Best Music Production Setup for Beginners 2022
I wanted to write a little something for all the upcoming beatmakers/producers that are looking to get into the crazy world of music production. I have been making music for 4 years now and learned a lot. I wanted to list off a few things that I wish I would have known when I started particularly with buying gear to start with and a lot of misconceptions that I’ve been reading/watching about.
I started with a cheap M-audio 2×2 interface, Yamaha HS7 Monitors (bought used at a steal), Rode NT1A, and the Audio Technica. I didn’t buy everything at once, I picked it all up within 2 months.
The first thing I upgraded was my headphones, as I was commuting a lot between home and school (and spent a lot of my time producing at school) I picked up the Beyerdynamic DT 770 & 990. I upgraded within my first 6 months of producing.
Here is a short guide on entry-level gear that I have tried and can recommend for someone who wants to get the most of their gear with a little explanation on why on choose certain gear (all prices are from amazon and can probably be found even cheaper).
I’m assuming you have a computer, doesn’t even need to be powerful.
The first thing I would recommend is headphones & DAW. For the first year of production, I barely used a microphone (and when I did, I never ended up keeping the song) and didn’t have monitors. I was doing everything with headphones anyways but I had spent $300 on an interface and a microphone that got little to no use. If you’re just getting started and not sure how far you want to take this, headphones are your best bet.
Here are a few headphones I recommend.
Audio Technica’s ATH M30x ($69.00)
These things are light, super portable and built like a tank, and sound pretty good for the money. They have a hype (artificially boosted frequencies) in the lower in mid to bass range. Keeping that in mind when you mix, you can get some pretty good results. They are closed-back headphones, meaning you won’t be able to hear the outside world (good for when you’re on the go). I don’t think you can wrong with these.
Check it out here.
These are also very light, super portable, and maybe a little more flimsy feeling compared to the AT. They are kind of the opposite in terms of frequency response compared to the AT, slightly lacking in bass, much cleaner higher frequencies. They are more natural sounding. They are open back, meaning you can hear the outside world, but has a better sound stage in an appropriately quiet room.
There are a lot of DAW choices out there, some producers use a combination of Protools & Reaper (for vocals/live recording) and Ableton for most straight production works. For the most part, DAW choices don’t really matter. Most of them are feature-rich and have their own workflow. Experimentation is key. Most daws have a demo version that you can try for free and figure out which ones suit your needs and production style.
A lot of people recommended Bandlab (it’s free) so it’s good to check that out too.
So at this point, you’ve been making music while and you’re ready to invest a little bit more.
An audio interface is what you want next. Not only will it allow you to output sound to a set of Studio Monitors but it will also allow you to record vocals and instruments. It will also process all audio through the unit as opposed to the one built into your laptop (which is usually pretty bad).
The first thing to do is assess what you need out of an interface. Do you plan on recording more than 1 thing at a time like a drum kit? Do you want Midi in/out? Etc.
A few I can recommend.
This thing is an absolute monster of a machine, it packs very clean microphone preamps and is extremely portable. The build quality overall is pretty good but it is made of plastic and can be a little better. The smart gain feature is really helpful for new people, it will auto-set the gain for your microphone to get the best possible recording.
Similarly, for $30 less, you can get the highly regarded Focusrite 2i2 3 ($159) with very similar features with an added “Air” Filter which is usually found in Focusrite higher-end products. All-metal chassis, I could probably throw it against a wall and it would still work (I don’t recommend doing that though).
From here you can either get Studio monitors or a microphone. Unless you are wanting to start recording vocals, I would recommend basic studio monitors over a microphone. I find production a lot more fun and intuitive with speakers.
For super affordable speakers, I would highly recommend the Presonus Eris 3.5 ($119.99). They are great for the size and can output without distorting at high volumes. overall pretty great for the price.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, I would recommend the JBL 308P ($558.00). These are bigger than Presonus (8″), they pack more bass response and are pretty flat monitors that translate very well.
Lastly, for a microphone, I would recommend starting with the MXL 990 (~$100). It hits way above its weight class and sounds great for vocals and acoustic guitar.
I hope this gives you a good starting point on how to upgrade your setup. But always remember that you don’t necessarily need these pieces of equipment to become a good music producer.
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