What equipment do I need to make beats?
Making beats is one of those hobbies that, with (more than) enough practice, could very well propel you to superstardom. If you have a good ear for sound, this may well be an avenue worth exploring. However, to be a successful beatmaker or producer, you will need a little more than a song in your heart.
Purchasing your production gear is a good way to commit yourself to the craft of making beats. Doing so can also help you avoid the costs of booking studio time, which can add up rather quickly. Let’s take a look at some of the tools that you can use to start forging your path in the world of music.
Of course, to make digital beats, you will need a computer. This is where most, if not all, of your beat making, will be taking place. Whatever computer you choose must be powerful enough to run a digital audio workstation (DAW).
Personally, I would recommend that you get a laptop over a desktop. While desktops are great and are just as functional as most laptops, a horror scenario would be one in which a power interruption shuts off your machine while you are in the middle of cooking up a fire beat. The portability of a laptop means you can take it and make beats from anywhere in the world. You can also take it outside, or to different rooms of your house or studio, to test how your beats sound in different acoustic settings.
When it comes to laptops that cater specifically to creatives, few are better than Razer’s Blade 15 Studio Edition Laptop 2020. This lovely laptop features a high-quality aluminum build that is fairly thin at 0.7 inches, especially when you consider the power it packs under the hood (Intel Core-i7, 5.1 GHz Max Turbo, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, etc.). The Blade Studio series was made popular thanks, in part, to production superstar Metro Boomin, who has used the laptops to cook up some of his most memorable hits. Razer’s forte is gaming laptops so you can rest assured that the Blade 15 can handle any DAW or plugins that you throw at it.
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
The DAW, in simple terms, is the beat making the software itself. Through the DAW you can program sounds and lay tracks, vocals, record live instruments, and more.
There are quite a few excellent DAWs out there that you can use to polish your craft and make awesome music. The most popular of these is undoubtedly Image-Line’s Fruity Loops Studio. This classic DAW is arguably the easiest way to learn how to make beats.
With loads of tutorials and Image-Line’s hands-on support, you will find the quality of your music increasing at a surprising rate. FL is highly customizable, allowing you to add various plugins, drum kits, sound fonts, SFX, and much more.
The latest edition, FL Studio 20, also has a native macOS version for the first time, meaning that Mac users can also get in on this awesome entry-level DAW.
- Studio monitors and headphones
Of course, making beats is impossible if you cannot hear what you’re making. You will need studio-quality monitors (speakers) or headphones to fine-tune your beats, especially during mixing.
I would seriously advise that you get both to cover all your bases because, unfortunately, different audio output devices may have significant differences in sounds, treble, bass, clarity, and other aspects. Try to get headphones and monitors that produce high-quality sound that is free from distortion.
For your studio monitors, you won’t go wrong with the JBL Eris studio monitor series. All of the versions are awesome, and there is a wide range of choices to suit any setup or budget.
However, I would recommend the E3.5 Bluetooth (Pair) monitors. The monitor’s weigh-in at 4 pounds apiece and feature sleek matte black finishes that will complement any studio. Connect via Bluetooth 5.0, AUX, TRS, or RCA inputs. An awesome value for money audio solution that you have to check out.
For headphones, check out the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones. While Beats is now fully owned by Apple, it is still impossible to separate the brand’s devices from its iconic founder.
Dr. Dre is hip-hop royalty, with his production influence playing a pivotal role in the careers of notable acts like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and the late (but forever great) Tupac Shakur…among others. With such a musical legacy, and infamous perfectionism (still waiting for the Detox album, Dre), you can rest assured that the audio products he endorses are legit.
The Solo 3 headphones offer crisp sound featuring rich basses and perfectly tuned acoustics. The battery life is awesome, with up to 22 hours of playback time on a full charge.
Beats also introduced fast fuel charging, which can give you 3 hours of playback time from a 5-minute charge. Apple users will be glad to know that these headphones feature the W1 chip, which allows for smooth connectivity between the headphones and your iPhone or Mac.
A MIDI controller is, essentially, a mini-keyboard that allows you to program musical notes into your DAW software. While not ENTIRELY necessary, a MIDI controller will be beneficial if you need to lay an idea down quickly and with natural timing. The problem with programming sound with a mouse is that your notes will hit precisely every single time. Real music is flawed, with notes that are not always perfectly timed. This adds the human element to a song, which fleshes it out better than robotic-sounding music with perfect notes.
On that…er…note, you should check out the AKAI Professional MPK MIDI Keyboard Controller. This device is powered via USB and sports 25 mini-keys. The keys are velocity-sensitive, which will also naturalize your sounds because it is almost impossible for a person to strike notes at the same precise velocity. The controller also features eight backlit MIDI drum pads with Note Repeat functionality, among a boatload of features. There’s decent value for money to be had here too. This device is far more affordable than its professional looks and features might suggest. A must-have for any aspiring producer.