How can I learn music at home?
Make music yourself
Make music yourself advice
Making music yourself on your PC or laptop has never been easier. With your computer, you already have the most important tool in front of you. You can find out what else you need to finally get started here.
Making music yourself is easier than ever - in this guide you will find out how.
Make music yourself - content
What do I need to make music myself?
Do you finally want to make music yourself? You probably already have a PC or laptop. Maybe a pair of speakers or headphones. All you need to get started is the right software. With this minimal equipment, hip-hop beats or electronic tracks can be produced.
If you want to record acoustic instruments or vocals, you still need a microphone and an audio interface.
Here we show you what else can be necessary or useful to produce your first songs.
Also read: Homestudio Setup: Equipment & basic equipment for making music
Make music yourself with the right software
No matter whether you want to record the next EDM hit, the first demo of your metal band or quiet singer-songwriter sounds - there is the right recording software for every purpose.
Music making apps: for Android, iPad and iPhones
DAW - the control center
Making music yourself on the PC is relatively easy and affordable. What you first need is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). In the DAW, your ideas come together to create a finished song. This is where all instruments are recorded and synthesizers and drums are programmed. Mixing and mastering are also done in the DAW.
The following programs are classics among DAWs:
- Logic (Mac only)
- Pro Tools
The following DAWs are slightly different from the classics:
- Ableton Live
- FL Studio
- Propellerhead Reason
These mainly focus on the sounds and workflows of producers in the field of electronic music. The range of supplied synthesizers and samples is correspondingly lavish.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as the right DAW for a particular style of music. The decisive factor is whether you like the workflow of the program and whether you can achieve good results in the shortest possible time. It is therefore worthwhile to test demo versions of various DAWs extensively before deciding to buy one.
Also read: DAW software comparison
Even more options: plugins
For every producer there comes a time when the on-board resources of their favorite DAW are no longer sufficient. The search for new synthesizer sounds or effects often leads to plug-in offers from third-party providers.
These plugins can be used in the existing DAW after installation. Depending on the operating system and the DAW used, they are required in VST, AU or AAX format. However, the VST format is the most widely used and is supported by most DAWs.
Especially at the beginning, you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune on the hottest plugins. Many plugins are available free of charge and lead to the same goal as commercial products. Only the search for the right synthesizer or effect can take some time.
Samples and Loops
DAWs like Ableton Live or FL Studio are already equipped with some audio material. This includes samples of individual instruments such as kick drum, hi-hat or snare. You can use this to create your own beats immediately after installation.
Complete songs can be put together from ready-made beat and melody components, the so-called loops. These can be adjusted to the tempo of the song in the DAW.
Again, there are commercial offers as well as huge amounts of free samples and free loops.
The audio interface
If you want to record your music with one or more microphones or send MIDI signals back and forth, you can't avoid an external audio interface.
Microphones and instruments are connected to the interface. It converts acoustic signals into digital data, which then end up in your DAW as an audio file.
For the beginner, a compact interface with a few microphone and instrument inputs is usually sufficient.
Also read: Audio Interface Purchase Advice
To record vocals or acoustic instruments, you need at least one microphone. Here, too, there are a number of manufacturers and models, and the beginner quickly feels overwhelmed with the selection. As is so often the case, trying is more important than studying.
It is only important that your audio interface also has the right connection for your microphone. In most cases it will be an XLR connector.
In addition, some microphones need a voltage source of +48 volts, the so-called phantom power. This can be switched on with many audio interfaces. If your interface does not provide phantom power, you will need an additional preamplifier.
Which microphone is the right one?
As we have already seen when choosing the right software - there are always many ways to achieve the desired result. The decisive factor is what you want to record with the microphone and whether you like the sound character of the microphone.
The more microphones you try out in your career as a producer, the more confidently you will at some point be able to judge which model is best for what, and above all why.
Also read: Instrument microphones: which microphone for which instrument?
Fat guitar sound without any microphones
For electric guitarists in particular, it has never been so easy to record a good sound without loud amplifiers or expensive modeling effect devices. Simply connect the guitar to the instrument input of the interface and recording can start. With amp modeling plugins such as the BIAS series from Positive Grid, Amplitube or Guitar Rig, you can conjure up great guitar sounds in no time at all.
But some freeware plugins such as the amp simulations from LePou do not need to hide behind commercial products.
The right monitoring in the home studio
Sure, the existing PC speakers or hi-fi headphones are sufficient for the first steps in the DAW. If you want the mix of your music to sound more professional later on, you should consider buying studio monitors or studio headphones.
In contrast to HiFi loudspeakers, studio monitors are used to reproduce music as linearly as possible. When mixing your songs on studio monitors, you will be able to better judge whether all instruments are being shown to their best advantage.
Each pair of monitors has its own sound character. Here the taste often decides. It is therefore advisable to test several pairs of monitors in the music store with either a CD of your favorite songs or your own recordings. Always make sure that the goal is to hear all instruments well. Studio monitors should serve as analysis tools and not as beautifiers like hi-fi boxes.
You can get usable models for around 500 € per pair. There are also cheaper monitors, but experience has shown that sooner or later these will be degraded to second monitoring. As is so often the case here, too, the motto is: if you buy cheap, you buy twice.
Also read: Studio Monitor Guide: The Ultimate Guide for Loudspeakers
Sometimes, however, it can be helpful to test the mix on a few other speakers. Studio headphones are a good alternative to a second pair of monitor boxes.
Some producers completely replace their studio monitors with high-quality headphones. Headphones are particularly interesting for home studio musicians, as they allow loud mixing at a late hour without turning all of your neighbors against you.
Also read: Mixing in Headphones: The Ultimate Guide
If you want to use virtual instruments and import them live on your computer, a good USB midi keyboard is a sensible investment.
Models with 25, 49, 61 or 88 keys are common. Keyboards with built-in drum pads and knobs are useful if you also want to drum in beats and experiment with synthesizer parameters.
Each room has its own sound, as sound is reflected differently from the walls in each room. The room can be acoustically optimized so that your acoustic instruments and vocals come into their own on the recordings and are not washed out by the reverberation of the room. Mixing your music will also be easier with good room acoustics.
With little money and a few tricks, your room can be set up for good recordings or a good mix. If that is no longer enough at some point, you can always invest in professional acoustic elements.
For now, complete beginners shouldn't worry about room acoustics. If you have enough experience with recording and mixing at some point, you can also better assess the acoustic weak points of a room.
Everything about room acoustics
In addition to the basic equipment for the home music room or the rehearsal room, you should definitely consider a part for the appropriate accessories in the budget, such as:
- Microphone stands and clamps
- Monitor stands
- Cables and adapters
- Instrument stand
- Power supplies and batteries
The same applies here: it's better to spend a little more and invest in quality. Nothing is more annoying than a crackling cord or a wobbly microphone stand during the best recording take of the day.
Of course, “learning by doing” is still completely okay at the beginning. It's also fun to discover the almost infinite possibilities through experimentation. However, if you get stuck at one point, there are a large number of tutorials and forums on the Internet in which your questions can be answered.
The most common topics are:
- Recording Techniques - How Do I Record My Instrument or Vocals Correctly?
- Songwriting / Arrangement - How do I arrange my song or track so that it doesn't get boring?
- Mixing - How do I mix all instruments so that they sound good together?
- Mastering - I want my songs to sound equally loud and fat through smartphone headphones, in the car and on the stereo. How do I do it?
Read also: Create music Guide: This is how it works
Conclusion on making music yourself
Making music yourself is easier than ever. You can start with just a PC and a basic set of music software.
If the enthusiasm for the new hobby continues to grow, you can gradually invest in more equipment. It doesn't necessarily have to be the most expensive and hippest. It is much more important to learn how to get the results you want with your own equipment.
So, what are you waiting for? Have fun getting started!
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