Want to start making music but can’t afford to spend money on expensive software and gear? Then this little guide is for you. We’ll take you through some awesome ways of finding cheaper alternatives that don’t scrimp on quality. Ready? Let’s get started.
OK, so assuming you have very little money to spend, you will need three things to get going: a computer, a DAW (or digital audio workstation) and a pair of headphones. Beyond that, it is entirely up to you, but these three core pieces of equipment will have you composing in very little time. Now let’s have a look at each one separately.
If you already have a computer, then you can use it. However, be aware that making music uses a lot of memory. Unless your PC has been fine-tuned, you could end up with a lot of stutters, pops, and crackles. To limit performance issues, get rid of any programs you don’t need. If you are going to make music, it is best that you use your PC for one thing only. If you are going to buy one, we would suggest buying parts and building it yourself. Buying a manufacturer made computer means you will be getting standard specifications. Many of which won’t be good enough, or will be useless for you. Building your own means you can spend more on what is important, like a good soundcard.
A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
A Digital Audio Workstation is going to be your primary tool. The higher end products such as Logic, Ableton and Cubase can be expensive to buy, but there are cheaper alternatives. Reaper is a great place to start. It only costs tens of dollars as opposed to hundreds and is a stable DAW that can do some amazing things. If you are planning on bringing live instruments into the equation at some point, you could try Audacity. It is an open source program that is completely free. It is basic, but for recording audio on a budget it cannot be beaten.
With a good pair of headphones, you won’t need to invest in expensive monitor speakers. It is worth spending as much as you can on headphones because when you record music it will often sound different on different platforms. Good headphones will help you hear your music as clear as you can. Check out this Sennheiser momentum review to see what investing in headphones can bring to the table. If you can’t afford a decent pair, then budget cans will do. Just make sure that you listen to the music you have made on lots of different pieces of equipment before you decide it is finished!
Once you have started learning how to use your DAW, you will probably get tired of pointing, clicking, and drawing in notes. Once you reach that stage, it is time to invest in a MIDI keyboard. Keyboards come in a huge range of styles, but to keep things under budget, just get a simple one like this Akai Pro MPK Mini 25-Key. It has full-size keys and the bonus of pads, so you can use them like a drum machine. Once you have your keys, you will find making music a lot more fun! Good luck with the compositions!