Despite the 2020s coming off to a rocky start, the music industry has only grown since 2020, reaching a market size of $7.1 billion in the USA alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Many people seek refuge in music, hence this spectacular growth, which has led to countless individuals trying their hand at making music themselves, either to try something new or pursue a dream they’ve been harboring for a long time. If you’re someone who’s been looking to try out music production, here are some beginner tips to get you started on setting up a working collection of production gear.
Room Soundproofing Setup
One of the first things you should pay attention to is the setup of your room. Acoustics are one of the most vital elements of music production. It won’t matter how expensive your gear is if your room’s acoustics mess up the recording. Even if you plan to start producing purely digitally, it would still help to block out external noise. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost too much to get soundproofing right.
To preserve audio quality, beginners are advised to skip basic acoustic foam in favor of panels with fiberglass wool or Rockwool. A full soundproofing treatment for the average room can cost around $1400 using Rockwool or $1200 if you use fiberglass wool. But you can get away with only applying soundproofing to the weak points in your walls. Even better, if you DIY it, you can save over $40 per panel.
Identify which surfaces reflect sound or let in outside noise and focus your paneling on those. You can easily soundproof your floor with an area rug. You can block out sounds from the windows just as easily, using thick drapes or special noise-canceling curtains. But if you’re on a budget, a heavy blanket or some moving pads should do. Remember that there’s such a thing as too much soundproofing. This can ruin the trebles of your recording. Get a feel for whether your room feels to quiet, and adjust accordingly.
Computer Hardware Needs
In music production, a powerful computer is essential, especially if you’re going to be making long and complex tracks. The CPU is of paramount importance. If you’re going to be applying a lot of effects, you’d want to go for clock speed. If you prefer to create tracks that make use of lots of different channels, multithreading is crucial. Check out comprehensive hardware guides online to determine what kind of PC to use for your music production needs. In many cases, your preferred Digital Audio Workstation also has a lot of bearing on what kind of hardware will be optimal.
Real Instruments Versus Digital
The basic gear you’ll be using will be your bread and butter when producing music. You have the choice of either using actual instruments or synthesizing everything using a MIDI keyboard. Ideally, if you choose the former, you should already own a number of musical instruments that could hook up to a music production interface. The latter choice is much easier, but you lose the “authentic” feel that real instruments give. This can be imitated during production, but it will always be at least a little off and trained ears can pick that up. If you opt for real instruments, you would still need a MIDI controller to maximize your capabilities.
Other Pieces of Gear
Your audio monitoring equipment can also be considered one of the most crucial pieces of equipment in production. You want to experience the full character of the sound, from recording to mastering. Hence it’s essential that your speakers and headphones are of competent quality. Look for audio devices specifically marked out as monitoring headphones and speakers for the best sound quality. As for input devices, choose a condenser mic if you will primarily be recording vocals, and a dynamic mic for everything else. Finally, your audio interface will ensure that input and output are at top quality throughout. An audio interface is not entirely essential if you’ll be making music purely on your computer, but it’s essential if you plan to record instruments or vocals.
Whether you’re only a hobbyist or intend to go pro, music production can be expensive. But if you plan it out well and spend only in areas you need to, a decent production setup can be a very attainable goal.