opinion, the huge improvement for your workflow makes this the best 25-key MIDI controller available today.

Read the detailed review on the Nektar Impact LX25+ here.

  • Pros
    • Seamless integration with most if not all DAWs so you can control your software without reaching for the mouse — works especially great for Propellerheads Reason
    • Full-sized, semi-weighted keys means no cramped feeling for your fingers while playing
    • More seamless playing — the presence of transport controls make it easy to record your melodies without needing to reach for your mouse
    • 8 velocity-sensitive drums pads that light up when pressed — perfect for tapping out drum beats
    • Amazing value especially given the low price
  • Cons
    • Does not have semi-weighted keys despite looking like it does
    • Quite large and heavy for a 25-key controller makes it a less than ideal option for those seeking maximum portability

Learn More About The Nektar Impact LX25+

Best Keyboard For Ableton Live: Novation Launchkey 25 MK2

The less time you spend with your hands on your mouse or keyboard, the less time you’re spending making music. Though it’s hard to beat the Nektar Impact LX25+ in terms of DAW integration, at the end of the day it’s still a jack-of-all-trades MIDI controller and will find it hard to beat a controller that was specifically made for a single particular DAW. And that’s exactly what the Novation Launchkey 25 is — a MIDI controller that was made with Ableton Live in mind.

The Launchkey 25 comes with 25 full-sized keys and 8 rotary knobs like most of the controllers featured on this page. However, this comes with 16 pads that light up when pressed and are specifically mapped to different features of Ableton Live. You can use these to tap out your rhythms or launch clips when needed. Transport controls are also present to make recording more efficient. If you use Ableton as your primary DAW software, then consider getting the Launchkey for your home studio.

  • Pros
    • Designed specifically for use with Ableton Live
    • 16 pads that light up in RGB colors that you can use for tapping out beats or launching clips
    • Full sized synth action keys that are lightweight and responsive
    • Transport controls to easily control playback and recording within your DAW
  • Cons
    • Retails for a much higher price than other keyboards that are similar in specs
    • Pads are a little small and could be slightly uncomfortable for those with bigger fingers might

Learn More About The Novation Launchkey 25 MK2

Best Keys + Pads Combo: M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV

M-Audio has a long history of putting out quality instruments for the home musician for almost two decades now, starting with the very first Oxygen8 MIDI keyboard back in 2002. Now in its 4th generation, the Oxygen line of keyboards has gone through a lot of changes while still keeping its essential spirit of portability and functionality.

The Oxygen 25 MKIV is the first in the Oxygen line of keyboards to feature drum pads. The feel is great — it’s rubbery and isn’t too stiff, yet provides enough tactile feedback to make it an excellent choice for finger drumming. As for the keys, they’re synth-action instead of semi-weighted, but thanks to the adjustable velocity curves experienced piano players shouldn’t find it too difficult to get used to. This unit also features transport controls and comes with 8 rotary knobs. DAW integration could be a little bit better, but in terms of overall feel with the pads and the keys the Oxygen 25 MKIV is a winner.

Read the detailed review on the M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV here.

  • Pros
    • Full-sized, semi-weighted keys means no cramped feeling for your fingers while playing
    • More seamless playing — the presence of transport controls make it easy to record your melodies without needing to reach for your mouse
    • 8 velocity-sensitive drums pads that light up when pressed — perfect for tapping out drum beats
    • 8 assignable rotary knobs that you can use for basic mixing or tweaking synth effects
    • Velocity settings can be easily tweaked in case the default options don’t suit your playing style well
  • Cons
    • Quite large and heavy for a 25-key controller makes it a less than ideal option for those seeking maximum portability
    • Difficult to customize for your DAW unless you have knowledge about MIDI
    • One of the more expensive 25-key MIDI controllers in the market right now without any features that make it stand out

Learn More About The M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV

Best Keyboard With Semi-Weighted Keys: Novation Impulse 25

MIDI controllers with semi-weighted keys tend to not be as popular because they happen to be more expensive, but some people really just prefer semi-weighted over synth-action keys because these instruments feel more “real.” There’s not a lot of them, but as far as the models with semi-weighted keys go, the Novation Impulse 25 will probably give you the best bang for your buck.

The keys on this controller feel very good — the springiness is just right and provide enough “bounce back” to make it feel like a heavy duty keyboard. The MIDI response is pretty accurate, too — so if you’re an experienced piano player then you’ll have no problems capturing the musical expressions of what you’re playing. It also comes with 8 drum pads and 8 rotary knobs that you can use for finger drumming and instrument tweaking.

Aside from its keys, this model shines with its automap feature that gives you hands-on control with your DAW software and whatever plugins you’re using (I would go as far as saying that this is probably one of the best MIDI controller keyboards for FL Studio as well). It may not be as plug-and-play and you’ll likely have to read the manual to know how to operate it completely, but once you get the hang of it you’ll find yourself spending less and less time on your mouse and more time actually making music.

  • Pros
    • Hands on control with most DAWs and many major plug-ins (FXPansion,
      Native Instruments, Waves, etc.)
    • Semi-weighted keys are very responsive, which allows you to accurately capture how you play the keyboard
    • 8 rotary knobs feel good with excellent tactile response
    • Drum pads have a built in arpeggiator
  • Cons
    • Keyboards with semi-weighted keys are about twice more expensive than synth-action keyboards
    • Very large and bulky keyboard — could pose a problem for some people with limited desk space
    • Automap feature may not be as user-friendly to some people depending on which software you use

Learn More About The Acorn Masterkey 25

Best Cheap MIDI Keyboard: Acorn Masterkey 25

If you’re looking for a no-frills, bare bones MIDI keyboard for the lowest price possible, it’s hard to go wrong with the Acorn Masterkey 25. This keyboard is as simple as it gets: 25 keys, pitch and modulation wheels, octave up/down buttons, 4 rotary knobs, and one fader.

There’s not much else you can do with this keyboard — you can’t adjust the velocity curves, nor does it come with transport controls. But for producers who simply want a no-nonsense MIDI keyboard to play melodies and chords with and pay as little as possible for it, the Masterkey 25 is the right keyboard for you.

  • Pros
    • Full-sized keys with synth action
    • 4 assignable rotary knobs that you can use for basic mixing or tweaking synth effects
    • Incredibly cheap and retails for just $59 — perfect for those on a very strict budget
  • Cons
    • No adjustable velocity curves
    • No other features

Learn More About The Acorn Masterkey 25

Conclusion

Once again, I can’t stress how important it is to buy a MIDI keyboard even if you’re just starting your music production journey. I understand that it’s a little difficult to choose a MIDI keyboard (especially when you’re starting out) since there’s a lot of models out there and you probably don’t have much of a clue what separates each one from the rest. However, I hope this list will help narrow down the choices so you can get the right controller that would fit your needs.

Nektar Impact LX25+ Review

I was in for a rough surprise when I first decided to start making beats. At first, I thought it was going to be easy — just torrent some cracked software, get yourself some sounds, click some melodies in and voila — you’ll be making hot banging beats in no time!

Turns out it wasn’t going to be that easy. As someone with zero musical training, I had absolutely no idea how to compose melodies that sound good. It’s not just a matter of hitting random keys and something good comes out of your speakers — it takes a lot of trial and error to find out the right keys that sound good when played together.

And as someone who has never played an instrument and zero knowledge about music theory, trust me when I say that it’s borderline impossible to do that while clicking on random notes on the piano roll with your mouse.

That’s why I almost always recommend aspiring producers to invest in a MIDI keyboard controller. The ability to easily play different notes using your fingers will make it much, much quicker (and easier) to figure out the right notes that make a good melody.

I started out with a cheap, $60 compact MIDI keyboard since I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes to make beats when I started (I’ve upgraded my equpiment since then). As soon as I started using it, the quality of my beats instantly got better. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t producing hits overnight; but thanks to being able to easily experiment with different melodies my beats actually started sounding like something someone would actually want to rap on.

If you’re wanting to buy a MIDI keyboard yourself, it’s pretty easy to get confused on which model you should buy. There are a lot of MIDI controllers out there, and chances are you don’t know what makes each one special — and of course, you want to make sure that you’re buying the right keyboard for you.

And in my personal opinion, the Nektar Impact LX25+ is one of the best choices you have when choosing a MIDI keyboard. I would recommend this for most producers out there, and this review will tell you why.

Let’s get on with the review!

Quick Summary

    • Seamless integration with most if not all DAWs so you can control your software without reaching for the mouse — works especially great for Propellerheads Reason
    • Full-sized, semi-weighted keys means no cramped feeling for your fingers while playing
    • More seamless playing — the presence of transport controls make it easy to record your melodies without needing to reach for your mouse
    • 8 velocity-sensitive drums pads that light up when pressed — perfect for tapping out drum beats
    • Amazing value especially given the low price
    • Does not have semi-weighted keys despite looking like it does
    • Quite large and heavy for a 25-key controller makes it a less than ideal option for those seeking maximum portability

Learn More About The Nektar Impact LX25+

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M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV Review – 25-Key MIDI Controller For Your Home Studio

Getting a MIDI controller is probably one of the most crucial pieces of equipment you need to add to your home studio if you’re planning to make your own beats if you’re a complete beginner.

When I was starting out as a starry-eyed newbie, I spent months dicking around random programs and wondering why I was making nothing but hot garbage. I almost gave up on the idea of producing beats… That is, until I decided to buy a cheap mini MIDI keyboard for $50 (the cheapest model they had available at the store).

As soon as I was able to jam and play out melodies with my hands instead of trying to click them in with my mouse, learning how to make beats just became a whole of a lot easier, and the music I created instantly became a hell of a lot better.

But if you’re reading this right now, then you don’t need any convincing that you need a MIDI controller — you’re simply trying to find out which one is the right model for you.

And if you take a look at all the available options, it’s easy to get confused on which keyboard you should buy. One of the most popular ones for many aspiring producers is the M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV. It’s a small, 25 key MIDI controller with several nifty features and connects to your computer through USB.

Is this the right model for you to buy for your music-making journey, or should you take a look at other keyboards instead? We’ll dive deep into this keyboard in this review, so you can make the right decision.

Let’s do this!

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Alesis V25 Review: A Full-Sized 25-Key MIDI Keyboard With Drum Pads

For aspiring and beginner producers, one of the most important pieces of equipment for your home studio is no doubt a MIDI keyboard controller that you can use to play out your melodies and compose beats with. The problem? It’s easy to get lost in confusion when deciding which model to buy.

When I was looking around for the latest 25-key MIDI controllers that have been released recently, I came across the Alesis V25. Despite the fact that it doesn’t get as much attention as other brands like M-Audio, Akai, or Novation does, all of its available features actually looked pretty solid on paper.

The price point was very attractive too, and it’s probably one of the cheapest 25-key MIDI keyboards I’ve seen on the market right now. So of course, I HAD to take a closer look at this keyboard and determine if it would be the right MIDI controller you’re looking for.

Let’s get into it!

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Akai MPK Mini MK2 Review – A Great Budget Mini 25-Key MIDI Controller

Unless you happen to be gifted enough to be able to play music by ear, there’s no doubt about it: getting a MIDI keyboard controller is probably one of the best investments you’ll ever make when building your home studio for making beats.

If you’ve read my guide on must-have equipment for music production, then this isn’t anything new to you. It wasn’t until I invested in a small MIDI keyboard that the beats I was making slowly started to improve — there’s nothing quite like messing around with the keys and discovering melodies with your fingers as opposed to trying to click things in the piano roll with your mouse.

But if you look at all the options you have, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the best MIDI keyboard controller for your needs. One of the current best sellers right now is the Akai MPK Mini MK2 — a compact, portable MIDI controller designed for bedroom producers today.

Is this MIDI keyboard the right one for you to invest in, or should you go with another model? That’s exactly what this review will answer for you today.

Let’s get on with it!

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The Beginner’s Guide On How To Make A Basic Beat

Consider this post to be a continuation of my post on that details all the beat making equipment you need to get started as a producer.

At the end of that post, there’s a crucial lesson that I want to hammer home before starting this post:

It’s not the tools you have, it’s knowing how to use it.

Like I said, I spent thousands of dollars buying gear and programs that I thought would help me make better beats.

Luckily, I was able to sell most of them, but I still have some crap gathering dust in my closet, like this…

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The 3 Commandments Every New Producer Needs To Follow

Congratulations for taking the first step in the wonderful world of beatmaking and music production!

Nothing tops the feeling of banging out a beat that sounds dope to your ears and everyone else’s. Maybe you’re here because you want a career in music production and make a living selling beats to artists. Maybe you’re a rapper who wants to stop relying on other producers and make your own beats for you to rap on. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever your goals are, this email course will get you started along that path and make sure that you’ll have the right foundations to get to where you want to be.

Before anything, we need to discuss a few basic rules so you can maximize your learning from me. Consider this to be your orientation. Let’s get started.

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KRK KNS 8400 Review – Budget Studio Headphones For The Home Studio

If you’re making music of any sorts from a home studio (whether just hip hop beats or complete songs with vocals on it) then I’m sure you already know the importance of having studio monitors for mixing your songs.

For the longest time, I didn’t have a pair of studio monitors. My only pair of speakers was a home theatre system and that was good enough for me to mix my music with.

It wasn’t a perfect process – once I get a good enough mix on the speakers, I would export the file to my phone and run down to my car to give it another test, which would often reveal a lot of flaws in my mix.

I would then go back up to my bedroom studio to make these corrections, and repeat the process on as many speakers as I could until everything’s just right.

I don’t know if you noticed but that’s a lot of running up and down!

Eventually, I decided enough was enough – I needed to invest in a pair of studio monitors. If I could cut down the amount of back and forths in half, then I consider that to be a good enough investment.

The problem? I didn’t have enough cash to pay for a decent pair of monitors. And because of that, I decided I needed a compromise.

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M-Audio Axiom 25 Review – A MIDI Keyboard For Space Efficiency

Quick Summary

    • Great quality keys — semi-weighted and feels like a “real” instrument
    • Adjustable velocity curves to make it fit how you play
    • Transport controls make it convenient to press record, stop,
      and play without reaching for the mouse
    • DirectLink, instrument mode, and the patch up and down allow you to change presets in VST instruments
    • Not the most compact MIDI keyboard and quite heavy
    • Pads are a little too stiff and isn’t the most pleasant to tap out rhythms with

    Learn More About The M-Audio Axiom 25

A couple of months ago, I flew to Vancouver, Canada to handle some personal business.

Thinking it was going to be a quick trip that would only take a month or two, I didn’t bother bringing any of my music equipment. I could use a quick vacation from making music anyway, plus I didn’t want to clutter up the house I was staying at any more than I already would be.

(But honestly, I think I really was just being too cheap to pay an additional $35 to check in more baggage, haha.)

However, because of some unanticipated issues, it turns out that I had to stay for much longer than I originally thought I was going to.

This wouldn’t be a problem… Except for the fact that here I was stranded without my studio equipment.

I had no means whatsoever to make my beats! Not unless I was willing to draw little MIDI notes with my mouse (hell no I wasn’t), and I had melodies in my head that really wanted to get out.

This was the moment I realized that it would be a smart decision to invest in a portable MIDI keyboard that I could take along with me on trips like this (I only have an Oxygen 49, which is another fantastic piece of equipment that I’ll be reviewing soon).

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Reason Essentials Review: The $69 Studio-In-A-Box For Making Beats On A Budget

Let me start off today’s post with a simple question: how does wasting years of your time and spending hundreds of dollars on beatmaking programs that you’ll never end up using appeal to you?

If you’re a normal human being, then it prooooooobably doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do.

After all, the whole point of this site is to teach you how to bang out a hot beat in as little time and with as little money as possible.

But when I started out, waste time and money is exactly what I did.

And plenty of aspiring producers fall into the same trap.

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Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review: USB Interface For Home Recording

Quick Summary

    • Great preamps; Focusrite manufactures one of the best preamps in the business, and you can’t go wrong with this one
    • Allows you to record in 24-bit resolution and a sample rate of 96 kHz, so you can ensure the highest quality recordings
    • Very light on CPU resources even at low buffer sizes
    • Features direct monitoring that bypasses the computer so you can directly hear your vocals in real time
    • Excellent value for money
    • Powered through USB — could be problematic if your laptop only has one USB slot
    • No MIDI input or outputs
    • Not ideal for recording multiple vocals/instruments at the same time

    Learn More About The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

More than a year ago, I was sitting in my studio (AKA my bedroom) working on a new song during a stormy night. Since it was raining too hard to go out, I decided to write some verses to a new instrumental that one of my friends produced over the weekend.

In the middle of the session, lightning struck, and I guess it hit an electric pole near my place because it knocked out the power for our whole street.

It came back several minutes later, and I turned the computer back on thinking that I was going start over where I left off.

Apparently, I thought wrong.

After my desktop computer restarted, I opened up Reaper (my beat making software at the time) and tried to go back to my session. I wondered why sound wasn’t coming out of my studio monitors.

That’s when I realized that my audio interface wasn’t even on. That’s weird, I thought to myself. It’s plugged in, but the lights won’t turn on…

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Rode NT1A Review – Condenser Microphone For Home Recording

Quick Summary

    • Great price; one of the more affordable entry-level condesner microphones complete with a shock mount, pop filter, and cables
    • Bright recordings; this presence bump makes it an excellent microphone for acoustic guitars
    • Neutral response and doesn’t add much color which makes recordings easy to EQ
    • Also a great microphone for vocals as the brightness can make your vocals stand out
    • Not a USB microphone — needs an audio interface with preamps to work
    • Could potentially be too bright of a microphone for people with high pitched or extremely bassy voices
    • Presence bump could make vocal recordings too sibilant

    Learn More About The Rode NT1A

Recently, a singer-songwriter friend of mine came to me with a few questions about recording equipment and asked for suggestions on which gear to invest in.

Since she’s working on her debut album, she figured it would be wiser to spend her money building a home studio instead of renting one out. With the latter, she’s likely to end up rushing through the recording process and get crappy recordings (and crappy songs) as a result.

Now being a singer-songwriter, one of the most important and central pieces in her home studio was her microphone.

But as with most independent musicians out there, budget was an issue.

She needed a home studio microphone that would provide her the best bang for her buck, but had absolutely no idea where to begin looking for one.

To be specific, she needed a microphone that would meet the following requirements:

  • The microphone needs to be versatile enough to record vocals AND instruments. The guitar must recorded with a crisp, pristine tune, and it needs to capture her vocals just the way she wants it.
  • We needed a microphone that has a clean and clear recording. Meaning to say, it needs to stay as true as possible to what we actually hear. This would make EQing the final mix a lot easier.
  • Most important of all, the absolute most she could afford to spend on a microphone was $250. After all, she still needed to buy other equipment and software to complete her home studio.

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Why Their Crappy Music Sells More Than Your Free Downloads (And What To Do About It)

Many independent musicians are whining about how difficult it is to promote their own music even if they’re giving it away for free.

In my opinion, this is simply a symptom of a much bigger problem. But my point would probably be much clearer if we get a few points out of the way first.

Here’s the thing: with today’s software and technology doing a lot more for much less, there’s probably never been a better time to be an independent musician.

A simple laptop can completely power an entire studio that you can carry with you on your backpack.

It doesn’t cost any more than a few hundred bucks to get a crystal clear condenser mic, a latency-free audio interface, and a powerful DAW like Logic.

No longer do you need to pay thousands of dollars for hardware synthesizers to make your own beats — nowadays, virtual instruments can provide you with almost any sound that you need.

And with websites such as Bandcamp, distribution is no longer a problem — anyone can buy our music at any time of the day anywhere in the world.

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