Music Producer Starter Kit

As a minimum, you need a computer, a music sequencer software and a pair of headphones.
Then you can add a sound card, a microphone and a master keyboard/drum pad.
The computer is probably the most expensive piece of hardware you’ll need.
I would recommend the Mac computer as the first option because it’s what I use. Still, you can do well by using Windows-based computers or with some limitation even using a Linux computer, an iPad/iPhone or an Android device.

Let’s assume you only have a mobile phone or a tablet, and you want to start right away. Probably the best solution would be to get Cubasis 3

https://new.steinberg.net/cubasis/

Cubasis is an advanced well-thought app for producing music.

Also really good is Korg Widget 2
https://www.korg.com/uk/products/software/korg_gadget/, unfortunately, works only on iOS, Mac and Windows, no Android.

If you don’t enjoy using a computer to produce music, what I would use instead is the AKAI MPC Live/One/X https://www.akaipro.com/products/mpc-series

But if you are like me and enjoy the flexibility of using a computer, I would get a DAW (digital audio workstation) software.

My first option goes to Reaper https://www.reaper.fm/. This is a fully-featured software with no limitation and works at the same quality as ProTools the industry standard for audio recording, but cost only $60 approx £45. 

The second option goes to Cubase Elements, £85 or £57 with the student discount. This does almost everything you need and can be upgraded to the Artist or Pro version for more features.

Third option but could be at the second position, is Reason 11 Intro, £69. Reason is a sequencer and a virtual rack, packed with lots of cool virtual instruments, drum machines and samplers. It works as a standalone or as a plugin in other DAW. I own the Suite version, and I run it as a plugin in Reaper, it’s an incredible combo. 

The fourth position goes to Studio One Artists £85.

Fith position is for Ableton Live Intro, £69, this has limited functionalities, but if you only produce dance music, it might be the right for you.

If you are willing to spend more, there are some other cool software you could consider. First of them is ProTools; this is the industry standard in large recording studios, (try it for the free basic version here). Then there’s Logic Pro X, popular software in the UK, unfortunately, runs only on Mac Computers, Cubase Pro probably the most advance for MIDI. Ableton Live, one of the most used software for dance and electronic music, and then Studio One Professional, a friendly and intuitive software to use. 

But like I said before Reaper is the one I honestly recommend, it does everything you need and is cheap. The only downside is not super friendly for beginners because this is fully customisable and might be overwhelming at first. Good news, you can try it for free before buying.

Let’s assume you have a Mac or Windows computer already. A budget solution that you can use for producing music, mixing and mastering at the professional level is:

Producer Starter Kit £475.89

DAW Software: Reaper + Reason 11 Intro £45+£69= £114
Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB £92
Master keyboard/DrumPad: AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 £89.99
Microphone: sE Electronics X1 A £80.95
Headphones: Sennheiser HD280pro  £98.93

Why this Starter Kit?

Reaper and Reason are an amazing combo. Reaper is the most advanced DAW you can get at this price range. Reason 11 Intro has some amazing virtual instruments and effects that will inspire your production.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen is a really solid audio interface, compatible with Mac, Windows PC and iPad, but I picked this one for the plugins that come included with it.
The Solo comes with Softube Time and Tone Bundle: three of Softube’s world-class reverb, delay and distortion plugins, and an easy-to-use mastering tool Drawmer s73. Plus the Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite: accurately models on their classic Red 2 equaliser and Red 3 compressor. It also includes Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite.
If you work with other people, maybe a singer or a musician or another producer, consider an audio interface with two headphones out such us the Focusrite 8i6 or the SSL 2+.

The AKAI MPK mini MK3 master keyboard is really versatile with its eight drum pad and has its own Complete Music Production Starter Kit with a DAW-based on the legendary MPC workflow, drum and sample expansion packs, AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand, Velvet virtual instruments.

The sE Electronics X1 A microphone is well built and sounds great. It’s a professional microphone at a budget price.

The Sennheiser HD280 pro headphones are suitable for both mixing and recording. Having a quality monitor system is extremely important. All your production decision are taken out of what you hear. If you can afford, buy even a better pair of headphones. I use the Sennheiser hd660s.

Check your available budget and work around it. You can improve on the audio interface, chose a different DAW software, mic or headphones, maybe some speakers. Or most importantly, add some third party plugins for audio processing and some additional virtual instruments/amps.

Check there other blog posts for my favourite plugins:
1) Channel Strip and EQ
2) Compressors and Limiters
3) FX including Reverbs, Delay and Saturators
4) Space Enhancers Chorus / Flanger, Utility and others.
5) Virtual Amps and Virtual Instruments

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