How To Start Producing Electronic Music

You may be a DJ wanting to play your own tunes, a band member looking to go solo or even a first time musician, whatever you are, you want to start producing music. Here I'm going to address the essentials.

What I will cover is the basic starter bedroom set-up that requires no instruments.

First thing is you need a DAW

This is the Digital Audio Workstation, the canvas that allows you to create your own music. Popular ones include Pro Tools, Logic and Cubase but the one I'd recommend is Reaper, it is low costing with an unlimited free trial period and matches the vastly more expensive other software options. The intro of this post covers why Reaper is very suitable. What I would say is Reaper is very powerful and as such there is a lot to do and therefore learn. I would in fact recommend using GarageBand if you have an Apple computer as it is a very simplified DAW that allows the basic functions.

Now you need something to listen with.

This is essential. You need an accurate listening system so you can mix properly. The computer speakers won't do, your cheap earbuds won't do. You need a dedicated monitoring system. If there is one thing you spend money on, even if everything else is free, it's the monitors. These could be studio headphones or they could be studio monitors. Both are designed for the accurate reproduction of sound.

It is here where you want to decide your budget. I recommend if you are tight for cash buying the M-Audio AV40s, they come in at £99 and are active (you don't need to buy an amplifier to run them). Headphones start coming in cheaper but with price comes quality.

Get a good medium priced monitoring system as it means your ears develop around it. To start with you will be unable to hear and notice much difference but the more you work with better speakers the more you notice quality difference. There is no point getting a year in and spending more to replace the lowest budget speakers now they sound crap.

Finally, you need instruments

Most DAWs come kitted out with stock instruments. Reaper is one that doesn't so you will have to download VSTs (virtual studio plugins) to generate sounds. Many VSTs come free or cheap and with little effort can be added to Reaper. Alternatively, you could forgo the instruments and produce purely with samples in which case you will need to find a large (and legal to use (of course (I feel obliged to say that (damn parenthesis inception)))) sample bank from which to sequence and edit.

Your total cost could literally be the cost of the studio monitors if you are clever. Of course there is a lot of things to add onto a production setup with a larger budget, MIDI keyboards and Audio Interfaces make work a lot easier and much more can be achieved.