If you want to make music, but don’t know where to start or what gear is best for your needs, this 10-point checklist will help.
Whether you’re an aspiring musician looking for a career in production and engineering, a hobbyist who wants the sound of their tunes on the radio one day, or someone who just likes playing around with instruments – there’s something here for everyone.
Music Production Equipment for Beginners List
- MIDI INstruments/ External instrument (a keyboard)
- Effects Processor
- Recording interface/ mic preamp
- A DAW that is east to use
- Hardware sequencer
The most important piece of equipment for making music is a computer. You can also use your iPhone or an iPad, but there is a lot more you can do with a regular computer.
Everything that comes with your computer is not necessarily the best for making music. Getting some software (or “apps” on your iPhone, iPad, etc.) is a good idea because it will help you make music.
Having a nice pair of headphones or studio monitors is important when making music on your computer. You can get just about anything to be your monitor – some people like having separate speakers for their left and right ears while others prefer using earbuds in one ear or over-the-ear headphones (which are also called “cans”).
4. MIDI INstruments/ External instrument (a keyboard)
You might want to have a keyboard or other piece of hardware that allows you to play the notes as if they were piano keys (if you don’t know how piano keys work, please look up how they work on the internet).
You can also get a MIDI controller – it looks like a keyboard, but instead of actually making noise, they send signals to your computer to make a sound.
*** Nowadays, there are small MIDI instruments available that can store in producers friendly backpacks.
A microphone is good if you want to record vocals or other sounds. One important thing is that you might need some recording software, depending on what operating system and version of windows you have on your computer (Mac uses different programs).
If you are unsure about how to use microphones and recording equipment, please look up videos on the internet! There are many tutorials out there that will help you get started with using them!
Samples are little recordings of real noises or voices that you can add into your songs to make them sound “real”. Some people prefer using samples because they feel like the sounds are more realistic, while others say it takes away some of their creativity because they only have what is on the sample for creating music.
Sampling comes in two types: looping – which means each time you press play/record, the audio file will start over from the beginning; non-looping – where once the audio file starts playing from the beginning, it goes on forever until you stop it or reach the end of the file.
7. Effects Processor
Effects processors are used for “processing” (or changing) your audio – you can add distortion, echo, reverb, flange and other effects into your music! You can spend a lot of money on an effects processor if you want to tweak every little detail about your sound. Or you can get something inexpensive like this.
8. Recording interface/ mic preamp
Sometimes it is really hard to hear what you’re recording with your computer’s microphone unless you turn up the volume really high (which might cause clipping).
A good idea would be to buy a separate microphone or XLR cable adapter that has an input for plugging in microphones (like this) so you can add more microphones!
9. A DAW that is easy to use
There are a lot of programs out there for making music, but some people feel like the program they have is too complicated and confusing to even start using it (like Pro Tools ). A good idea would be the Ableton Live Suite or FL Studio. They both have simple interfaces that help you get started with making music without having to read about how each window works on its own.
You can also check out other similar programs, such as Microsoft’s MAGIX Music Maker 16; GarageBand, Cubase, or Digital Performer. Or you could go online and look at some free DAWs! You will find many options in most cases, so just pick which one you feel most comfortable with.
10. Hardware sequencer
A hardware sequencer is a piece of equipment that lets you use gear to make music. This might include a drum machine, MIDI keyboard, and effects processor like a stompbox or rackmount unit (like this). They are usually expensive, but there are some cheaper alternatives to them if you don’t have the money to spend on one! Depending on your budget, it might be best for you to get an iPad and get AmpliTube! It’s basically all of those things combined into one app that uses virtual versions of real-world instruments.
Of course, they aren’t as good as the actual thing, but they can definitely help beginners get started and learn how to use the equipment! Another cheap alternative is the Line 6 Mobile In – which can be used to record vocals or other sounds, then plug them into your computer while it’s running your favorite DAW. You can also play guitar or another instrument through it, so you don’t have to buy an amp for recording.
A last few words…
Computers are a great tool for making music, but they aren’t the end-all be-all of music. They can help speed up the process of music making – but nothing beats sitting around with your friends, playing songs you’ve written over and over again until they’re perfect!
That’s all I have to say for now. Thank you for reading this long list! I hope it helped give you some ideas on what equipment to buy. If you liked it, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! Remember to stay safe everyone 🙂
I am John, an outdoor gear staff expertise with tons of practical knowledge. My favorite hobby is moving around the world and adventurous in all the parts of the earth. I have been a worldwide traveler for over 10 years now with no sign of slowing down. I’m happily espoused and residing with my kids in California.