Creating music can be a freeing endeavor, but diving into the world of home recording can get overwhelming.
With so many products on the market, what do you need to make music on a laptop?
To create professional-sounding music on your laptop, you will need a good DAW, an audio interface, and a pair of studio headphones or monitors.
Before making music, ensure that your computer has enough capacity and processing ability to keep up with the producing software.
Audio equipment can get overwhelming- but it’s also a lot of fun.
In this article, we’ll break down the essentials you need to create music on your laptop and some additional equipment to set your process apart from the rest.
In the past, obtaining high-quality audio recordings required professional recording studios.
However, technological advancements have made it possible to achieve professional sound quality through appropriate equipment and a creative approach.
To begin creating music on a laptop, you must possess the following software and equipment:
- A DAW
- Audio interface
- Studio headphones or monitors
A DAW Digital Audio Workstation is a downloadable program for your computer that enables you to create professional-sounding audio.
Many different DAWs are available, and these programs come in various forms and fees.
If you’re a beginner to laptop music production, we recommend sticking with one of the free options, such as GarageBand for Mac.
GarageBand has all the necessities and a few bells and whistles for standard-level music production.
Its workstation is also beginner friendly, making it a great place to start.
The DAW used by most industry professionals is ProTools.
ProTools has a free version, but the program is relatively limited for some users and requires a lot of space.
Unlike GarageBand, ProTools is available for PC and Mac users.
There are plenty of options, and they aren’t one size fits all.
Some are better for EDM, while others cater more to recording physical instruments.
It’s best to look for one that fits your needs with a layout that won’t overwhelm you.
An audio interface serves as a crucial link between your electronic guitar or non-USB microphone and computer, allowing for seamless recording and processing of audio signals.
The interface eliminates potential latency, interference, and jitters by converting analog signals into digital information, providing an enhanced audio recording experience.
While creating electronic music without an audio interface is technically possible, utilizing one can significantly enhance your sound’s overall output and quality.
Without an audio interface, the audio quality of your computer’s sound card may be limited.
Therefore, investing in an audio interface is recommended for the optimal monitoring and production of your sounds.
When shopping for an interface, you should consider the following:
- How many inputs does it have? – If you’re a singer-songwriter, you may only need two inputs. A band will need more.
- Does it have phantom power? – Phantom power is necessary to power condenser microphones.
- How does it connect to your computer? – Audio interfaces connect in different ways, including USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and PCIe.
A great pair of headphones or monitors can make or break the professional sound of your track.
You need to hear the audio crisply and clearly to ensure it’s how you want it to sound.
Headphones are great for helping you hone into the details of your tracks.
Not just any headphones will work- you will need studio quality. If you have an audio interface, you must buy a set with a ¼ insert or purchase a separate threaded ¼ headphone adapter.
Computer speakers are inconsistent.
Studio monitors are necessary for most home studios because they produce high-quality sounds and enable you to identify distortions to create better mixes.
You’ll obviously need a laptop to get started.
You can use any computer around your house, but the best laptop for your needs will depend on the type of music you expect to create.
Aside from asking yourself the standard question of Mac vs. PC, there are other factors to consider.
Almost any computer will work fine if you plan to produce mostly EDM music with electronic loops and tracks.
The combination of your DAW and projects will only take up about 4 GB of RAM.
But if you want the room to expand and not worry about things, having about 16 RAM or more is a good aim.
Using physical instruments to record music on your computer through the audio interface takes more RAM.
If you mostly plan to utilize physical instruments, keep that in mind when considering the computer you have on hand versus shopping for a new one.
Overall, RAM is a good thing to have on your side.
Choosing a laptop with a higher core will also help processes run smoother if you plan to create multi-layered track songs.
Related article: Can You Record Vocals Without Headphones? (Explained)
The abovementioned items are necessities for producing quality music on your laptop.
However, there is more equipment that you can utilize to make your music more dynamic and the process easier.
A MIDI, a musical instrument digital interface, is a powerful tool.
With a MIDI controller, you don’t have to know how to play an instrument to record it into your track.
MIDI Controllers come in many shapes and sizes.
A drum pad MIDI is great for laying down beats, while a keyboard MIDI is great for adding instruments to your music.
When you play a MIDI keyboard, you are not playing music but sending signals to your computer.
Your laptop will translate those signals into music.
Recording tracks without a MIDI controller is doable but much harder.
MIDI controllers are game changers, and most studio professionals utilize them.
Laptops have built-in microphones but are not well-equipped to record quality audio.
You can get a decent sound, but it will be limited and likely full of feedback if you get too loud.
Instead, you should invest in a good microphone or two.
Having multiple microphones on hand in a home studio is common since they handle various types of sound differently.
Since there are so many on the market, finding the right microphones for you can get overwhelming.
The main two types of microphones are:
Dynamics are the jack of all trades in the microphone world, and they’re inexpensive, making them great for beginners.
These powerhouse mics can handle loud sound pressures and work well with drum kits, amps, and vocals.
Condenser microphones are more sensitive and capture more detailed sounds.
They’re great for capturing authentic vocals and work well with acoustic instruments.
The sound output is usually crisper than the sound of a dynamic microphone.
We hope this article has helped you find what you need to record music on a laptop.
A DAW, audio interface and headphones are essential to creating good music with your computer, but having a MIDI controller and a good microphone can also help.
Check your computer’s RAM and core processing ability before recording for optimum studio-quality results.