We’ve compiled a list of the best bits of kit if you or someone you know is beginning to create and record their own music at home. This list of items are all super easy to use and you won’t need a degree in nuclear physics to set up. Enjoy below and click on the links to purchase.
This is really a great combination of kit for a beginner to the complex world of home recording and producing. At its heart is the iTrack solo, an audio interface that allows you to plug straight in and, using the Focusrite preamp technology, allows you to record straight into your computer and Digital Audio Workstation of choice (Garageband, Ableton Live, FL Studio etc). If you’re a guitarist or a singer, and you want to sample some of your own playing, or just use the warmth of analogue instruments in the style of Bonobo or even Radiohead’s forays into electronica, the interface can get you there.
Not only this, you also get two of the most fundamental tools for any home recorder or producer, a set of headphones and a condenser microphone. If you want to record those distinctively dulcet tones of an acoustic Guitar, or you need to record from multiple sources at once, this high-quality microphone will be a stalwart of your recording rig. At the same time, a good quality pair of headphones is an absolute essential. Very few people can afford to break the bank with some studio monitors, and it’ll cost you almost as much to go full audiophile with headphones. A great pair of closed-back headphones like these will give you that sound isolation you need, and an accurate representation of the sounds you’ll be making. The fact that these are included in the iTrack Studio is a huge bonus.
The Boss RC-3 Loop Station has gained a lot of popularity in recent years with the continuing rise of musicians like Ed Sheeran, but it’s also a valuable compositional tool for home producers. Whether you’re a guitarist, singer or pianist, you can plug right in and loop over yourself to your heart’s content. This allows you to hear how things will sound paired together, whether this melody will go with that chord progression or just as a way to sound out new ideas. You can even create an entire song in one session, then with the USB 2.0 port you can export the WAV files and you’re done! If you’re a hip-hop producer looking for some new and fresh loops, why not create your own and add them to your best beats?
The Nano Pad offers 12 drum pads that feel great and are genuinely responsive. For drumming live or just programming that perfect beat, the drum pads have been a favourite of all electronic artists (especially hip-hop producers) for many years now. If you want to make some swing-infused beats like J Dilla, inspirationally intricate rhythms à la Aphex Twin or just some fast-paced four-to-the-floor dance music, the drum pads are ideal. Not only this, there’s also the seriously useful addition of an X-Y pad offering ‘roll’ and ‘flam’ modes, letting you compose realistic drum rhythms that would knock any real drummer off their throne.
This is an innovative bit of gear that makes recording as convenient and portable as physically possible. It’s essentially a microphone that plugs into your iPhone letting you record almost anywhere and anytime. Inspiration can be an inopportune blessing, and by the time you’ve set up your entire rig, it’s completely disappeared. With the iRig, however, you can get those ideas down straight away, whether it’s a quick riff, a sumptuous melody or a sample that would go great with that beat you composed last night. It’s also absolutely brilliant for sampling unusual sounds and ambient noise, giving your tracks that rich sense of atmosphere.
The beauty of making music through your laptop is that you can use your keyboard as an instrument, but there’s really no substitute for the genuine product. A MIDI Keyboard like this has enough keys for a wide range, while the semi-weighted feel allows you more expression and dynamism. The knobs, faders and buttons give you a real sense of tactile control over specific instrument parameters, and the Automap software will connect straight into your chosen DAW and allow you the precision you need. You’ll be amazed at how you lived without such a powerful tool that can be made to accurately reproduce almost any instrument.
If you’re completely new to the world of digital recording and producing, and it can be a murky one, a book like this one can clear the fog and give you the confidence to put theory into practice. Paul White gives some very authoritative guidance on pretty much everything to do with electronic music, from software to hardware, recording to sequencing, there really is great coverage here. Parts of the book can be outdated (unless you still record on Minidisc!), but the content provides a seriously solid theoretical and practical foundation for digital production.