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How To Get Started Making Beats?

This post contains affiliate links – Read affiliate disclaimer.

Making beats at home is easier than ever these days because of how affordable music equipment has gotten!

But you will quickly discover that as soon as you jump into learning beatmaking in your bedroom, that it’s EXTREMELY overwhelming.

This article/video will teach you how to get started making beats, and how to choose the best music production equipment to save money and see results.. that’s what it’s about, right!?

How to Get Started Making Beats

What You Will Learn:

  • What’s the Best Beatmaking DAW
  • What Equipment Do You Need to Make Beats
    • MIDI Keyboard
    • Audio Interface
    • Reference Monitor Speakers (and Speaker Cables)
    • Virtual Instruments
    • High-Quality Drum Samples
    • Microphones for Vocals
  • Should You Go to Music School, or Learn Online?

What’s the Best DAW for Making Beats?

Now, I’m totally biased, because I’m a Recognized FL Studio Trainer, but FL Studio is by far the best DAW for making beats.. and you’ll understand with my reasons below:

  • LIFETIME FREE UPDATES (No other DAW offers this!)
  • Amazing Workflow with MIDI

Also, FL Studio offers a FREE Trial version.. learn the Best Version of FL Studio to Buy.

LIFETIME FREE UPDATES – Explained:

FL Studio LIFETIME FREE UPDATES literally means you pay once, and you’re in for life. It’s the most amazing feeling because it’s not like you have to pay for an upgrade.

Now, whether you’re wanting to pursue music as a career, or if it’s just a hobby, that burden of having to pay for music production software is gone.. you can just focus on your music, and receive new updates for life!

Now, there’s LOTS of DAWs out there, which I explain in What is a DAW (the video below), but honestly, if you REALLY want to see results fast and enjoy what you’re doing, FL Studio has been so awesome for me.

Learn about other DAWs compared to FL Studio in a NON-BIASED VIDEO from me 🙂

Amazing Workflow with MIDI:

MIDI is a word you NEED to understand as a producer.

MIDI is essentially what EVERY DAW uses to program notes from a virtual instrument.

MIDI gives a beatmaker the ULTIMATE CONTROL because you can literally click in notes, drag them however you want, adjust how loud you want them to be, and you can even play them from a MIDI KEYBOARD!

MIDI Notes in the Piano Roll in FL Studio
An example of MIDI Notes inside the Piano Roll in FL Studio.
We can program MIDI Notes with a mouse or a MIDI Keyboard!

I just want to show you an example of a MIDI Keyboard before moving on. (Note, a MIDI Keyboard has no sounds in it, we use our Virtual Instruments in our computer with a MIDI Keyboard which is connected through USB!)

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 - Semi-Weighted Keys
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro is a good MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio!
Read my honest Oxygen Pro review here!

So now I hope that lets you be aware why MIDI is so important for someone wanting to learn how to make beats, and FL Studio specializes in MIDI, so it makes beatmaking fast, easy, and FUN.


What Equipment is Needed to Make Beats?

Now we’ll move onto some basic music production equipment you need to get started making beats at home (also known as being a bedroom producer 😂).

You can produce music at home easily now.. I highly suggest a MIDI Keyboard and quality drum samples (links below).

Selecting a GOOD DAW for Making Beats

GratuiTous Premium FL Studio Template - Empty Channel Rack Example
An example of a brand-new project in FL Studio using My Template.

So a DAW is a digital audio workstation.. it’s like photoshop for music production.

There are MANY DAWs out there, but not all DAWs are good for making beats!

Some DAWs are good for recording, but FL Studio (which can easily record vocals or a band), specializes in MIDI, which is what you want when making beats.

(There’s DAWs similar to FL Studio, but again, FL Studio offers LIFETIME FREE UPDATES.. so that’s the biggest bonus, besides the awesome workflow FL Studio gives you.)


A GOOD MIDI Keyboard

Let me talk more about a MIDI Keyboard, because it’s not just as simple as buying the most expensive MIDI Keyboard, because that won’t give you good results.

The first thing you need to know is that a MIDI Keyboard MUST work good with your DAW. So if you watch a review and it’s not about your DAW, be very careful buying it, because sometimes a MIDI Keyboard does not work good with a music program!

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 - STRAIGHT ON
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro is a GREAT MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio.
Read my M-Audio Oxygen Pro Review!

Here’s what I really like in a MIDI Keyboard (and things you NEED to know):

  • Buy AT LEAST a 49-Key MIDI Keyboard (a mini is way too small.. unless travelling)
  • Make sure the piano keys are SEMI-WEIGHTED (otherwise the piano keys feel CHEAP!)
  • The most expensive MIDI Keyboard is not the best (they have no sounds in them!)

You can read all my MIDI Keyboard reviews for FL Studio. The reason the Oxygen Pro is so awesome is because it’s affordable, and it offers semi-weighted keys in a 49-Key model!

Semi-weighted keys are usually only available in 61-Keys or bigger.. so that’s why the Oxygen Pro has been great for FL Studio and beatmaking!

Now, MIDI Keyboards are sold in a “mini”, a 25-Key, a 49-Key, a 61-Key, and 88-Key models.

I think a 49-Key is the SWEET SPOT (it’s what I’ve always used!)

A 25-Key or mini is WAY too small.. you can’t play with two hands (a 49-key you can.. it has octave buttons to go up and down, so you can play all the range of notes!) You may ask.. what about a 61-Key MIDI Keyboard? And in my opinion, you can go that route, but it is more expensive, and they are BIG!

Take a tape measure, go to your desk, and measure the space you have.. the 49-Key I recommend is 31 inches wide! (That’s almost 3 feet in width!)

So.. you better have a BIG desk.. and not only that, if you get too big of a MIDI Keyboard, you won’t be able to have your audio interface right beside you, like shown here below:

MIDI Keyboard and Audio Interface on the Same Desk for a Good Workflow
MIDI Keyboard (LEFT).. Audio Interface (RIGHT)
This is ESSENTIAL for a good workflow when making beats.
If your MIDI Keyboard is too big, your audio interface won’t fit!

I will also list a bunch of helpful MIDI Keyboard resources:


An Audio Interface for Good Workflow

Audio Interface beside a MIDI Keyboard for a Great Example (Mackie Big Knob Studio)
As you can see, the audio interface (CENTER) is beside my MIDI Keyboard (LEFT).
This audio interface is the Mackie Big Knob Studio (Review)

Now technically, you DO NOT NEED an audio interface to make beats… but once you start advancing, you’re going to want to get reference monitor speakers (below), and you may want to record your voice with professional microphones (below).

So.. an audio interface to helps you connect your professional audio gear.

But.. like a MIDI Keyboard, you can’t just buy the best audio interface and think you’re going to get a good experience.

It comes down to understanding what you’ll need this audio interface for!

Audio Interface Neutrik Connections for Microphone and Guitars
An affordable audio interface (Focusrite Scarlett).
These are called Neutrik connections (combo jacks).
These allow you to plug in microphones, guitars, digital pianos..

The first thing you need to know is what you’ll be plugging in and out of an audio interface.. IN and OUT are different!

INPUTS:

  • How many microphones will you plug in?
  • How instruments will you record?
  • Are you going to use “outboard hardware” (not recommend for beatmakers)

For inputs as beatmakers, we most often just plug in ONE MICROPHONE.. so getting an expensive audio interface with lots of inputs isn’t worth it! Also, for “outboard hardware”, that stuff is expensive, and digital effects are way more useful.

OUTPUTS:

  • How many speakers will you connect to the audio interface?
  • Again.. are you going to be using “outboard hardware”?

For outputs, you may want to look at an audio interface that can switch between two or three sets of speakers to test your mix.. the Mackie Big Knob Studio can do that! Using outboard hardware requires more inputs/outputs (and audio cables) on the audio interface.. (it gets expensive…)

Back of a Mackie Big Knob Studio Audio Interface Showing its Audio Connections (INS and OUTs)
The back of a more advanced audio interface.. it offers TONS of flexibility like switching between two sets of speakers (good for mixing), sending a separate 3/4 OUT (if working with outboard hardware), and it has two inputs for microphones or instruments!
This is the Mackie Big Knob Studio (Review)

I will again list helpful audio interface resources:


Reference Monitor Speakers for Beatmakers:

As a beatmaker, it’s REALLY important to hear your bass.

So there’s two options.. get bigger speakers to hear bass, or get smaller speakers with a subwoofer.

Yamaha HS80m Speakers
The Yamaha HS80m Speakers.
These have been decent speakers for me!
They are an 8″ speaker to hear the low-end as a beatmaker!

When talking about reference monitor speakers (studio speakers), there’s two main things we focus on:

  • Translation (audio sounds good on any audio device)
  • Size of Speaker (and how many speakers on one speaker cabinet)

Mixes that TRANSLATE:

how-to-master-loud-example
An example of audio wave forms being prepared for MASTERING.
The bottom wave form is more “volume levelled”.

The first thing to know about reference monitor speakers is that they are designed to help your music TRANSLATE.

Translation is a big word in the audio world because you want your music to sound good no matter where someone listens to your music.

But there’s a problem.. “consumer speakers” (off the shelf speakers a regular consumer would buy) often BOOST or CUT frequencies to make the music sound “pleasing to the ear”.. however, when we are mixing, we want to hear the music FLAT.

If we can hear the music AS IS (flat.. no EQ boosts/cuts), we can make accurate judgements towards our music while mixing, and help with translation.. make sense?

Different Sizes of Speakers

Reference Monitor Speakers in the Studio
Here’s my old studio set up from around 2013..
Learn FL Studio with me here!

The second thing I want to talk about is speaker size, and how they are powered.

Very expensive speakers are often “PASSIVE”.. meaning you need to buy the speakers, then buy a separate speaker amplifier.. this gets very expensive at the high-end of the price spectrum.. and is not recommended for us beatmakers. (Especially when new!)

We don’t want super cheap speakers, but I would suggest looking at ACTIVE speakers.. meaning that the amp is built into the speaker, and makes getting started making beats with FL Studio WAY easier.

Two-Way vs. Three-Way Studio Speakers:

Now, when you buy reference monitor speakers there are often two speakers (two-way speaker) or the higher-end speakers have three speakers (three-way).

This just allows each speaker to play in its own frequency space a bit more accurately, however when you have more speakers there’s something called a “crossover” and can actually SKEW your audio.. But that’s technical stuff you can learn later.

For speaker sizes, there’s the WOOFER (lows + mids) and the TWEETER (mid-highs + highs).

I suggest a 7″ or 8″ WOOFER.. as that helps you hear the bass a lot better.. or you can get a smaller woofer like a 5″ or 6″ and purchase a subwoofer.

M-Audio SBX10 Music Production Subwoofer for Reference Monitor Speakers
Here’s an example of a Subwoofer for music production.
This one is the SBX10 by M-Audio (discontinued).
Other brands make a subwoofer..
If your living situation allows for it.. do it!

So to recap.. I recommend a 7″ or 8″ speaker for making beats.. anything smaller, it’s hard to hear the low-end (which is super important when making rap beats or dance music!)

I even suggest a subwoofer if you can afford it (and your living situation allows you to have a subwoofer.. because bass is loud and travels easily).

What about headphones? You can get headphones.. but speakers are always the best and most comfortable to mix on (which allow you to hear your music most accurately).

One pro-tip for headphones for music production is to get OPEN BACK headphones to hear your music accurately (allows the music to breath and not get congested in the headphone cans). If you are recording, you’d want CLOSED BACK (to prevent noise getting into the microphone).. makes sense, right!?


Virtual Instruments for Making Beats (Digital Instruments)

Nexus 3 by reFX - ROMpler Virtual Instrument
Here’s an example of a Virtual Instrument. (Nexus by reFX)
This is called a ROMpler, which I highly suggest using in your early years.

Virtual Instruments are what beatmakers use for their melodies.

It’s important to know that there’s really only two types of sounds to make beats…

  • Melodies (Instruments)
  • Drum Loops (Percussion)

In this section, we are talking about melodies (virtual instruments).

Now, Virtual Instruments are called VSTi’s, and we install them as a “plugin” into our DAW (FL Studio). FL Studio itself has its own virtual instruments, but third-party VSTi’s are often easier to use for new producers starting up.

FL Keys - FL Studio Stock Plugin by Image-Line
Here’s another example of a Virtual Instrument.
FL Keys is a STOCK PLUGIN built into FL Studio!
Learn what version of FL Studio to buy!

The secret to becoming a good beatmaker is understanding your different sounds available to you, and having a wise sound selection to be versatile (do you have different pianos, guitars, flutes, etc.. that’s what helps good producers find unique sounds!)

There’s also just “VSTs”.. not “VSTi’s”, these are effects for mixing and mastering. You can learn more about mixing VSTs here.


Drum Kits (One-Shot Drum Samples)

FL Studio Channel Rack (Step Sequencer) to Make Drum Loops
Here’s an example of a programmed drum loop.
Notice the sounds are “Kick”, “Snare”, “Hat”, “Cymbal”..
The white notes TRIGGER these sounds!

Now, I told you the two types of sounds to make beats are Instruments and Drum Loops.

To make our drum loops, we use One-Shot Drum Samples.

BE VERY CAREFUL OUT THERE.. PRE-MADE DRUM LOOPS, AND PRE-MADE MIDI PACKS FOR MELODIES IS NOT MAKING YOUR OWN BEATS.. YOU WANT TO LEARN TO PROGRAM YOUR OWN DRUM LOOPS AND MELODIES FROM SCRATCH!

Finding high-quality one-shot drum samples is actually pretty hard.. (also sometimes called drum kits or sound packs).

So once you find premium sound kits for beats, hang on to it.. because high-quality drum samples truly make the difference for hard hitting drum loops!

Very often, you will see drum kits sold with images like this:

Urban Heat Drum Kit by Xclusive-Audio (Special Pricing on itsGratuiTous.com)
Urban Heat Drum Kit
View it Here
Xclusive-Audio Drum Bundle TRIO - 2,300 Drum Samples
Drum Bundle TRIO
(2,300 Drum Samples!)
Amazing for making beats!
View it Here!

Now please listen carefully if you REALLY want to learn to make high-quality drum loops to make professional beats.

THESE ARE ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF ONE-SHOT DRUM SAMPLES.

You will be purchasing sounds that sound like this below:

An example of a Kick Drum
(from Organic Drum Kit)
An example of a Snare
(from Organic Drum Kit)
An example of a Hi-Hat
(from Organic Drum Kit)

Yes, one-shot drum samples! Then you make your OWN drum loop for the highest-quality, because you can mix each individual sound, plus, it’s the absolute most rewarding because you are literally making your own music from scratch!

Here’s an example of that kick, snare, and hi-hat, with a melody!
(Purchase drum kits here).

So that’s the basics of drum samples for beginners.

I’m telling you, the drum kits in my shop are where it’s at!

Here’s valuable tips for buying drum samples, and how to use them!:


Microphones for Beatmakers

Shure SM7b Dynamic Microphone on a Microphone Stand Boom Arm
An example of a microphone for the studio.

Now.. the question as a beatmaker is..

“Do you even need a microphone?”…

Not every person who makes beats uses microphones .. so keep that in mind, because it can save you a lot of money and time!

But in short.. there’s dynamic and condenser microphones.

In my later years I’ve preferred dynamic microphones because they are less sensitive, and pick up less room sound (such as computer fan noise, air conditioner, etc.)..

A Condenser microphone picks up higher frequencies, but WOW are they sensitive if you’re not in a studio treated room (quiet room).

You can view my favorite microphones if you’d like.


Should You Go to Music Production School.. or Learn Online?

FL Studio Courses by GratuiTous
I teach music production FULL TIME!
View my Beatmaking Courses here!

I want to quickly talk about music production school.. because you may think that’s the best choice to further your skills.. but I’ll give you my perspective.

There’s a few options you can take to learn beatmaking.. but my own personal suggestion is this if you want to see results.

“Making it” in the music industry is TREMENDOUSLY HARD.

The wisest choice you can make is still work a fulltime job, and use that job to support your music efforts.. this allows you to:

  • Still build a very good career (outside of music)
  • Have continual money coming in
  • Acquire way more skills as a person in this life
  • Still allow you to make music in your free time!

This is the approach I took. It did me REALLY good.

I was an electrician (see my electrical blog!), which paid me half-decent, so I was able to work my Monday-Friday job, but then be able to acquire things like the MIDI Keyboard, Audio Interface, Speakers, Virtual Instruments, etc..

Now.. here’s THREE WAYS you can learn music production..

Each of these options have their own pros and cons.

YouTube has TONS of information.. but it’s pretty scattered, and hard to find your answer sometimes

Music Production Courses are organized videos teaching you a specific topic, and are the fastest way to learn beatmaking (if you have a good instructor).. they are affordable, you can learn at your own pace, and you can quickly see the results you’re after!

Music Production University is a very expensive approach, because you never know if you’re going to “make it” in the industry. The biggest bonus of going to a real school for music production is probably the NETWORKING.. but no video or school can ever truly teach you to “make your own music”.. that’s what YOU HAVE TO TEACH YOURSELF.. the information is there to help you get moving!

As I suggested.. go for a REAL career, and do music on the side. I promise you that you can truly reach your goals.. you can learn more about how I “made it in music”.


Conclusion..

So there you go! That’s the basics of how to get started making beats.

I’m sure you can put together a home studio for less than $2000 give or take.. it will be a half-decent studio where you can enjoy your time making music, and truly see results!

Please feel free to email me if you have questions.

As mentioned, I teach beatmaking FULL TIME on my website here, and have trained MANY students (see my reviews).

You can click the button below to view my beatmaking courses (with proven results).. thanks for reading!

GratuiTous
GratuiTous
GratuiTous (Riley Weller) is a Recognized FL Studio Trainer with over 30 Beatmaking Courses. He writes Beatmaking Books, hosts a free Music Production Podcast, and is always helping his students with private FL Studio Lessons. He also has tons of his own music!

6 thoughts on “How To Get Started Making Beats?”

  1. I plan to start making beats and i’m strongly considering the NI maschine (i’ll be using Ableton live). (1) Would a APC40 Ableton controller benefit the music production process for someone like me who is a beginner and will not have many good beats to manipulate for a while. (2) Would buying an akai midi keyboard (Ex. max49) benefit the music production process for a beginner as well or is that too advanced and unnecessary to simultaneously use with the NI maschine or Ableton controller for a first-time user. (ive recorded using Ableton for a couple years so im familiar with the recording and live device vocal engineering process only within Ableton).

    If I should buy any of these items for making rap/hiphop beats, which should be my priority to buy (I guessed 1. Maschine 2. APC 3. Midi Keyboard (or maybe just a standard keyboard that isnt even a live one)

    Thanks

    1. I’d recommend a MIDI Keyboard to start off. 49 keys is a nice fit, sometimes it’d be nice for more.. but you learn to use what you got!

      A MIDI keyboard helps a lot with creating better melodies/chords. Plus, it increases your workflow huge with the stop, record, and play buttons!

      Personally, I’d hold off on the APC/Maschine, and get a MIDI Keyboard at first, and work your way there!

      Ableton is a really good program for working with knobs/sliders, and gives you that hands-on feeling most producers always want!

      Please let me know if you need any other assistance, such as sounds, or what VSTs to buy etc.

    1. Sure, it’s definitely a started! — There is always some restrictions with software that comes with hardware you buy etc.

  2. can you substitute a drum pad for the midi keyboard and vice versa? if theyre the same thing can you use either or? cuz the drum pad seems easier

    1. Most definitely you can choose either one.

      I personally prefer the MIDI Keyboard for the sake of, you are still able to chop up samples just as easily, and you also have more triggers to sample (your piano keys), than just the 16 provided on a drum pad. Also, if you want make production pieces and VSTs, you now have a MIDI Keyboard that allows you do to this.

      On the drum pad, you’d have to get chords, and chop them up to do that. So I feel the MIDI Keyboard, in the long run, is more versatile, and better bang for buck. Plus allows for 100% original beats, rather than copyright with sampling.

      If you get something like Maschine, or an MPC, it will make the drum machine work flow a lot better!

      But in FL Studio, using Slicex is my favorite alternative!

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