How much fancy gear do you need to become the world's greatest music producer? The truth might shock you. Your laptop is just enough.
This article will share what you need to make beats on your laptop and explain why you need it. You will also get a collection of resources so you can start making beats right away.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Can You Make Beats With Just A Laptop?
Is it possible to make sweet music with only your laptop? Don’t you need cool-looking synths, MIDI controllers, a massive studio room with a top-of-the-line coffee maker in the corner?
Well, good news. No, you don’t need anything other than your laptop. Well, maybe coffee... But with a laptop, a DAW, and a great pair of monitors or headphones, you can create virtually any sound you can imagine – suiting any genre of music.
However, while you can make music using only a laptop, having some extra stuff can be more fun. Let’s talk about that more in-depth.
What Do You Need To Make Beats On A Laptop?
There’s a great difference between what you need to start making beats on a laptop and what you want to have. The 'needs' are the absolute necessities – the foundational things you need to create music on your laptop. The ‘want’ is super vast – and can stretch from MIDI controllers up to rows of modular hardware synthesizers and beyond.
But let's talk about the basics. To start creating beats on your laptop, you need two things:
- Speakers or headphones
Let’s start with the first, your digital audio workstation – where the magic happens.
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
A digital audio workstation, or DAW, is used to compose, arrange, edit, mix, and master your sound. It features everything you need in the box, from powerful synthesizers to audio effects, mixers, and more.
Here you can find the best DAWs of 2021.
Most DAWs, like Ableton Live 11, come packed with sounds, synths, and effects – basically everything you need to start making music.
So basically, you can open your laptop, start Ableton Live 11 and make music right away.
However, you do need some way of listening to your beats...
... and no, cheap laptop speakers don’t cut it.
Why You Need Monitors Or Studio Headphones
Music producers use audio sources with a flat frequency response which allows them to hear their music and sounds exactly (or close to) as they are. Many commercial headphones and speakers distort the sound, with bass boosting, mid-range cuts, and clearer trebles.
While these may sound good, they can cause you to make the wrong decisions in your mixing process...
Studio headphones and monitors with a flat frequency response are honest and reveal sound without any frequency boosts or cuts. That way, you can make better mixing decisions that translate even better to commercial headphones or speakers.
However, keep this in mind: monitors need careful attention to room acoustics to sound good. If your monitors are in a very large and empty or poorly treated room, the sound will bounce and echo, which will make it hard to make accurate mixing decisions.
Room acoustics also plays an important role in your sound creation. Headphones play the sound directly into your ears and take no account for room acoustics. While this may seem better, the human auditory system can better translate sounds in an open world than in headphones.
So, in essence – monitors are better for music production if you can control your room's acoustics. If you can’t, choose studio headphones.
How To Start Making Beats
You finally have your laptop, DAW, and headphones or monitors. But now comes the interesting part – actually making your beats. But how do you start?
Here are some resources that will help you:
- How To Make A Beat With Ableton
- Guide: How To Become A Music Producer (2021)
- Beginner Tutorial: Xfer Records Serum (Synth)
- Beginners Guide: How Music Mixing Works
- How To Use Samples In Ableton Live 11 (And Make Better Music)
- Audio Effects Explained (The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide 2021)
- How To Make A Powerful 808 Beat In Ableton Live
No more excuses. If you have a laptop or even a stationary computer, you can become a music producer and create the music of your dreams today.
But the thing is, making music is so much fun. If you're a beginner music producer, chances are you will invest in some hardware, like synths, effects, and MIDI controllers down the line. Having other inspiring tools as a part of your workflow can certainly help.
But after reading this article, you know that you don’t need anything else than a laptop, DAW, and a pair of headphones or speakers to make music.
Heck, even the world’s best producers make beats on airplanes and in hotel rooms while on tours...
Get yourself a DAW like Ableton Live 11 and start making music today!
Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.