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  How to get started with music production  (Read 4139 times)
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Offline Ecumene

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« Posted 2015-02-11 04:44:29 »

I've been getting into music production allot lately, with FL studio and a super old Yamaha keyboard from the 90s. I wanted to get into more modern equipment like MIDI keyboards, electronic drums, and learn how to make music Synthesizers. So it occured to me that some people on the forum probably have some experience in this field. What equipment do you guys think I should buy within the price range of 250$ to get me started in making music?

Thanks in advance.

Offline Slyth2727
« Reply #1 - Posted 2015-02-11 05:51:36 »

I have a friend who develops EDM without anything external (except his keyboard of course). You don't need fancy materials to make great things.
Edit: 800th post!
Offline BurntPizza

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2015-02-11 06:10:07 »

One thing that is somewhat important if you are serious is having decent playback equipment, or at least really knowing how your gear sounds. But if you are more concerned with the music itself than the production quality, then don't bother.
I tend more towards the sound designer/engineer, thus my setup includes studio monitors: http://i.imgur.com/dg3yaBr.jpg?1

The next things are probably basic music theory, structure/trends in genres, having good samples, and learning your synths.
If Electronic is what you want, http://www.reddit.com/r/edmproduction/ is a good [meta]resource. Start at the sidebar.
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Offline Ecumene

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2015-02-11 06:24:21 »

One thing that is somewhat important if you are serious is having decent playback equipment, or at least really knowing how your gear sounds. But if you are more concerned with the music itself than the production quality, then don't bother.
I've got Sony MDR 7506 studio headphones, and they're the best sounding headphones I've ever had.

The next things are probably basic music theory, structure/trends in genres, having good samples, and learning your synths.
If Electronic is what you want, http://www.reddit.com/r/edmproduction/ is a good [meta]resource. Start at the sidebar.

Thanks, I've bookmarked it.

Offline BurntPizza

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« Reply #4 - Posted 2015-02-11 06:28:29 »

I've got Sony MDR 7506 studio headphones, and they're the best sounding headphones I've ever had.

Nice. Now what you should ensure is that you know how they sound relative to other devices, how professional tracks in your target genres etc. sound in them. Get a good feel for them, so that when producing if it sounds good to you, then you know it actually sounds good.
Similarly, a good technique is to actually have a reference track in your DAW to A/B compare with whatever you're making.
Offline basil_

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« Reply #5 - Posted 2015-02-11 09:39:40 »

i dont think you can get far with 250 bucks. to me the most important things are

- proper headphones + proper monitors (not laptop speakers, no crappy logitech 2.1 "sound system"). i can recommend akg, pretty much any of theirs (http://personal.akg.com/). ESI nEar monitors, old but good (http://www.esi-audio.com/products/near05experience/).
- proper audio device (usb = pain, pci = noise when recording, firewire = best). i use this one : http://global.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pro-24 . had bad experience with usb, tho' those are usually good too.
- proper DAW (not magix music maker)

you can get away with trying to get whatever sounddevice you have to run with asio4all (http://www.asio4all.com/). might work. it also depends on what you want to do. if you need recording and realtime playback at the same time you need powerful hardware; if you do not care about latency you can get away with any device.

you can skip the monitors and headphones since this is really requried when you do a mixdown/final-tuning, making music is more about making music. tho' it's much nicer having a good monitors around (even if you just listen to music).

the DAW itself could be cheap if you want a full-version. i can recommend http://www.renoise.com/ if you like oldschool trackers with vst2 support.

if you're looking for realtime multitrack recording, i think the cheapest recorder for home users is still the zoom r16. http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/r16

but as with the games around here. just start recording/tracking stuff with whatever you can, nobody cares about sound-quality if the music is good. oh, if you need a simple reliable midi interface too hook up keyboards i can recommend http://www.m-audio.com/products/view/midisport-2x2-anniversary-edition but i think you got that covered already.
Offline atombrot
« Reply #6 - Posted 2015-02-11 10:58:27 »

i dont think you can get far with 250 bucks. to me the most important things are

- proper headphones + proper monitors (not laptop speakers, no crappy logitech 2.1 "sound system"). i can recommend akg, pretty much any of theirs (http://personal.akg.com/). ESI nEar monitors, old but good (http://www.esi-audio.com/products/near05experience/).
- proper audio device (usb = pain, pci = noise when recording, firewire = best). i use this one : http://global.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pro-24 . had bad experience with usb, tho' those are usually good too.
- proper DAW (not magix music maker)

you can get away with trying to get whatever sounddevice you have to run with asio4all (http://www.asio4all.com/). might work. it also depends on what you want to do. if you need recording and realtime playback at the same time you need powerful hardware; if you do not care about latency you can get away with any device.

you can skip the monitors and headphones since this is really requried when you do a mixdown/final-tuning, making music is more about making music. tho' it's much nicer having a good monitors around (even if you just listen to music).

the DAW itself could be cheap if you want a full-version. i can recommend http://www.renoise.com/ if you like oldschool trackers with vst2 support.

if you're looking for realtime multitrack recording, i think the cheapest recorder for home users is still the zoom r16. http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/r16

but as with the games around here. just start recording/tracking stuff with whatever you can, nobody cares about sound-quality if the music is good. oh, if you need a simple reliable midi interface too hook up keyboards i can recommend http://www.m-audio.com/products/view/midisport-2x2-anniversary-edition but i think you got that covered already.

Sounds like reasonable advice. In todays world of virtual music studios you have a sheer amount of possibilities. Don't get overwhelmed.

In my opinion you should look for following:
- Good monitors / headphones (I would prefer monitors, because passable headphones are much more expensive than passable monitors. Also it's easier to make a clean mix with monitors).
- A decent machine. You don't need a high end machine, but it can help depending on what you use. SSD's are very handy when you are using IO heavy instruments.
- A software that suits you. I know lot of folks that are using cubase. I prefer ableton live as it has a much simpler interface and some nifty features for live scenarios. If you have any questions for ableton live, I would consider myself very profficient with the software. Other alternatives I would consider at least semi professional are Logic, StudioOne, Fruity Loops. At your beginner level it really doesn't matter which one you chose, just make sure you feel comfortable with it.
If you really just aim at chiptunes / 8bit game sound, it might be worth checking out trackers.
- An audio interface. Consumer sound cards are not really nice for audio production as they have very bad drivers. Check out native instruments, m-audio etc. for cheap and solid (given the price) external interfaces. If you don't have the money yet for an external interface, then check out ASIO4All. It's a free audio driver which yields better performance for production software, even on consumer cards.

One point I find interesting is the abundance of available  software instruments. Don't try to have every synthesizer there is, but chose one or two you really like and then learn how to use them properly. Move on the the next synths, when you think you understood them in and out. The thing is many synths are based on a similar idea, so once you get the hang of one synthesizer, the others will be much easier to understand (though there are exceptions to this rule Wink ).

Another thing to consider are samples. There are many kind of samples. Some are whole loops or phrases, others are just single sounds like drum hits etc. Ableton live feels kind of naked without any samples. You can record your own samples, find some on the internet (for free or to buy in packs). Over the years I have collected many samples (bought, recorded, received from friends and other producers etc.).

This leads me to the next point. One of the most important thing you can build as a producer is your own collection of sounds, presets, samples, effects etc. On one hand it makes it easier for you when you start something new to get some cool sounding things together, on the other hand you can build your own signature sound (have recognizable elements throughout your music). You first few atempts at making a song might be very bad (I know I didn't produce anything worth listening in the first 2 years), but you probably are able to create some cool unique sounding synths.

Also please keep in mind, it is not like you start producing music and will instantly create a nice sounding song. If you have a musical background it might be easier for you, but expect it to be a long way to where you want to be.
Offline basil_

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« Reply #7 - Posted 2015-02-11 12:48:39 »

If you really just aim at chiptunes / 8bit game sound, it might be worth checking out trackers.
it's the best tool for chip/8bit style; but you're not limited to that style. 

Ableton live feels kind of naked without any samples.
so does renoise. it comes with a few "instruments" (multisample patches) out of the box but they're not as good as the native instruments vsti.

ableton live is a really nice tool. i think the big advantage over trackers is the handling of large, tape-recording style samples; recording vocals/guitars is something you will not do well with a tracker. on the other hand you will get much finer control over small things .

cubase is overkill i guess, but there is reaper. http://www.reaper.fm/ .. more close to home-users yet very powerful. i run reaper in the background for "tape-recording" and route a tracker into it on the same machine.
Offline atombrot
« Reply #8 - Posted 2015-02-11 13:44:27 »

- proper audio device (usb = pain, pci = noise when recording, firewire = best). i use this one : http://global.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pro-24 . had bad experience with usb, tho' those are usually good too.

Just a short addition to this comment. Use firewire when possible, but test it first. Firewire runs fine on macs, but on windows notebooks you often only find the small firewire plug (which does not include power over firewire). Also like 5-7 years ago firewire had a very bad name on windows machines in producer circles (especially on notebooks). If the firewire port was usable for audio hardware depended strongly on your chip set (it went so far that even the same notebook model sometimes worked and sometimes don't, because they don't always use the same chips).

In general I agree with basil, if possible use firewire because the protocol is much better suited for audio stuff than USB. But if you don't use a mac, then test the device thouroughly... I ran into this trap once. My notebook could not handle my firewire interface properly (it worked but I got drop outs all 5-10 minutes, which is not tolerable in a live environment).
Offline Cero
« Reply #9 - Posted 2015-02-11 15:30:24 »

As for software and samples:

I have checked out ableton live but never really worked too much with it, only did some distortion effects for sound engineering.
But it seems to be the go to choice.

Other than that I mainly use Adobe Audition but again I mainly do sound engineering and voice recording. Which believe or not I kinda like using Sony Vegas for recording simple lines of audio, since its less picky than Audition.

I made some music for my games, although overall I wanna use some other musician down the line, not sure what the audio people I worked with actually used.
But when I made some music I used Sony ACID actually and fruity loops primarily.

I just like the Sony programs but also shows that my requirements and skills were pretty low :P

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