How to Produce a Song at Home – This Is What You Need

By | December 15, 2014

In 2014, we are very lucky to be spoiled with an abundance of music creation tools.  Anyone is now able to learn how to produce a song at home – or anywhere for that matter, due to technological leaps in computers, laptops and music production software.

I’m going to list everything you need to have in order to start producing music. Fun fact: you’ll probably already have most of it in your possession.


 

Making Music

Making Music

What You Absolutely Need

  1. Computer

Any modern computer will do, be it a desktop or laptop. Keep in mind though, that CPU power and physical memory are key here. With 8 to 16 GB of installed memory and a CPU capable of multithreading, such as the Intel Core i7-2600, you’ll have a killer rig that will handle any situation in your production affairs.

  1. Audio Interface

Every modern computer will have an audio interface integrated into it, so you can get straight into the production game. But if you are even the least bit serious about making your own tunes, you need to buy an external audio interface, so you’ll get your audio performance, sound quality and latencies to real world levels. You’ll be able to record your instruments or singing through it as well. Read my review of RME’s Babyface interface here.

  1. Speakers

    Studio Monitors

    Studio Monitors

You probably have a set of speakers already, and those will work just fine, up to a point. When I started out, I owned a pair of Logitech T20’s, and made a bunch of music with them. Porter Robinson used a pair of $100 Logitech Speakers too, and look at him now. After some point though, you’ll want to look into acquiring real studio monitors, such as the cheap but surprisingly good Behringer Truth –series.

In addition to speakers, you could look into using headphones. Read my review of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones.

  1. DAW Software

Lastly, you need a Digital Audio Workstation – a DAW. There are lots to choose from, and you should check out this list by Musicradar if you are in the search of one. Personally, I have used Image-Line FL Studio, Cockos REAPER and Avid Pro tools, and they are all good, capable workstations, though different. Choose wisely for your own needs, and stick with it.

Most DAWs are fully equipped with everything you need to make music. Virtual instruments, effects, mixer, sampler, it’s all there. You could basically use your mouse and keyboard to make full songs, as I have done when I was a starting out.

Avid Pro Tools

Avid Pro Tools


 

Home Recording Environment

Home Recording Environment

What Are Optional, But Highly Recommended

  1. MIDI Keyboard

You wouldn’t be wanting to use your mouse or keyboard to play virtual instruments forever, would you? These things go for very cheap, and I think it’s an essential piece of hardware to have in the studio. You can basically trigger all MIDI events with it. You can play drum kits from samplers, improvise with a virtual piano or create the nastiest bassline by playing it.

A MIDI Keyboard

A MIDI Keyboard

  1. Real Musical Instruments

Having real, actual instruments is always a good thing. Musical ideas are easily extracted from different instruments, by playing and just improvising with them. Also, they provide true contrast to all

Shure SM57 Microphone

Shure SM57 Microphone

the digital. It’s only healthy to have at least some instrument laying around, such as a guitar.

  1. Microphone

If you want to record yourself singing, you need to have a microphone. You could also record yourself playing for example, acoustic guitar, and lay down songs in no time.

  1. Virtual Instruments and Plugins

There are tons of virtual instruments and effects plugins out there. Even though most DAWs have their default instruments and plugins, and you’ll do perfectly fine with them, it is a good idea to do some research about a particular instrument or effect you would be searching for, because they could greatly increase the quality of your productions. Check out this article over at Producer’s Mind for a good selection of third-party instruments and plugins.

  1. Sample Packs

You’ll probably need samples, most often drums (if you’re not a drummer and willing to record yourself playing) to be able to lay down a beat. Again, DAWs usually have a set of default drum kits, but look deeper for a quality boost in your drum samples. Native Instruments’ KONTAKT has some great drum kits and sampled instruments which I use all the time.

Native Instruments KONTAKT

Native Instruments KONTAKT – with piano and drums loaded


 

As DAWs are relatively cheap nowadays (such as Cockos REAPER, which costs only $60 – the price of a video game), it would be a perfect gift for someone interested in music to get their hands on a fully equipped music creation environment.

I hope you now have a picture of what you need to do to immerse yourself in the world of music production. Of course, after you have acquired all the necessary tools in order to make music, all you have to do then is, well, make music. If you have questions, comments or feedback, please leave them below and I’ll get back to you.

-JP

16 thoughts on “How to Produce a Song at Home – This Is What You Need

  1. Sarah

    I remember doing this once in a friend’s basement. Didn’t turn out so well. :) Don’t think we had all this equipment. I know a few people that will like this though, thanks for the post!

    Reply
    1. JP

      Hey thanks! Haha, yeah well it’s a pretty demanding road to go down, but stick to it and you’ll be home free! 😉 Glad I could be of help to your friends, though. And thanks for forwarding this to them!

      Reply
  2. Lis

    Hi JP you have a great site. One of my nephews is into making his own music at home, so I will be directing him to your site. All the best. Lis.

    Reply
    1. JP

      Hi Lis, thanks for the nice words. That’s cool to hear! I hope he’s having fun with it and hopefully he could pick up some tricks from my website!

      Reply
  3. Nishkarsh Sharma

    It seems that you have in depth knowledge of music making. It’s good to see you around. I’ll recommend this post to my friends who’re struggling to record songs online. Thanks for the share :)

    Reply
  4. Jenny

    Very informative and well written! The photos really help, too. I know nothing about music production, but have friends who are into it and will share your site :)

    Reply
  5. Judy

    Very interesting & informative website. I will be informing my son about your website. He is into making his new music and can learn a few things you have on your website.

    Reply
    1. JP

      Very cool! Thank you. Surely your son can pick up a few new tricks up his sleeve.

      Reply
  6. Martina

    I have an interest in music, so will keep this in mind if I ever decide to compose and produce.

    Reply
  7. Cathy

    Wow, the DAW Software looks powerful! I imagine how convenient it would be to compose a song out of it once you are really familiar with the virtual knobs.

    Cathy

    Reply
    1. JP

      Hey Cathy, exactly! That’s pretty much how it goes. And you don’t need to learn all the knobs initially, the DAWs are quite intuitive to use once you get a hold of them. :)

      Reply

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