Multi Genre First steps - A Home-Producers Compendium for making electronic Music


New Member
Jul 25, 2016
Sup folks,

Literally joined this community some hours ago. Already found some useful tips for creating Music on your computers and developed the urge to throw in what i use on a daily basis.

1. What is in your head?
2. How do you get it out of your head?
3. What are great tools for making a fundament of your creation?
4. What does your Homestudio need?
5. What are other useful skills that can help?

I started creating music around 8 years ago. I always made sure i enjoy the process of making music, always made clear that i create something i personally would enjoy listening to. There are people that dont see things this way, always striving to accomplish fame by trying to create music that other people would buy instead of just making music they really like. Its ok to follow this route, but i recommend to be clear with yourself, otherwise you will end up in frustration when you realise that the goals you set for yourself are nearly impossible to achieve.

What i can tell from myself is that my musical background originated in metal music. I play the electric guitar for a good 15 years now, always tried to expand my possibilities by sitting with my instrument for hours and hours every day. When i discovered the methods of creating music on my computer my head literally exploded as i contemplated all the new possibilities i just found out about.
Now the hardest thing (and this related to every musical style if you ask me) is to get out the sound you have in your head. There were times when i woke up with metal drumloops in my head that led me directly onto my chair and my studio desk where i often failed to get my ideas out and actually be productive. This is something i learned to handle just a few years ago and still am trying to get better in.

My advice is similar as you would try to get better with anything - just train every day until you break the walls that limit you to free your creativity. I did several excersises with my six stinged guitar nearly every day, and you should learn to swim in your DAW (learn hotkeys, effects, routing), learn how to use your VSTs (sampling, effect routing, oscillators, compression and so on), learn how to mix (frequency management, stereo panorama, multiband compression, filtering) and how to master (limiting, compression, EQing).

Now as this seems like a task nearly impossible to master (as i think you can never be good enough) there are a lot of ways to improve yourself in every aspect by watching tutorials, talking with sound technicians, read books and so on. But what helped me most was to experiment in your DAW - try new settings, delete all your presets at once and reprogam them, dial in new settings, experiment with different VSTs.
I once lost my harddrive due to an error and got all my presets deleted (stupid, stupid me making no backups lol).
I ended up re-dialing in my whole setup and in this process i got a lot faster and gained alot more understanding about my craft and my tools that i use. Reprogramming a complex drum vst which was set on one preset and worked for me for months was nerve-tearing but helped me understand a lot of things.

I tried alot of things to get my ideas out of my head right into my DAW and my midi files. I found out there is no general approach to this because everyone tends to do it in another way. Some people just dial in melodies into their midi editor because they have a certain melody they want to visualise - and then insert that midi track into a vst with a random preset just to see how it sounds. That is my approach, too. This way you have your fundament but its still open for creative measure because a melody played by a flute sounds quite different as the same melody played by a polyphonic pad with a parallel track that shifts the melody 7 halftones up.
There was a time where i found making metal music boring because i never achieved the sound i wanted. My girlfriend is a little dnb afficionado - which maybe is the cause of my trip to dnb-island - which led me to listening to music i never listened before. This expaned my musical horizon alot! Over a few months a read myself into oscillator VSTs, filtering and all that stuff and learned so much about my DAW (which is cubase btw) like in no damn youtube tutorial ever before. Then i went back to metal and felt that it was so much easier working in my DAW with the knowledge i gained by making electronic music

When it comes to getting ideas out of your head i clearly recommend trying to expand your musical horizon, turn to new waters and do things differently that you did before. You can gain a lot of experience which helps you synchronizing your mind with your tools.

A great tool for making a fundament to your creations is to play with analogue gear. Ever held a MiniKorg in your hands? Or a real piano? Or even a guitar?
I dont talk about learning scales or pentatonics or stuff like that (well, it helps alot, but...) but getting out of that abstract VST-Jungle we all tend to live in. Its so much fun playing music with other people, getting new input - experiencing different approaches to creating melodies or just grooving together. I personally like to participate in jam sessions where everybody brings an instrument. You rearrange your whole fundamental musical knowledge when you sit in a jam session with your guitar when suddenly a fucking didjeridoo pops out of nowhere and joins the groove. Know what i mean?

Just expand your horizon... i repeat myself, dont it? Haha

Back on the homestudio topic...
I started out with a crappy old computer with some freeware DAW (audacity lol). So often i lost my nerve while trying to get my guitar playing into my computer or even layering a drum pattern under it. There are a lot of opinions about absolutely neccessary studio gear but in my opinion my mixing got a whole lot better when i bought some decent studio speakers. Mine surely have no linear frequency response, but it stands and falls with getting to know your speakers. Everyone has their favourite tunes - listen to them on several sources. Compare how different they sound on expensive hifi speakers against how they sound on cheap sony headphones. Know what i mean?
Its the same with epectronic music. You know how your mix sounds on your favourite in-ear headphones but do you know how it sounds in a club with people standing around? That base sounds different on a 18 inch subwoofer with a decent top speaker. Even with neutral EQ.
I found it very useful to have a pair of decent headphones. Switching monitoring from speakers to headphones one in a while calms your ears and gives you better information about reverberation and stereo panorama - thats what i use them for.

Getting a solid audio interface is what i would put on numer two on the list. Books are being written on topics like ¨192khz vs 44.1¨ or stuff like that. I learned that my osccilators do different stuff when they are being driven by a 192khz machine, but i never experienced a better sound quality... just my opinion. A audio interface has to have a button for controlling monitor volume, phantom power and gain regulation. Decent output jacks are also important - 48v phantom power is nice if you produce your own samples because studio microphones often need phantom power.

Of course your computer has to be powerful according to your needs. If you drive 10+ VSTs with complex algorythms you need more computing power - keep that in mind.

And thats it... the rest comes from your software. DAW and VSTS are your software basics.

Other usefull skills to acquire - the list can be quite long but if i need to fix myself on one thing it would be learning how several frequencies sound. It helps your mixing and drives your creativity if you ask me.
Learning how to EQ properly is essential. It often works if you are lazy and just filter the lows and the highs but if you use a good combination of additive and subtractive EQ you can get amazing results.
If you have the time and are as passionate about music like me then why not try to learn an actual instrument? You know, expanding the horizon and stuff... i think this helps a god damn lot. Some dnb artists play drums. Makes sense, doesnt it?

So this is it, my thoughts compressed in one big wall of text. Feel free to ask questions!

- Johann


New Member
Jul 12, 2016
Very good write up. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I am in the process of adding some analog equipment to my set up. I like the tactile feeling while producing.
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