With last year firmly in our rear view, 2022 is a new year for us to start learning new skills and challenging ourselves to pursue our goals. Now is an especially great time to start learning how to make music, with the holidays over and, for many, the rest of winter ahead of us.
But where to start? Looking at some producers’ home studios can feel intimidating. Music production equipment can also be incredibly expensive. But what do you actually need to start making music from home?
In this article we’ll take a look at the essential pieces of gear that music makers usually need to get started, how much you should be spending on it and some bundles that might be worth considering.
Nearly all modern music producers are making music in the box, meaning on a computer. This can easily be your biggest expenditure, but nowadays most people have a computer capable of running music production software. The only limitations you might face are with large projects, or where CPU-intensive software is being used.
Music production software
Music production software is used to record, process, and mix music on a computer. A few examples of popular music production software include:
Different music production software have their own unique way of working, and their own pros and cons but they all do essentially the same thing. When looking for music production software, we recommend downloading a few trials and seeing which workflow works best for you. Many music software providers will provide extensive trial periods for potential users. Try Ableton free for 90 days here.
If you’re producing on a budget here’s a list of the top-rated free music production software providers:
An audio interface allows you to plug in microphones or instruments for recording and provides output options for headphones and speakers. Audio interfaces can be bought quite cheap if you’re willing to sacrifice on inputs. Most in the box producers won’t need more than 2 inputs, meaning that this can be an easy place to save some money for more vital equipment. However, check reviews on any product as preamp quality can make a big difference to your recordings. Here’s what we recommend:
The Focusrite range of audio interfaces is hard to beat, high quality, competitively priced, and bright red. You can’t go wrong. The Solo is the cheapest in the Focusrite Scarlett range, but this is purely down to the number of inputs. The Solo is well constructed, with high-quality preamps, and retails for £110. The first audio interface I ever bought was a second-hand Scarlett Solo 1st gen, and I still use it to this day!
Open-back headphones allow air and sound to pass freely giving them a wider soundstage more akin to listening on monitors. In basic terms, this means music played through open-back headphones will sound ‘wider’ and ‘deeper’. They provide a much better listening experience than closed-back headphones. However, due to their construction, open-backs offer next to no sound dampening meaning people around you will be able to hear what music you’re listening to and you’ll hear them asking you to turn it down. Open-back headphones also often tend to be more expensive and fragile than closed-backs, making them even less appropriate for travel.
Closed-back headphones, in contrast, with their insulated ear cups are all about isolating noise. Closed-back headphones tend to be more popular than open-backs, they are sturdy, inexpensive, and offer a more personal listening experience. As there is little leakage from closed-back headphones they tend to be the headphone of choice for recording. Compared to open-backs, closed-back headphones have a much smaller soundstage and due to the sealed rear chamber, lower frequencies won’t sound as natural when compared to open-back headphones.
We recommend starting with a pair of closed-back studio headphones as these are essential for tracking during the recording process. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is definitely a pair worth considering, they offer a flat frequency response for a neutral sound and their soft, padded earpads make them especially comfortable.
There are tonnes of microphones on the market at varying price points so really what microphone you pick comes down to your budget. There are also many different types of microphone, suited to different recording situations, such as live event or recording studio. For recording vocals or sounds in the home environment, a condenser microphone such as the Rode NT1-A is a common choice – for good reason.
There are a few bundles on the market that offer a great starting point for budding music producers. It’s worth checking your local music shops to see what deals they offer. Here are a few online deals that you might be interested in:
- Music Production Equipment Packages | The DJ Shop
- Music Studio Packages, Bundles and Build Kits | PMT Online
- Home Recording Studio Kits & Bundles - Andertons Music Co.
- Scarlett 2i2 Studio | Focusrite
Ready to start making music?
So, there we have it, our run down of the essential studio equipment you need to start making music in the new year. There’s no better time to pursue your passions than right now. Let 2022 be your year of music. With your equipment sorted, why not dive straight into learning how to make beats from the best artists in the world? We’ve got a whole library of courses from the world’s best artists waiting for you, why not get started now?