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We can easily fall in the rabbit hole of buying music gear and we may also excuse ourselves to grow and make music because we don’t have the right equipment. I’d like to bring a different point of view on the chase for the perfect gear. What is essential to be a music producer?

A studio setup can be stripped to three components:

  • MacBook / Laptop – anything that runs a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
  • Headphones – any headphones with decent flat frequency response.
  • Audio interface – 2 XLR inputs and you are good to go

Why choosing such a minimal approach? Not sure, mate. In my case, I get easily overwhelmed and distracted. Having less makes me feel more confident in the tools that I have. It all started in 2019 when I sold my pair of studio monitors, a DJ MIDI controller, old Casio MIDI keyboard and the rest of my bedroom studio. This is what I have left now:

  • MacBook Pro mid-2012 – I know it’s still running, love it!
  • Focusrite 2i2
  • AKAI APC Key 25
  • Audio Technica M50X – I used to have Beyerdynamics DT900, I miss them a bit.
  • Sony PCMA10 – Beautiful portable recorder.

It wasn’t a pleasing choice, I began this process while moving out in different houses. Living in a different country comes at a price. On the other hand, I began to appreciate having such a small and portable studio. Here are some of the pros and cons of my experience with mixing and mastering using this setup.

Pro

  • Everything that you were doing with headphones stays the same.
  • Cheap earbuds, your smartphone and the MacBook speakers are your reference monitors (I know, it is blasphemy but they are the most used devices to listen to music nowadays).
  • Invest savings hard on the essentials (e.g. audio interface, headphones, etc.).

Cons

  • Headphones fatigue, especially using closed-back headphones.
  • Coloured representation of the sound can lead to a decision that translates poorly on other devices.
  • Can’t turn up the volume of your speakers and annoy your neighbours. Jokes aside, the bass perception of headphones can often be misleading. You’ll hear about it when you playback in other devices.

I was curious to share this point of view and hear your opinion. Leave a comment below and I’d like to understand if this setup is becoming more common among music makers. Please share any tips and tricks that you have. For example, my secret to making better mixing decisions is Voxengo SPAN!

By the way, I’m cubv, a bedroom producer and graduate in music and sound production. I love researching anything related to audio and I’m dedicating this space to share ideas. If you want to share your support feel free to hit me up on social media!šŸ‘‹

If you are starting out making music this article may help here.

Cover Photo by Robert Stemler

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