Were to start?

So I want to start professionally make music but I’m having trouble what genre to start with. What genre would be good to start with ? I have Ableton and fruity loops. What are some good vsts to start off with in mixing and mastering that won’t break bank ?

Hi there @DJ_nope

First of all welcome to Sonic Academy & the forums, hope you’re gonna enjoy both the website & it’s content as well as the forums where you can discuss about Music Production in general, tutorials, track feedback, S.A plugins, Technical Support… and whatever strikes since it’s Music Production related :wink:

  • What genre to start with ?

Obviously Music Production is something that takes time to learn & requires involvement and passion, it can sometime be overwhelming & cumbersome and the best way to get around this is by keeping it something you really like & love.

Therefore I think it’s good to focus on the genre of music you really enjoy to listen to & would like to produce. Keep in mind that the tools & techniques are the same across different genres of music, the variation lays in complexity & number of elements involved in a track as well as the progression & arrangement that could be different from one genre to another but basically you’ll still be making music inside a DAW, using stock or 3thd party software instruments or external gears to produce sound, tweaking them with effects, then making them work together as a final track mix-down.

So again, long time in front of the DAW and when it comes to keep the joy of it, I really do think that you have to try to make the music you love, simple as that.

That said, it’s also good to breakdown a full Mix & full track production in some main components as well as some production steps.

The 3 main distinct components being Drums/Beats ( & anything rhythm related ), then Bass & Low End and finally everything else from Synths Leads to Arpeggios, Keys, Pads & Chords, Fx…etc.

Typical production steps should be Sound choice & design, Enhancement & Processing via Effects, Arrangement & Progression, then Mixing & eventually Mastering.

To feel comfortable with all of this and to be able to follow tutorials with ease, you will also need a basic understanding of Midi & Audio like working with Midi events on a grid, tempo, length & velocity of Midi notes and some audio stuffs like levels, metering, frequency range & spectrum as well as techniques like compression & equing.

This hasn’t to be a masterclass in each subject but rather a basic understanding of how things works and learning some of the terminology that’s gonna be used over & over again. For example learning about compression will imply terms like Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Release… So it’s just a matter of getting familiar with those terms and honestly, that just comes over time by following tutorials.

To Sum it Up : there are 2 ways to learn, either following a “How to Make” tutorial and picking up & learning a full bunch of things along the course but it’s also very important to separate things and learning about different topics and at some point the puzzle will start to make a full piece. Don’t overwhelm yourself, take your time and set little goals to start with, in the end it might be much more important to know how to get a good kick & bass working together and creating a nice beat than being able to put a full track together but reaching average quality which could become discouraging at some point.

  • All of that being made inside a DAW, which one to choose ?

Ableton Live ? FL Studio ? ( the ones you own ), well IMO it all comes to one point : the best DAW in the end is probably the one that you feel more comfortable to work with, again you gonna spend long hours in front of your DAW, so if the workflow feels cumbersome or just the GUI & features not that user friendly to you, then ask yourself if it’s the good tool for you. Quality wise and speaking about end results, all major DAWs are more or less equal now, so it also comes to the point of what instruments & effects do you get right out of the box ( depending of the version, intro, suite…etc ) but mostly it’s more about feeling at ease & finding a suitable workflow for you, because once again, it’s gonna be where you’ll spend a lot of time.

  • Affordable VST + Mixing / Mastering : there’s a ton of VST out there, ranging from top free to top out of reach for many of us. Free VSTs don’t mean that they are bad plugins, so there’s a load of choice of good instruments & effects that you can get for free, recently Nate Raubenheimer ( aka Protoculture/Shadow Chronicles) did a quick video about his 5 top free plugins to be use as “Dynamic” effects, some of them can be used for Mixing & Mastering, check the tutorial here :
    Top 5 Free Dynamic Plugins with Protoculture | Top 5 Free Dynamic Plugins

Also, Sonic Academy Website just got a full refresh and it’s now even more easy to browse through tutorials by topic, genre, tutors as well as just typing what you’re after using the search feature ( magnifier icon on the top right ).

You can add tutorials to your library, favorite some in order to get back to them with ease when needed ( believe me, it’s nothing but normal to have to watch many tutorials several times :smile: ).

To start with, I think the most important thing is to be as much familiar with your DAW of choice, so I encourage you to search for tutorials covering them, for example here is a good list for Ableton Live 10, but you’ll also find FL Studio beginners tutorials, again just use the search feature on the site. Be aware that since S.A has curated a quite impressive list of tutorials among time, you could end up watching courses using older version of the DAWs, still could be useful but of course it’s more relevant to follow DAWs or Software specific courses matching your version.

Live 10 being one of the most used DAW nowadays, there’s quite a large choice of good tutorials to watch on S.A, starting with the beginners series IMO, here is a list that should help.

That said, I’m really not saying that you have to choose Live for your go to DAW, again up to you to pick up the one that you feel more intuitive & friendly to use.

You will also find beginners series for FL Studio, but the most recent are on FL 12 though there’s an overview of FL 20 too and many other course using FL, again just type FL Studio in the search field and a matching list will be displayed for you, but those beginners & first view courses are here :

Another good series is the Tech Tips one, covering many general topics of Music Production as well as showing DAWs specifics tips & tricks and finally I highly recommend to watch artist & Djs/Producers Interviews, it’s also a very good way to learn a ton about Music Production from studio setup & gears used to why they love a genre in particular and how they made it through the industry.

First thing first learn your DAW of choice, get the basic of working with Midi & Audio tracks, then get more specific about sound design & effects/processing before getting to mixing. Mastering is really another step and it’s the last one and also probably the most difficult one, don’t bother with it too much when starting, it’s just a way to polish a track & match commercials levels as well as learning to deliver tracks for different mediums, Mixing is really the most important step when it comes to put a track together.

Divide your learning time & sessions into specifics, keep a place for creativity & to experiment while also learning about techniques, set up small goals to achieve matching a topic but also don’t be afraid to follow full How To Make tutorials and just don’t beat yourself if you feel that the first results are not close to the tutor’s Mix, again it’s a kind of gigantic puzzle that you don’t have the full picture to help you with assembling the pieces.

Talking about full pictures, it’s a also good to use and learn from reference tracks, especially to deconstruct them in terms of elements making the track & arrangement/progression as well as final Mix levels & tonal balance.

For studio gears, keep in mind that the most important thing is what you hear & are able to monitor, so next to computer, DAW & Plugins the 2 most important pieces of equipment are your sound card & monitors + headphones.

Room treatment is really something to investigate & invest too, but it’s expensive though there’s DIY solutions too and even software based solutions like Sonarworks Reference to help though they won’t replace room treatment. Anything else like Midi keyboards, controllers & hardware is less important, especially if you’re working inside the box, all in digital audio. But yes, what you hear inside your headphone or room is the important thing. So room acoustics & basic of positioning your desk & monitors is also a good topic to learn ( but don’t get mad with it, just some basic rules are important, only recording studios needs to follow higher requirements ).

And get that free plugin SPAN from Voxengo, and also Google “frequency charts” on the web and learn about this too, it will be very useful for anything audio related such as EQ, Compression, frequency masking…ect. S.A & Protoculure have a tutorial series on EQ level 1 & 2 which will be good ones to watch once you get familiar with your DAW and I know this one is really outdated but still you will find get some very good fundamentals out of it :

And now it’s time for me to apology for the long writing & reading :smile: :blush: but hey, it’s really an endless topic when it comes to Where to start ??

Hope this will help anyway & again welcome on S.A & the forums :wink:

Cheers !

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its ok thank you, i like alot of genres lol i have abelton intro so im limited to the mixing vsts lol

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Again what ever version you have, spend the time to learn your DAW as much as you can :wink. There are plenty of 3thd party Plugins available when it comes to Mixing, iZotope has got more affordable “Elements” version of their Ozone & Neutron plugins for example. But still, it’s important to try & learn what you can do right out the box with stock plugins.

Liking a lot of different genres can bring more freedom when it comes to inspiration & creativity as well as different listening experience which is a good point IMO.