The world of music is a complex fantasy. Most of the elements in it seem to come out of a dream. And when it comes to composing music, it seems as if you are tinkering with magic, just like a wizard. Balancing the notes of a tune into a melody and slogging away in a home studio, ah, that’s pure divinity! After all, music is just like a language that emerges from the heart and feeds the soul. It is like a whim which emerges from the heart and becomes tangible with the help of a rhythmic composition.
Making music is something which can touch a million of souls. But for creating out such a melodic piece, one needs to have a studio. It is by far the most vital ingredient of the music industry. Most of the times, a studio is constructed by music producers. Composers who are employed by these producers work in such premises. But leading composers, most of whom are independent ones, they have their own home studio.
Building a Home Studio
Building a home studio for yourself might seem like a daunting job in the beginning. But by the time you are well acquainted with all the equipment, you will understand that you have most of the things that you need. Moreover, with the advent of modern technology, most of the equipment has been made extremely compact. Digital technology has ensured that most of the processing and mixing can be done with the aid of software. All you need is a suitable place for your workstation. That’s it.
But if you are a first timer, then you will always have the mentality of purchasing all that’s out in the market. It is not important that you have the best equipment. What’s more vital is that you are well aware of your budget. You can get great equipment at any price, given that you understand very well what all you need in your studio. That’s because there is a lot of musical gear available in the markets. You might get confused whether you require most of it or not.
Most times we try to copy our peers and purchase something which might not be useful at that stage, and then that equipment lies there in a corner, unused. Since we do not require it, we do not learn to use it as well. So you see how copying turns out to be malpractice. First, we bought a piece of musical paraphernalia which was not required and second, after spending our hard earned money, we are not taking enough pains to master it. This turns out to be a bad decision. If you have bought something, make sure that you use it enough.
So that you don’t mess up while purchasing your musical gear, especially if it is your first time, we are enlisting a list of equipment that are a must have.
Just like any other field in the digital industry, hardware is critical for music production as well. Well, you need a lot of hardware for music production. You need a computer that is powerful enough to handle all the software. Also, you need an audio interface which includes a good microphone and speaker set. Then you need a MIDI keyboard as well. And, if you are into rhythm and beats, then you need to have an Octapad as well. Describing all that will make this blog post way too lengthy, so we will stick to computers only in this one and talk about the rest in some other post.
It is the first piece of equipment that you will require while building your studio from scratch. But which one will be better, the Mac or the PC? We will not get into that argument as both the computers have their own pro and cons. Today’s computers are so slick that you won’t need to require purchasing anything out of the box. Whether you need a desktop or a laptop, it is completely your preference. Choose a desktop if you do not need to travel with your computer.
If you are on a budget an i7 Intel processor or an AMD Ryzen series will do. But if you have the cash, then it is better to pick an i9 as of the year 2020.
8 GB RAM would be sufficient initially. If you can upgrade afterwards, 16 GB or more would be fine for all your music composition requirements.
A hard drive that can do 7200 rpm would be enough. It is recommendable that you choose a SSD one, because that can save a lot of power, especially if you have a laptop. Ideally, your HDD should have the capability read multiple tracks. The storage capacity should well exceed 1 TB.
A 17-inch display that can be hooked by HDMI would be sufficient for your requirements.
We have already discussed about Macs. Apple is known to be durable and offer extended warranty on most of their products. Moreover, their products and accessories are of high quality. If you want a good Windows PC, then Acer, Lenovo and Samsung are good options as well.
As far as software is concerned, you need something that is referred to as a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW. This is the central command center. All the recordings and music processing – mixing and everything, are performed here. If you own a Mac then you would have to start with Garage Band or even Logic Pro. Overall, the DAW that you should pick up should be quick and should the one you are most comfortable working on. Whether it is Ableton or Logic, that is totally up to you. Before making a purchase, make sure you try out the trial or the demo versions
If you survey the music industry, then you will find that most the studios prefer Pro Tools as the DAW of choice. It is more or less of an industry standard. It has a smooth and easy interface that makes music composition an easy task, just like a breeze. It considers large recordings of instruments. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac. It is best suited for a 64-bit processor with atleast 4 GB RAM. The reason it is light on storage is because it does not have a lot of plugins. It is better if you have third party plugins. Its support system is great and being highly customizable it provides support to all sorts of third party software. Its present version is available at $25 per month or a onetime payment of $299. Celebrity musicians like Timbaland, Dr Dre, Paul Epworth, Pharrell Williams use Pro Tools.
Logic Pro X
Logic Pro a pro-level DAW. If you are upgrading from GarageBand, then this is your DAW of choice. Multi-track mixing, 64-bit support, and third party plugin support, it can do everything that Pro Tools can do. In fact, in can do much more. It is more suited to the singer-songwriter class of musicians. The interface is easily navigable, and stock plugins are really awesome. From an auto-tuner to pitch fixer, you have it all. Right now, you can install Logic Pro X only on the Mac.Celebrity musicians who use this software include, Hardwell, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia and Alesso.
If you love to produce your music in a seamless manner, then Ableton Live is your best bet. Whether you are a sound designer, composer or a band producer, Ableton will be sufficient for all your needs. It is quite popular with Electronic Dance Music (EDM) producers. It is way more flexible and you have a great arsenal for third party app support, samples, presets and projects, all in a single package. There is also a new capture feature which helps you in spontaneous recordings. There is a lot of digital and analog mixing that you can do. The distortion box is also great. It responds well with CPU intensive plugins and has a low latency as well. At cheaper prices, you can use the lite version. Famous musicians who use Ableton Live include Flume, Skirllex, Diplo and Bauuer.
They say, you should never judge a book by its cover. This is true in the case of FL Studio. FL Studio may look a bit amateur-ish, but it is way more powerful than it looks. It can adapt to both types of systems – one which is low on RAM and others which have higher RAM. Apart from the third party support, it has great virtual synthesizers, which are its USP. The Sample Bank is also quite rich. The price begins at $199 for the basic package and upto $899 for the full package. Famous music composers who use this software include Martin Garrix, Porter Robinson and Afrojack.
Reason by Propellerheads possesses a great sound design engine that allows composers to easily combine many instruments to create amazing sounds from the stock sounds. In fact, some of chartbusters are probably made from stock Reason sounds. It has some really great synthesizers like Europa that is a really awesome and incredibly powerful. It does not use a lot of processor power either. It has a free trial version which can be used for thirty days. Famous celebrity musicians who use it include DJ Mustard, Mike Will Made It and The Prodigy.