Are you ready to start making and selling beats online to rappers? While beat production is lucrative and a great option for people who enjoy music, you do need to understand a few basics. Apart from the right education and skills, there is some beat making equipment for beginners that you need.
Once you have your budget ready, you need to ensure you understand what type of equipment should obtain priority in your buying process. Some pieces of equipment are critical for any type of beat making studio – whether beginner or advanced. In this post, you will discover the four primary equipment types that you should focus on – along with my personal preferences in each category.
Digital Audio Workstation
When it comes to making beats, you will need a computer, of course. While this is the most basic piece of equipment, do not fail to realize the importance of a good digital audio workstation. These workstations are also called DAW for short. It is a program that is installed on your laptop or computer and gives you the functions you need to set up your own beats.
A digital audio workstation is a software – sometimes bundled as a complete software suite. The beat making software will generally provide you access to an interface where you can add multiple samples and loops, apply effects to each of these, utilize channels to have multiple loops playing simultaneously, and more. Sure, it is possible to use some of the more basic audio processing applications to get started, but I find that making an investment in a DAW early on is a great way to get that initial headstart you need.
There are a few different DAW options that you can utilize. Prices and features among these differ. You don’t need to invest thousands into the world’s best DAW platform if you are only starting out, but make sure the option you opt for is able to meet at least the demands of a beginner. For a comprehensive solution that gives you access to all the functions you need, without the need for spending thousands, FL Studio is definitely an option you want to consider. Also known as Fruity Loops Studio, this software has become an industry standard.
FL Studio comes with a trial offer that helps you explore the interface and see what it is capable of. The trial is not time restricted, which means you can use it indefinitely until you decide to upgrade. It is a fully functional trial that gives you access to the FL Studio Producer Edition, but some limitations are applied until you upgrade.
FL Studio is not only great for mixing multiple samples, but also allows you to use a massive selection of both free and paid plugins. These plugins instantly expand on the functionality offered by the platform – allowing you to create unique effects, combine multiple sample types, and connect more realistic instruments to MIDI channels.
The purchase of FL Studio comes with free updates for the remainder of the product’s lifespan – which means there will be no additional expenses on your side in the future. There are four versions of FL Studio available, so be sure to study them well and see which one works for you. For beginners, the standard FL Studio Fruity edition is usually enough. It costs $99.00 for a lifetime subscription to the software and comes with all the features you need to make great beats.
An upgraded version, known as FL Studio Producer, offers a selection of more advanced plugins and effects that you can use while creating beats. There are more advanced versions available, including the FL Studio Signature edition, but these are generally tailored toward the more advanced producer.
The specific features that come with FL Studio depend on the version of the software you buy. Some of the top features that people utilize in the software include:
- Edison (editor and recorder for audio)
- NewTone pitch editor
- Elastique time stretch plugin
- Playlist functionality
- Equalization plugin
- Filtering plugins
- Multi FX functions
- Reeverb plugin
- Sample playback and manipulation
- Synthesizers (BassDrum, Autogun, 3x OSC, Drumpad, Drumaxx, and more)
- 5 different visualization settings
- A total of 18 configurable tools, including Balance, Big Clock, Control Surface, and more
Apart from digital software, there are a few physical pieces of hardware and equipment that you need when preparing to make your own beats. This should essentially start with a good MIDI controller. Different types of controllers are available. Some of them connect directly to your laptop or desktop computer, whereas others require additional audio interfaces.
A MIDI controller essentially works in combination with your DAW. The controller is connected to your computer and syncs with the digital audio workstation you have launched. Once connected, a variety of elements inside your DAW can be assigned to keys, buttons, knobs, and pads found on the controller. The use of a MIDI controller allows you to make beats through the use of a keyboard. Virtual instruments are generally assigned to keys on a MIDI keyboard. You then play the keyboard similar to how you would play the piano – but instead of standard piano key sounds, the virtual instrument sounds are mapped to the keys.
MIDI pad controllers are also available. These will often not contain keys like a MIDI keyboard. Instead, a range of pads can be found. The pads are assignable to various samples, loops, and even full channels on your DAW.
At the press of a button, an effect or sound can be turned on or off during a recording session. If you have followed the recommendations thus far, then you are likely to look at the best MIDI controllers for FL Studio.
A few options are available with a custom design that is made especially for FL Studio. Many options also offer universal compatibility – which means you can use them with any type of DAW that has been installed on your computer.
There are a few options that stand out among beginners who are looking to make beats. Consider your own needs first – are you planning to travel with your music equipment? If this is the case, you want an option like the Akai MPK Mini MK2. This is a portable controller that gives you adequate functionality while also being more travel-friendly.
If you are setting up a home studio and can afford to pay a little more, a MIDI controller like the Akai MPD 218 may be a more ideal solution. Even beginners will appreciate the full set of keys that come with this MIDI keyboard. The addition of touch-sensitive knobs adds more precision to adjustments you make to effects, FX settings, and plugins as well.
When choosing a MIDI controller, be sure to consider some of the most basic features to ensure it complies with your needs:
- Look at your budget first and decide what you can afford. A smaller budget generally calls for a more compact solution, but there are still powerful MIDI controllers available at budget-friendly prices.
- Consider the size of the controller and ensure you have enough space available in your home studio. If you are traveling, opt for a MIDI controller that fits into your equipment bag.
- Note the keys on the keyboard if you opt for a MIDI controller that connects to virtual instruments. Some come with only 25 keys, while larger 49-key and 61-key options also exist. The more keys, the better the range, and the greater opportunity you have to connect virtual instruments.
Apart from these, there is also a selection of MIDI toys that serve the purpose of novelty items. While these do not offer the functionality of a standard MIDI keyboard or controller, they offer an attractive addition to your home studio setup.
Some people connect amps, microphones, and other recording equipment directly to their computer. While this is useful when you have a low budget and want to do recordings, the quality of your audio will be significantly reduced. Additionally, it can be hard finding hardware that is compatible with standard USB connections on your computer.
With this in mind, even when starting out, you should consider opting for an additional audio interface. This particular set of hardware acts as a centerpiece within your studio setup.
Different types of audio interfaces exist on the market. As you are still in the beginning stages of music production, you have no need to spend too much on this equipment. Several affordable options are available that can give you the specific inputs and outputs you need to make beats.
An audio interface will usually connect to your laptop through a USB cable. Once connected, the interface gives you an entire arsenal of input and output ports to utilize.
The goal of the audio interface is to help you organize your input devices used for recording, as well as the outputs you use to record or provide feedback.
With an audio interface, you can connect microphones, guitars, amps, and several other recording equipment to a single device. These inputs are then sent directly to the connected computer or laptop. There will usually be an option to connect a set of studio monitors to the audio interface too. This helps you get live feedback on audio sent from the input devices, such as mics.
The Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface is definitely one of the best options you can opt for. If the price is too high or its specifications do not meet your needs, then consider the best budget audio interfaces to help you find what will work for your studio.
You have your DAW, a great MIDI controller, and an audio interface to help streamline the recording process. There is, however, still another piece of music production equipment for beginners to consider – and that would be a set of studio monitors.
A lot of beatmakers tend to rely on their laptop’s built-in speakers or a set of desktop speakers connected to their computer when they start producing. Unfortunately, these speakers are nowhere near powerful enough to give you true feedback on the beats that are found in your DAW. Laptop and computer speakers lack volume, frequency, and quality – and that means your studio setup lacks the ability to create the best beats possible.
Studio monitors are generally the more ideal solution in these scenarios. Sure, there are studio monitors that can easily set you back thousands of dollars – but these are not needed in a small home-based studio setup. Instead, consider opting for a more budget-friendly solution. There are more affordable studio monitors on the market that still offer superior quality compared to that pair of desktop speakers you are using.
Make sure you get at least a pair of studio monitors and place them at the right locations throughout your home studio. You want to experience true stereo sound with the monitors to ensure the alignment and balance of your beats are perfect. The studio monitors you buy should be dependent on the type of music and beats you produce. Look at the best studio monitors for hip hop if this is the genre you are focusing on, for example.
While shopping for studio monitors, take the size of the speakers, noise profile, and connection options into account. These studio monitors should be easy to connect to the audio interface you will be using. They should also not be too big for the space that you have available but still provide enough power to hear your beats with no interference.
Oak Felder, Grammy award winner, uses his Laptop to create top-ranking beats. Beat Demons have become renowned for creating some of the most famous beats, all from a home studio setup. Getting started at home is a great way to pursue a career as a beatmaker – but you need the right music production equipment to succeed.
With the list of essentials shared in this list, you now have an understanding of the most important equipment you should invest in. With this equipment at your disposal, making beats is easier and taking on a career in this industry becomes a possibility.