Every music producer needs to have a workstation, whether its a mobile studio, a home studio or a full blown recording studio. Thankfully, with technology on our side, the need for more expensive hardware has reduced as software replacements do the job and sound just as great, at a fraction of the price. Here are a list of main equipments, ordering from the most essential to the least, that we think are mandatory for any music producer (with a few product choices within a budget) for your home studio –
1. Computer (Or Laptop)
This might seem as the most obvious suggestion, but it needs to be covered. Since you’ll be making “Computer-based” music, you’ll require a computer. Its your choice if you want to go for a PC system or a Laptop, both have Pro’s and Con’s. Even though you can somewhat build a PC to an exact spec of the high end Laptop, you can even do more with it. Plus, having a huge monitor screen would be of your liking too. Laptops though, allow mobility. If you’re a musician on the go and have a gigging schedule too, laptop’s are the best choice. If you’re looking at picking up a laptop, check this link out, it’ll help you find the right one. Essentially, make sure you get a powerful CPU with sufficient RAM, loads of hard drive space & a legal copy of the latest operating system (Windows 7 / Mac OS X Lion). Oh, and no … Mac isn’t infinitely better than Windows in terms of stability. Dump enough random things on any OS and it’ll start to behave bad.
2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Back in the day, musicians required hardware sequencers, samplers, tape machines & a lot more gear to record & mix their music, but with the development of technology, we have access to software solutions that meet our budget without ripping a hole in our pocket. A host/sequencer (also known as DAW or Digital Audio Workstation) will allow you to arrange, edit, mix and otherwise produce your music, and will act as a platform on which you can chain together various plugins. Plugins, available in two forms, either they produce a sound (samplers, synthesizers) or modify a sound (equalizer, reverb, delay, etc). Nowadays, most DAWs come with plugins. Its almost impossible to create a song/track without a DAW.
3. Audio Interface / Sound Card
Most PCs & Macs come with a pretty decent onboard soundcard, but the soundcard/audio interface is one of the first things you should be looking at upgrading. The digital/analog convertors on the onboard soundcard are meant for general audio enthusiasts than professional audio producers. Also, if you’re a musician that would like to record instruments, you’ll definitely need an audio interface to plug your gear in. Some audio interfaces also provide multiple outputs so you can monitor your mix/track on two different sources (headphone / speakers). In essence, what an audio interface does for a musician is provide a much better quality input & output, lower latency (delay) between your DAW & your audio (both input & output) and takes the processing load (for your audio rendering) off your main computer. Pick up one that you suits your requirements in terms of inputs/outputs, usb/firewire and anything else that you fancy.
4. Reference / Studio Monitors
What’s the point in making music when you can’t hear what’s going on. A good set of monitors have a flat frequency response and are “transparent”. This means your mixes will not be “colored” by the speakers and will therefore allow you to hear everything as it should be. Monitors are either active, which means they have their own built in amplifiers, or passive, which means the signal going into them requires a separate amplifier. You’re better off with an active monitor as the benefit of having a passive monitor is quite negligible. Reference headphones are also another method of monitoring. Headphones have some good advantages (monitor on-the-go or in quiet environments) but you would be missing the soundstage depth & how it would sound in a typical reflective room or in a listening environment at a volume the listener would use. Again, its very crucial to know what you’re hearing & everyone has their taste, so try demoing some monitors/headphones at a showroom to see what you feel works best for you.
5. Acoustical Treatment
Your monitors are worthless if your room doesn’t let it show its full potential. An untreated room can cause a lot of unwanted boom & hiss, caused by audio reflections & more acoustical issues. To improve your monitors, you’ll need to improve your room. This can be done by fitting acoustical treatment kits, these kits can be easily fitted and end up giving your a tighter bass response, enhanced clarity and separation been your frequencies & eliminate the flutter echoes, ‘ringing’ and ‘hollowness’ found in your untreated room. They significantly improve the value of your monitors as well as your microphones (by the way) by miles!
WaveControl Room Kit 8 – Rs. 19,950/-
6. MIDI Controller / MIDI Keyboard
It’s a good idea to pick up MIDI controller or keyboard if you’re not really looking forward to drawing notes on your screen with a mouse but rather have tactile control of your automation & humanized melody creation. MIDI keyboards come in various sizes from 25-key (2 octaves) to a full 88-key (7 octaves + a few more) and now get a great additional feature of knobs, faders, trigger pads and built-in audio interfaces! Most MIDI controllers act as a control surface for your DAW, it lets you control your faders, sends levels and much more, while MIDI keyboards do the ‘musical’ part of the production job by sending MIDI notes (that you play) to your instrument plugins that in turn generate a tone/sound. Nowadays, you do get MIDI controllers attached to your MIDI keyboards, which would save a lot of space & extra connections. If you require a piano/keyboard to write your music, go ahead and invest in a good MIDI keyboard, having some extra controls for your DAW attached to it won’t hurt either.
7 – Microphones
This isn’t a crucial piece of equipment, but if you’re a vocalist or a recording artist, apart from being a music producer, microphones would be of higher priority on your list (probably at number 6 rather than 7). There are mainly two different kinds of microphones, Condenser & Dynamic. There are advantages & disadvantages to both though. Condenser microphones pick up almost every detail of your recording from a shuffling of your feet to a lip smack, but they give your vocal recording a much crisper & louder response than a Dynamic microphone. Condenser mics do require ‘Phantom Power’ to power the microphone, which is almost a standard in most audio interfaces nowadays, so that’s not much of a problem. Dynamic microphones are much cheaper & great for ‘live’ use as they can take quite a beating as opposed to the quite fragile & slightly more expensive Condenser microphones. In a nutshell, pick up a Condenser microphone for recording your vocals/guitars in the studio and use a Dynamic microphone for stage performances.
Article by – The Inventory
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