How do I take this from my browser into real life?
May 26, 2012 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a ridiculously fun time playing with Audiotool and am learning a ton about desktop production. Where do I go from here?

It's been about a month since I started using Audiotool (a flash-based DAW) and I think I'm ready to dive into music production outside of my web browser. What gear do I need to start making hip hop beats and house/electro music? Caveat: I'm a PC user so I'm pretty sure Logic is out of the question.
posted by bumpjump to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: EDIT: by "PC user" I mean I'm running Vista.
posted by bumpjump at 8:34 AM on May 26, 2012

For 10 years or so I've been using FL to create beats, sounds and full compositions. I swear by it for getting loops and beats going very quickly. I would also recommend a wave editor of some kind for recording and cutting, although Sound Forge is a bit expensive.

I'm also a firm supporter of Reaper (multitrack DAW). Very affordable, steady updates, huge user community. I've only been using it for a few months but it feels very robust and customizable.
posted by erebora at 8:40 AM on May 26, 2012

Reason from the Propellerheads is fairly popular, however it is a closed, proprietary system. I don't know enough about the other DAWs to comment on them.

However, you will want to get a really good audio interface if you are still using your original soundcard. Also, a good pair of near-field monitors. Eventually, you may want to consider an outboard mic preamp.

Finally, you gotta network your ass off.
posted by Ardiril at 8:41 AM on May 26, 2012

If cost is at all an issue and you want a "real-life" DAW, you should definitely take a look at REAPER. I ended up with Logic Pro because I was more used to the Mac-like interface, but REAPER is a lot of DAW for the money.

Audiotool is pretty neat, though! Definitely a very fun and intuitive interface.
posted by valrus at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2012

A quick test of your audio set-up, 20 hz test tone. It's youtube, and eventually you will want to get your own tone generator.
posted by Ardiril at 8:50 AM on May 26, 2012

Welcome down the rabbit hole of electronic music production! :)

While not technically necessary for all DAWs, you're probably going to want an input device at some point, probably a midi keyboard controller. The Korg Nano series are one example of what I mean. Keyboard for melody/beats or pads for beats. You can enter midi info using your keyboard and mouse, but it's not perfect.

I have tried a bunch of DAWs and it's fun trying different ones out, but I recommend finding a favorite source of tutorials, i.e. ones that really inspire you in the genre that you like, and try the DAW that they use and recommend.
posted by acheekymonkey at 1:36 PM on May 28, 2012

I'm liking the lots of good responses here already. Money is definitely the defining factor here:

If you don't want to spend any money at all, then reaper will be your best bet at this point.

erebora's use of fruity loops and soundforge together isn't bad, however the programs have gotten better in the last few years.

My current recommendation is to either start with ableton live intro (99$) then upgrading as needed. you don't have to go whole hog with the full suite to get started. There's ton's of online tutorials and classes that you can take to learn. Dubspot is having a sale right now.

There are several resources around, but you will need a midi controller, a good soundcard, and a DAW of some form. Also as you get more experienced, you will really need to get some very good near field studio monitors (like ardiril said).
posted by djdrue at 6:11 PM on June 6, 2012

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