What Do You Need in Order to Start Making Beats?

What Do You Need in Order to Start Making Beats?

Are you an aspiring music producer, eager to embark on a journey of creating captivating beats that resonate with audiences worldwide? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through all the essential elements you need to start making beats. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting, my step-by-step beginner-friendly approach will ensure that you know about all the things you need to start an exciting beat making career.

Hardware

Many people, when describing the difference between hardware and software to me when I was a kid, ended up with the sentence “Without software, hardware is just a bunch of useless equipment”. That sentence never made sense to me, because I always wondered what software would be without hardware.

So, to give you the list of the things you need in order to start making beats in the best possible way, let’s start with the basics of the basics.

Laptop/Desktop computer (Essential)

You need a laptop or a desktop computer in order to start making beats.

You are probably demonstrating how mind-blown you are by hearing this in a sarcastic way, but bear with me. Not any PC/Laptop is made for music production.

Making beats is not too taxing on your PC performance. However, music is not the only thing you will be making in your beat making career if you want to succeed. Unless you have money for outsourcing tasks, you will probably need to work on creating visuals (Photoshop/Illustrator), creating videos (Premier Pro, After Effects or FL Studio ZGameVisualizer) or use some CPU heavy plugins. Therefore, I recommend you be careful with your spec choices.

Here are some things to look out for if you want to have the smoothest beat making experience possible.

1. Processing Power (Processor or CPU)

You need a laptop with a decent CPU in order to start making beats.

Beat-making software can be resource-intensive, especially when working with multiple tracks and complex arrangements. Opt for a computer with a robust processor that can handle the demands of digital audio processing without lag or performance issues.

For example, the laptop I am making my beats on without any problems, and also use Illustrator to make my visuals, has Intel Core i5-10300H @2.5Ghz. If you look for a rig or a laptop with a CPU of similar power, you won’t make a mistake.

2. RAM (Random Access Memory)

You need a laptop with enough Ram memory in order to make beats properly.

Having ample RAM is crucial for smooth multitasking and efficient handling of large project files. Although people don’t recommend anything less than 16 GB of RAM nowadays, you can aim for a computer with at least 8GB or more RAM to ensure seamless beat-making sessions.

That said, my laptop has 8 GB of RAM and I don’t have problems with making beats on it. However, if you want to stream yourself making beats which is definitely recommendable in later stages of your journey, I would recommend at least 16 GB of RAM, but you can always upgrade later.

3. Storage Capacity (HDD or SSD)

A laptop with a good SSD is always more smooth to make beats on!

It is an understatement to say that music files, samples, and music software installations (such as plugins) can consume significant storage space. You can either go with Hard Disk (HDD) for less money to storage space ratio or invest in a computer with SSD, a solid-state drive (SSD) for faster data access and loading times.

Bear in mind that although computers with SSD are faster and smoother to work with, SDDs usually have a shorter life span which could be detrimental if they go out of commission so you better backup all your important files so you don’t lose everything you have been working on!

Now, if you want a short answer on how much money the cheapest acceptable option could cost you, I would say I wouldn’t go below $500-$600 for a Desktop and $1000-$1200 for a laptop. Also, if you want to go with the Desktop option, I would also recommend you buy parts individually and pay someone to assemble it for you if you can’t do it yourself. That way, you will get a much better bang for your buck.

Headphones (Essential)

You need great headphones in order to start making beats.

The second most important hardware you need is a pair of headphones. This is a MUST HAVE. You will not, and I mean WILL NOT be able to properly make beats without a pair of medium-to-high quality headphones.

The reason I am saying this is because when mixing and mastering, you need to pay attention to details and you cannot hear every single frequency when mixing or mastering on speakers/monitors. Headphones give you a much better perspective on things like what elements are too loud/too quiet, is the beat overproduced and has no room for vocals, or whether a certain frequency needs to be cut off as it creates muddiness in the whole mix.

Speakers/Monitors (Optional)

Speakers, or how music producers who want to sound fancy like to call them “Monitors”, are certainly great to have, but they are not that necessary. You will not need speakers for mixing up until you get to later stages of beatmaking. Their main purposes are to see how your music will be heard in space or if you would like to show off your music on social media, which you definitely should be doing.

By the way, the difference between speakers and monitors is that speakers that are more expensive, usually higher in quality and have an objective frequency spectrum are called “Studio monitors”. This means that a normal speaker might have boosted bass, i.e. when you play music on it, the bass of that song is stronger than normal, but it sometimes offsets with other frequencies being weaker, depending on the quality of the speaker.

Monitors on the other hand, have no such thing. Although not a single pair of speakers/monitors is exactly the same (even if they are completely the same model) all frequency ranges have to be as equal as possible in order to provide you with an objective perception of the frequencies of the track you are working on. Monitors are not meant for recreational music listening, but they are not bad for it either 🙂.

MiDi Keyboard (Optional)

A MiDi Keyboard may help you create melodies better but, just like speakers, they won’t do too much unless you are already a seasoned producer or know how to play the piano. Apart from that, MiDi keyboards can be extremely expensive and they are not even that necessary. You can make great melodies simply by drawing them in your FL Studio piano roll using your mouse and keyboard.

However, if you plan on learning how to play, which is not necessary for making beats, but definitely recommendable, then you can start exploring your options. But if you are a beginner, you don’t have to rush it. My advice is to learn how to make melodies with your mouse and keyboard first, and then learn how to get your melody making skills to the next level with a MiDi keyboard!

Software

Since we have all the hardware we need, let’s see which software we need.

DAW (Essential)

You need a DAW in order to start making beats!

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, it is also pronounced as “daugh”, in case you hear it from other producers on tutorials or such) is the main software that we make our beats on. Everything we do to make music, we do it in a DAW. An example of such software is FL Studio.

DAW is usually the most expensive piece of software that is essential in the beginning of your career. Depending on which one you choose, the prices may vary. FL Studio, for example, costs $99 – $499 depending on the pricing you choose. Bear in mind that buying FL Studio (as it goes for the majority of other DAWs) is a one-time payment, not a subscription, which is amazing.

(Third-party) Plugins/VSTs (Optional/Essential)

Omnisphere is an example of a third party plugin.

As you have a DAW to produce music, which is something you produce music ON, now you need something to make your melodies WITH. This is where plugins/VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) come into action. Let me explain.

Imagine the year is 1970. Now imagine a rock band getting into a studio to record a song. What do they need? They need room, instruments and all kinds of gear for mixing, recording ect.

Now, let’s make an analogy. In this case, the studio, or the room/premises they record the music in is a DAW while all the equipment they use are plugins.

So, the little thingies that you will use for making melodies, or better said, the things you can’t make you own melodies without (unless you are sampling, recording live instruments or using someone else’s loops) are called “VSTs” or “Plugins”.

There is a reason I put both Optional and Essential in the subheading. It is because although VSTs are generally essential, meaning you can’t make beats without them in most cases, most DAWs already come with some native plugins, so there is usually no need to purchase external (Third party) plugins at the beginning of your career.

External, third party plugins are necessary the more advanced producer you become. However they can get quite expensive. Actually, many of them are as, or even more expensive than the most expensive FL Studio pricing option and some of them take an enormous amount of disk space. For example, Omnisphere, an external plugin that costs about $500 has a 50GB large sound library.

Files

Last but not least, you will need files. VSTs will be for making melodies, but for the drums that are an integral part of beats and other stuff to spice your music with, you will need some file kits. Many of them are free for download out there on the internet.

Drum kits/Samples (Essential)

If you know anything about hip hip music in general, you know that subgenres of hip hop are usually determined by drum samples and drum patterns they use. You cannot make any beats unless you have a drum sample pack or if you create one yourself.

Apart from drums, you also need samples. These are not absolutely necessary, but they can really spice your beats up and make them more unique.

The reason I say it is essential is because your best bet is to download a free sample pack online or buy premium ones. Some of the native samples are decent, however native drums that you can find in FL Studio are not great for making industry standard beats.

Some packs are for different genres or subgenres, however you can download them all to see which ones suit you the best.

Here are some great free sample packs you can download today:

When it comes to acquiring all the things you need, it is important to reflect on your own available budget or other limitations that you may have. You can certainly find a way to make beats without an essential thing or two that I put on this list.

If you don’t have the means of getting new headphones or buying DAW right away, don’t be upset. It took me years to get all the things I need, while making beats along the way. So, don’t rush the process and much success to you!