How To Make Electronic Music With Computer? Where To Start?

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how to make electronic music

I decided to write down some guidelines on how to make electronic music (although some of the following tips may apply to other musical genres as well, not just electronic music) covering such things as what hardware is required or recommended, what kind of music making software is needed, how to get a hang of different kind of electronic music styles, etc.

There’s a lot of choices in hardware and software, countless of ways to do things in production wise and as many arguments and differing opinions as there are producers.

In this article, I try to point you in the right direction in electronic music production, mostly based on my own experience.

A little info about myself is that electronic music production has been my longtime hobby for years and I’ve been creating music on such genres as trance, downtempo, ambient and experimental.

Some of my songs have been released commercially through record labels and have also been used in a film project.

Excuse my English, it’s my second language and not so perfect, but I hope you understand and find these guidelines useful and get your answer on how to make electronic music. Also, if you have any questions, opinions or improvements, feel free to leave a comment!

UPDATE ON AUGUST 16th, 2015: Even though I wrote this article back in 2011, I’ll update it regularly so it should still contain valid information.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Computer and OS

The computer is naturally a must have hardware if you want to make electronic music.

You can actually produce good music with any kind of modern computer (I mean anything made in the past 5 years), including a laptop.

You also have a choice: PC or Mac. Both systems are widely used in many professional and home studios.

You can make excellent music with both platforms and most of the music making software are available for both (except FL Studio, though the MAC version is coming).

The thing is, you should pick a platform you’re already familiar with. If you’ve been using PC, stay with the PC. And vice versa. In that way, you don’t have to put time and effort on learning a completely new computer system and you can concentrate more on learning how to make the electronic music.

However, like I already mentioned, even though you CAN make music with any kind of modern computer, it will help a LOT to have decent specs.

The more CPU power and RAM you have under the hood, the smoother your music software will run and you’re able to build much more complex projects without choking your computer.

Also, choosing the right kind of hard drive makes difference as well. You might even consider getting a solid-state drive (known as SSD).

The computer I’m using has Intel Core i7 950 processor, ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 motherboard, 12GB RAM and 27″ widescreen Full HD display and it’s been a very good computer setup for electronic music production for five years now. If I’m going to upgrade this at some point, I probably get the SSD. That will speed up things even more.

If you’re on the edge of buying a new computer solely for music production and don’t have a clue what kind of specs it should have, look at some of the custom built computers that are made for audio production.

Check what kind of specs and components they have and start from there.

Few words about the OS: if you stick with the PC, I can recommend Windows 10. Best Microsoft OS so far – it seems to be really stable and working good with my FL Studio 12 music software!

Check these online shops for audio computer systems:

ADK Pro Audio Computers

Scan Computers For Audio

2. Sound Card (Audio Interface)

These days every modern computer has some kind of on-board sound chip so basically, you can start off making electronic music without spending money on an external soundcard or audio interface.

If you want to be able to use low latency with your sound chip/audio card and it doesn’t have native ASIO support (ASIO stands for Audio Stream Input/Output and it’s a soundcard driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer’s sound card), you can use ASIO4ALL driver.

It works with most sound cards (even with those on-board chips) making it possible to use lower latency settings.

However, if you’re looking for a higher performance and/or planning to do a lot of recording from external sources, then the decent quality sound card or audio interface is recommended.

At this point, I recommend checking out the ProducerSpot’s article The “Best Audio Interface for your Home Studio.

Also, check the Image-Line’s knowledge-base Help choosing a soundcard.

I myself have an M-Audio Audiophile Delta 2496 and even though it’s not a high-end sound card, it has been enough for me for all these years.

But there are tons of alternatives too in a decent price range. For example, check out Sound Blaster Z PCIe. Or some of the Focusrite audio interfaces such as Scarlett 2ie.

3. Studio Monitors Speakers and Studio-grade Headphones.

Although I created one of my Dutch dance charts hit songs using only cheap Sony headphones I bought from a local supermarket, decent studio monitors (near-field monitors) are highly recommended.

Why? Because studio monitors are specifically made for audio production and they give an accurate reproduction of the tonal qualities of the source audio.

In other words, they tell you the truth what’s REALLY going on in your music in terms of frequencies. The sound is uncolored so there will be no bass or high-frequency boosts or anything like that like the normal hi-fi speakers or headphones tend to have.

This will help you to create music where every sound is in balance (depending on your mixing skills of course) and this will increase the probability that your music sounds good on different sound systems like car stereos, portable mp3 players with earbuds and so on.

Studio headphones are also recommended, for tracking purposes.

There’s a wide range of studio monitors and headphones in the market on all price ranges. The truth is, the more money you put into these the more quality you will get and be aware that many low-cost studio monitors actually DO color the sound or artificially boost frequencies even if they label themselves as “studio monitors” with flat frequency response.

A lot of audio professionals vouch for Genelec, Focal or Mackie monitors. They are in the higher price range, but the quality is the best.

In a few hundred dollars price range, I recommend checking out the M-Audio and KRK Systems. Here are some specific models you may want to check out: Studiophile BX8a & KRK Rokit G2 8.

As for the studio headphones, check out these: Beyerdynamic DT 880Sennheiser HD 380.

Also see: Best Affordable Studio Headphones (ProducerSpot.com)

If you don’t have the possibility to use studio-quality monitoring systems, use the equipment you have – whether it’s headphones or normal loudspeakers. Don’t let that stop you from start making music.

However, before releasing your musical production to the public, I recommend that you listen to it through as many different sound systems as possible (like normal home and car stereos, etc.) and tweak your music until it sounds good and balanced on all of those systems. (Actually, this is recommended to do even if you DO have a studio quality monitors).

Also, remember to position your studio monitors right. That makes a huge difference how they sound.

I personally have Behringer Truth B2031A’s studio monitors. A lot of professional say they are not very good, or that they completely suck, but so far I’ve been doing ok with them.

And after all, I think one of the most important things with your studio monitors is to learn to listen to them. Then you know how your music translates to other audio systems.

I’m also using AKG K271 Studio headphones occasionally and I must say I like them.

I have to say that studio monitor is one of the most important hardware in your home studio, so before choosing your monitors (or headphones), try to listen to as many different models as possible and ask around and chat with the audio professionals and people who work in the audio production field.

Here are some articles I recommend checking out:

Studio Monitors Buying Guide

Studio Headphones

4. MIDI keyboard controller

MIDI keyboard is not a necessity though. Personally, I’ve created many songs just by using a mouse and regular computer keyboard.

Many computer music software like FL Studio and Ableton Live lets you play music using your computer keyboard. It’s like having a virtual piano keyboard.

But on the other hand, you get a totally different feel for playing melodies and controlling your audio software with a MIDI keyboard controller. I use M-Audio Oxygen 61 (the first-generation model) and I’m still happy with it.

Here are more helpful articles:

Best MIDI Keyboards for Home Studio

Tips on Buying a MIDI Keyboard

5. Sofware – DAW

Get the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). The DAW is a software environment where you actually create and compose the music and it is one of the most important components in your electronic music studio. To put it simply, it’s a music making software.

There are lots of DAW software choices in the market, but the following four are the most popular, especially amongst electronic music producers: Logic Pro X (for Mac only), Ableton Live, FL Studio and Reason (other well known DAW’s are Cubase, Cakewalk Sonar, Reaper, Bitwig Studio and PreSonus Studio One to name a few.

There are some free alternatives too such as Ardour and Zynewave Podium).

If you ask me what DAW I would recommend, I’d say FL Studio hands down! Why? I’m strongly biased of course as I’ve been personally using it over a decade now.

It’s very powerful, easy to use music making software and you can produce just about any type of music with it.

IMHO FL Studio is MADE for electronic music. The sequencing features and workflow are outstanding and that counts a lot because it goes hand in hand with how well you are able to put your musical ideas into action.

But in the end, choosing the DAW is something you have to do yourself… You need to download the demo versions, test them thoroughly and pick the one you feel most comfortable working with.

And learn it inside-out!

6. Software Synths and Audio Plugins

(Check Virtual Studio Technology)  VST synthesizers and effects are MUST if you’re going to start making music digitally with the computer.

VSTi’s (VST instruments) are virtual synthesizers that produce a different kind of sounds. You can use them just like you would use real hardware synths – only difference is that they’re software and you install them as plugins (some work as stand-alone too) to your DAW which acts as a host to these synths and you use them to produce sounds which you can use to compose melodies and make music.

There’s a lot of VST effect units as well such as reverb, eq, compressor, delay, chorus, phaser, some special fx, etc.

You can find tons of free VST plugins in the net. Just Google for “free vst plugins”, “free vsti” or “free soft synths”. Or check out ProducerSpot’s VST Free Download.

If you have money, I highly recommend to visit one of the biggest plugin store on the Internet: PluginBoutique

Check out the demos of synths like Absynth, FM8, Massive, Reaktor.

These are suitable for almost any kind of electronic music style. Also, reFX has some quality synths like Nexus 2 for example which is their flagship. It’s awesome sounding all around rompler. It has sounds for practically any kind of musical style from trance to house to hip hop to ambient to film music.

One of my personal favorite virtual synths are made by U-He: for example, check out Diva, Hive or Zebra2.

Also, check out Reveal Sound Spire.

All of these virtual synths are very good for electronic music.

But are there any free virtual synths or effects?

Yes, tons of them!

Actually, there’s just too many of freebies to list them one by one so here’s a links for places where you can browse and download whatever you want:

Free VST Synthesizers

Freeware VST plugins

Dontrack.com

VSTplanet.com

7. Software – audio editor

Even though most of the DAWs does have a basic set of tools for such audio editing tasks as cutting, fading and encoding to MP3, you may prefer a separate audio editor.

If that’s the case, I recommend Sound Forge Audio Studio. It’s cheap, yet versatile.

There are free alternatives as well like Audacity.

8. Samples

You need a bunch of good quality samples as well. Usually, samples are used for drums, percussion, effects, etc.

I recommend you to check Loopmasters. There are THOUSANDS of commercial sample packs costing anywhere from $10-$200 or more.

Sample packs are mostly genre-specific meaning they contain samples that are suitable for a certain musical genre, but you can use whatever samples in whatever genre you want – it’s up to you and your imagination.

Sample packs consist usually of single drum hits like kick drums, snares, hi-hats, hand claps, crash cymbals, percussion sounds, synth hits, bass sounds and so on which you can use to build your own beats and grooves.

Most of the sample packs include loops as well well: drum loops, top loops, bass loops, synth loops, fx loops… (loops are ready made grooves or melodic compositions which you can use in your own music). I personally use drum- and top loops quite a lot to enhance the rhythmic sections of my songs.

When you buy a commercial sample pack, you buy the license to use the samples and most (if not all) are royalty free meaning, if you create a song which uses samples from these sample packs, you don’t have to pay any additional fees to the sample manufacturer.

Here’s more links to some well known sample manufacturers and online shops:

Loopmasters (my personal favorite, I’m a regular customer!)
Sample Magic (my favorite!)
Wave Alchemy (my favorite!)
Big Fish Audio
Primeloops
Vengeance
Best Service
Ueberschall
Producerloops
Hex Loops

There’s also TONS of free samples available in the net. Here’s links to some of the free sample resources:

Free Sample Packs
BedRoomProducerBlog
Linklist for tons of free samples
Sampleradar
Looperman

Okay, so now that you have your hardware, software and sample collections in place, you ask: how do I make that electronic music then?

9. Listen electronic music and learn

Let me tell you how I learned to make electronic music in a first place: I listened what other artists do and started to do the same.

Just like many painters have learned to paint by studying and copying other peoples work, same goes for electronic music. I don’t mean that you should copy the song melodies and ideas.

Songs and ideas are copyrighted and there are legal consequences if you take an eg. a melody from another song, and use it as your own without permission from the original author.

So before I was able to make my own song in trance genre, I listened to a lot of other producers trance songs, analyzed them (especially the song structure) and finally got a hang of how they were put together.

So, in order to learn how to make electronic music, I would recommend taking these steps:

  • Decide the musical style or genre you want to make music in.

Get some songs from that genre. For example, go to Beatport.com – it’s the most popular electronic music online shop and you can find all the most popular songs from every electronic music genre there.

  • Listen HOW the song is built.

Take a song you like, listen to it carefully – over and over again and pay attention. Analyze it. Learn the song structure first. Every song (in almost whatever genre) follows some sort of common and logical structure – including the different styles of electronic music. Try to get a hang of what the structure is your favorite song: how does it progress, how long are the intro and breakdown… In other words, WHAT happens and WHEN.

If we think of a popular radio song (in rock, pop genre) they’re typically 3-4 minutes long and many of them follow this kind of structure:

[intro]->[verse]->[chorus]->[verse]->[chorus]->[bridge]->[chorus]->[outro]

OR chorus can also work as the intro. Then the song structure would go like this:

[chorus(intro)]->[verse]->[chorus]->[verse]->[chorus]->[bridge]->[chorus]->[outro]

There are few other variations as well, but I think these are the most common ones. Just check out Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right” or Katy Perrys “Hot And Cold” for example. Or any other popular radio pop song. They all follow pretty much the same structure.

Check out these articles for more info about popular song structures. Yeah, they’re about pop, but it helps you to get a hang of the idea of song structures and you can apply the same principles to electronic music as well.

Study The Hits!
How To Get Started With Songwriting
How Music Works
Songwriting Tip – Structure of a Pop Song

However, in EDM (electronic dance music) such as uplifting trance or dance music that is generally aimed for club’s, the structure is a bit different than in radio pop songs.

Different parts are longer and usually, the intro is like one big build up to the breakdown. If you’re into trance music, you might want to check out my tutorial about trance song structure and how it progresses. It’s a bit old, but it should give you the idea though.

Here’s one common structure in EDM, such as uplifting trance:

[intro]->[breakdown and buildup]->[section after the breakdown and buildup. It’s usually called drop, release or climax]->[outro]

Or a little longer version:

[intro]->[breakdown and build-up]->[drop]->[another breakdown and buildup]->[drop again]->[outro]

And here’s explanation to those terms:

[intro] This is the part where you slowly build up your song towards the breakdown from the beginning. Usually, you build up the intro by adding a new element after eight or sixteen bars. So it could go like this: first eight bars contains just the kick. After that you add in maybe hi-hats and claps or some percussion loop. After sixteen bars comes the bass. And so on.

[breakdown and build-up] This is where the musical elements introduced in the intro usually disappears completely for a while and you introduce your big musical idea which could be a nice, emotional and uplifting melody for example (let’s just call it a “hook”). In here you also start to build tension towards the drop which comes after the build-up.

[drop, release or climax] This is the best part of your song! Usually, this is where drums, bass (and maybe the “hook” melody) start to play together and everything kind of explodes. This is very typical in EDM. At this point, people will typically go NUTS on the dance floor and dance like crazy!

[outro] Things are starting to fade out towards to the end.

That’s it basically.

When you start to create your own song, I suggest you pick up your favorite song and load it into your DAW and – no, do not copy the song itself, but use the song structure as a reference to see what happens and when.

Also, while listening to your favorite song:

  • Pay attention to the sounds

Make notes what kind of sounds it has. Saw lead synth sounds, square wave bass sounds, huge pads, weird effected sounds are all the basic musical elements in electronic music. Try to hear what kind of sounds your favorite song has and try to replicate these sounds with your virtual synths. Or use ready-made presets. Many virtual synths have readily programmed preset sounds for various electronic music styles. Use them to your advantage.

Next, try to get a hang of the:

  • Melodies

What kind of melodies your favorite song has? Some certain chords and chord progressions are commonly used in trance for example, but there’s definitely room for fresh melodic ideas so don’t be afraid to depart from them.

And one last thing:

  • Sound effects

Pay attention to what kind of sound effects you can hear in your favorite song. Swooshes, risers, uplifters, down lifters, white noise sweeps and fx hits are some commonly used effects in electronic music. You can find these in many commercial or free sample packs.

Here are some helpful guides on various electronic music styles:

Trance Song Structure
From An Idea To A Song
Hip Hop Beat Construction Made Easy
Hip Hop Beats: Song Structure
Dubstep Structure

Also, go to Youtube and do a search on “how to make EDM”, “how to make trance” or “how to make hip-hop” and you’ll find tons of tutorial videos there.

Seriously, I really think the best way to learn how to make electronic music is listening tons of other producers work and then try to do the same. But remember, keep it original and don’t be afraid to try something completely new. There’s a lot of room for fresh ideas!

Next, a few short words about the production itself.

10. Start with the drums and bass…

Personally, I’ve found it’s best to first build the drum groove. At this point, the sample packs I mentioned earlier comes in very handy. You can also use the ready-made drum loops to help you to build your grooves.

Whatever the style is going to be, with a cool drum groove, it’s much easier to start creating other musical elements such as the bass groove on top of it and other instruments as well.

Remember to make drums and bass work together. They’re one of the most important elements in any kind of electronic music that has a drum beat. Seriously, I recommend putting a GREAT effort on these two.

11. … and add the synth melodies

Again, this is where the VST synths come in handy. Start building a melody on top of the drums and bass groove. Like mentioned earlier, many VSTi’s have several ready made quality preset sounds to start with. These will help you to get going.

However, I also recommend to experiment and tweak the knobs, sliders, and buttons and see what happens. You can come up with some really original and wild stuff just by experimenting with the different synth parameters.

Next, few words about mixing.

12. Mixing – give a power to the beat

When I mix my songs (if it’s an electronic dance music aka EDM), I  give most power to the drums. Kick drum to be exact. In most electronic music, drums are the elements that should be heard clearly. Especially the kick drum. Then, I balance the bass and other instruments against the drums.

Mostly with the kick. I always use drums as the foundation on how I mix other instruments in my song.

I try to make sure that the drums are punchy and loud enough and if some other instrument is trying to compete with my drums too much in frequency wise (or bass in this matter), I use an equalizer to cut the low frequencies off from that sound.

I use my drums to measure how to mix other instruments in my song.

13. Mixing – hear how pro’s mix and to try to do the same

Again, listen to your favorite songs in the same genre you’re trying to make music in and notice how they’re mixed.

What kind of sounds stand out and why? How does your song sound compared to your favorite, professionally mixed songs?

Here’s a tip: try to listen to your mixes through as many different sound systems as possible: car stereos, home stereos, through iPod with those little earplugs – basically everywhere and try to make it sound as good as possible on all of these systems. Try to find the balance.

I have to say that trying to make your mix sound good is probably one of the hardest part in music making.

And it’s something you won’t learn overnight. Yes, it takes quite a lot of practice (through trial and error) to make mixes sound decent, but don’t worry, it’s NOT an impossible task. You will learn it. It just takes some time.

14. Beware of ear fatigue. Take a break or continue producing in the next day

It has happened to me several times, that I thought I’ve made a killer song in a day and then, in the next day when I listen to the song again, it sounds like garbage: all the sound levels and EQ settings are out of balance or there are elements that don’t seem to fit into the mix at all. At that point, I usually get frustrated, give up and forget the whole song. This can happen if you produce music for several hours non-stop: your ears get tired and in the end of the day you, can’t hear things as balanced anymore as with fresh ears. So, my advice is this: try not to finish a whole song in one day, spare your ears and leave something for the next day.

15. Links to forums you should start reading

Here’s a bunch of forums where I have learned quite a lot. A lot of audio professionals are hanging there. Read the threads and ask questions.

KVRaudio
Future Producers
Gearslutz

The end. Hopefully, this gave you a rough idea on how to make electronic music. 🙂

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355 Comments on "How To Make Electronic Music With Computer? Where To Start?"

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bedroom producers blog

awesome post!

i’d like to contribute a few links to the already great selection.

another freeware DAW: http://www.zynewave.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2337

freeware VST plugins: http://bedroomproducersblog.com/category/bpb-freeware-studio/

free samples: http://bedroomproducersblog.com/category/sample-packs/free-sample-shootout/

Petri Suhonen

Thank you!

Excellent links, I will add them to the article 🙂

Danny

Thank you for all your hard work putting this together. This has helped me get started in the right direction. What would you recommend for controller and software? Tracktor / Serato? Which do you think is better? Im looking at the new Newmark control w Serato or the Tracktor control w tracktor software of course. And do you think Reason is better than Fl Sudios? Which one should I buy?

Petri Suhonen

Danny,

Firstly, thanks again 🙂

Secondly: unfortenately I dont have any first hand experience on either of those devices.. I’m just playing with my ‘good ol’ Oxygen 61 MIDI keyboard controller.. However, Traktor is NI and NI = only good stuff in my personal experience (at leas when talkin’ about the sotware!)! 😀

As for Reason vs FL: well, I’m biased (I’ve been playing with Reason as well) I would choose FLS! Why? VST support and the workflow! 😀

Cheers, mate!

richard

bro richard from this site, may i kindly ask you for a scrachsss tutoriallll that would be fantastic watch it comming from you…. best regardssss broooooo from slovakia…..

Mohit

I want to start producing music please suggest me how can i start.. I dnt have any experience.. I just have a computer thats all

girish

thanx a lot man. i was tired of trying to find musicians for my song. once i make it, and i hope it isn’t the last one, i’ll put up a link here for everyone’s opinion. it could take a few weeks i guess, as i’m just starting out. thank you for all the help 🙂

Nat shand

Hey thanks so much for this info was very informative i have just been making loop based electronic music but am self taught and am using sony acid pro . I’ve posted one song on soundcloud under sanctum. I’m definatly still learning! Cheers

Sanctum
Nat shand

Petri Suhonen

Hey Nat,

I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

Boni M
While its good info for starters, i can personally say from experience there are some improvement you could give to you overall kit, example are the monitors, i had behringer and they dont tell the TRUTH!! they are not very good for a neutral frequency output. at work i have BX8a m-audios and for their price they rock, hard. At home i have genelec and they rock harder, but are a bit steeper in the price range. As for soundcard, also used to be a m-audio user and quality was…best put it bad. Switched over to apogee, got the one… Read more »
Petri Suhonen
Boni M, I highly appreciate your valuable comment, thank you! I may actually add some of your gear recommendations to my article. Anything that is valuable to the readers. About monitors: While I agree your opinion about the Truth’s that they’re not the best in the market, I’ve been quite happy with them and been able to produce ok sounding music. I haven’t heard the Genelecs in action, but people are saying they’re really good. But so is the price. 🙂 Also, positioning is very important to get the most out of whatever monitors you have. About soundcard: Referring to… Read more »
Kurvine

Hello! If I already have a DAW software, do I still need to get an audio editor? Isn’t it possible to edit audio in the DAW itself? Thanks! 😀

Petri Suhonen

Hi Kurvine!

Good question. 🙂

Separate audio editor isn’t actually necessity. For example in FL Studio there’s Edison which is fully featured audio editor and most of the DAWs have some sort of audio editing capabilities.

I personally like to use separate program for audio editing. I’ve been favoring Sound Forge because I can do the required precise cutting, copying and pasting with it. Audacity is also good.

Kbucssc Azille

Adobe Audition is great too!

Brian

Great article but I dispute one of your claims – you really don’t need an excellent sound card for audio production. Since you can render to lossless WAV it’s pretty much irrelevant to have a fancy sound card unless you’ll be delivering performances from that same machine. True?

Petri Suhonen

Hey Brian,

That is true.

I personally made music for years just by using the onboard soundchip and the audio quality was as good as it’s now with a decent soundcard.

However, if you record a lot from external sources, then you should look into the more advanced soundcards/audio interfaces.

I propably should have wrote “Decent soundcard / audio interface is RECOMMENDED” rather than “MUST have”. Need to fix that a bit 🙂

Thanks for pointing this out, Brian.

Timbo Jones

Hey Petri,

thanks for this awesome “tutorial”!
after nearly an decade in the metal/rock scen with nearly a dozen bands, some cds and lots of gigs i looked out for something fresh an totally fell in love with electronic music. especially acts like justice or digitalism.
though i have some experience about how to “structure” a song and some recording stuff, this totally helped me out.
thanks a lot!

greetz
Timbo

Petri Suhonen
Hi Timbo, Thanks for checking out the article, I’m glad you found it useful! I must say that you have stepped into a very diverse and interesting genre 🙂 I’ve been dealing with electronic music well over 10 years now and it’s just getting more and more interesting and the fact that the technology has brought the possiblity for anyone to try make professional music at home with a relatively low cost makes it even more attracting. Btw, have you heard Deadmau5? He’s genius in the EDM scene and I recommend to check out his work as well. Anyway, welcome… Read more »
Bob

Just getting into this on my MAC, I have downloaded Ardour and am tryin to install some VST’s but when i install them they dont work, what am i doing wrong?

Petri Suhonen

Hi, unfortenately I dont have any experience dealing with mac, but as far as I know, you need to download the Audio Unit version of the VST plugin. I think the Audio Unit in mac is sort of equivelant to VST in pc. Many of the free VST plugins are available as Audio Units as well. For example, TAL-NoiseMaker offers the Audio Unit version in addition to VST..

Also, other possibility is to use VST to Audio Unit adapter. Hope this helps.

Bob

thanks, I’ll give it a go and be sure to let you know how it goes. Thanks for the article!

Cameron
Hi, I have not yet started making any form of electronic music yet, but I think that this has given me a great starting point. Now I am in a remote part of Australia and have found that computers and hardware are VERY expensive. Because of this I would like to know some minimum specs. At the moment I am using a crappy laptop with 2GB DDR3 RAM, a 320GB HDD, only 2.3Ghz Pentium Processor, and to be honest I wouldn’t have a clue as to sound card details. Is this, combined with some of the cheaper options in the… Read more »
Petri Suhonen
Hey Cameron, Yeap, you can start with those specs. I had a 1.3Ghz AMD Athlon, 1GB of RAM and a integrated soundcard and I used it to create “Turnpoint” which was good enough to get me a record deal and all the way to the dutch dance charts. And before that I used even lower specs to create music. Now to your second question: it’s not that hard. I have created a tutorial video where I show you how to make a house beat. It should give you an idea how the beats can be created from scratch. Deadmau5 is… Read more »
Arce

this post is bloody awesome!

Petri Suhonen

Thank u Arce, I’m very glad to hear people are finding the information useful!

melodic electronica

don’t get too hung up on “gear”. i use fl studio because of the piano roll step sequencer and the pattern approach to assembling a tune but i also use the Nintendo Korg DS-10 to make electronica and i’ve got to say that the DS-10 is quite the “portable” DAW.

Asd

What’s the point of 12gb’s of ram if Win 7 can only use 6 gb of it?

Petri Suhonen

Hi Asd,

Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate will support up to 192 GB of RAM so 12GB comes actually quite useful at times. However, the music making programs such as Ableton Live supports up to 3.2 GB of RAM and FL Studio 4 GB so the whole 12 GB isn’t actually needed in these applications.

But when I bought my computer, I choose to go with the 12GB just to make sure I will not run out of RAM in anytime soon 🙂

Luke
Awesome post Petri!! This is a loaded question, but here goes… I’m wanting to build my own computer for music and assemble a decent recording setup. I’d greatly appreciate comments, ideas, feedback on anything below. THANKS! Computer…. •Coolmaster HAF932 case (highest rated case on amazon) •ASUS P7P55D-E Pro ATX Intel motherboard •EVGA GeForce 9500 GT 01G-P3-N959-TR video card •Intel Core i7 Processor i7-960 3.20GHz 8MB LGA1366 processor •Kingston DDR3 8gb ram OR G.SKILL 8GB (2 x 4GB) Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1600MHz 240-Pin PC3-12800 Desktop Memory •Intel X24M Gen 2 SSD 160gb OR OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD3-2VTX120G 3.5″ MLC SSD… Read more »
Petri Suhonen

Hi Luke, looks like a pretty powerful setup 🙂 8 GB of RAM is plenty and SSD drive should be a very good choice for the OS. What kind of MIDI controller you were planning to get? I also recommend getting Windows 7 as the OS. About the soundcard: I’ve read through the M-Audio forums that lot of people have reported glitch and crackel problem when recording with the delta 1010 in Windows 7 machines. Have you checked the other products from M-Audio – such as their firewire audio interfaces?

Luke
Thanks for the quick reply Petri! I’m still learning about all this, haven’t looked into M-Audio much. I had thought the MIDI Controller was a part of the PCI converter. So I need 3 pieces, PCI, MIDI, and pre-amp? I haven’t looked into those much; what do you suggest? I’m curious why you recommend Windows 7 over OS X… isn’t Apple less virus prone? And do you know if all my computer bits will be OK together? I’ve read compatibility can be a problem, want to make sure I get all the parts right before buying them. thanks so much… Read more »
Petri Suhonen
Luke, MIDI controller is an external device you plug-in to your computer via USB. It sends a MIDI data to your computer and you can use it to control your music software and virtual instruments. There are different types of MIDI controllers, but most commonly used external MIDI device in nomal home studio is MIDI keyboard. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI_keyboard) So basically you need just a soundcard OR if you need to have a pre-amp, firewire or USB audio interface with pre-amp built-in might be something to consider. Maybe something like http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackPro.html. I personally don’t have much experience dealing with USB/firewire audio interfaces… Read more »
Luke

Thanks so much! This is very helpful, will use this for sure.

Stephanie

Hi Petri-
As a beginner I’m wondering which DAW you would recommend for the Mac platform? I am a musician but not too savvy (okay, not at all savvy) with the technical stuff. Is there a particular software that is easiest and most simple to use and start out with, but still has a lot of built-in features and sounds? And possibly one that I could use my computer keyboard as the controller (like the FL Studio)? Thanks!

Petri Suhonen
Hey Stephanie, I would recommend you to check out Reason: http://www.propellerheads.se/download or Ableton Live Suite: http://www.ableton.com/products. Both have tons of sounds and features. Ableton let’s you use natively your computer keyboard as a virtual piano keyboard, but I’m not sure if Reason supports that. However, it’s not an issue as you can always download a third party application for that. Check out VMPK: http://vmpk.sourceforge.net/ As for the learning curve, well, either one of those isn’t impossible to learn, but I think you may wan’t to check out the Reason first. Try the demo versions or both software and choose the… Read more »
yaniv sharon

not meaning to mess up the reply but I found propellerhead rather difficult to use..I would say ejay is the most simplest software to use. But fruity loops is better as you can do more, but yes very difficult for someone with little or no music background like me.

adil

This article opened my ears and mind. Have you heard Cutworks – Spacecraft Tools, please listen if you can, and can you recommend similar music? I was told it is Liquid Drum n Bass, but I could not find anything equally satisfying in that genre, to the extent that I tried. . . thanks again for the wonderful article and generous sharing of your experience and ideas. TC.

Petri Suhonen

Hey Adil, glad you liked the article! I hadn’t heard Cutworks before I checked the song on youtube: nice drum & bass. For something similar, Simon V may come to close. Try to find his older songs such as Icebreaker or No Time To Cry.

themrnix

Hey there
Ok so i want to start making music on my computer and i found this but im having a little trouble
Im using fl studio but im not all that great at “self teaching” can you recommend some tutorial’s that will help me get started

Petri Suhonen

Hi! For starters, check the out image-line’s youtube channel. Also, if you’re a registered FL Studio user, check out the imageline forums as well. These should get you started 🙂

yaniv sharon

I am in the same situation but since watching the tutorials on youtube I have to say that I have gained a lot of knowledge on how to use fl. On youtube there is a guy called candlelitcrimescene which has some great tutorials with voice explanation. I would definatly look at his tutorials.

Michael
Hello, Great article- it’s been an incredibly helpful learning tool as I begin to try my hand at making music. I’ve gotten to the point now where I need a MIDI keyboard to help make things easier on me. What do you think of this keyboard? http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/KeyStudio.html It is obviously a low-end keyboard, but that’s what I’m looking for (I’ve been using the DAW Zynewave Podium, so I’m obviously doing this on the cheap for now). Reviews say that it also works fine with Windows, even though it says it’s for Mac. Do you know of any other cheap but… Read more »
Petri Suhonen

Hi Michael, I recommend checking out this:

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/KeyRig49.html

It works for sure with PC as well and you’ll get Ableton Live Lite with it.

Jaya soorya

This article is really useful for beginners like me.I have one doubt that is [i don’t have a midi keyboard] so if i just buy one…with a sound-card …as im using fl studio can i record the notes on piano roll?

Petri Suhonen

Hey Jaya! Yes, you can record the notes to the piano roll. That’s where they will be recorderd by default 🙂

mkzklz

Awesome stuff indeed, so as the whole web site, i will have to read a lot 🙂

Im starting to deal with FL studio more seriously, so i wanted to ask does these tutorials on your web site cover FL studio 9, or they are for FL studio 10, or could they be used for both ?

Keep up the good work 🙂

Petri Suhonen

hi, there and thanks for reading the article! Yeah, 99% of the tutorials I’ve been producing so far will work with FLS 9 as well. However, some tutorials will have .flp project files that are made with FLS10, but most of them should open in FLS9 as well. 🙂

jason anderson

Yo thanks again for posting this.. Really is a great resource!!! Thank you!!

Petri Suhonen

Thank you Jason!

Jonathan Stone

Hi Petri,

Thanks for this website. I am extremely new at this and would love to just start experimenting with creating electronic music. Can you please in your reply post ‘FREE’ version links for: DAW, VST plugins and free samles please… I went to the links you provided and they were just forums or they did not provide much help.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind Regards

Jon

Petri Suhonen

Hey Jon, please have a closer look on the links I have posted under the FREE VST PLUGINS & FREE SAMPLES categories, you’ll find the actual download links when you visit them. I’m not posting the direct downloads because most of the free samples/vst plugin providers wouldnt like that.

For a free DAW, check out Zynewave Podium for starters.

Hope this helps!

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