This is a continuation of a previous article titled Start Music Production: Basic Equipment Needed. Basic equipment such as; Computer, DAW, sound card, monitors, and microphone were discussed earlier on. This article will discuss the additional equipment needed if you wish to take your music production farther than just a hobby.
Midi keyboard / controller
Midi keyboards / controllers are built mostly in form of piano keyboards. Some of them have included on them additional drum triggering pads while some don’t. These keyboards often do not make a sound of their own but are used to play/trigger virtual instruments (VSTi) or audio samples inside a DAW. Although this may be neglected by making use of a DAW’s piano roll function, having one gives you a hands on music making experience. You get to play your tunes like you would play a keyboard. This is obviously better than having to click notes in with a mouse. Suggested brands to buy: Akai MK2 mini, Novation launchkey, M-audio Keystation, Aturia minilab.
We also have midi control surfaces which are mostly built in form of mixers. These ones are used to control various parameters mostly on a DAW’s mixer, and can control VSTs too. They are useful for giving the feeling of working on a hardware mixing console while working exclusively in the box. The hands on control of the DAW’s parameters paves way for a faster workflow and easier manipulations. Suggested brands: Mackie control universal pro, Behringer B-control fader BCF2000, Presonus fader port.
Due to modern technological advancements, very good and solely useable microphone preamps come with an average budget audio interface nowadays. Still, some believe that an additional purposely built standalone preamp is an icing on the cake for better recordings. In some cases, they bring a desirable color and character to the table. Other times, they help add more headroomto recording with low noise. There has been lots of argument about how essential external mic preamps are and the margin of difference they really make. But if money isn’t a barrier it will be worth getting yourself one to see the difference for yourself. Suggested budget friendly brands: Studio Projects VTB-1, Golden Age Pre-73 MK III, Focusrite ISA-one, and Grace M-101
A mixer as implied by the name is the equipment used to achieve balance in the interplay of all the instrumental components of a song. This is done so that none of the instruments is too loud, too low or messing up the tune of the music. It can also be used to add onboard effects such as compression, reverb, and delay to a song. They can also serve as an interface with onboard microphone preamps for recording.
Outboard mixer can be done without by mixing totally in the box making sole use of the mixer built inside your DAW software. But if you would like to move buttons physically while using other additional features which can make the music making process easier or better,then go ahead and get yourself one. Suggestions: Mackie Onyx, Mackie VLZ4, Behringer Xenyx series,Yamaha MG(XU) series, Peavey PV-16.
Commercial studios are set up in custom built rooms from scratch with the sole aim of soundproofing. Special acoustic boards or tiles are also fixed on walls to absorb or diffuse sounds. This is to prevent sounds from resonating as a result of bouncing off concrete walls. All these are done in a bid to get an accurate reproduction of sound coming from the speakers while mixing. This makes the mixing task easier and more perfect.
Room acoustics treatment is a very essential process in music production, thus the usefulness cannot be overlooked. Fairly affordable acoustic foams are available from companies like Auralex and primacoustic. They don’t cost much, depending on the package you are going for. Though you may have to import those if they are not available in your locality. Alternatively, you can go the DIY route by making use of materials like rock wool or fibreglass encased in wooden frames as pictured here.
Hardware compressors and EQs
You do not own a very good mixer board which has a usable onboard compressor and EQ? Maybe you do, but just desire the varieties of flavour and colour hardware gears bring to the table. Then getting hardware compressors and EQs as additions to your work tools is a no brainer. They come in handy to make compression more efficient and easy. Same goes for EQ. A combination of both tools are available as “channel strips” . These channel strips solution can be of great help to home studio owners on a budget. Suggestions: API 500 luchbox series, teletronics la2a, Golden Age Project EQ73, Presonus studio channel, Art Pro Channel II
Hardware synths and samplers
Synthesizers can be tweaked to create unique sounds for music. These synths come with variety of “tweakable” sounds presets till you find the right sound for your music. Having one or more would really make your music making experience more creative. Same goes for the numerous hardware samplers and drum machines.
There are too many music making tools to mention. But this article has tried to cover the most basic ones. We have others like hardware reverb, delay, distortion boxes, saturation/tape machines etc. Owning those is an overkill for a home studio owner. Studios that own those are fit to be classified as commercial. For an average home studio, the discussed ones are more than enough. Of course there are also the conventional musical instruments like guitar, piano, drums etc. which can be recorded while making music. There you have it guys, get the ones you need and start making music. In no time, you will be making enjoyable music. Read 6 stages of music production to guide you through your music making process for optimum outcome.